It seems ever since Scott Rolen left Philadelphia, the Phillies have been on a never ending quest to find his replacement. Whether it be Pedro Feliz, Abraham Nunez, Wes Helms, or Placido Polonco, the Phillies have yet to find that cornerstone Third Baseman that can offer them some stability. The Phillies could of course pick up the option on Polanco, but with his recent injury history he might break a bone in his hand signing the contract. Kevin Frandsen has impressed in his short stint at 3rd base, but to ask a career 4A player to become an everyday 3rd basemen is a bit much. That will leave Ruben Amaro Jr with his option of upgrading 3rd base either through free agency or via trade: Here are some options.
Free Agent Options at 3rd Base:
The class of free agent Third baseman for 2013 is extremely weak, and unless the Mets have a sudden loss of brain function, they will pick up David Wright’s $16 million dollar team option. That leaves the cream of the crop free agents as Kevin Youklis, Scott Rolen, Mark Reynolds, and Brandon Inge. Yes, that list is not a joke. Outside of Youkilis, none of those names interest me into anything beyond a cheap 1 year deal, and even then I wouldn’t see 3rd base as upgraded. Marco Scutaro & Ryan Theriot would be two other names to consider, but they would be making a Polonco-like position change and clearly wouldn’t provide the pop the Phillies would be looking for from the position, and like in recent years it would be a temporary solution. Overall, an underwhelming class of possibilities here.
After viewing the free agent class, it definitely would leave you to believe the Phillies will likely upgrade 3rd base via trade. In receiving two new solid prospects in the Victorino/ Pence trades, the Phillies have given themselves a flexibility to move some younger farm pieces. A name to watch in any trade would be Sebastian Valle, a catcher recently promoted to AAA who with the recent acquisition of Tommy Joseph is suddenly expendable. Any trade would cause the Phillies to get quite creative, and would be expensive especially because the free agent market is so thin, but it is doable. Here are a few names to consider.
J.J. Hardy- Yes, Hardy is having a bad year with Baltimore and is batting .233, but he is athletic enough to make the positional change from SS to 3rd, and his power is still there. Hardy just a season ago batted .269 with 30 HR’s and 89 RBI’s, and that was just in 129 games. The combination of the rise of phenom Manny Machado(a natural SS) and a deal which runs through 2014 cold make him a trade candidate.
Chase Headley- At the trade deadline this July, Headley was available. The problem was it was at the asking price of the Padres, which at the time was extremely high. Headley is a nice player, .275 avg with 18 HR’s and under relatively cheap contract control for the next few years. The big thing with Headley will be the Padres real desire to move off of their high asking price for him. If so, you can bet the Phillies will be highly interested.
Mike Olt/ Adrian Beltre- Yes, both of these options are highly, highly unlikely but if the Rangers see Olt as a guy they need to absolutely start, it wouldn’t hurt to at the least kick the tires on what it would take to bring Beltre, a strong fielder and power bat into a home run friendly park. On the other side of that, at one time there were reports Mike Olt was available in any Cole Hamels talks before the deadline, and if Beltre is in good form Texas could at the least listen on a package for Olt. Many scouts compare Olt to a rich man’s Dan Uggla. Similar power, but with a stronger glove and a more consistent bat. It would likely take quite a haul to get Olt, but it would certainly seem to solve the Phillies plan at 3rd base for a long time. Either route the Phillies go, it will be interesting to see how RAJ approaches 3rd base. His creativity will be put to the test.