Eight players who could become Phillies

One week from today, the Phillies open their 2013 season in Atlanta. The roster is taking shape, but there are still a couple question marks that might best be answered by looking outside of the organization. Here are eight players who could be with new teams - possibly the Phillies - in the coming days.

A lot can and does happen over the final days of spring training. You can never know for sure who will wind up on the waiver wire and who else might wind up on the trade table. That makes prognosticating about players the Phillies may be able to acquire almost impossible. So, with that in mind, let's give it a shot!

Outfielders: As things stand right now, the fifth outfielder would be Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte, who has never played above Class-A ball. That leaves the Phillies looking for other options.

Casper Wells (Seattle) - The Mariners recently signed veteran Endy Chavez to a minor league deal and it could be at the expense of Wells. While he's not widely known to most fans, Wells has a decent power bat and can play all three outfield positions, but is most comfortable at the corners. Wells has played in 224 major league games with Detroit and Seattle and his averages put him at 18 home runs for every 162 games that he plays. He's a career .246 hitter with a career .317 on-base percentage. Of note is the fact that he's hit .355 (22-for-62) against National League teams and is a career .294 (5-for-17) hitter as a pinch-hitter. He also hits well - .268 (38-for-142) - with runners in scoring position. Wells is a right-handed hitter and the Phillies may prefer a left-handed bat for the bench, but other than that, he's not a bad fit. In other phases, Wells has decent speed and is a solid outfielder with a very strong, accurate arm. It's worth noting that Wells is out of options, so he could be hitting the waiver wire sometime in the next few days.

While Schafer has never reached the type numbers that it was thought that he would, he appears to have gotten his off the field problems under control and is looking for a turnaround. (Photo: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports)

Ryan Sweeney (Boston) - Sweeney would fill the appetite for a left-handed bat. While Wells provides more power, Sweeney provides the ability to get on-base as a career .280 hitter with a .338 OBP over seven major league seasons. Sweeney is a non-roster invitee to Red Sox camp and the emergence of Jackie Bradley Jr. could make Sweeney's fight for a job a little tougher. Sweeney has played over 500 major league games with the White Sox, Oakland and Boston and has played primarily in right field, with a good amount of games in center and a lesser amount in left field. In his career, Sweeney has hit just .205 (8-for-39) as a pinch-hitter, but is a .279 (124-for-444) hitter with runners in scoring position and has hit four of his 14 career home runs in that position. In his career against the National League, Sweeney has hit .280 (60-for-214) with a .322 OBP. Sweeney's defensive percentages are at or above MLB averages for all three outfield positions and he has a strong, accurate arm. He's had some injury issues over the past few seasons, so that has to weigh into the equation, but if he's healthy, he's a decent left-handed hitter who is comfortable in a pinch-hitting role.

Jordan Schafer (Atlanta) - Schafer is another guy who is out of options and is still on the bubble of making the Braves roster. Schafer is hitting .232 (13-for-56) this spring with the Braves in his second stint with the organization. At one time, Schafer was a big-time prospect who came up through the Braves system. His numbers never reached the levels that many scouts predicted and then in October of 2011, Schafer was arrested on felony drug charges while he was a member of the Houston Astros. The Astros kept him around for 2012, but he hit just .211 and was released. Atlanta signed him back as somewhat of a reclamation project, but he is out of options, so if he doesn't make the opening day roster, he'll have to go through waivers. All accounts are that Schafer has gotten his personal life straightened out, so it's just a matter of putting his baseball career back together. Schafer is a left-handed hitter, but he's only played center field in the majors, although he has played the corner outfield spots in the minors when needed. His biggest asset is speed and solid defense, because his career .221 average isn't much to get excited about.

Catchers: The Phillies don't seem quite comfortable with either %%MATCH_9%% or Steven Lerud as their back-up catcher until %%MATCH_14%% returns from his suspension in late April.

%%MATCH_12%% / George Kottaras (%%MATCH_17%% City) - Hayes and Kottaras are locked in a battle for the back-up job with the Royals and both are out of options. The Royals are reportedly shopping both catchers and will keep whichever one they can't find a suitable trade for.

Hayes has played with the Marlins and Royals over the past four seasons and is a career .217 hitter. He has minimal power - an average of nine home runs for every 162 games played - and strikes out a lot. In short, he's almost like having another pitcher in your batting order, albeit with that slight power edge. He's a right-handed hitter who hits just .179 against lefties and has a career pinch-hitting line of .182/.250/.364 in 22 at-bats. The numbers don't get any better when you dig deeper, so I'll stop there. Defensively, he's average to slightly above.

Kottaras has played in 249 major league games with a career line of 24-84-.220/.320/.412 and is a career .211 pinch-hitter. Kottaras does have a little more pop in his bat and doesn't strike out nearly as often as Hayes, helping him to a slight edge in offensive skills. Defensively, Kottaras is a tick below Hayes and more than that below him when it comes to throwing out potential base stealers. Hayes has tossed out 26% of all would-be base stealers, while Kottaras has thrown out just 16% in his career.

Bullpen: The Phillies have made major improvements in their bullpen, but with one open spot left and two young pitchers - Mike Stutes and %%MATCH_10%% - who are both struggling with their control, the Phillies could look for one more reinforcement.

%%MATCH_15%% (Baltimore) - The O's are enamored with Rule 5 pick %%MATCH_11%% and are looking for somewhere to send Ayala, who is due to make $1 million this season. Ayala is 35, but over the past two seasons with the Yankees and Orioles, he's pitched 131 innings in 118 games with an ERA of 2.40 and a 7-7 record. There seems to be enough left in the tank to get him through this season, which is the final year of his contract and he could add a veteran to the bullpen that would cement the potential of this year's relievers in Philadelphia.

%%MATCH_13%% (Seattle) - Loe has an out-clause in his minor league deal with the Mariners that allows him to become a free agent tomorrow if the M's don't guarantee him a spot on their opening day roster. Loe has said he would like to stick with Seattle, but he might be an option if he does hit the free agent market. Last season, the 31-year old had a 4.61 ERA with Milwaukee, pitching 68 1/3 innings.

%%MATCH_8%% (Boston) - Mortensen pitched well last season in his first season with the Red Sox, posting a 3.21 ERA in 26 relief appearances. He's also pitched well this spring, but he's not guaranteed a spot in the Boston bullpen and he's out of options, making him a reliever to watch. The 27-year old right-hander struggled in his first two stops with %%MATCH_16%% and Oakland, but has put things together and over the past two seasons has an ERA of 3.59 in 42 major league games, six of which were starts. The fact that Mortensen can pitch multiple innings would allow the Phillies to move left-hander %%MATCH_18%% out of consideration for a long relief role and make him a third lefty in their bullpen.



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