The Phillies were in need of a right-handed power bat for the corner outfield, and early in the offseason they made an offer to free agent center fielder B.J. Upton, so it wasn't too much of a leap to think that Ruben Amaro Jr. at some point kicked around the idea of trading for Diamondbacks star Justin Upton, B.J.'s brother and, as of today, a member of the Atlanta Braves.
Turns out, the Phillies did look into Justin Upton, talking to Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers on more than one occasion about a potential trade.
Alas, Amaro said, "We just didn't really see a fit."
"We communicated a few times with K.T.," Amaro said. "Clearly, what he was looking for and what we were willing to give were a little different."
What the Phillies could not offer the Diamondbacks was a player like Martin Prado, a very good hitter at a premium position who can help Arizona compete this season. The Diamondbacks also acquired promising young pitcher Randall Delgado, a former Top 50 prospect according to Baseball America.
"You've got to trade talent for talent," Amaro said. "They got a very good player, and obviously they got a third baseman back to kind of cover for him."
The Phillies will be attempting to re-establish themselves as contenders in a vastly improved National League. The Diamondbacks have bolstered their payroll by about $20 million. The Braves have added the two Uptons, while the Nationals added center fielder Denard Span.
"We knew it was going to be a challenge regardless, because (the Braves) had a really good team," Amaro said. "They've done a good job of improving their club. We think we've improved ours as well. We can't worry too much about what goes on in our division, we have to worry about what the Phillies are doing. If our guys can play the way we think they can play, we'll be OK."
For the first time since 2008, the Phillies will enter a season as an underdog.
"That's good," Amaro said. "I guess I like to be an underdog. We were the favorites to win last year and we didn't do so well. Maybe the tides have turned."