In an interview Sunday on Comcast SportsNet's SportsNite Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the team is looking to add a "low-risk, high-reward starter" to increase competition in the back-end of the rotation.
Plenty of these guys are out there. They all come with flaws, but so does Tyler Cloyd, who was 15-1 with a 2.26 ERA in the minors last season but struggled to keep the ball in the park when he got to the majors (8 HR in 33 IP). Cloyd's stuff might not play at this level and the Phillies need to at least give a free agent starting pitcher the chance to beat him out in spring training.
Here are some guys that fit the "high-reward" description, though they come with varying risk levels:
• Jair Jurrjens - A surprise non-tender by the Braves, Jurrjens is just a season removed from going 13-6 with a 2.96 ERA. He was terrible in 2012 and spent most of the year in Triple A. He comes with injury risks, but when he's on he generates a ton of ground balls. He's killed the Phillies in his career (.201 opponents' batting average, 2.11 ERA at Citizens Bank Park). Get him on a cheap one- or two-year deal and it may pay dividends.
• Shaun Marcum - A bit more of a risk just because he's always hurt and he's due to make more money than anyone on this list. Marcum has one of the best righthanded changeups in baseball and is more of a No. 3 starter than a No. 4/5. He'd be a luxury, but the Phillies do have about $20 million more to spend. Over this last four seasons, Marcum has a 3.57 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP.
• Carlos Villanueva - The most unheralded name of this bunch, Villanueva has been a successful swingman for several seasons. He can start or reliever, strike batters out, has good command and he misses bats. His swinging-strike rate was over 10 percent last season. You probably remember Villanueva from all the games he stifled the Phillies. Another pitcher with a strong changeup. Villanueva would be a solid No. 5.
• Erik Bedard/Dallas Braden - Over the last two seasons, Braden has made three starts and had two shoulder surgeries. The year before, though, he went 11-14 with a 3.50 ERA and walked just 43 batters in 192 innings. He also threw a perfect game.
Bedard is always hurt and last year was the worst of his career. He went 7-14 with a 5.01 ERA and was released by the Pirates. But he did have nine fairly dominant starts, including one against the Phillies on Opening Day.
• Daisuke Matsuzaka/Rich Harden/Jonathan Sanchez - Stay far, far, far away.