PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies need to improve their offense before Opening Day 2013, which is only a little more than five months away.
Philadelphia needs at least one outfielder, but it also could use an upgrade at third base. That is a challenge, considering the market for third basemen is weak. A mediocre field might push the Phillies to stick with what they already have: a combination of Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen.
Galvis is a slick-fielding, historically light-hitting infielder. He started out hot in Winter Ball, though, hitting .433 with one double, one triple, three home runs and five RBIs over his first seven games in Venezuela. Frandsen is the sixth-year free agent who hit .338 in 195 at-bats, but committed seven errors in 118 chances.
But even if the Phillies are leaning that way, they will explore other possibilities to improve via free agency and trades.
Even if the club eventually moves toward one of those outside opportunities, it might look only at a short-term deal. The Phillies are high on Cody Asche, who was hitting .357 (10-for-28) with four doubles, one home run and five RBIs through seven games in the Arizona Fall League after hitting a combined .324 with 33 doubles, six triples, 12 home runs, 72 RBIs and an .849 OPS with Class A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. He could be ready for the big leagues by 2014.
Here is a look at some of the Phillies' possibilities at third base via free agency:
The White Sox are expected to decline their $13 million club option on Youkilis, but they could still re-sign him at a lesser salary. The veteran hit just .236 with the Chicago last season, but carried a .346 on-base percentage and a .425 slugging percentage. His numbers have been in decline since 2010, but it might take a multiyear deal to bring him aboard. Would it be worth it? He will be 34 next season.
Everybody seems to think Rolen is going to retire, but he might not be bad to have on a one-year deal
Chavez had an .845 OPS in 313 at-bats last season with the Yankees, but he hits left-handed. The Phillies would like more balance in the lineup, and Chavez's numbers against left-handed pitching last season were very poor (.152 average, .382 OPS).
Keppinger put up good numbers last season with Tampa Bay, but he is more of a platoon/utility player than an everyday third baseman.
Inge has a career .690 OPS. Would he be an upgrade over a Galvis-Frandsen combination?
Placido Polanco and Ty Wigginton
The Phillies will pay Polanco $1 million and Wigginton $500,000 in buyouts on their 2013 club options. They will not be back.
The Phillies could make a trade, too.
Alex Rodriguez doesn't make much sense for numerous reasons, his salary and drop in production representing the major red flags.
David Wright would make a ton of sense. The Phillies like him a lot, but the Mets have a $16 million club option for next season. They will pick that up, and it would take a king's ransom for the Mets to trade Wright to a division rival.
It just seems unlikely the Padres would trade Chase Headley, who is their franchise star. The Rangers have talked with the Phillies in the past about Mike Olt, but the Rangers wanted Cole Hamels in that deal. But perhaps the Phillies reignite those talks with Cliff Lee.