Major League Baseball's winter meetings always bring their fair share of rumors, signings, and significant trades.
This year, the Philadelphia Phillies have been linked to almost every big name player on the market. Their number one need, of course, is a starting centerfielder to take the place of former Phillie Shane Victorino. Victorino just inked a three-year, $39 million deal to roam the outfield of Fenway Park with the Boston Red Sox.
The problem? The Phillies have already let two of their top targets sign elsewhere.
Angel Pagan (.288 avg, 29 SB in 2012) has re-signed with the defending champion San Francisco Giants. Pagan would have been a nice fit in center for the Phils, and his contract was much easier on the wallet than any other everyday player on the market in 2012 (four years, $40 million).
B.J. Upton will make his home in the National League East, albeit not with the Phillies. Upton signed a five-year, $75 million deal with the Atlanta Braves, who will look to be strong contenders for the NL East crown once again. The 28-year-old former Tampa Bay Ray slugged 28 home runs and 78 RBI last season, and will fit nicely in a Braves lineup that will be without Chipper Jones for the first time in almost 20 years.
So who do the Phillies think is the best option now?
The simple answer is: nobody knows.
"We didn't really have a Plan A," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "We had, like, 10 Plan B's because, to be frank with you, I just didn't think that the marketplace was all that strong in the beginning."
Is the Phillies GM a little frustrated with how the off-season has panned out so far? Or is Amaro playing games to try to drive down the price of the remaining free-agent outfielders?
Amaro and the Phillies made it clear that they were not going to overpay for a guy like Upton from the start. Their top offer was somewhere in the range of $55 million, a mere $20 million short of what he recevied from Atlanta.
They also don't want to give free-agent centerfielder Michael Bourn what he's asking for, which is rumored to be a multi-year deal worth over $100 million. That being said, Bourn would be a great fit in Philadelphia.
Bourn hit .274 last season with 26 doubles, 10 triples and 42 stolen bases. He would certainly be an upgrade over Jimmy Rollins in the leadoff spot, who finished with a dismal .316 on-base percentage from the top spot last season.
The other big name still on the market is former Texas Rangers' slugger Josh Hamilton. Hamilton is the "sexy" signing of this off-season, for sure, but is he worth the amount of money that the Phillies would have to dish out to sign him?
Hamilton hit .285 last season, mashing 43 home runs and driving in 128 runs. He also hit 31 doubles and drew 60 walks for the Rangers. With numbers like that, it's easy to see why the 31-year-old comes with such a lucritive price tag.
The problem with the romance that would be Hamilton and the Phillies organization is history.
The Phillies already have one power hitting slugger making $25 million a season, and many feel that the contract doesn't fit the production already. In fact, a good percentage of fans feel that Ryan Howard's contract is one of the worst in all of baseball.
There are also several trade rumors swirling around the Phillies, but they are exactly that; rumors.
They include a possible trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks in which the Phillies send Cliff Lee and receive Justin Upton. There are also rumors swirling that the Phillies are interested in Jacoby Ellsbury, and that the Red Sox are willing to part ways with him.
C.J. Burns is a contributor to Buzz on Broad. Follow him on Twitter @CJBurns215