Three Free Agent Centerfielders the Phillies Could Target

MLB: MAY 23 Phillies at Tigers
May 23, 2016: Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos (9) lines a ball to the wall in right during the game on Monday evening, Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire)

Sometimes it just takes a mercenary, and the Phillies could use more muscle in the outfield.

Mercenaries, not unlike Boba Fett, rotate in and out of your life until you’ve forgotten they existed. Always on to the next.

In that spirit, I’d like to examine a handful of potential free agents the Phillies could bring aboard that might enhance our viewing experience.

And thus begins my ‘Season of Streamers’ series, where I will compare potential Philadelphia Phillies signings to hit shows and movies that you can find on all your favorite smart TVs.

So as we wait for an eventual end to the MLB lockout, let us pontificate on the future of the Phillies outfield.

Play the Hits

The Phillies do have some cash to burn, with about $35MM until they hit the luxury tax threshold, pending the results of the MLB lockout.

Not all of these guys would be upgrades over Odubel Herrera’s 2021, which featured a 1.8 WAR & .726 OPS – they only need to be better than whatever the Phillies think of Adam Haseley or Mickey Moniak, who combined for -0.6 WAR in 2021.

I’ll stop stalling…

Nick Castellanos (2021 WAR – 3.2)

2022 PredictionThe Rings of Power on Amazon – really excited if it works but not getting my hopes up.

Okay, so I’m already cheating. Castellanos isn’t a centerfielder, but they’ll find a place for him somewhere.

His .939 OPS in 2021 speaks for itself, so I’d rather talk about how much this could cost Philadelphia.

If we compare Chris Taylor’s contract (2.6 WAR), who’s will be making $15MM a year beginning at age 31, to a potential deal for Castellanos, we can start to craft a narrative.

If you believe Taylor pseudo-set the market for outfielders, I think you could estimate around $18-20MM a year for the former Cincinnati Red.

That said, with Castellanos exercising his player’s option, turning his nose up at an $18MM average over two years, he’s probably shopping for $20MM or more. A likely bidding war may not be worth it for a Phillies team that needs help in a few spots.

Brett Gardner (2021 WAR – 1.0)

2022 Prediction The Office Superfan Episodes on Peacock – I’ve already seen enough but sure, let’s slap on a fresh coat of pinstripes.

This wouldn’t be a shocking reunion for Joe Girardi. Despite their flaws, we know he loves former Yankees, and Gardner could jump in for a year as a player coach.

Even if he spends most of the season as a glorified bench bat, the Phillies could do a lot worse and allow some of their younger prospects (see above) an extended look in Lehigh.

Gardner’s not what he used to be, but it would only take a cheap over-pay to convince him to leave New York once and for all, and his 2021 .327 OBP would look pretty in the eight-hole.

Kevin Pillar (2021 WAR – 0.5)

2022 PredictionThe Book of Boba Fett on Disney+ – the show wouldn’t be about him because the Mandolorian’s sitting in right-field.

Here’s another name that may seem a bit underwhelming on its face.

Pillar has spent the last two seasons bouncing around a couple of organizations, including our favorites – the New York Mets – but I believe he could have some life left in him.

In 2019, just 570 plate appearances ago, Pillar blasted 21 home runs for the San Francisco Giants. That’s worth a flier, not to mention that Philadelphia could potentially bring him in under $3MM.

A little speed, a little power. Boba could have used that.

Photo By: Steven King/Icon Sportswire