It’s finally here folks, the offseason is upon us — and this one is arguably more important than the last.
While 2019 was a disappointing year for the Phightin’ Phils, the turmoil of said year also made the many glaring holes in the Phillies’ roster that much more prevalent — to both the fanbase and Phillies’ management.
If this Front Office truly wants to put together a winning ball club, they’re in for another significantly active winter.
So, what can we expect from the Phillies in terms of offseason acquisitions?
I would think this one to be pretty obvious.
The Phillies’ starting rotation in 2019 was, put plainly, a dumpster fire. Fans were expecting massive steps forward from the likes of Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, and Zach Eflin, and, while the latter turned in a pretty solid year, the former two were absolutely abysmal. Thus, the Phils are sure to be among the most active in the starting pitching market, as they’re searching for AT LEAST two solid, dependable rotation pieces.
There are quite a few enticing names scattered throughout this years’ available arms, but the top-end of things is quite slim. Among the ‘ace’ caliber talent, there are only two candidates: the Astros’ Gerrit Cole, and, should he exercise his opt-out clause, the World Series MVP, Stephen Strasburg.
Rounding out the class of 2020, Zack Wheeler, Jake Odorizzi, and Cole Hamels are names of particular interest, while guys like Wade Miley, Tanner Roark, and Alex Wood finish up a solid group of talent.
The Phillies will surely make plays for both of the top two market names, but they’ll NEED to secure at least one of them. To miss on both of the aforementioned clear-cut aces would spell bad news for the Philadelphia rotation, which is in desperate need of assistance.
A Difference-Making Infielder:
While the Maikel Franco experience was fun while it lasted, it’s clear that the once-coveted third baseman is on a short leash, and is likely to be non-tendered in the coming days. The same can be said for second baseman, Cesar Hernandez. Thus, the Phillies will have a vacancy or two in the infield as they look towards Free Agency.
Headlining 2020’s class of infielders, there lies the one and only Anthony Rendon, who is due for a MASSIVE payday this winter. While Rendon makes sense for the Phillies, it is important to mention that their top prospect, third baseman Alec Bohm, is knocking on the door of the Major Leagues. Signing Rendon would lock up third base for the foreseeable future, and, barring the very, very unlikely scenario that Rhys Hoskins is traded, that would leave Bohm out of a spot on the Major League roster. The Phils will be in the mix for Rendon, but landing him certainly won’t be their first priority.
The remainder of the 2020 infielder class is actually quite exciting;
The Phillies could choose to pursue Mike Moustakas, who now plays both second AND third base. He had an incredible year for Milwaukee, and was overlooked by the Phils’ Front Office last season.
They could also look to sign Didi Gregorious, who spent most of the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He will surely accept a one-year deal in an attempt to reattain his frontline player status.
They could even look to reunite with ex-Phillie Howie Kendrick, who was a postseason hero for the Washington Nationals, and turned in a brilliant 2019 campaign.
Whoever the Phillies decide to lock up, they will have to adjust the infield accordingly. Scott Kingery can, luckily, slot in anywhere, but it is clear that the Phillies want to shift Jean Segura away from shortstop, as he turned in a lackluster 2019 campaign defensively.
Thus, the Phillies will ultimately look for a shortstop or third baseman this year who can aid an already talent-full Phillies lineup.
Bolster the Bullpen:
The Phillies’ bullpen was demolished by injuries in 2019, and now, with arms like Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, and Juan Nicasio leaving via Free Agency, and David Robertson out for the majority of 2020, said bullpen is looking relatively bare.
Yet, if the Phillies should choose to exceed the luxury tax threshold this winter, one should expect the bullpen to be where they siphon that extra money towards.
This years’ Free Agent class features a slew of bounce-back relief talent that Philadelphia should be all over. Names like Blake Treinen (due to be non-tendered,) Jeremy Jeffress, Arodys Vizcaino, and others will be looking for one-year deals to reestablish themselves as premier relief talent.
They could also look toward the oft-injured Dellin Betances, who is shaping up to be a massively under-valued Free Agent, and could very well usurp Hector Neris as the Phillies’ go-to closer.
There are also a few long relievers featured within this class, like Colin McHugh and Drew Pomeranz — a commodity which the Phillies don’t currently have. Long relievers are becoming excessively important in the Majors, and serve as an excellent ‘Plan B’ for a fragile rotation.
The Phillies might just have a chance to assemble one of best bullpens in baseball this offseason, if they play their cards right. This is not an opportunity to be squandered.
Bulk up the Bench:
One of the Phillies’ greatest weaknesses in 2019 was their lack of depth, both on the bench and within their Triple-A system. When Andrew McCutchen suffered a season-ending injury, the Phillies had little-to-no ability to fill the gaping hole he left behind. Thus, the team collapsed, and never recovered.
However, with an impressive Triple-A roster lined up for 2020, and a vast selection of Free Agents this winter, the Phillies have an opportunity to put together an intriguing bench over the course of the offseason.
The Phils’ current bench consists of 1B/OF Jay Bruce, CF Roman Quinn, and one of either Andrew Knapp or Deivy Grullon at catcher. Once again, the Phillies are short on infielders, which they will surely pursue this winter to round out their list of reserves.
There are some extremely attractive bench infielder options headed towards Free Agency this year. All of Brock Holt, Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Eric Sogard, Brad Miller, and countless others make sense for this ball club. They can all cover multiple positions, as well as tear the cover off the ball when they need to. They provide the Phillies with something they desperately needed throughout the 2019 season — insurance.
In a campaign consisting of 162 games, it is overwhelmingly important to ALWAYS have a backup plan. A well-kept bench is the perfect way to insure that what happened in 2019 will not happen again in 2020.
Hopefully, one game-changing injury will not be the felling of the 2020 Phillies.
If the Phillies can do all of this — and I mean all of it, we might be looking at a brand new ball club come the springtime.
Yes, 2019 was a disappointment, but it’s fair to assume that this club has learned from its mistakes, and will look to repent for them come 2020.
The Phillies have a new manager — and a good one at that. They’ve got a brand new coaching staff.
Let’s see if they can provide us with a new-and-improved team, too.