Phillies could sign veteran bat in offseason

Phillies could sign veteran bat in offseason

PHILADELPHIA -- Could the Phillies sign a veteran free-agent bat this winter?

On one hand, the Phillies have consistently said they don't expect to be big players in the free-agent market until they view themselves as legitimate contenders. On the other, they added veteran starters Jeremy Hellickson and Charlie Morton last offseason to stabilize the talented but young and largely unproven rotation. A case could be made that the same principle applies to the lineup.

Rumors surfaced recently that hitters like the Marlins' Martin Prado or the Rangers' Ian Desmond could be on the radar.

Without commenting on specific names, manager Pete Mackanin said before Monday night's series opener against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park that he believes there would be two benefits to such a move.

"I'd like to get a professional hitter, or even two," Mackanin said. "I think it takes pressure off the young guys when you have [Tommy] Joseph, [Cameron] Rupp and even [Maikel] Franco in the middle of your lineup to produce runs. Your first year in the big leagues, that's tough to be called upon to be the run producer.

"So if you have a guy you can count on to give you quality at-bats consistently, I believe that's important. The other players see it, and it's just as important to have that in the lineup as it is in the rotation."

The other factor is that while the manager and coaches have talked to the players about having a better approach at the plate, sometimes it helps to have an established teammate as a role model.

"Like the pitching staff," Mackanin said. "You learn from a veteran pitcher by talking to him and asking him questions. By observing and talking about what kind of pitches he throws. Knowing basic situations. With hitting, it's moving a runner from second to third without just giving yourself up with a ground ball to the right side. A deep fly ball to center will get that runner over. With two strikes, what is this guy going to try to do with me? What am I going to do? With a hard thrower, instead of swinging from your heels, take him up the middle or the other way. All those little things determine how good you are at this level."

Mackanin noted how the Mets struggled offensively before trading for Yoenis Cespedes before the Trade Deadline last season. "And all of a sudden, everybody started hitting as a group," he pointed out.

The Phillies rank last in the Major Leagues in runs scored. Mackanin believes that the team's pitching has been good enough to be competitive for much of the season. "Now we have to figure out how to get more offense," he said.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.