Rather than using free agency to address the need, the Phillies added a stopgap veteran outfielder via the waiver wire.
The team on Wednesday claimed centerfielder Peter Bourjos from the St. Louis Cardinals and avoided arbitration by signing him to a one-year deal. Bourjos, 28, and in his third year of arbitration eligibility, will make $2 million next season, his last before he is set to reach free agency.
The Phillies also avoided arbitration with utlity infielder Andres Blanco with a one-year deal worth $1.45 million. They have until midnight Wednesday to officially tender contracts to shortstop Freddy Galvis and righthanders Jeremy Hellickson and Jeanmar Gomez.
An excellent defensive player with speed, Bourjos figures to serve as a fourth outfielder for the Phillies given that he plays only centerfield, a position occupied by Odubel Herrera, a superior offensive player who turns only 24 later this month. Bourjos batted just .200 with a .623 on-base plus slugging percentage over 195 at-bats last season with the Cardinals. He has eclipsed 300 at-bats in only one of his six major-league seasons, when he garnered 502 in 2011.
Bourjos spent his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, where during his last two years there new Phillies general manager Matt Klentak worked as an assistant GM. The Angels traded Bourjos and Randal Grichuk in November 2013 to the Cardinals in the David Freese trade.
The waiver claim acquisition does not necessarily preclude the Phillies from in free agency signing another outfielder to a one-year deal to provide depth at the corners. Jeff Francoeur, a veteran leader in a young Phillies clubhouse last season, has long been considered a candidate to return in that role.
Aside from Herrera, the outfielder on the Phillies' 40-man roster most likely to begin the season as a starter is Aaron Altherr, who can man either corner. The team's outfield situation, like several of its positions, is far from settled.
The Phillies' 40-man roster still stands at 38 players even after the acquisition of Bourjos because the Miami Marlins claimed righthanded reliever Nefi Ogando off waivers. Ogando, 26, spent most of last season with triple-A Lehigh Valley and allowed four earned runs over four innings as a September call-up.
De Fratus in Seattle