It's been a couple of days since the last post. Here's the latest.
These are the free agents I've seen in connection with the Phillies most often over the last week: B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton, Torii Hunter, Kevin Youkilis. Upton seems to be the "it" guy. An ESPN report suggested the Phils are aggressively making center field their top priority and have asked lots of questions about Upton, trying to get a sense of whether he'll handle the pressure cooker of Philadelphia. Hamilton, who's asking for the sky, may be an exercise in due diligence.
Meanwhile, outfielders like Dexter Fowler, Michael Cuddyer and Peter Bourjos have been mentioned in trade speculation. Nothing sourced, but they seem like logical fits in this winter narrative.
Earlier this week the Phils made their first move that impacts the 25-man roster by avoiding arbitration with third baseman Kevin Frandsen and inking him to a one-year, $850K deal. Frandsen, 30, hit .338/.383/.451 and proved to be an able fallback at third base. His ability to make constant contact won Charlie Manuel's endorsement as a replacement No. 2 hitter down the stretch, but he was best batting 8th (.354/.392/.604). Frandsen can play passably all around the infield, but never showcased those skills at any other position but third. It's unlikely the Phils think of him as anything but a an average defensive third baseman.
Transactions: A couple of under-the-radar moves first reported by Baseball America. The Phillies officially signed Michael Martinez to a minor league contract. Mini-Mart was moved off the 40-man roster last month. The club also resigned right-handed reliever Juan Morillo and infielder Andres Blanco to minor league deals.
Blanco, a 28-year-old switch hitter who played parts of six years in the majors with the Royals, Cubs and Rangers, hit .235/.301/.346 with 10 home runs in 461 plate appearances with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He's younger than Mini-Mart and likely to battle him for the utility job out of spring training. Blanco, at this stage, reminds me a little of Frandsen, who made the most of his second chance with the club last season following a few setbacks. All three are playing winter ball: Blanco in Venezuela, Morillo and Martinez in the Dominican Republic.
Elsewhere around baseball this week, former organizational catcher Tuffy Gosewisch signed with the Diamondbacks. David Herndon, after being designated for assignment by the Blue Jays, was claimed off waivers by the Yankees.