Jimmy Rollins spent the winter looking for a major league deal with a team, even going so far as to tell teams that he was open to learning to play second base, if necessary. Jeff Francoeur had some early looks from teams, but ultimately had to wait until early this week to get a minor league deal. As for Domonic Brown, it was a quiet winter until he signed a minor league deal on Friday.
The Phillies will get to see pretty much of Brown this spring, since his deal is with the Toronto Blue Jays, who train in nearby Dunedin. The Phillies and Jays play each other seven times in the month of March, including the Grapefruit League opener for both teams on March 1st. Brown's time in Philadelphia was a disappointment by pretty much all standards. The only true production the team got from Brown came in the first half of the 2013 season when he showed himself as the type of player the Phillies envisioned him to be throughout his minor league career. In the first 95 games of the season, Brown launched 23 home runs, drove in 67 and hit .273 for the Phillies. Unfortunately, he hit just four home runs after that, although he did hit .270 over the rest of the season. In six seasons with the Phillies, Brown played in 493 games, with 54 home runs, 229 RBI, a .246 average and 188 runs scored.
For all of the potential that the Phillies saw in Brown, it's easy to forget that he wasn't highly sought after in the draft. The Phillies took him with their 20th round pick.
Rollins, of course, is the biggest name of the group and played 15 seasons in Philadelphia, hitting .267 over that span and becomeing the team's all-time hits leader with 2,306 hits in his Phillies career. Rollins is also the Phillies all-time leader in at-bats (8,628), doubles (479), The Phillies traded Rollins to the Dodgers in December of 2014, getting Zach Eflin and Tom Windle, two of the better pitching prospects in the Phillies organization in the trade. After being drafted by the Phillies in the second round of the 1996 Draft, Rollins came up through the organization and made his major league debut in September of 2000, going 2-for-4 against the Marlins.
Rollins recently signed a minor league deal with the Chicago White Sox. Should Rollins make the White Sox, the Phillies will see him August 23rd and 24th when they visit Chicago and would also see him at Citizens Bank Park when the Sox are in town for two games on September 20th and 21st.
Francoeur became a fan favorite last season for his hard-nosed style of play and had some success both coming off the bench and starting some games in right field for the Phillies. The 32-year old was born in Atlanta and broke into the majors with the Braves. Now, he's in camp on a minor league deal with Atlanta, just as he was last spring with the Phillies. This time last year, it looked like Francoeur's career might be coming to an end after he hit just .204 in 2013 and .083 the following season. With a good spring training, he made the Phillies out of camp and spent the entire season in the majors, hitting 13 home runs and batting .258 in 119 games, the most he had played since 2012.
The Phillies and Braves will meet three times in spring training and, of course, will see each other throughout the season as division rivals.
If any of the three players do play at the Triple-A level this season, fans in Lehigh Valley would have a chance to see all three come to town. Rollins would be with the Charlotte Knights, where he would possibly be paired with former Phillies pitcher Phillippe Aumont. Brown would be a member of the Buffalo Bisons, taking instruction from former Phillies infielder Richie Hebner, who serves as the team's hitting coach, and Francoeur would join the Gwinnett Braves.
Brown would make three trips into Lehigh Valley - April 29-31, June 17-19 and July 14-17 - with division rival Buffalo. Francoeur and Rollins would each come in once, with Gwinnett visiting June 14-16 and Charlotte coming in July 1-3.