12/04/08 1:00 PM EST
Starters among Phils' offseason needs
Club heads to Winter Meetings with two spots in rotation to fill
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
TWO STARTING PITCHERS -- To best satisfy their needs, the Phillies need two starters to round out the rotation, but they have plenty of options. Jamie Moyer is one, assuming he and the team reach a compromise. If not, they'll seek another Joe Blanton type for the back end and hold a competition for the No. 5 slot from among Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, Carlos Carrasco and Adam Eaton.POWER-HITTING OUTFIELDER -- Specifically, one who bats right-handed and plays a corner spot. That entity, be it Juan Rivera or Rocco Baldelli, could platoon with Geoff Jenkins, Matt Stairs or Greg Dobbs and help offset the eventual loss of Pat Burrell. While manager Charlie Manuel generally keeps Chase Utley and Ryan Howard together, a righty power bat to pair with Jayson Werth would provide balance in the middle of the order. UTILITY INFIELDER -- Utley and third baseman Pedro Feliz will both be recovering from surgery, so the team would like some insurance against any setbacks, especially if he or Eric Bruntlett is pressed into an everyday role. RELIEVER -- The National League's best bullpen returns intact, but the Phillies still wouldn't mind adding another option. Who they can or need to trade:
OF Shane Victorino or Jayson Werth -- It's highly unlikely, given their need for an outfielder, but they could go for a Matt Holliday-type -- i.e., a significant starting player. Either would be an attractive target for a team looking to shed an expensive bat for a player they can control. Both are arbitration-eligible, but can't be free agents until after the 2012 and '10 seasons, respectively.RHP Carlos Carrasco -- Also not likely, but he'll be asked about by plenty of teams, and the Phillies could move him if the return is significant. Philadelphia would likely only move him in a blockbuster deal.
SP J.A. Happ or Kyle Kendrick -- One of them will likely end up starting at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where they'll provide depth at the big league level. They could also become trade bait later in the season. Coming off a disappointing second half, Kendrick seems to have been passed on the depth chart by Happ, but that could shift back with a strong Spring Training.INF Jason Donald -- The Olympian developed into a prospect without a position, as shortstop and second base base are blocked. He played third in the Arizona Fall League, though it's believed he may not provide enough power for that position. He could be needed to fill in for Utley for the first few weeks of the 2009 season. Top prospects:
C Lou Marson -- The brightest of all the team's prospects, Marson could break into the starting lineup as soon as 2009. He's a strong defender who will hit for a solid average and provide power eventually.
Big contracts they might unload:
Blanton, Bruntlett, RHP Clay Condrey, Dobbs, RHP Chad Durbin, LHP Cole Hamels, Howard, RHP Ryan Madson, Victorino, Werth.
The Phillies will work with a payroll of about $110-$120 million in 2009, and much will be absorbed from players already on the roster. This leaves them somewhere in the neighborhood of $10-$20 million to spend.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.