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Dissecting the latest Phillies rumors

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Some nuggets are coming out here and there

MLB: Game Two-Miami Marlins at Philadelphia Phillies Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The general manager’s meetings are always a high time for rumors to come out about who each team is pursuing. The Phillies are no strangers to these types of whispers as they possess one of the larger payrolls in the game, they have a president with a history of diving into the free agency market and playoff drought that is stretching ever longer. With that, there have been some rumors floating around about who the team might be interested in. Let’s dissect what we’re seeing.

Starling Marte would match up with many of the things Dave Dombrowski has talked about wanting this offseason. A leadoff hitter who can play center field and provide some thunder to the lineup, he’d fit in quite well. The issue with Marte will be twofold. One, how many years will he want in a contract? Two, can he remain in center field for the duration of those desired years?

To answer the first, you can see how Marte will look to begin the bidding at somewhere around four or five years, seeing himself as a 33 year old still in great shape whose speed is still top notch (86th percentile in sprint speed). His skillset figures to age better than others since his offensive game isn’t totally dependent on power and speed (his career OBP of .346 is quite solid), so he could rightly expect to want that long of a contract. It’s more likely he’d get three years, but those three years, a team could expect he’d be productive for at least two of them.

The second question is a little more nuanced. While he has been excellent in center field for his career (he’s never posted a negative OAA there), you have wonder if Father Time would force him to left field before the end of any contract he signs. While one could argue as before that he should be a good hitter because of his patience at the plate, if he starts to lose speed, he would not be able to be a center fielder much longer.

The biggest thing about Marte is the lack of a qualifying offer attached to him. Since he was traded midseason, he wasn’t eligible to receive one, a fact that will only increase his market desirability. This rumor could be one to track this offseason.

That is a shiny ERA, isn’t it?

The bullpen needs arms and Aaron Loup would be a solid addition. He has been fantastic the past three years in San Diego and New York, culminating in a 2021 season that saw an ERA under one. The changes came when he saw a huge shift in his pitch usage, getting away from using an ineffective slider and changeup, and focusing on developing a cutter.

As a left-handed reliever, one might think he would struggle against right-handed hitters, but in 2021 he held them to a .211/.290/.257 line while punishing left-handers as expected (.167/.226/.214). Thanks to that sinker/cutter combination, being able to get outs against any kind of hitters is huge in the three batter minimum age.

What would Loup command? As with Marte, we could expect he’ll ask for a longer deal in the three year range, but more likely he’s going to get something around two years. Adding that third year guaranteed could be the key to getting his signature and if the Phillies think he can continue to be as effective as he has been, that third year might be more palatable than normal.