COMMENTARY | Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings are a lot like speed dating. Everyone wears a goofy name tag and you have about two minutes to impress someone before they move on to a better looking deal.
For fans, this is when the offseason really starts to get interesting. You either exit the winter meetings with a renewed sense of hope for the upcoming season, or you wallow in the agony of the move you thought your team should have made but didn't.
There are no flawless gemstones in this year's free agent pool, but there are a lot of solid big league ball players and maybe even a few 'diamonds-in-the-rough.'
If you're a Phillies fan, here are a few names you might hear come up at some point this week:
The Cubs have unsuccessfully tried to unload Soriano's contract for the last few seasons. He is in line for $36 million over the next two seasons, and the Cubs are only looking for a mid-level prospect in return. If they would be willing to eat a significant portion of Soriano's remaining salary, he could be an interesting target for the Phillies.
Soriano had a decent season for the Cubs in 2012. He hit .262 with 32 home runs, 108 RBI and played in 151 games. His downsides were 153 strikeouts and just 44 walks. At 36, nothing is going to change about his numbers, which furthers the requirement of Chicago covering a large chunk of the $36 million he is owed.
For only a two year obligation, Soriano could be a serviceable stop-gap and right-hand power threat while Darin Ruf develops. His power numbers and run production would be worth the minimal risk of a truncated salary without losing one of their top prospects.
It's a big 'if' at this point, but the possibility will likely be discussed. If the Phillies can make some of their long-term moves first and have the available salary, you might hear more about Soriano. It's the kind of move that could pay off well if it works, but cost very little if it doesn't.
Since B.J. Upton signed for 5 years and $75 million with Atlanta, the younger of the Upton brothers has been a hot name in trade scenarios. It is among the unlikeliest of deals to happen, but of all of the scenarios that have been kicked around, this one fits the Phillies the best.
Arizona is not actively shopping Upton, but they haven't exactly named him "untouchable" either. If a hypothetical trade of the 26-year-old outfielder were to happen, it would have to be for the right price.
The Diamondbacks are reportedly seeking help with pitching and shortstop, areas where the Phillies' farm system has a few viable prospects in Freddy Galvis, Tyler Cloyd, Jonathan Pettibone and Trevor May. If these turn out to be players the Diamondbacks like, a trade could happen.
Galvis has shown the potential to be one of the best defensive middle infielders in the league and is a natural shortstop, but he has his issues offensively. Cloyd had a good run late in the season for the Phillies. In 6 starts, the 25-year-old right hander was 2-2 with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP with 30 strikeouts and 7 walks in 33 innings.
It's an improbable trade, but not outside the realm of possibilities. At this point I'm not going to get my hopes up, but I'm willing to say it's at least plausible.
There hasn't been much talk about Andrew Bailey as potential trade bait, but as I look through the rosters, he's one name I think might come up a few times as the Boston Red Sox try to rebuild from an even more disappointing 2012 than the Phillies.
The 2009 AL rookie of the year had a rough 2012 starting in spring training when he injured a ligament in his thumb against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The injury kept him out until mid-August and he struggled for the remainder of the season. In 19 appearances, Bailey posted a 1-1 record with an inflated 7.04 ERA, 6 saves, 14 strikeouts and a 1.89 WHIP.
If the Red Sox decide Bailey is not worth keeping long-term, they could look to unload him for considerably less than what Boston traded to get him - Josh Reddick, Miles Head and Raul Alcantara. With his trade value down, however, the Red Sox aren't going to give him away for nothing. It would likely cost the Phillies catching prospect Sebastian Valle in combination with one or more of their top arms.
If a potential trade would also involve Jacoby Ellsbury, it would be much more interesting. But that would never happen.
Scott Lentz is a regular contributor to Football Nation and The Gaming Advisory. He grew up in the Philadelphia area and currently resides in the nearby suburb of West Chester. Follow Scott on twitter - @scottlentz27 - for questions and more sports commentary.All stats and figures courtesy of baseball-reference.com
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