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Phillies have made offers to 'several players'

PHILADELPHIA -- The free-agent market opened on Tuesday, and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. wasted no time.

"We've already made offers on several players," Amaro said from Arizona, where he is watching some of the organization's top young talent participate in the Arizona Fall League.

Amaro, who declined to divulge names, has shown that he can be aggressive. He moved quickly in November 2011, when he signed closer Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million contract.

Knowing that there is a lack of power hitters available, Amaro is perhaps making a push to sign one, as the team needs right-handed hitters.

Nelson Cruz, 33, fits the bill, although he served a 50-game suspension last season and is not a defensive stalwart. Amaro has stressed that the Phils need to improve their outfield defense.

Carlos Beltran and Michael Morse also are free agents, and the Phillies have tried to acquire them in the past. (Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said on Tuesday on SiriusXM that one team already has made an offer to Beltran.) The top two free-agent outfielders are Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, but both are expected to sign elsewhere.

Amaro said in September that re-signing catcher Carlos Ruiz is a top priority, but he couched that possibility this week.

"Well, we're fortunate now that [the free-agent market has] kind of opened up," Amaro said. "There are several candidates that could be our catcher next year. We'll see what happens. I mean, we're in the open season."

If the Phillies cannot re-sign Ruiz, there are options, such as Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski. But McCann hits left-handed and seems destined to join an American League team. Pierzynski also hits left-handed, and Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter with a career .599 OPS hitting from the right side.

The Phils could sign a less expensive catcher, such as Dioner Navarro, a move that would allow them to spend money elsewhere. But Ruiz seems the best of the bunch, although he turns 35 in January and is coming off his worst offensive season since 2008.

The Phillies also are trying to upgrade their pitching staff, but if Amaro is trying to be aggressive, improving an anemic offense -- the Phils tied for 26th, with just 610 runs scored -- might be the place to start.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for

Philadelphia Phillies