We talked ad nauseam about the need for the Phillies to acquire pitching depth this offseason. Most of their offseason has been dedicated to finding pitchers to slot either in the bullpen or the rotation. While many fans and writers expect the Phillies to go address holes on the bench with their remaining financial flexibility, I would prefer them to bring in another piece for the bullpen.
A bullpen coming off an historic season for all the wrong reasons.
The Phillies have made it a point to not only acquire arms for the bullpen, but BIG arms. Both Jose Alvarado and Sam Coonrod average over 97 MPH on their fastball (97.7 and 97.1), and Archie Bradley is not far behind (94.3). The Phillies lacked a power arm coming out of the bullpen last year without Seranthony Dominguez. Alvarado and Coonrod will surely raise the average velocity of the bullpen this season, but I think that there is still work to be done.
Enter Trevor Rosenthal.
I get it. The Phillies offensive holes in centerfield and on the bench should be addressed, but let’s not act like the 2021 Phillies offensive profile relies on improvements in both areas. With largely the same offensive in 2020, the Phillies finished as a Top-10 offense in all of baseball. Its definitely not perfect, but the Phillies were and should continue to be an above average offense with the current nucleus that they have. I am definitely part of the minority, but I, for one, believe Adam Haseley can be just as good as any CF on the market outside of JBJ (more on him later this week). With limited funds left at their disposal, I would rather allocate funds building a devastating and powerful bullpen.
When Alex Colome signed with the Minnesota Twins for $6.25 million, Rosenthal immediately became my number one free agent target for the Phillies. In reality, the deal that Colome signed with Minnesota is at the ceiling of a potential Rosenthal deal, as Rosenthal definitely comes with more risk. At that price, though, I am all in.
2020 was a comeback year for Rosenthal, as he pitched to a sterling 1.90 ERA over 23.2 innings. Picking up over 14 strikeouts per nine innings, Rosenthal averaged 98 MPH on his heater, right in line with his career average of 97.5. He saved 11 games during the season, reminding teams why he was so dominant from 2012-2015. However, Rosenthal was horrible the season before and was only able to pitch in 15.1 innings in the MLB due to his incredibly high walk rates (15.26 BB/9). While he was almost unhittable last year, teams will be cautious when signing him due to his volatile history.
The Phillies have made a ton of moves to bring in pitchers this offseason, but they haven’t brought in a legitimate closer. Archie Bradley definitely has experience pitching the ninth inning, but would fit better in the seventh/eighth inning role for the Phillies. Signing Rosenthal pushes everyone in the bullpen into more accurate slots for their talent. A bullpen with Rosenthal, Bradley, and Hector Neris holding down the end of the game is lightyears ahead of where we were last year.
The Phillies have close to $15 million before they get into the luxury tax, so fitting Rosenthal underneath the tax should be fine. Pairing Rosenthal with an inexpensive bench bat (Bamboo Brad, anyone?) would be a fitting end to the offseason. As Dombrowksi said in his presser, pitching depth is all the more important in this era of baseball.
Bringing in Rosenthal would give the Phillies depth in the bullpen that they haven’t had in some time.
Tell me this man wouldn’t look good as the Phillies’ closer!