The 2010 or I guess 2011 MLB free agency period has begun and the hot stove is... well it's warming up. The start of baseball free agency isn't quite like how the NFL begins where half the big stars sign by 12:01am. Like the baseball season itself MLB free agency starts with a simmer and builds to a roaring fire.
For the Phillies, the big story this winter is going to be what happens to right fielder Jayson Werth who signed with mega agent Scott Boras and is reportedly looking for a contract in the ballpark of the 7 year $120 million deal given to Matt Holliday by the Cardinals last year. Werth's deal won't be that long but at those numbers, it would seem unlikely that the Phillies would be bringing Werth back... However, according to Boras the Phils do have that kind of cash.
"The Yankees are a Goliath," Boras said. "George [Steinbrenner] built them with the idea of the word best. The Phillies are now Goliaths. The reality of it is, they have the ability to do what they need to do to retain their players. It's merely a matter of choice. It's not a matter of good business, because I think everybody would agree they've made some really good business decisions. They've all proven to be fruitful economically as far as franchise value increase, future television negotiations, fans. Everything is going well. Somebody asked me if they can have a $200 million payroll. Of course they could. It would be good business to do so.
"This is really a matter of choice for them. Tip your cap to them. It's nice to be in a position to have those choices."
Somewhat complicating things for Boras, is that he also represents Werth's likely replacement Domonic Brown. So really, it's a win-win situation for him. Shocker. He has said that he's already been in talks with the Phillies about a possible new deal for Werth. The Boston Red Sox have also reportedly been in contact with Boras regarding Werth and figure to be a major player for his services next season.
In addition to making a decision on Werth, the Phillies have almost an entire bullpen to fill out. Brad Lidge & Ryan Madson will be back plus Danys Baez is under contract for another year... but aside from those three it's wide open. Some help could come internally from Scott Mathieson, Antonio Bastardo ect but surely the team will also look to bring in a free agent arm or two. One candidate that I would think Phillies fans would be happy to see back would be Jose Contreras, who is a free agent and really did yeoman's work for the club last season.
Things are quiet so far for the NL East champs, but GM Reuben Amaro has a history of striking kinda quick. Some might say he acts before the market is set and ends up overpaying in money and years (cough Ibanez cough) but you can't accuse the guy of being afraid to make a big move (cough Roy Halladay cough).