The all-time best Phillies free agent signings at each position

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The all-time best Phillies free agent signings at each position originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

While the Phillies haven’t had the best luck with free agents historically, currently they have two of their best-ever open-market acquisitions on their roster in Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler. With that in mind, we put together the franchise’s top free agent signings by position over the past 25 years.

C – Benito Santiago (1996: .264, 30 HR, 85 RBI, .835 OPS, 2.9 bWAR)

Not a lot to choose from at this position. Santiago was the jewel of the 1996 team that won just 67 games. But he played as advertised both behind the plate and with his bat: he led the team in homers, RBI, and OPS.

1B – Jim Thome (2003-2005, 2012: .260, 101 HR, 281 RBI, .925 OPS, 8.5 bWAR)

Thome was quickly a fan favorite for several reasons, the first being he chose the Phillies. He was a highly sought-after commodity as one of the best power hitters in the game, and he helped the team open Citizens Bank Park with a marquee attraction, clubbing 47 and 42 homers in his two full seasons with the club.

2B – Placido Polanco (2002-2004, 2010-2012: .289, 51 HR, 281 RBI, .739 OPS, 15.8 bWAR)

Polanco was just solid. He didn’t do a lot extremely well, but he was reliable as a hitter, and serviceable in the field, even winning a Gold Glove with the Phils in 2011. He was brought over in a trade initially, but qualifies because he signed on as a free agent prior to the 2010 season.

3B – Pedro Feliz (2008-2009: .259, 26 HR, 140 RBI, .699 OPS, 1.7 bWAR)

Again, not a wealth of choices here, and Feliz was the best among them. Nothing very memorable about his time in Philadelphia, aside from being a part of the World Series team.

SS – Didi Gregorius (2020-2021: .237, 23 HR, 94 RBI, .708 OPS, 0.4 bWAR)

Gregorius had a very good 2020 season, playing in every game and leading the team in hits and RBI. 2021 was a disaster, as he barely hit his weight and actually finished with a negative bWAR for the season (-0.8).

OF – Bryce Harper (2019-2021: .281, 83 HR, 231 RBI, .958 OPS, 12.3 bWAR)

Now we’re talking. The 2021 NL MVP may end up being the best free agent signing in team history, and not just for his expected longevity. If they can get a few more pieces around him, he could anchor the team to a run similar to what we saw from 2007 to 2011.

OF – Jayson Werth (2007-2010: .282, 95 HR, 300 RBI, .885 OPS, 15.7 bWAR)

Speaking of which, when fans talk about the Phillies run of division titles, they talk about Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, but not enough talk about Jayson Werth. He was a big part of why that team won as much as they did.

OF – Raul Ibanez (2009-2011: .264, 70 HR, 260 RBI, .798 OPS, 1.6 bWAR)

Ibanez burst onto the scene in 2009, with 43 RBI in his first 42 games in a Phillies uniform. He provided a solid power bat, but added to the team’s litany of defensive liabilities in left field.

SP – Roy Halladay (2010-2013: 55-29, 3.25 ERA, 1.119 WHIP, 8.0 K/9, 17.0 bWAR)

Halladay’s time in Philadelphia was like seeing a shooting star or a comet: fantastic to see, but burned out far too quickly. As dazzling as it was to watch him pitch, it was equally painful to see his unraveling at the end of his career.

SP – Cliff Lee (2009, 2011-2014: 48-34, 2.94 ERA, 1.196 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 21.3 bWAR)

Lee was signed ahead of 2009 by the Phillies in the hopes of winning back-to-back World Series, and he did his part: the two games they won in that World Series were both Lee starts. He was inexplicably traded away that winter, and even more oddly signed the December after that. He anchored the pitching staff, earning two All-Star nods in his return.

SP – Zack Wheeler (2020-2021: 18-12, 2.82 ERA, 1.048 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 10.4 bWAR)

Wheeler has only been with the Phillies for two seasons, but his performance and potential to continue to pitch at such a high rate makes our roster. Among pitchers with at least 30 starts over the last two seasons, Wheeler ranks top-5 in innings (284.1, 1st), ERA (2.84, 5th), and strikeouts (300, 5th).

RP – Jonathan Papelbon (2012-2015: 14-11, 2.31 ERA, 123 SV, 1.022 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 7.2 bWAR)

It didn’t end well for Papelbon in Philadelphia, but he was as good as any closer during his three-plus seasons here. He’s the franchise’s all-time leader in saves, and earned two All-Star appearances.

RP – Jose Mesa (2001-2003, 2007: 13-18, 4.05 ERA, 112 SV, 1.421 WHIP, 7.0 K/9, -0.6 bWAR)

Mesa was the anchor of the bullpen for arguably the two best seasons for the team in the playoff drought between the 1993 pennant winners and the team’s golden Era. He finished in the top 5 in the NL in saves in both 2001 and 2002.

RP – J.C. Romero (2007-2011: 6-6, 2.73 ERA, 4 SV, 1.406 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 4.2 bWAR)

Romero was the team’s lefty relief specialist during their run of five straight NL East crowns, and he did his job very well. He’s also the answer to a trivia question: Aside from Cole Hamels, who were the winning pitchers for the other two games the Phillies won in the 2008 World Series? (He won Games 3 and 5.)

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