Would Hairston, Wells, or Soriano fit on Phillies roster?
by Scott Butler 1/5/13

Scott Hairston, Vernon Wells, and Alfonso Soriano. Those appear to be the options the Phillies are now pursuing to upgrade the outfield. Not exactly Hamilton, Bourn, or Swisher, but when the hottest girls already have prom dates, you have to take whatever scraps are left. The Phillies want another right-handed outfield bat, but here are some reasons why these scraps are not worth taking.

Why Phillies should not pursue Hairston, Wells, or Soriano

Scott Hairston

Scott Hairston is one of those journeyman players who no team really wants but one team always takes. Hairston, who turns 33 in May, is the lone free agent of the group and could fill one of the outfield vacancies. Last season, his .263 batting average and .299 on-base percentage were around the major league average, but he had above average power with a .504 slugging and .803 OPS. Keep in mind that those figures are higher (except for OBP) than his career .247 average, .302 OBP, .449 slugging, and .751 OPS.

Hairston would add some right-handed pop which the Phillies could use, but he also is likely to have a price tag in the range of $5 million. That kind of cash for a marginal upgrade just does not seem worth it.

Vernon Wells

Don't let the name fool you. Vernon Wells is a three-time all-star with three Gold Gloves, but the 34-year-old has been anything but in recent years. Wells hit 25 home runs in 2011, but has hit just .222 with a .257 OBP and .667 OPS the last two seasons.

The Angels would clearly eat a huge amount of the remaining $42 million on his deal, which runs through 2014, but I doubt they would eat enough to make this a worthwhile venture. Do the Phillies really need another player in his mid-thirties with injury issues (Wells missed significant time with a hand injury last season) and huge question marks?

Alfonso Soriano

How does 32 homers and 108 RBIs sound to you? Those are the numbers Alfonso Soriano put up last season. Soriano is a career .273 hitter with a .323 OBP, .505 slugging percentage, and an average of 34 homers and 95 RBIs per 162 game season. The Phillies would have to be absolutely certifiable to turn down those kind of numbers, right? Jeez, isn't that the right-handed bat they have been so desperately seeking?

If it seems too good to be true it probably is. There are a few issues with trading for Soriano. First and foremost is age. Soriano will turn 37 on Monday and his production is sure to drop sometime in the not too distant future.

Secondly is the cost. Soriano will make $18 million in each of the two years remaining on his contract. The Cubs will reportedly cover $26 million of the $36 million contract, leaving $10 million guaranteed dollars the Phillies would need to spend. Not only that, but the Cubs are a rebuilding franchise who would most definitely require quality prospect(s) in return. The Phillies already dealt one of their best prospects (Trevor May) in the Revere deal and don't have many chips left in their depleted farm system.

My final reason was initially that Soriano had major character issues, but an article in The Chicago Tribune has me backing off that claim.

Even so, 2 years/$10 million plus prospect(s) for a 37-year-old possibly nearing an abrupt end of his productiveness is a steep price to pay.

Phillies should pursue other outfield options

So far in this offseason Ruben Amaro has avoided tasting the low hanging fruit; big names like Hamilton, Bourn, Upton, and Swisher with obvious talent and unnecessarily high price tags. Even fringe players like Shane Victorino and Cody Ross went for big money. Would you pay full price for a rotten apple just because it is the last one? Of course not. You either go to another store or you wait for the next shipment to arrive.

The Phillies find themselves in a similar position. They could pay $5 million for Hairston, whatever the Angels ask for Wells, $10 million guaranteed plus prospect(s) for Soriano, or say no to all three and look elsewhere.

There always will be players like Juan Pierre or Scott Podsednick hoping to earn there way onto a club as a Spring Training invite. The Phils could also look to spend that money on the best available upgrade, regardless of position, maybe adding another quality bullpen arm. Or they could stay put and address their outfield needs at the trading deadline.

Regardless of which path they follow, a tasty Peach beats a rotten apple.

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