Is there a chance Jose Bautista will sign with the Phillies?
-- Teddy P., Chicago
Why don't the Phillies sign Bautista?
-- Byron S., Voorhees, N.J.
This is a familiar question, but the answer is worth repeating as the Phillies search for another hitter before Spring Training. By the way, I believe the Phils will find somebody, and possibly soon. Sources have said that Brandon Moss, Michael Saunders and Jay Bruce are the names to watch. Moss and Saunders are the best bets.
But Bautista is not a candidate, because the Blue Jays made him a qualifying offer, and the Phillies would have to forfeit a second-round pick in the 2017 Draft to sign him. That makes no sense for a rebuilding team, considering Bautista would not be signed to anything more than a one-year contract. Moss or Saunders would work well for 2017.
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Why have the Phillies not offered Chase Utley a two-year contract to retire as a Phillie? They can use his bat off the bench. Is it because he would not consider a bench role?
-- Jim C., Philadelphia
I'm not sure Utley would even want this. He is trying to play every day, and he is trying to win another World Series. If he eventually wants to retire a Phillie, he will have his opportunity at some point. Just last season, the Phillies had Randy Wolf and Placido Polanco officially retire with the club. I'm pretty sure they would do the same with Utley. But quite frankly, I think the Phils need to move on from the 2008 team. This is a new chapter.
Can the Phillies move Odubel Herrera back to second base to open an extra outfield spot for the younger talent?
-- Harvey O., Folsom, Pa.
This question continuously pops up, because Herrera spent much of his Minor League career as a second baseman. But it turns out Herrera is a pretty good center fielder. He was a finalist for a National League Gold Glove Award last season. He grades out well analytically, both with publicly available statistics and the Phillies' internal ones. In a hypothetical situation, if every Phils outfield prospect pans out and they can't find a spot for everybody to play, could Herrera return to second base? My guess is no. Herrera's time as an infielder has passed, in my opinion. But that sure would be a nice problem to have.
Why did the Phillies make the mistake of trading Ken Giles, which has set back any chance of contention? Secondly, why are they so fiscally cautious when it comes to acquiring a bona fide impact hitter who can bolster their offense?
-- Jeff A., Wilmington, Del.
Frankly, I think it would have been egregious for the Phillies to reject the offer the Astros made for Giles. The Phils got Vince Velasquez plus four other prospects for a pitcher they simply didn't need. Closers are a luxury on rebuilding teams. And did you see how Giles pitched last season? He hardly threw like Albertin Chapman or Kenley Jansen. In regards to the Phillies' payroll, this has been reported and written numerous times this offseason: The Phils are trying to maintain roster and financial flexibility for the future. I expect them to be more aggressive on the free-agent market beginning next offseason, certainly two offseasons from now when Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson and others can become free agents. Ask yourself this: Would you rather have paid $80 million this offseason for Ian Desmond or have another $80 million to spend in year or two to acquire somebody like Harper? I'd take Harper.