The Phillies clearly have a starting pitching issue. The young guys they thought would make some big steps are floundering (Eflin) or have floundered (Pivetta & Velasquez). They are going to need to look to free agency this offseason to fill those gaps until guys like Adonis Medina and Spencer Howard are ready for the majors.
The Phillies are undoubtedly going to have a lot of interest in Gerrit Cole IF he reaches free agency. It may not happen! Gerrit Cole is very good and easily the premier pitching free agent that could be heading to the market. There will be 29 other teams vying for his services and likely some clubs that will offer more than the Phillies. Another option will of course be Madison Bumgarner, but for now let’s talk about some names that aren’t discussed as much, but also should certainly be in play for the Phillies as they enter November later this year.
Cole Hamels (LHP, 35 yr old)
Let’s get this one out of the way right now. The Phillies could use a reliable #2/3 starter and I’d be confident in giving Hamels a two-year deal with a high AAV. He’s been a different pitcher since leaving Texas: With the Cubs, Hamels owns a 2.71 ERA with 171 strikeouts to 58 walks in 176 innings. A reunion would be a perfect story for the 2008 champ and World Series MVP to finish out his career.
Stephen Strasburg (RHP, 31 yr old)
THIS one is interesting. Will Strasburg opt-out of his remaining four-year, 100 million dollars remaining on his contract? With folks like Cole and Bumgarner expected to get big paydays, it might be imperative for Strasburg to cash in elsewhere. He’s a fantastic pitcher who doesn’t seem to stay healthy, but the talent is undeniable. Could Bryce Harper convince him to come here?
Zack Wheeler (RHP, 29 yr old)
Wheeler may very well walk after this season’s over. Yes, he’s had some extensive injury history, but it appears he could finally be coming into his own this season. He’s dealt with some bad luck with fielding behind him, but he is also striking out batters at a career-high rate at age 29. Wheeler has always been a heralded pitcher (despite injuries) and it would be wise for the Phillies to keep in contact when free agency opens.
Gio Gonzalez (LHP, 33 yr old)
This was a move I wanted the Phillies to make before the season began. Gonzalez was hanging out there as a free agent for nearly all of Spring Training. He dealt with some dead arm issues earlier this year, but has since come back (with the Brewers) and performed well (35 IP, 3.60 ERA, 27 K). The Phillies will obviously want to keep an eye on him to make sure he is healthy, but could be a back-of-the-rotation starter the Phillies have lacked so far this season.
Other Intriguing Names
Hyun-Jin Ryu (LHP, 32 yr old)
Ryu should perhaps be a bigger name among the upcoming big free agents. He is now posting back-to-back sub-2.00 ERA seasons, has become notoriously difficult to hit in the process and doesn’t walk anyone much. He won’t post dazzling strikeout numbers and has had Tommy John and shoulder surgery in the past. Investing long-term probably wouldn’t be wise for the Phillies, but they may need to add years to a potential deal to pry him away from the West Coast.
Alex Wood (LHP, 28 yr old)
Here is another potential low-cost/high-reward signing. Wood hasn’t played at all in 2019 due to back soreness (though he is now rehabbing). He is just two seasons removed being an All-Star and getting Cy Young votes while he was on the Dodgers. Wood owns a 2.72 career ERA with 738 strikeouts in 803.1 innings. He is only 27 years old and would be a very good investment.
Kyle Gibson (RHP, 31 yr old)
This would not be a flashy signing, nor one that would cost much (he’s making 8.125 mil this season). Fun fact, he was actually drafted in the 36th round by the Phillies way back in 2006 ,but didn’t sign. He’s a guy that has had difficultly with command, but this season has righted the ship posting a career-low BB% and a career-high K%. Gibson will be 32 before the 2020 season begins.
Jake Odorizzi (RHP, 29 yr old)
Another Twin who is also amidst a breakout season, posting a 3.18 ERA with 101 strikeouts to 34 walks in 99 innings this season. The former top Tampa Bay Rays prospect has done well for himself, going to his first All-Star game this year. He’ll turn 30 before the next season begins, but hasn’t had much in injuries throughout his major league career.
Wade Miley (LHP, 32 yr old)
Another player who the Phillies probably should have invested in before the season began. All Miley has done since signing a one-year, 4.5 million dollar deal was pitch to a 3.18 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 121.2 innings. He’s a 32-year-old lefty who seems to have figured it all out since “breaking out” in 2018 with the Brewers. Fix your mistake Phillies.
Tanner Roark (RHP, 32 yr old)
This is more of an “eh, why not” type interest. He’s an extremely reliable pitcher with a career ERA of 3.63 and has averaged more than 31 appearances each season over the last 5 years. That kind of consistency would be important in the back-of-the-rotation role for the Phillies in 2020 and beyond.