With just Nick Swisher, Cody Ross and Scott Hairston left on the free agent market (our apologies to Delmon Young), the Phillies have likely noticed that a "double platoon" might be as effective as those last two options for a fraction of the cost. Another option would be making a third trade of the offseason to bring in Vernon Wells, who they've been linked to by CBS Sports.
Wells' last good year was 2010, when he hit .273/.331/.515 with 31 homers and 44 doubles for the Blue Jays. In the two seasons since, he's been pretty much worthless at the plate, batting .222 with a .258 on-base percentage. Second-worst in baseball over that span to Miguel Olivo (.248).
Wells does still have some power, though, evidenced by his 36 homers in just under 800 plate appearances over 2011 and 2012. He's owed $42 million from the Angels through the end of 2014, but you better believe Los Angeles would be picking up almost all of that to get rid of him. He is the Angels' fifth outfielder right now and if he can bring back a low-level reliever with upside and maybe $4-6 million in total savings over two years, the Angels would probably jump at the chance to deal him. It would be another Michael Young situation ... buy low on a declining player in hopes that, for the cost, he outproduces expectations.
The Phils are also in on lefthanded reliever J.P. Howell, according to MLB.com. Most Phils fans will remember Howell from the 2008 World Series, when he lost Games 3 and 5 for the Rays. But he's an underrated lefty who has pitched extremely well in three of his last four seasons.
From 2008-09, Howell had a 2.48 ERA and struck out 9.9 batters per nine. He had Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2010, and struggled in limited duty in 2011. Last season, though, he returned to form and had a 3.04 ERA in 55 games.
It may seem odd that the Phils have reported interest in another lefty reliever since they already have Antonio Bastardo, Jeremy Horst, Raul Valdes, Jake Diekman and Joe Savery on the 40-man roster. But of that group, only Bastardo and Diekman are true "nasty" lefties that have consistent swing-and-miss stuff. Howell is a nightmare to lefties, having held them to .222 or lower in three of his last four seasons.
Still though, for what it'll likely cost -- one year, $3-5 million -- Howell isn't a true fit for the Phils.