There was a bum rush of free agents signing this past weekend. While we should have seen it coming, it’s still a surprise that a lot of bigger names, the ones that usually take their time and let the market develop, chose to get their names on dotted lines sooner rather than later. It’s clear why they are doing it, but just in case you needed it spelled out for you:
Why the crazy rush of deals this weekend? Multiple executives believe that if deals aren’t agreed to by tomorrow night, it’s unlikely they can get completed with physicals, language, etc, by Wednesday night when the CBA is set to expire. Could be a crazy 24 hours.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 29, 2021
With the CBA about to expire and a lockout by the owners expected, many players simply don’t want to wait around to see what will happen. They will be trying to get those physicals taken care of to make sure teams can’t pull any shenanigans and try to back out once the financial landscape of the game has been settled. So, we have a flurry of activity by teams to try and get everything settled up.
The problem we have is that the Phillies chose to sit this one out so far.
The fanbase has had to sit back and watch their rivals in Queens dominate the headlines this weekend with things they have done and things they might do. Confirmed headed to New York is Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha, all players that will make the Mets better (maybe not as much as you think) and all players that could have had a fit on the Phillies’ own roster. We saw late last night that they were seriously involved in the Max Scherzer sweepstakes and could still win them. It can be understandably difficult to watch all of the teams around your team making moves, have their names whispered in juicy tidbits and rumors, and to see your team completely shut out of all the fun.
We have to remain patient.
We saw early that the team was in on Starling Marte and it is likely that they did make an offer to him before he decided to join the Mets for the next four seasons. There is only so much a team can do to get him to sign here. If Marte was a player that they saw as one worth busting their budget for, there isn’t much doubt they’d have matched or surpassed that offer, yet they stuck to what they saw was right and didn’t land him in the end. With all of the other names that have signed with teams this past weekend, who realistically would have fit with the Phillies?
Mark Canha? Solid player and could have been a good get, but at $13.5M per season, he might have been slightly overpaid.
Kevin Gausman? He’d have looked good aside Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, but I think we can all agree that starting pitching shouldn’t be at the top of their priority list.
Corey Kluber? Name the last pitching reclamation project the Phillies have been successful with.
Jon Gray? Marcus Semien? Avisail Garcia?
The players that signed were not exactly the ones that would have fit with the Phillies. You could make the argument that pushing a little harder to make a deal for Byron Buxton would have been wise, but they would have had to give up some real prospects to get him plus sign him to that extension. Is that something you’d be interested in for a player as fragile as he is? (note: I, personally, would be, but I understand why someone would not)
It’s not as if there isn’t still a free agent pool brimming with talent still matching up with the holes on the Phillies’ roster. Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber are two hitters that would fill the left field hole that still exists on the team. Bryant might even be able to fake center field for a little bit if the team really needed him to. Nick Castellanos would bring a hefty bat to the middle of the lineup, coupled with the likelihood the DH is headed to the National League and Castellanos would look a lot better as a fit. These are just a few of the names that are still available for the team to sign. Trading for players is still a possibility. Though Marte would have been a solid center fielder, the team can still look at others (Kevin Kiermaier? Manuel Margot?) as potential options to be a better fit as a defensive minded center fielder for this team, something Marte isn’t exactly known for.
We haven’t even gotten into the possibility that they are dipping their toes in the shortstop market!
Don’t forget that Dave Dombrowski has stated his desire for a closer to be added to the team, either by trade or by signing. How many established, ninth inning closers were signed this weekend?
Still, this point holds weight as well:
Two coexisting truths:— Paul (@paul_boye) November 29, 2021
1.) It’s still early in the offseason
2.) The Phillies have nonetheless very quickly fallen very far behind
By not doing anything of note yet outside of adding around the edges (which does have value!), the team is now clearly the third best team in the division. Being in the same division as the world champions was already an issue, a team that doesn’t look like they’re coming back to the pack any time soon, but now the Mets have gotten demonstrably better. They’re playing a dangerous game of signing players that could go off a cliff quickly, but one cannot doubt they have improved their team from when the season ended. We knew that the Mets were going to spend money this offseason, especially once their owner took to Twitter to air his distaste for how the Steven Matz negotiations went down, but building your team in reaction to what other teams are doing is a recipe for disaster. While the Mets did add some nice names, they still haven’t established themselves as the clear NL East favorite, nor have they established themselves as capable of overtaking any of the 2021 playoff teams for their spot in the postseason.
So as difficult as it might be, there is still a lot of time left for the team to accomplish their offseason goals. We know how exciting it is to have the Phillies thrown around as a destination for prominent free agents. We want them to be as involved in free agency just as much as you do! We’d just encourage you to sit back and have a little more patience as the offseason continues to unfold. We should have a lot more answers after the CBA deadline passes.