Sources: Manuel wanted Willingham and Broxton

Willingham was out in the free-agent market last offseason and Charlie Manuel wanted him, according to sources. Instead, he inked a three-year deal with Minnesota.

If someone told you during spring training that Hunter Pence would earn a World Series ring at the end of the 2012 campaign, you would be feeling pretty good.

Who would have guessed that Pence would be traded mid-season to the Giants, then go on to win the World Series? Well, according to an anonymous MLB source, the season didn’t have to turn out the way it did for the Phillies.

“Charlie Manuel wanted two free agents after that [2011] season ended,” the source said. “Charlie wanted Josh Willingham to play left and Jonathan Broxton to set up in the eighth inning. Charlie’s request fell on deaf ears. It’s a shame since if Charlie gets those two players, it’s a very different season for the Phillies.”

If Willingham and Broxton signed with the Phillies, the odds are the team would have had a different record in July and Pence would have never been traded. Would Pence have won a World Series ring with the Phillies? Who knows. But the odds are that the Phillies would have made the playoffs with Pence, Willingham and Broxton.

Willingham had a monster season for the cellar-dwelling Twins with 35 homers, 110 RBIs and a .890 OPS. His big right-handed bat would have been huge during the first half of the season with Ryan Howard and Chase Utley out. Willingham signed a three-year deal for $21 million. The Twins could trade Willingham. Should the Phillies be one of the suitors?

“I think so considering the outfield, free-agent class,” the source said. “It would be tough to give up some chips on the farm when you could have just gotten him as a free agent last year.”

And then there is Broxton, who was rock solid in the Reds bullpen with a 2.82 ERA. He could have helped salvage the season for the Phillies, who blew nine games with two outs in the eighth this season. Broxton has another year, at $4 million, left on his deal.

“Charlie knows the game,” the source said. “If Charlie says something it would be a good idea to listen.”



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