As we sit here on the cusp of what we keep promising is the most interesting Phillies off-season of all time, we do so hoping actual updates will roll in. Maybe something gets whispered to a beat writer, maybe another seemingly unrelated move triggers a deal for the Phillies, maybe Scott Boras lops off his own hand at a press conference for the sole sake of making a “You’ve really got to hand it to the Phillies, they’re offering my client a lot of money,” sound bite.
This afternoon, the feed is crackling with potential happenings, all of which paint a broad picture of the Phillies’ future.
We can start with yesterday, when Bob Nightengale felt like getting the attention of the entire Philadelphia region by writing an article saying that you can “bank on” Bryce Harper coming to the Phillies, and ever since then, people have been drooling, staring into space, or generating false images in the hopes of leeching off the furor Nightengale ignited.
Nightengale ticked down a list of all of Harper’s potential suitors, and though his reasons for the Phillies being the only potential team that makes sense weren’t always sound, the conclusion was drawn anyway, and well, here we are, now, talking about it. The reality is that the Phillies are a legitimate contender for Harper’s services, especially since he reportedly turned down a $300 million deal from his current team, and Nightengale was stating that he, as well as “90% of executives” are pointing at the Phillies as the setting for the next chapter of Harper’s terrifying baseball legend.
But you knew all that already! Today has become all about current Phillies and whether or not you can “bank on” them being the teammates of the Phillies’ newest star. Jim Salisbury has been popping off all day, and he’s got plenty of potential moves involving the Phillies’ infield.
We know all about how crucial a year this was for Maikel Franco, and he put together one of the strongest performances of his career. Which isn’t saying he set the league on fire, but finishing with a slash line of .270/.314/.467 was his best work across a full season so far, with some obvious trouble on the defensive side (-1.1 dWAR). With so much change on the horizon, it seemed likely that Franco had run out of time to prove himself in Philadelphia, so his positive showing here was probably just upping his trade value. Salisbury confirms this, saying Franco is “a sure bet to be traded,” and that there’s a team that’s ready to grab him if they can work out a deal: the Padres.
Cesar Hernandez is on the table for whoever wants him as well, but—and you can say the words along with me because you know them by heart—the Phillies won’t deal him if they don’t get what they want for him.
In the case of Carlos Santana, Salisbury writes that the team is down for trading their first baseman with the idea being to—get this—play Rhys Hoskins at the position. The Phillies are a bit reluctant on this point, however, because “it would be akin to admitting that signing Santana was a mistake.” Which is interesting, because it repeats a sentiment Ken Rosenthal shared earlier in the year about the Phillies being too red-faced to trade Santana. That’s strange, at least to me, seeing as how they don’t seem embarrassed to have signed Scott Kingery to a six-year extension prior to him playing one inning of big league ball, but didn’t make him one of their two “untouchable” players (Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins) at the start of the off-season. In general, the idea of making the team better shouldn’t be embarrassing at all, no matter what the moves are.
Speaking of Rosenthal, The Athletic put up an article saying once again that the Phillies are “the favorites to sign Manny Machado,” but you’re bored with that by this point. The Phillies have been the talk of the high profile free agent rumor mill, let’s get to the good stuff—late inning relievers! Rosenthal states that the Phillies have spoken with representation of “virtually every dominant back-end reliever,” from Craig Kimbrel to Andrew Miller to Zach Britton.
So, there you go. Take a breath, reflect, and go nuts.