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Inbox: Will Phils pursue big-name starter?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers questions from Philadelphia fans
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

Do you think the Phillies will trade for a starting pitcher like Chris Archer or Gerrit Cole? If not, who do you see them signing as a free agent?
-- Bob C., Reading, Pa.

Now that the Phillies are projected to have 78 wins, could they sign Yu Darvish? Maybe a front-loaded deal with a signing bonus, or an overpay with opt-outs built in can entice him.
-- Andrew R., Hamilton, N.J.

Do you think the Phillies will trade for a starting pitcher like Chris Archer or Gerrit Cole? If not, who do you see them signing as a free agent?
-- Bob C., Reading, Pa.

Now that the Phillies are projected to have 78 wins, could they sign Yu Darvish? Maybe a front-loaded deal with a signing bonus, or an overpay with opt-outs built in can entice him.
-- Andrew R., Hamilton, N.J.

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The Phillies have enough prospects in a deep farm system to trade for somebody like Archer or Cole, but does it make sense to pay such a high price? They went 37-38 after the All-Star break, and they signed Carlos Santana, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter to multiyear contracts in the offseason. The conventional wisdom is the team's young core will take a collective step forward and pick up where it left off. Coupling improved play with the expected help that Santana, Neshek and Hunter should provide, the Phillies could push to be .500 or better in a division that is hardly intimidating outside the Nationals.

Video: Darvish has biggest upside among free agent pitchers

But what if the core stalls or goes backward? Then the Phillies will have traded multiple top prospects like Scott Kingery and Sixto Sanchez for a pitcher that might not make that much of a difference in the short term. Even then, I'm not sure I'd give up that much for one pitcher, knowing the Phillies can always find a top-of-the-rotation starter in July or later, if needed.

It makes more sense to find help on the free-agent market. Teams are waiting out free agents, expecting they will become more desperate to sign with Spring Training just weeks away. Who knows? Maybe Jake Arrieta's asking price drops considerably in the coming weeks and the Phillies jump on it. There seems to be no way they will sign Arrieta or Darvish to a six-year deal. But a three-year deal? A four-year deal? That might be hard to turn down.

Video: Hoskins discusses hopes to improve defensively

With Rhys Hoskins moving to left field, who's the odd man out?
-- Bill B., Philadelphia

I have written a few things about this since the Phillies acquired Santana, including a story about how Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr discussed future playing time. Quite simply, it will play itself out. It is not a scintillating answer, but it is the truth. After all, what are the odds that four outfielders all play well and stay healthy over the course of a six-month season?

Odubel Herrera and Altherr have an edge defensively over Williams, so that could come into play. But there is no question the players that produce offensively will get the bulk of playing time. I can see manager Gabe Kapler rotating his outfielders throughout the early part of the season before one or two of them (not including Hoskins, who will play the majority of the time in left field) establish themselves.

What about Christian Yelich?
-- James S., West Chester, Pa.

The Phillies love Yelich, so there is no doubt they have inquired about him. In fact, sources said they always had more interest in him than their purported interest in Giancarlo Stanton. But again, at what price? A source told MLB.com recently that the Marlins would need a "huge overpay" to trade Yelich. That might include Hoskins, which could negate talks instantly. Knowing that the Phillies already have Hoskins, Herrera, Altherr and Williams in the outfield along with the expectation they will pursue Bryce Harper next winter, it might not make sense to empty the farm system for him.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

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