At the general managers meetings last week, Ruben Amaro Jr. re-iterated the Phillies' desire to re-sign short stop Jimmy Rollins, but also mentioned "contingency plans" should the two sides fail to come together on a deal. Right now, it is difficult to envision what those contingency plans might be. In fact, this might be a year where a team finds better value at the top of the heap rather than the bottom.
Less than a month into the free agent signing period, we have already seen six middle infielders sign contracts, several of them at surprisingly player-friendly terms. The Pirates reportedly have agree to sign short stop Clint Barmes to a two-year, $10.5 million deal.
We had mentioned Barmes as a potential Rollins fill-in, but an Average Annual Value of $5.25 million seems a bit much for a player who has hit just .240/.309/.370 with 20 home runs in 927 plate appearances over the last two seasons. Barmes is a solid defensive short stop and brings above-average power to the position, but he has not come close to replicating his 2008 season, when he hit .290/.322/.468 with 11 home runs in 417 plate appearances for the Rockies.
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, paid soon-to-be 30-year-old second baseman Aaron Hill $11 million over two seasons despite a .225/.285/.375 line and 34 home runs over the last two seasons. The Dodgers handed a two-year, $8.75 million deal to veteran second baseman Mark Ellis.
It is looking more and more like the Phillies will either have to sign Rollins, make an unlikely run at Jose Reyes, or resign themselves to playing 2012 with a huge offensive drop off at short stop.
Below is a look at the short stops who are available on the market, along with their numbers from 2011:
2) Early in the offseason, several emailers and commenters suggested that the Phillies make a run at Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison.
It was a fine thought. Morrison is coming off a checkered season in Florida that saw his batting average and on base percentage drop to .247 and .330 after a rookie season in which he hit .283/.390/.447 in 287 plate appearances. In fact, he was demoted to Triple-A at one point. Buy low, right?
Well, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, you can forget about that. The Marlins' beat writer reports that the club rebuffed Oakland's request to include Morrison or Mike Stanton in a trade for lefty starter (and one-time Phillie minor leaguer) Gio Gonzalez.
Turns out, Florida isn't ready to give up on a 23-year-old who hit 23 home runs and posted a .797 OPS in a down year.
Gonzalez is coming off a season in which he went 16-12 with a 3.12 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 and 0.8 HR/9 in 202 innings. Gonzalez will be 26 in 2012 and is under club control through the 2015 season. If the Marlins won't trade Morrison for a player like Gonzalez, it is hard to imagine the Phillies being able to lure him away.
At this point, it looks like the Phillies are going have to go the veteran route if they hope to add a left-handed bat to complement or provide some insurance for John Mayberry Jr. in left field.
Here is a look at the free agent options: