The Phillies are targeting big-time free-agent outfielders and baseball people expect them to be in the mix for Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz and possibly Curtis Granderson according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
The Phillies have a team built around superior starting pitching and veteran infielders, Heyman writes. But have a clear weakness in the outfield, where they got sub-par production this past year.
One person familiar with their situation said they were even prepared to try to bring back Hunter Pence, who eventually signed an extension with the Giants for $90 million.
General manager Ruben Amaro wouldn’t address specific players, and rather succinctly summed up their needs as “catching, pitching, outfield.”
Heyman also adds that the Nationals, who are also targeting an outfielder, could make a play for free-agent outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, according to sources.
The Mariners, Cubs, Cardinals, Dodgers (if they trade outfielders), Phillies, Astros, Mets and incumbent Red Sox are among other possibilities.
Despite turning down an offer of more than $100 million already, the Red Sox are still interested in bringing Ellsbury back.
Ellsbury batted .298/.355/.436 with 31 doubles, 8 triples, 9 home runs and a league-leading 52 stolen bases this year with 92 runs scored.
Despite the obvious fit, the Mets won’t be big players for Ellsbury who will have no less than eight teams going after him. The Scott Boras client will get $100 million easily and one report said there might be a team that will go to $125 million for him.
In other NL East news, the Braves are expected to increase payroll to $100 million for the 2014 season according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.