It was a breathless day in the desert for MLB’s Winter Meetings, the second day of which distinguished itself by having something go down involving the Phillies. It’s still early, but the Phillies have made it clear that they’re not waiting for any specific free agents to make up their minds, they’re not particularly interested in anyone knowing their exact plans, and they may or may not be involved with every available baseball player, as we learn with each scattershot fired out of the rumor mill.
Earlier this afternoon, the Phillies reportedly signed Andrew McCutchen to a three-year deal worth $50 million. A declining outfielder whose exact role is yet to be determined isn’t quite the sexy news everyone has been waiting for, but that news may not come for some time. The Phillies have a lot to do, and this deal was one of those things, in that it improved their outfield situation by putting a player in it who is better than any of their current options. It would probably make sense to reserve judgment until the Phillies, a team that may be the most evolved from 2018 to 2019 in all of baseball once the dust settles, finish their moves. But no one is going to do that, so, carry on with whatever reaction you see fit.
Now, on to the names you actually want to read about.
Everyone began immediately asking following the McCutchen deal how the team was going to acquire Bryce Harper, with one free agent outfielder already paid for. The answer is, of course, with money. The Phillies made it clear they’re not going to wait around for the two superstars on the market to finish listening to Scott Boras’ 200-pun treatise on the situation before making their decision, and as Ken Rosenthal tweeted, signing McCutchen does not eliminate the Phillies from signing Harper. There are still many, many paths available for the Phillies, which is clearly how they want to play it.
Like trading one of their young outfielders, for example. Odubel Herrera and Nick Williams could both be worth something to another team, and free up space for McCutchen and any former Washington Nationals who want to play in the Phillies outfield. Neither Cutch nor Harper play center field primarily, so Herrera may not be in immediate danger of a trade, but the Phillies are able to acquire the talent they need through more than just the free agent market and have some assets to do so.
For instance, if they, say, wanted to acquire J.T. Realmuto. This is a deal the Phillies could make for the best catcher in baseball who still has two years left on his current contract. However, doing so would likely mean Jorge Alfaro would be involved in a trade out of town, which means giving up on the development of young talent in exchange for a proven player. It’s a plan that makes sense, but with J.P. Crawford out and Jean Segura in, how many young players are the Phillies willing to give up on in one off-season? And for a deal like this to go down, how is Sixto Sanchez not involved as well? According to this guy who has a blue check mark, the Marlins won’t give up Realmuto for anything less than whatever the Yankees will give them when the Mets send Noah Syndergaard to the Bronx. So you have to imagine that the Phillies’ offer would be hefty for a three-win catcher.
Back to the free agents!
Manny Machado, the free agent the Phillies apparently have at the top of their list, is coming to Philadelphia. It’s all just to visit for now—there are three other teams Machado will be meeting with as well as he considers his options. But this is the Phillies’ chance to throw his face on the big screen with a Phillies cap, give him the old song and dance, talk him into playing third base/reveal their plan to have Jean Segura platoon in left field with McCutchen, perform an original song, “Manny get your gun (to third base),” keep the Phanatic from leaving dead neighborhood pets at his feet as gifts, you know, stuff teams do to attract free agents. Did it work with Patrick Corbin? Absolutely not.
What else, what else...
The #Phillies in on Dallas Keuchel and Zach Britton while also hoping to lure a certain mega free agent— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 11, 2018
Yes, there are still other deals the Phillies could make that wouldn’t be for Machado or Harper, so prepare yourselves. This is a pretty throwaway comment about the Phillies’ interest in two pitchers, but Keuchel is a pretty recent addition to the cycle of names you see attached to the Phillies, and Britton isn’t a very common one, though the Phillies being interested in a closer isn’t news. Rest assured, if a free agent hasn’t put pen to paper, or stylus to iPad if Gabe Kapler is in the room, then the Phillies’ interest will continue.
J.A. Happ, on the other hand, is a repeated name on the left hand circuit. It sounds like it’s going to come down to whoever is willing to give the 36-year-old a three-year deal, or at least, the best two-year deal. Whatever the case, he sounds like he’s getting coziest with the Phillies.