Oh 2020, what a miserable year you have been. The Phillies were a wild disappointment in a shortened season. With star players like Bryce Harper, JT Realmuto, new additions in Zach Wheeler and Didi Gregorius, we had big hopes for this team. Night after night we watched gut-wrenching loss after gut-wrenching loss, mostly on the hands of the pitching. Had the bullpen not been historically bad, this team could have made the playoffs. It shouldn’t have taken a baseball genius to realize that the bullpen Klentak hobbled together was going to be problematic, but I don’t think anyone expected the disaster it was. The bullpen will be one of my major focuses, like most that have participated in this exercise, but it will certainly not be my only focus. Unfortunately, most of my focus will be to find the best bargains, basement buys, and lottery tickets I can.
I have the benefit that others did not have, I waited a few weeks to put together my final draft. I wanted to make things a little easier on myself by waiting until after the non-tender deadline and Rule 5 Draft (I’m a cheater). Little did I know that by waiting a few weeks I would also have the dire information that the Phillies’ pockets have suddenly become shallow. We have gone from "stupid money" to "no money" in a matter of months. Every indication is that that the Phillies will not be big spenders this season. And then, after all that, they brought in Mr. Wheel and Deal, Dave Dombrowski, himself. There is almost no way that the Phillies will not be spending at least some money here, right? It feels like we are getting very conflicting messages, and no one really can predict what this team will actually be doing.
So how the heck do I approach this? Well, with spending down around baseball, and many franchises crying poor, I figured a $180 million budget might be too generous. I decided to attempt to limit myself to $165 million for the Phillies total budget in 2021. I figured it was a reasonable balance between "we have no money" and "we just hired a GM known for spending".
So, I present to you, my 2021 Philadelphia Phillies.
INF Jean Segura to Toronto Blue Jays for ???
I have no idea what the Phillies can expect in return for Segura. When I originally started this exercise, I had him penciled in to be our starting shortstop next season. As soon as the reports came out that there was potential interest, I was excited to move on from Mean Jean. Segura has been a disappointment since he came to Philadelphia. He’s not a particularly bad baseball player, but he certainly hasn’t been the player we expected to get when the trade was made with Seattle. JP Crawford winning a gold glove this year certainly didn’t help matters. I’m assuming the Phillies will attempt to offload 100% of the Segura’s salary, therefore I don’t expect the return to be more than one or two lottery tickets, and not players that could make a difference on the 2021 roster.
OF Adam Haseley, P Francisco Morales, SS Luis Garcia, and a PTBNL to the Pittsburgh Pirates for P Jose Musgrove and C Jacob Stallings
Forgive me if this is an underpay or an overpay, I did the best with the minimal knowledge I have. The strong return that Texas received for one year of Lance Lynn made me feel that the return was fair. But feel free to disagree in the comments.
The idea behind this trade was 2 major things: to strengthen the starting rotation, and to attempt to replace JT Realmuto. Yes, spoiler alert, I will not be re-signing JT. Since we are apparently constrained budget wise, I did not see any way that JT will return to the Phillies, as much as that pains me to say it. He is the best catcher in baseball and deserves to be paid as such. There are too many holes on this roster, and the money is better spent on multiple players.
Stallings is by no means going to replace JT, but the hope is that the other additions will help to soften the blow in the aggregate. A Gold Glove finalist this season, he is one of the better defensive catchers in baseball, and would help greatly to fill the defensive void left by Realmuto. Stallings bat is about league average, but in his career, he fares much better against left-handed pitching (.888 OPS vs .635 against right-handers). He and Knapp will make up a classic platoon as Knapp was much better against right-handed pitching this past season, the first season he did much with the stick. Due to his superior defense and pitch framing, I see Stallings catching 3 out of every 5 games and trying to line up Knapp’s starts against right handers. It’s not JT Realmuto, but it’s coming at a tiny fraction of the cost.
Also coming back in the deal is Joe Musgrove. He has been a strong pitcher for Pittsburgh the last few seasons. He was worth 3.3 fWAR in 2019 and is projected to be worth 3.0 in 2021 by steamer. He is a strong groundball pitcher, which makes him perfect for Citizen’s Bank Park. He would immediately slot in behind Nola and Wheeler as our third starter. The Pirates have apparently made Musgrove very much available, and I believe that his cheap price tag (projected to be around $3.5 million this upcoming year), additional year of control (arbitration eligible again in 2022), and performance will be very enticing to the Phillies.
This trade is very much a "win-now" trade. The return going back to Pittsburgh is going to hurt an already weak farm system. Morales and Garcia are both top 10 prospects in the Phillies organization. Haseley, a former top prospect himself, has shown flashes in his time in the majors. This is a Dombrowski deal.
As much as losing top 10 prospects is going to hurt, neither Morales nor Garcia are going to be helping the 2021 Phillies. Each of them is at least a year or two away from being major leaguers. We are able to hold on to guys like Howard, Medina, Marchan, and others who could be the depth the Phillies will need as they attempt to compete in the next few years. The Pirates will gladly wait for Morales and Garcia, as they are in a full rebuild. It makes sense (to me) on paper.
As of today, Haseley is penciled in as our starting centerfielder, so this move may seem confusing. But the next piece of the puzzle will show why Adam was suddenly expendable.
Sign OF Jackie Bradley Jr: 2 years/$16 Million
I am directly stealing these numbers from MLBTR, and the numbers seemed very favorable to me for what Bradley is worth. Although he’s never been a world-beater with the bat, his defense has been stellar for years. Placing one of the best centerfielders in baseball on this team makes them better, plain and simple. Haseley and Quinn are both questionable centerfielders, who both happen to have questionable bats. Give me the proven glove.
That’s not to say Bradley is completely inept offensively. He posted a .283/.364/.450 stat line in the abbreviated season last year. Although those kinds of numbers were an outlier for him, he hit 20 plus homers as recently as 2019. Slotting his lefty bat into the bottom of the lineup could turn out to be a steal at 8 million a year.
He is already being linked to the Phillies, and apparently has a big fan in Dombrowski. If the money is actually this reasonable, this seems like a potentially stellar move.
Sign SS Didi Gregorius: 2 years/$26 Million (Club option for 2023 at $13 million)
Again, stealing these numbers from MLBTR, with a slight change. Instead of a guaranteed third year, I made it an option year. This way Didi avoids the shortstop heavy free agency of next season without hampering the Phillies too much financially. Basically, we are using Segura’s money over the next two seasons to bring back Gregorius.
I loved having Didi on this team last season. He was by far the most consistent player on the roster. Having his glove at shortstop instead of Segura will make a massive difference for this team. With the exception of Bryce, the Phillies get most of their pop from the right side, to have a lefty swing with power at shortstop seems like a no brainer to me. He may not be the player most fans hope we bring back, but I would be happy to see Didi back for the next few years.
Contracts extended to OF Jay Bruce and INF/OF Phil Gosselin
The bench is not going to be exceptionally strong, that is something that I had to surrender early on. I attempted to add Kike Hernandez as a super-sub option but did not have it in the budget. I did the best with what I could.
Bruce and Gosselin are known commodities at this point. They have both had their times as hero and as goat while in the red pinstripes. Bruce’s ability to play first base (while Hoskins recovers), and his strong numbers against right-handed pitching were the reasons I brought him back. "Barrels" has shown an ability to just flat out hit. He also does so at a much better clip against left-handed pitching. You’ll have a decent bat off the bench from either side of the plate. Gosselin also offers minimal positional versatility, but can be plugged in.
Nothing exciting here.
And now for the main event….
Sign RHP Blake Treinen: 2 years/$14 million
In 2018 Treinen was one of the most dominant relievers in all of baseball, posting a 0.78 ERA to go along with 38 saves for Oakland. After that incredible season, Treinen struggled in 2019 and had to take a one-year contract with the Dodgers. Last season he was solid, but saw his K/9 drop all the way to 7.71, he was able to decrease his walks significantly from his 2019 struggles however.
Although his strikeouts decreased, he still maintained strong results, pitching to a 3.86 ERA with even better peripherals. His sinker clocked in at 97 miles per hour, the kind of gas that few pitchers on the Phillies possess. This pitch generates a ton of groundballs, which obviously limits the long ball. He can either close or be a setup man, and has done both at incredibly high levels with playoff teams.
Sign RHP Archie Bradley: 1 year/$6.5 million
Bradley has kept his ERA under 3 for his career as a reliever. In those 230+ innings he has a 9.91 K/9, showing that he has the swing and miss stuff that teams value. There is also potential for more from Bradley.
Stats suggest that his changeup was extremely effective last season (38.9% whiff rate), and throwing this pitch more could actually increase his overall output. There is some concern over a 1 MPH drop in his fastball, but most seem to blame the short season for this. He doesn’t turn 29 years old until August of 2021, so he is right in the middle of his prime.
This contract is listed as a one year overpay for his final year of arbitration. I see competition for his services, as he has been a near elite back end of the bullpen piece since 2017. If he truly is available for this price, it would make him an incredible value. I would happily offer Bradley a 2 or even 3-year deal due to his age as well.
Sign LHP Jose Alvarez: 1 year/$2.5 million
He was the most consistent reliever on the Phillies last season until his untimely nut shot. Alvarez has been a solid, is not uninspiring, reliever for the Phillies, but we may not be aware just how strong he has been. He possesses the 10th lowest ERA of all qualified left-handed relievers from 2018-2019. Additionally, he is able to limit hard contact and exit velocity at high levels in the past. His 5 pitch-repertoire allows him to be a strong lefty presence, despite the 3-batter rule. He was the best part of a historically bad bullpen last season, and one of the best moves Klentak made. He deserves to be back.
Sign RHP Ryan Tepera: 1 year/$2 million
The guy is a middle reliever and got an MVP vote, what else do you need?
In all seriousness, Tepera was a solid middle reliever for the Blue Jays for a few years, but he really found something last year for the Cubs. He posted a ridiculous 13.50 K/9, well above his career averages. Obviously, these numbers are probably not the norm for Tepera moving forward, but that does not mean he isn’t valuable. His cutter had the highest whiff rate of any pitch in baseball last season at 62.2%. That is the kind of thing you take a 2-million-dollar chance on.
2021 Philadelphia Phillies Roster
SP1: Aaron Nola ($12.25M)
SP2: Zack Wheeler ($22.5M)
SP3: Joe Musgrove ($3.4M)
SP4: Zach Eflin ($4.45M)
SP5: Vince Velasquez ($4M)
RP: Blake Treinen ($7M)
RP: Archie Bradley ($6.5M)
RP: Hector Neris ($5M)
RP: Jose Alvarez ($2.5)
RP: Ryan Tepera ($2M)
RP: Connor Brogdon ($570K)
RP: JoJo Romero ($570K)
RP: Ranger Suarez ($570K)
C: Jacob Stallings ($1M)
1B: Rhys Hoskins ($3.4M)
2B: Scott Kingery ($4.25M)
SS: Didi Gregorius ($13M)
3B: Alec Bohm ($570K)
LF: Andrew McCutchen ($20M)
CF: Jackie Bradley Jr. ($8M)
RF: Bryce Harper ($27.54M)
Bench: Andrew Knapp ($1.1M)
Bench: Roman Quinn ($570K)
Bench: Jay Bruce ($1M)
Bench: Phil Gosselin ($600K)
Bench: Kyle Holder ($570K)
Odubel Herrera ($10.35M)
Seranthony Dominguez ($727K)
Removed from 40 Man: David Hale, Garrett Clevinger, Bailey Falter, Cole Irvin, Johan Quesada, Kyle Garlick
This team has a stronger starting rotation and a better bullpen than last year. Pitching was one of the main problems the Phillies faced, and making big changes on a small budget could pay HUGE dividends. If the Phillies had this same pitching staff last season, they would have almost assuredly made the playoffs.
Obviously, the catching position is going to be much weaker, but that was bound to happen no matter what if Realmuto doesn’t return. Replacing the best catcher in baseball is a tall task, and a platoon isn’t exactly inspiring, but it allowed for improvements in every other area. Bringing back Didi while adding Jackie Bradley will help in both the field and in the lineup, and couldn’t have happened without moving on from JT. It’s awful that nothing will come from the Realmuto trade except a draft pick. Let’s just hope that Sixto Sanchez doesn’t become the next Pedro Martinez.
I had a blast doing this, and obviously spent way too much time on it, but I think we all have a lot of time to kill right now anyway.