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Let’s prioritize the Phillies’ offseason needs, part two

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You spoke, now let’s talk about it.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners Abbie Parr-USA TODAY Sports

The other day, I wrote asking for your opinions about what the Phillies should be prioritizing this offseason. You voted, so let’s look at the results and talk about it a little bit.

This one seems pretty fairly split. While there is a fair amount of people that want to see the team go after a shortstop, it doesn’t look like it’s the highest priority. This is probably due to three factors.

First, the Stott factor. Dave Dombrowski is already talking up the possibility that Stott could force his way onto the roster come Opening Day, but is that the most prudent thing to do? The team is headed into 2022 in desperate need of making the playoffs and every player on the roster is going to have to contribute. There may not be room for someone who is struggling, much less a rookie at the most important position in the infield. Is Joe Girardi going to be happy with a struggling rookie when his recent track record suggests he has a short leash with young players?

Second, the free agent market. My guess is that many of you are wary of the team spending at the top of the free agent market where the true impact players are located at. We’ve all seen the quotes that the team has a budget to work with, but we are also jaded enough that until they actually do something, it’s all just lip service. Wishing that a Carlos Correa or a Corey Seager are going to waltz out to shortstop on Opening Day feels like a pipe dream. If you can’t get them, why not just spend the money elsewhere?

Third, there is also the Didi Gregorius bounceback factor. It is possible, though slim, that Gregorius comes back in 2022 and is much closer to his career numbers than he is to his abysmal 2021 line. Is it likely? Who knows, but the team is already on the hook for ~$15 million in salary. They might have to be swallow hard and see if he can get back to that player yet again.

Hmm, doesn’t look like a lot of you want the team spending in left field either. Probably because you’ve seen the options. Starling Marte is the best left field option, but he might be a little too rich for the team’s pocketbook. They could consider Kyle Schwarber, but with their stated desire to improve the defense, getting Schwarber gets you further away from that goal, not closer. Outside of that, there isn’t much else. Chris Taylor is an option, but he comes with a loss of a draft pick, something the team might be loathe to do considering the state of their farm system right now. Having a platoon of Matt Vierling and Mickey Moniak might not be the worst thing in the world.

Looks like if y’all had your druthers, the center field spot is where you want them prioritizing their efforts.

The free agent market for center field is probably worse than it is for left field, so this might be the place to make a trade. I wrote in my simulation recap how my preference would be to go after Byron Buxton, and Matt Gelb wrote something similar when it comes to looking at the Minnesota outfielder.

The Phillies pursued Twins center fielder Byron Buxton last July but according to sources could not find a prospect match that compelled Minnesota’s front office to part with an exciting but risky talent. They could revisit those talks this offseason seeing as Buxton has just one more year before he reaches free agency and the price should be lower.

We don’t know what the asking price for Buxton was, but as Gelb notes, with the team only having a year of control left, they may not be asking for as high a return as they did in July. This is where the Phillies could pounce if they identify Buxton as their guy.

Taylor could also be an option, but he doesn’t really feel like the answer to their center field problems. They could see what Oakland wants for Ramon Laureano in their roster yard sale, but he’s guaranteed to miss some time thanks to a steroid suspension. Whatever they decide to do, this looks like the spot you want them to spend the most time on.

I stand corrected.

If you’re like me, you’ve watched lead after lead after lead get blown late in games, likely being the difference between a playoff team and a team that goes home early. Dombrowski also sees this and wants things to change.

“We need somebody to close a game for us. Those are probably our biggest areas....[i]f I had to say one thing, I’d probably say I’d like to have somebody that can close a game for us, and count on it.”

The issue is: how much are they willing to devote to a full-time closer? Grabbing someone like Raisel Iglesias or Kenley Jansen off the free agency market would be what he is looking for. If they were to turn their eyes to the trade landscape, Craig Kimbrel and Josh Hader might be available (depending on who you talk to). All four of these guys are solid, top notch closers, but how many of them are able to go more than one inning?

You’ve watched enough Phillies the past few seasons. You know that they need help in the bullpen. Signing one arm isn’t going to be enough for this year; they’re looking at at least two, maybe three, outside options to bring in the fold. If we include a closer, that’s a solid haul. Having Jose Alvarado back if the team tenders him a contract means they don’t need a left handed option, but with Juan Soto and Freddie Freeman likely still in the division, another southpaw could also be on the wishlist.

This is about where I think their starting pitching focus should be. With a solid trio of Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suarez at the top, they don’t need to make a big splash. Kyle Gibson would be better as the fifth guy in the rotation, the one you don’t mind being skipped, so if an option does present itself, having a #3-4 starter would be a good option. As much as we might want to count on Zach Eflin, we still don’t know what to expect from him if and when he returns. As we saw at the end of the season, depth is an issue, so grabbing some solid minor league deal guys would help the team, but if there is truly only a limited amount of money available, the rotation probably isn’t going to top the list. If the market bottoms out on some of the top options, the team should be looking at them.

This was the one that I was a little more surprised at. The defense last year was subpar, so improvement was stated as a priority for the team. However, in this day and age, adding a glove first option that doesn’t give much offensive production isn’t something teams prioritize. If the National League adopts the DH, then maybe that changes since the pitcher’s spot is no longer in the lineup, meaning they might be able to think about a top defensive center fielder or shortstop. This will be the one spot that maybe they just have to worry about stocking the bench with good defenders for late game substitutions.