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10 best remaining MLB free agents aside from Bryce Harper and Manny Machado

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10 best remaining MLB free agents aside from Bryce Harper and Manny Machado

Patrick Corbin was the third-best free agent this offseason and he's now off the board.

You know who the top two are, so we're not going to go too far down the Bryce Harper-Manny Machado road in this post.

Instead, let's take a look at the rest of the free-agent market the weekend before the Winter Meetings begin in Las Vegas.

Here are the top 10:

1. OF A.J. Pollock

Pollock is the top outfielder in the tier below Harper. When healthy, he's a .280-.300 hitter with power and elite baserunning. Since 2013, he's 102 for 123 stealing bases. 

The issue is he's rarely healthy. Since 2014, Pollock has played 469 games and missed 341. That's a five-year span in which he's missed 42% of games. It's going to be tough for any team, even one that misses out on Harper, to commit a long, expensive contract to Pollock. 

There's been no indication the Phillies want Pollock, but the market for outfielders like Pollock, Michael Brantley, Nick Markakis and Andrew McCutchen probably won't develop until the picture becomes clearer with Harper.

If the Phils do pursue Pollock at some point, a short deal with a higher annual average value would suit them more. The Mets are reportedly after Pollock in addition to Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. The Mets are doing more than anyone expected.

2. LHP Dallas Keuchel

The Phillies' interest in J.A. Happ is known, but their interest in Keuchel is unclear. More here on what Keuchel could cost, what he still does well and the ways he's declined.

3. OF Michael Brantley

After Machado and Harper, Brantley is the free-agent hitter I like the most. He's a perennial .290-.300 hitter who does major damage against righties and never strikes out. You can bat him anywhere from second through sixth.

Think about a Phillies lineup like this:

1. Jean Segura, SS
2. Manny Machado, 3B
3. Michael Brantley, LF
4. Rhys Hoskins, 1B
5. Odubel Herrera, RF
6. Roman Quinn, CF
7. Jorge Alfaro, C
8. Pitcher
9. Cesar Hernandez, 2B

Even if the Phils get Machado in addition to Segura, the lineup would still be pretty thin 7 through 9. Adding a third quality hitter would go a long way. It would also give the Phils' lineup myriad skills, from power and plate selection to high-contact rates and some speed.

There is a report out that Brantley is seeking a deal similar to Carlos Santana's three-year, $60 million. Doesn't mean he'll end up getting it. A fair price for Brantley seems like three years, $48 million, but several teams are interested so the cost could rise.

4. RHP Craig Kimbrel

The best closer on the market, and Adam Ottavino isn't far behind, but the Phillies' big bullpen addition will almost surely be a lefty. Zach Britton and Andrew Miller are the two standouts.

5. RHP Charlie Morton
6. LHP J.A. Happ

I got a good question on Twitter Wednesday: Would the Phillies be better off with Corbin, or with both Happ and Morton?

Short-term, assuming health for all three, give me Happ and Morton over Corbin. There's just more value in two pitchers who can give you 170+ solid innings than one who can give you 210, unless you're one ace away from a World Series. 

Morton, like seemingly every pitcher who's gone to Houston the last four years, improved vastly with the Astros and missed more bats in 2018 than ever before. 

Happ, 36, will likely get a two-year deal. Morton might get one year with an option, given his age (35) and injury history.

7. C Yasmani Grandal
8. C Wilson Ramos

Would love to see Ramos back here but don't think it happens. The Phillies have other fish to fry, want even more from Jorge Alfaro in 2019, and can't feel great about Ramos' ability to stay on the field. 

Grandal will find a starting job somewhere. He won't want to sign with a team playing him half the time. 

Either way, the Phils are much more likely in 2019 to have a veteran back up Alfaro.

9. OF Andrew McCutchen

Similar thoughts to Brantley, but McCutchen is closer to the finish line. The line drives and plate selection are still there but the power is fading. McCutchen hits so many sharp ground balls right at the shortstop or third baseman. But, hey, if he lingers on the market and can be had for one year and an option, he'd make a whole lot of sense in this Phillies outfield, pushing one of Herrera-Quinn-Williams into more of a fourth outfielder role.

10. Utilityman Marwin Gonzalez

He can play every defensive position other than catcher and center field and he can do it well. He has power and could be a starter or supersub. 

But Gonzalez is more of a final piece for a World Series contender than a guy a team in the Phillies' position should prioritize.

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Marlins 3, Phillies 1 (10 innings): This one is on the offense

Marlins 3, Phillies 1 (10 innings): This one is on the offense

BOX SCORE

This one is on the offense. The Phillies were held to just four hits in suffering a 3-1 loss in 10 innings to the Miami Marlins on Thursday night.

Starlin Castro broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run home run against Hector Neris in the top of the 10th to propel the Marlins to victory.

The Phillies’ Nos. 2 through 5 hitters went 0 for 15 with a walk.

With a chance to take control of the game, the Phils went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position in the sixth and seventh innings.

The Phillies are now 13-12. They have lost six of their last eight.

Miami is 8-17.

The Phils are 2-2 against Miami.

• Nick Williams, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and stayed in to play left field, made what at the time was a game-saving throw to cut down a run at the plate and end the top of the ninth inning. Williams' perfect throw came in at 95.5 mph.

• Williams’ throw bailed out Hector Neris. Neris gave up a two-out double and a two-out homer in the 10th as the Marlins took the lead.

• Adam Morgan relieved Aaron Nola with two outs and runners on the corners in a tie game in the seventh. He retired pinch-hitter Isaac Galloway for one of the game’s biggest outs. Morgan has not given up a run in 10 1/3 innings (13 games) this season.

Starting pitching rules

Nola, who showed signs of putting it together in his previous start at Colorado, was very good in this one. He allowed just a run over 6 2/3 innings. He gave up seven hits, all singles, walked one and struck out four.

Miami lefty Caleb Smith was also very good, holding the Phillies to three hits and a run over six innings. He walked one and struck out eight.

Smith allowed a second-inning homer to Sean Rodriguez for the Phillies' lone run.

Sights and sounds

Though J.T. Realmuto did not get a hit in the first inning, he provided some entertainment for the crowd as he battled Miami lefty Smith through a fairly incredible 16-pitch at-bat. Realmuto fouled off 10 straight pitches before ultimately striking out, but the crowd appreciated the duel. The cheers became louder with each ball Realmuto fouled off and he received a loud ovation while walking back to the dugout at Smith prevailed.

Health check

Another injury for Roman Quinn. What it means for the Phillies’ outfield picture (see story).

Up next

Jerad Eickhoff makes his first home start of the season Friday night against Marlins’ right-hander Jose Urena.

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How will Phillies handle center field with oft-injured Roman Quinn down again?

How will Phillies handle center field with oft-injured Roman Quinn down again?

The Phillies are going through centerfielders as fast as they’re going through shortstops.

Roman Quinn, who went down with a strained right groin muscle in Wednesday night’s game in New York, was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday. He was replaced on the roster by outfielder Dylan Cozens.

Quinn is going to be out a lot longer than 10 days. An MRI performed on Thursday afternoon revealed a Grade 2 strain, which is worse than a Grade 1 or mild strain. Quinn is a player who relies on the speed that his legs generate. The Phillies will be very cautious in bringing him back.

“I don’t know what the timetable is but it’s at least several weeks,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

Quinn is the second centerfielder to go down in a week. Odubel Herrera went on the IL with a mild hamstring strain last week. He could be ready to return sometime next week, according to Kapler. Also in the last week, the Phils lost shortstops Scott Kingery and Jean Segura to hamstring injuries. Segura is expected back in the lineup Saturday or Sunday.

With Quinn and Herrera out, Aaron Altherr got the start in center field Thursday night. Kapler said it was possible that Andrew McCutchen could get some time in center in the next few days. That would allow seldom-used Nick Williams a chance to get a start in left field. It’s also possible that Cozens could help fill the breach in center. Williams played some center field two years ago, but Kapler does not seem inclined to use him there.

“I don’t want to say it’s off the table but it’s not at the front of my mind right now,” Kapler said. “I’d prefer to ease him back in in left field if we’re going to go that route.”

Quinn, three weeks shy of his 26th birthday, has been plagued by a long list of injuries since being selected by the Phillies in the second round of the 2011 draft.

He has missed significant time with a torn quadriceps, a torn Achilles tendon, a strained elbow ligament, a torn ligament in his middle finger, a concussion and a broken toe. He missed the start of this season while recovering from an oblique strain suffered in spring training.

“Same ol’, same ol’,” Quinn said Thursday. “I’ve never had [a groin] issue before. Put it on my list.”

Quinn, a 5-foot-9 inch package of lean muscle, has done about everything he can to avoid injuries. He spent the winter in Clearwater two years ago in a program dedicated to stretching. He’s had his diet analyzed.

Another injury, suffered running out a bunt, has left him very frustrated and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever be able to exhibit the durability needed to be an everyday player.

“Roman is not trying to get hurt,” Kapler said. “To his defense, he has done everything in his power to stay on the field and his body has just not cooperated. I feel terrible for him. He is an uber-talented individual. He’s got special talent. He’s as athletic as anyone on the field. He’s as fast as anyone on the field. He’s got speed, power, athleticism, quickness. We’re doing everything in our power to keep him healthy. I feel personally responsible for digging in and not leaving any stone unturned for helping him stay on the field.”

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