Now that the Phillies have moved swiftly to fill spots at third base and on the bench, their focus for the rest of the offseason is clear: Improvements to the pitching staff, particularly the bullpen.
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said recently that he was intrigued by low-risk/high reward types, meaning he wants pitchers who will come cheaper than usual because of injury or some other mitigating factor. According to multiple major league sources, the Phils have kicked the tires on many pitchers, including reliever J.J. Putz. They have been linked to Putz before in this offseason, and sources said they remained interested. Consistent with the philosophy passed from Pat Gillick to Amaro, the team has contacted the representatives for “a whole bunch” of relievers, says one source.
The Phillies interest in Putz has not advanced to the level of back-and-forth negotiations--he is not likely to sign anywhere in the immediate future--but it offers a concrete indication of the type of pitcher the team is seeking. Putz fits the profile perfectly: A pitcher with experience closing and setting up, he is attempting to re-establish his value after June surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow.
John Smoltz, linked to the Phils by ESPN.com on Tuesday, is another example of that type—though he might be seeking a more lucrative deal than originally thought.
After committing $6 million to Placido Polanco for next season, the Phils will likely have $15-$20 million to commit to other players, meaning they could still supplement any low-risk/high-reward signings with a pricier pitcher or two, like Brandon Lyon or Fernando Rodney.