After a 82-80 finish to the season, the Phillies are in need of some changes this offseason. Outside of the performances of should-be MVP Bryce Harper and Cy Young Zack Wheeler, this team lacked consistency. From the pitching staff to everyday positional players, this team lacked the firepower necessary to break their long playoff drought.
With so many holes, it begs the question. Where do the Phillies allocate their resources? What would be the smartest and most efficient way to make this team better?
After taking a look at the salary commitments coming off the books this season, the Phillies are going to have ~$40.3MM to spend. That figure is before you consider the arbitration eligible players, which the Phillies currently have nine. Most of the nine players seem likely not to return, but there are some interesting decisions to be made.
Of the nine, Rhys Hoskins Stats, Zach Eflin, and Jose Alvarado seem the most likely to return. This year, fans saw how important Hoskins was to the lineup. With the DH coming to the NL in 2021 likely, he becomes all the more important to this team. Eflin has struggled with the injury bug, but, at $6MM, his type of production is worth it. Alvarado is the most frustrating reliever the Phillies have, but pitchers with his stuff don’t grow on trees.
There are other who could come back, like Seranthony Dominguez, Roman Quinn, and Ronald Torreyes, but they aren’t locks. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Torreyes is scheduled to make $1.8MM in arbitration. Even with the clutch role he played last year, it wouldn’t be smart to guarantee a utility player that much money. I could definitely see them bringing him back at a reduced number due to his relationship with Joe Girardi, but I wouldn’t just give him a roster spot.
The Phillies’ decisions aren’t over after arbitration, though. They have holes in centerfield, shortstop, left field, and third base that need to be filled. The Phils need multiple relievers and, like most teams, could use rotation depth. The team may not be able to sign a star player unless they go into the luxury tax, but there are definitely some available if they went in that direction.
All eyes will be on the shortstop position this offseason, as the market is full of some really talented guys at SS. Corey Seager, Javier Baez, Trevor Story, and Carlos Correa are arguably the top players available, regardless of position. Any of them would fit nicely in the Phillies lineup. Although Didi Gregorius has another year on his deal at $14MM, I don’t think you can go into 2022 with him as the starter. Just today, Buster Olney of ESPN wrote the Phillies are seen as a dark horse for Correa, due to their growing relationship with mega agent Scott Boras.
Evident by his reps at Triple A, the team still has confidence in Alec Bohm at third base. I, personally, think he is a better option in left field, but he of course has more value at the hot corner. The aforementioned DH makes it easier to move some the of guys around.
The most glaring hole is CF, but there might not be a long term solution on the market. Starling Marte is definitely an option, but, at 33, probably won’t be playing in center much longer. Chris Taylor is another option, but he is more of a utility player than pure centerfielder. A trade for a player like Ketel Marte or Bryan Reynolds might make the most sense.
From a pitching perspective, the bullpen remains a priority for President Dave Dombrowksi. In the words of the great Michael Scott, keep it simple, stupid.
Hector Neris was an unbelievable pitcher for the Phillies down the stretch, and resigning him should be a top priority. He is a good 7th/8th inning guy on a playoff team, and that’s the eventual goal for this franchise. Archie Bradley did not have his best year, but if he is willing to take less than $6MM, I would interested in bringing him back. On the open market, arms like Mychal Givens, Raisel Iglesias, Kendall Graveman, and Andrew Chafin should be of interest to the Phils.
In regards to rotation depth, there aren’t as many options available on the open market, but the Phillies could use another innings eater. Besides, adding someone who can consistently pitch six innings will in turn only make the bullpen stronger. Assuming the Phillies do tender Elfin a contract, they could still be in the market for one or two rotation arms.
He might be out of their price range, but Anthony DeSclafani would be a player I would target. Other names that would probably be of interest could be the almost-Phille Tyler Anderson, Jon Gray, and Merrill Kelly (via trade).
Back to the original question I posed. What direction should the Phillies go this offseason?
To me, the answer should be all of them. The team isn’t in a position after last year to focus their energy on one player or position. The name of this offseason is simply to improve, in any way that you can. Feelers should be going out to all the big name free agents and all the other teams in the league. If something can be done to make the 2022 Phillies a better team, DD should be listening.
When the team signed Harper to a 13 year deal back in 2019, the franchise started a timer. They officially started their next window to compete for a World Series. The clock has been ticked for three seasons without anything to show for it.
Dombrowski and Co. know that the clock has started and they need to pick it up. To waste a player like Harper’s prime on an average team would be an absolute travesty. Especially in a city like Philadelphia.
They have a full offseason to make the wholescale changes they were hired last year to make. This is going to be a very busy offseason for the Phillies.
Time to earn that paycheck, Dave. Clock is ticking.