NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- While the rest of the baseball world has been spending money, sometimes crazy money, the Phillies have been celebrating their own restraint. Despite their desperate need for a center fielder, they refused to meet the asking price for B.J. Upton (who signed with the Braves) or Angel Pagan (who re-signed with the Giants).
Of course, that means they still have no center fielder. The need remains desperate, and it seems likely that they'll leave the winter meetings Thursday without filling the void.
But they do have options. Five options, in fact.
The Phillies' five-man list for center field includes two free agents (Michael Bourn and Josh Hamilton) and three potential trade targets (Curtis Granderson of the Yankees, Ben Revere of the Twins and Dexter Fowler of the Rockies).
Naturally, some are more realistic than others. Hamilton remains a long-shot, in part because the Phillies already have four players making $20 million or more in 2013 (Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Ryan Howard), and in part because Hamilton bats left-handed and the middle of the Phillies batting order features lefties Howard and Chase Utley.
Bourn makes sense, but the Phillies seem to be nowhere near meeting agent Scott Boras' asking price. Perhaps that price goes down or their willingness to pay goes up, but at this point they consider him too expensive.
Granderson is an intriguing option, because the Yankees seem prepared to play Brett Gardner in center field and move Granderson to a corner spot. The problem is that the Yankees are already short an outfielder (Nick Swisher is a free agent and isn't returning), and also would have trouble replacing Granderson's 43-homer power. And it's not clear what the Phillies could give the Yankees in return.
Revere isn't exactly the same player as Granderson, as he hasn't hit a single home run in more than 1,000 major-league at-bats. But he can play center field, and the Twins are willing to trade him for young pitching (even after already trading Denard Span this winter).
Fowler would be a great fit, but the Rockies' asking price for him has been stiff. When the Braves asked about him, the Rockies were believed to be asking for middle-of-the-rotation pitchers in return.
The Phillies have other needs. They don't have a third baseman (sources say they've discussed Michael Young with the Rangers, and the Dallas Morning News reported late Thursday night that the teams are in "advanced talks"). They need an eighth-inning reliever.
They could use a corner outfielder, too.
But center field is the biggest issue.
At least they have some ideas.