So far this off-season, the Phillies have signed three free agent relief pitchers, a center fielder no one wants, and a couple minor trades aimed at giving the team a new backup catcher.
For a team that went 82-80 last year and missed the postseason for the 10th straight year, it’s been an underwhelming start, although it’s hard to argue that the bullpen isn’t a little bit better now than it was a year ago. Of course, it’s not difficult to be better than the 6th-worst ERA in baseball (4.60 ERA), tied with the Nationals for the most blown saves, but the additions of Corey Knebel as closer, Jeurys Familia and Brad Hand for a combined three years and $26 million at least gives manager Joe Girardi some depth. Holdovers Jose Alvarado, Connor Brogdon, Sam Coonrod, Seranthony Dominguez and Jojo Romero (once he returns from injury) seem likely to fill out the ‘pen, so the work there is done.
The Phils’ center field situation is no better than it was last year unless Matt Vierling makes a big leap in his first full season with the team as one-half of a platoon with Odubel Herrera, and the team’s inability to find a trade for a center fielder that makes sense is highly disappointing.
But with around $30-35 million left before the team hits the $230 million luxury tax, there is still plenty of cash to add one more big bat, and the Phils appear poised to do just that. Here are the contenders.
- Kris Bryant: 3.6 fWAR, .265/.353/.481, 25 HRs, 73 RBIs, 86 runs in 144 games
- Kyle Schwarber: 3.1 fWAR, .266/.374/.554, 32 HRs, 71 RBIs, 76 runs in 113 games
- Nick Castellanos: 4.2 fWAR, .309/.362/.576, 34 HRs, 100 RBIs, 95 runs in 138 games
The Rockies are said to be all-in on trying to sign Bryant, but it’s hard to see how that makes sense, and the Blue Jays are reportedly hot and heavy on Schwarber, but so are about a dozen other teams, including the Phils. Each player brings a different skillset and utility the Phillies desperately need, and any one of the three would be most welcome. Consolation prizes that would be wholly unsatisfying include Michael Conforto and Jorge Soler.
On the latest edition of Hittin’ Season, Justin Klugh of Baseball Prospectus, Liz Roscher of Yahoo! Sports and I discussed our preferences for the Phils’ last big bat, broke down the signings of Familia, Hand and Herrera, and discussed the now-expected departure of Freddie Freeman from the Braves, as well as a ton more. Check it out!