With top free agent prize A.J. Burnett and others signing on the dotted line, a stark reality has set in: The Phillies must cut a deal with another team soon or settle for a less-desirable free agent.
As Jayson Stark reported yesterday on ESPN.com, the Phillies, frustrated by the trade market, are prepared to test free agency, where pickings are slim.
Before free agent pitchers started dropping off the board, I was one of the few people who believed there was OK pitching talent to be had cheaply through free agency, but not a single No. 1 in the entire bunch. Then Paul Byrd and Esteban Loaiza both signed deals for $7-7.5 million a season. So much for economy. I felt it was worth making an offer to Loaiza as a No. 4 or 5, but nothing close to the 3-year, $21 million deal he received from Oakland.
I have a hunch we should get used to the name Matt Morris, one of few remaining arms available who could possibly help the Phillies. The Phillies are reportedly interested. Realistically, what else is left in the free agent market? This would be a similar signing to Jon Lieber last season, a steady arm who, in theory, will come to Citizen’s Bank Park and induce ground balls. The downside of course is Morris is about as sexy as Lieber and not the No. 1 they need. In truth, there isn't a pitcher like that available. The best is Kevin Millwood, who did not work as their No. 1 pitcher two seasons ago.
I’m curious to know: How many of you pictured Matt Morris in a Phillies uniform at one point? I've been thinking about it since September. In the back of my mind, this move has been a long time coming, as has a trade for Ted Lilly of the Blue Jays, which is also not out of the question.
The Phillies still have chips, including David Bell and Jason Michaels. I would move either of them straight-up for a pitching prospect, relief pitcher or in a package for a No. 4 or 5 like Lilly.
The Phillies cannot wait long. A preliminary offer to Morris is a likely next step.