Mackanin pushing for Phils to add bat

Manager says Herrera is starting center fielder

Mackanin pushing for Phils to add bat

PHILADELPHIA -- Pete Mackanin has been stumping for months for the Phillies to acquire a couple of productive everyday hitters before Spring Training.

They got one last month in Howie Kendrick, but while one hitter is nice …

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"I would like to get another guy," Philadelphia's manager said Tuesday afternoon at the Winter Meetings. "Yeah, it would be nice. We have to improve offensively."

The Phillies had the worst offense in Major League Baseball last season, scoring 39 fewer runs than the 29th-ranked Braves. It is why the club continues to be linked to every outfielder available in a trade, whether or not it is realistic. The list includes the Tigers' J.D. Martinez, the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen and the Mets' Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson.

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Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said trade discussions have not heated up this week, but everything can change with one phone call.

"[Tuesday] has been much like [Monday]," he said. "We've had a lot of meetings with agents and teams, exploring different combinations and scenarios, trying to find the right balance between the present club and the long-term future of the franchise. So a lot of our meetings have been more of the same."

The biggest question about acquiring an everyday outfielder is how the Phillies would find time to play young outfielders like Roman Quinn, Aaron Altherr and eventually Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens.

There have been reports that Phils second baseman Cesar Hernandez could be traded. If Hernandez is moved, Kendrick could move to second and Quinn or Altherr could move to left. The new outfielder could then play right.

One source downplayed Hernandez's chances of being traded. Another questioned how much it would make sense for the rebuilding Phillies to trade Hernandez, who cannot become a free agent until after the 2020 season, for a player on a one-year contract. Still, the Phils are open to anything and willing to listen.

"Something might pop up with another team and they might cut a deal that we never even thought about, which opens a spot to put somebody else in," Mackanin said. "Everything is still up in the air. It's early. Deals may be made forthwith, they might come in January or in Spring Training when things happen. So one move might create an opening in another. If we trade a pitcher, we get a position player. A lot of things can change."

One thing that Mackanin said is a certainty is that Odubel Herrera will be his center fielder. Mackanin suggested during the season that Herrera could move to left to make room for somebody like Quinn in center.

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"I'm solid with Odubel in center field," Mackanin said. "He's proven his ability on both sides of the ball. With Howie Kendrick in left field, that's established. And right field would be a nice spot for us to settle into, whether we make a deal and get an everyday player there or if Quinn has a good showing in Triple-A and he proves he's a guy for right field or Altherr or somebody else. That's a position we would like to see settled."

Mackanin's said he doesn't have a gut feeling about the Phillies' ability to add another hitter before camp opens in February. But he continues to be clear that he wants one.

"I would like to have a solid hitter for the team, for the fans, for everybody," he said. "We would like to win more games. I think it would be very important obviously to improve our offense. Once again, let's say Roman Quinn really looks good in the spring and proves to us that he might be the guy and he takes off, that might happen and might not. But in the meantime I think we owe it to the pitchers to create more offense so that they are in more games."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.