The Phillies are in a tricky position as the offseason begins, in need of offense but without many open positions to add it.
It would make little sense for them to pursue a high-priced catcher, first baseman, shortstop, third baseman or centerfielder given the presence of Cameron Rupp, Jorge Alfaro, Tommy Joseph, J.P. Crawford, Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera and Roman Quinn.
It's entirely possible that when that group matures, it still won't be good enough offensively to push the Phillies deep into October, but for now, this organization wants to give those players a chance to reach their potential.
That would seemingly leave just second base and the corner outfield for a free agent or trade target. Thus, we'll take a look at two notable names that have been connected to the Phils this week:
Tigers OF J.D. Martinez
CSN's Jim Salisbury mentioned Martinez as a trade possibility for the Phillies earlier this week, and the 29-year-old certainly looks like a fit. He's 29, one of the game's better power hitters and his contract expires after 2017.
If the Phils were to trade for him and he disappoints, they wouldn't be locked into a pricey, multi-year contract. If he produces, they could extend him. And at age 29, he wouldn't be too old to contribute to their next competitive club.
Martinez has been terrific for the Tigers the last three seasons so don't expect them to give him away. Since 2014, he's hit .299/.357/.540 and averaged 28 homers, 82 RBIs and 33 doubles in 499 plate appearances per season.
In two of those years he exceeded 20 homers in less than 125 games. In the other, 2015, he played 158 games and hit 38 homers.
There's no doubt about his power, but he's not some one-trick pony who either hits one deep or strikes out. Martinez has maintained a relatively high batting average the last three years, which has enabled him to reach base at a .357 clip.
The Phillies would have to give up something significant to land Martinez. You'd think, given the construction of Detroit's roster, that in exchange for him, the Tigers would want a major league-ready piece to try to win with Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez still around.
Could that mean someone like Herrera? Vince Velasquez? Either player would make sense for Detroit, which lacks an everyday centerfielder and has a few underperformers in its rotation.
Salisbury also brought up the idea that the Phillies could take on the big contract of Anibal Sanchez in a Martinez trade. That would give Detroit some payroll space — Sanchez is owed $16 million in 2017 and $16 million more with a $5 million buyout in 2018 — and the salary dump aspect of the deal could help the Phils hold onto their better young talent(s).
That's certainly possible, but you'd think the Tigers would first prioritize turning their 29-year-old power hitter into a player or players of substance. The only way a salary dump involving Sanchez would make sense for Detroit is if it has already identified a mid- or upper-tier free agent it would sign with that pocketed money.
One thing seems clear, though: With so many big contracts already on the books, Martinez is probably not a piece of the Tigers' future. GM Al Avila has already said the organization is not considering extensions this offseason.
Back to the aforementioned trade possibilites, moving a Herrera or a Velasquez for Martinez would make sense for the Phillies only if they believe they can sign Martinez to an extension. The Phils have almost no sizable payroll commitments moving forward and could afford to pay (or overpay) Martinez if they truly believe in him.
Stay tuned there.
Dodgers utilityman Howie Kendrick
Kendrick would be a less expensive, less impactful acquisition, but he'd still be the exact type of player Phillies manager Pete Mackanin is looking for. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported the Phils' interest in Kendrick earlier this week.
The statistical community does not love Kendrick because he doesn't walk a lot and doesn't have a ton of power, but he does everything solidly.
Kendrick, 33, is a .289/.332/.417 hitter in 11 seasons with the Angels and Dodgers. From 2007 through 2015, he hit at least .285 in eight of nine seasons. He's a consistent singles hitter with gap power who can give you double-digit home runs. His 162-game average is 11 homers, but keep in mind he's played his entire career in ballparks not conducive to home runs.
This past season was Kendrick's worst offensively. He hit .255 with just eight homers and 40 RBIs in 543 plate appearances, but did walk a career-high 50 times. Some of that decline could have been a result of his getting older. It also could have been caused by the Dodgers' moving him up and down the lineup and all over the field throughout the year. For the first decade of his career, Kendrick was an everyday second baseman. Last year, he started 54 games in left field, 16 at second base, nine at third base and seven at first base.
That versatility would be welcomed by the Phillies, who could plop Kendrick into the two-hole and start him wherever they're weakest. He could be pencilled in as the opening day leftfielder, but if a Roman Quinn or a Nick Williams produces his way to the bigs, Kendrick could be shifted to second base. It would give Mackanin some of the flexibility and offensive professionalism he needs.
Kendrick has also always been a clubhouse leader, the type of player others gravitate toward. I'd heard about it for years and noticed it up close in the Dodgers' clubhouse when they came to town in 2016. I'm assuming that at least a quarter of the Phillies' fans reading this will roll their eyes or ignore things like "leadership" and "clubhouse chemistry," but just know that I did too before being in a clubhouse regularly. Having a confident, experienced leader who also brings some on-field skills to the table is huge for a young team.
Now, Kendrick is no long-term answer. If the Phillies were to acquire him, he could be here a year and move on. He's owed $10 million in 2017 before becoming a free agent.
But when you combine that contract status with Kendrick's 2016 production and the Dodgers' roster depth, Kendrick is an obvious trade candidate, one who wouldn't cost the Phillies a difference-making prospect.