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Cheap Free Agent Help Still Available

The title looks like something you’d find in the classified section of the Sunday paper.  Prices for the services are likely somewhat different, however, for baseball standards, there are still some decent, cheap options on the market.

After all of the trades and free agent signings for the Phillies this offseason, there are still a few holes.  Money is now tight for Ruben Amaro and his posse, but by all accounts, the now-infamous $140 million figure is a hard cap for the team. Raises will be given to Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino, among others, through arbitration, so the Phillies will be short of the $140M plateau with a few positions to fill.

Blanton looks to receive about $7 million or so in arb, and Victorino, if his number were to double, would be owed about $6.5 million.  Carlos Ruiz, J.A. Happ, Ben Francisco, and a few other Phils’ need to be re-signed as well. Danys Baez was given a two-year contract, with the final number of $5.25 million coming out earlier today. After all is said and done, the Phillies will have about $3-5 million to spend on a reliever and/or starting pitcher.

Here is who remains on the open market that the Phillies could possibly entice:

Relief Pitchers: John Smoltz, DJ Carrasco, Clay Condrey, Scott Eyre (L), Ron Mahay (L), Mike MacDougal, Miguiel Batista, Mark Hendrickson.

-Smoltz looks to be the most expensive of the group. However, if he wants to win, he could take a cheap contract. I’m still not sure why the Phillies wouldn’t choose Condrey over Durbin for the price, but it appears Durbin will be back.  Condrey could still come back at about $1 million, and that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.  Eyre might be out of the price range, as he made $2 million last season.  Mahay would fit well as another lefty out of the pen.  He struggled last season as well, but has a decent track record.  Hendrickson was a starter/reliever, but was better out of the bullpen.  The former pick of the Philadelphia 76ers could be a nice long man/sport starter.  Batista has been on the Phillies radar for some time, but he is a shell of his former self. MacDougal has also been on the Phillies radar.

Starting Pitchers: Mark Mulder, Ben Sheets, Noah Lowry, Rich Hill

-Sheets sticks out like a sore thumb here, as he is seeking well in excess of what the Phillies can afford.  But will he stick to that high amount?  Let’s see how desperate he becomes as the season draws closer.  Mulder and Lowry are obvious injury risks, but could be low-risk, decent-reward guys should they get back in shape.  And with the $3 million or so the Phillies have to work with, it’s about finding guys like that.  Rich Hill is interesting.  He had a great 2007 season, got hurt in 2008, but pitched OK while healthy, and then absolutely bombed last year.  Reclamation project? Could be.  Smoltz is also a possible starter.

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