The Phillies still haven't yet moved on their needs, but there are ways to salvage what has been an ugly start to the offseason. After being out-bid on B.J. Upton and Angel Pagan and watching Shane Victorino sign in Boston, the Phils also saw Wilton Lopez traded to the Rockies. But three moves by Ruben Amaro Jr. could cancel it all out.
Here is an updated best-case scenario for the Phillies: trade for Josh Willingham, sign Michael Bourn, sign Kevin Youkilis. May sound unrealistic, but if you pencil in $15-16 million per year for Bourn and something like two years, $18 million for Youkilis, it adds $31 million in payroll, putting the Phillies just under $170 million.
Let's break it down bit-by-bit:
• Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported Tuesday that the Phillies are shopping Vance Worley and pitching prospect Trevor May. The Twins need pitching, both young and major-league ready. This could work in a deal for Willingham. Minnesota can't think it is truly set up to compete in 2012 and Willingham at two years, $14 million is a major trade asset.
• If you're able to swing a deal for Willingham, the corner outfield situation is solved for a relatively low price. It leaves enough money to sign Bourn to something like five years, $77.5 million with a team option for a sixth year. I haven't been an advocate for signing Bourn, but if you add power at the corner and at third, then all the sudden Bourn's skills look very appealing in this lineup.
• Signing Youkilis may be tricky, but if it takes $9 million per year over two seasons, that would be a good way to round out the lineup. Picture a lineup of: Bourn-Youkilis-Utley-Howard-Willingham-Rollins-Ruiz-Brown-Pitcher. Would instantly push the Phillies back toward the top of the NL.
• The downside would be that the Phils would have very little remaining financial wiggle room ... keep in mind that while the luxury tax is $178 million, it also includes contract bonuses and player benefit costs. That means that you could be at $171 million and technically be at or over the tax threshold.
• The other sacrifice you'd be making is swapping out Worley as your fifth starter and inserting Tyler Cloyd or a low-cost free agent signing as your No. 5. That's a bit of a dropoff, but if Worley lands you Willingham that's a deal you have to make.