COMMENTARY | The Philadelphia Phillies have reportedly offered free agent outfielder Angel Pagan a 4-year contract to man center field at Citizens Bank Park. The dollar amount of the offer is unknown but is expected to be less than the $11 million per year that was offered to B.J. Upton.
Pagan (31) has been somewhat of a popular name in Philadelphia lately, especially after Upton signed with the rival Atlanta Braves on Wednesday. While Upton was coveted by the Phillies because of his age and power potential, Pagan offers more dynamic skills at the top of the lineup.
First, Pagan is a switch hitter and provides depth to a lineup that has become lefty-heavy since Jayson Werth left for Washington. Pagan's numbers last season were at their best batting lead-off, a spot where the Phillies have had trouble. He also shows great consistency from both sides of the plate.
More importantly for the Phillies, Pagan brings patience and a proven ability to get on base - .333 career OBP - a very important quality if the Phillies hope to see Chase Utley and Ryan Howard put up numbers like they did a few years ago.
Pagan led all batters in 2012 with 15 triples. Add 28 doubles, 174 total hits, and 29 stolen bases to the mix and Pagan is as consistent and solid a player as there is in the league.
So long as he stays healthy.
Pagan played in 154 games last season, a career high. Since his rookie year in 2007, he has only played in 150+ games twice and didn't play in more than 88 in his first four seasons. His average of 143 games per year in his last three seasons could be a sign that he can remain healthy, but there are no guarantees once you're off the calendar.
While Upton's power threat would have been great to have at Citizens Bank Park, Pagan could wind up being a perfect fit for the Phillies' lineup. At a much lower salary than Bourn or Hamilton, Pagan will both improve the team and allow the payroll flexibility to still add a few more pieces.
With Pagan at the top of the order, a potential Phillies lineup would look a little like this:
1 - Pagan CF
2 - Rollins SS
3 - Utley 2B
4 - Howard 1B
5 - Ruf LF
6 - Ruiz C (after suspension)
7 - Mayberry/Brown RF
8 - Frandsen 3B
Reports indicate the Giants - Pagan's 2012 club - have offered a 4-year contract as well. It's unclear right now how it compares financially to the Phillies' offer, but the general consensus is San Francisco has some emotional leverage coming off of a World Series victory.
If the Phillies can pull off a deal, they would be in great position to compete in what has become a much tougher division over the last 5 seasons. With Upton in Atlanta and the Nationals trading for Denard Span, the climb back to the top of the NL East is exceptionally steep.
Scott Lentz is a freelance contributor to Yahoo! Sports, Football Nation and The Gaming Advisory. He grew up in the Philadelphia area and lives in the nearby suburb of West Chester. Chat with Scott about the latest baseball news on twitter: @scottlentz27.
All stats and figures courtesy of baseball-reference.com
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