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Hot Stove: Berkman, Hamilton as Fall Back Options?

According to national beat writers, the Phillies preference is Bourn, Upton, followed by Hamilton. Photo: AP

UPDATE, 7:18 PM: Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle has reported the Phillies are in “tire-kicking” mode with Lance Berkman. The Astros were the only team known to be in contact with the Big Puma previous to today about a possible return to Houston. Berkman missed time last season with two knee surgeries but was a key contributor to the 2011 World Series Champion Cardinals. He has said recently that in order to return, he wants to be paid like a three-hole hitter and that he would give the Astros a discount. For the price of a three-hole hitter, I’d pass on Puma.

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The biggest news today from the Hot Stove is that, per Jon Heyman, the Phillies view Josh Hamilton as a fall-back option in the event they don’t sign Michael Bourn or B.J. Upton. Heyman described the market for Hamilton as a “bona fide mysetery market”, with the Mariners out, the Orioles and Brewers on the periphery, and the Rangers, Braves, Phillies, and Red Sox having the strongest interest.

In an Insider-Only piece yesterday, Buster Olney believes the Phillies may start the dominoes going in the center field market. He had a pretty comprehensive piece about the Phillies’ center field targets, but if you have been following our Hot Stove coverage, including our new mailbag feature, a lot of that information would look very familiar. In short, Olney states: Bourn is good lead-off fit but is too expensive, Hamilton’s power translates well but is another lefty and has a great deal of off-the-field issues, Upton is probably the best fit but is a case of never reaching his believed potential and may be too expensive, Victorino is a really good fit but would not be seen as something new or fresh by the fan base, and Pagan would be a nice add but may be a beneficiary of teams spending early, often, and way too much this year. Additionally, Olney has a really nice piece about the current market, which is required reading for this year’s Hot Stove followers.

Minor news:

Ryan Howard is now represented exclusively by CAA Sports. Howard was previously represented by both CAA Sports and Excel Sports Management.

Last year’s starting left fielder Juan Pierre has signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal with the Miami Marlins. Pierre had an outstanding year for the Phillies last year, hitting .307/.351/.371, stealing 37 steals in 44 tries last year so the dollar figure involved comes as sort of a surprise although Pierre will turn 36 next August.

Finally, Raul Ibanez, fresh off receiving a Tenth Place MVP vote from John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press despite only being the sixteenth most valuable Yankee in terms of fWAR, is getting closer to re-signing with the Yankees. Ken Davidoff of he New York Post is reporting the club has “significant interest” in bringing back the 40-year old outfielder. Ibanez hit .240/.308/.453 with 20 HRs last year with 85% of his plate appearances coming against righties.

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