If you’re an alien who has just learned about baseball and you take a look at the Phillies, you might think “Shazbot! The Phillies need to improve! They’ll definitely be active at the Winter Meetings! Nanu nanu!”
Okay, that’s only if you’re Mork. But it’s still true. If you look at the Phillies without context, you could think that the Phillies are about to do some stuff at the Winter Meetings.
But in truth, there isn’t much for them to do. After the last two years of flailing in the standings and hoping for individual player improvement, this is their gap year. We’re actually approaching the 2017 season, which is super close to early predictions of when the Phillies would compete. They’ve got a lot of the pieces they’ll need to do that. And the coming season is when they’ll put those pieces in place and start to let the team come together. It’s exciting, in a faraway way, in that it’s all table setting. We’re excited about the process of watching our team become the team we’ve hoped and dreamed they could be. [Insert “The Process”/Joel Embiid joke here.]
That being said, it’s a little depressing that at a time when the fans of most teams are looking forward to some big trades and signings, we Phillies fans are just... waiting for the baseball season to start. There are positions that the Phillies need to shore up, but they won’t be doing at these winter meetings or in this thin free agent market.
That doesn’t mean the Phillies will be totally inactive, though. There are rumors that they’re close to signing 39-year-old reliever Joaquin Benoit (ahem.) to an unspecified contract. The Phillies loooooove doing this kind of thing, and they have throughout their rebuild. Sign an older player to a short contract for who-cares money, and if he’s good then they can flip him at the deadline (or try to), and if not, then who cares? They weren’t going to win this year anyway. It’s a strategy I can’t really fault. Plus, Benoit (ahem.) is coming off of a great half-year with the Blue Jays.
They could sign a utility infielder and a backup outfielder or two, and continue to shore up their bullpen, which absolutely imploded down the stretch this past season.
Regardless, with the Phillies not likely to do much, we can press our noses against the proverbial windows of other teams, and watch them make deals. Will the Nationals get Andrew McCutchen? (Oh god I hope not.) Will some team trade for Miguel Cabrera? Who will sign Edwin Encarnacion? Find out during this year’s Winter Meetings! [cue theme song.]