We’ve reached the point in the offseason, slow as it has been, where the mid-tier relievers are starting come off the board. Hard to say whether they were waiting for Josh Hader to come off the board since he was in a tier by himself, but of late, the deals have been trickling in a little more than before. While not all of these players were targets of the Phillies per se, they are relievers nonetheless. These are some of the names that have put their name on the dotted line since Hader went to Houston:
- Robert Stephenson
- Aroldis Chapman
- Matt Moore
- David Robertson
- Adam Ottavino
- Hector Neris
Relievers are always in abundance when the offseason starts thanks to the proliferation of the one-year deal, so options are still out there if the team so chooses, but think about this.
Matt Gelb, on the latest episode of Phillies Therapy with The Good Phight alum Paul Boye, brought up an interesting point when it comes to those who remain available. Of those names that are available still, where would they rank in the current makeup of the Phillies’ bullpen? The top four arms the team currently employs of Alvarado, Dominguez, Hoffman and Strahm (or Soto) are probably, if not likely, ahead of anyone else that can be signed for the team. We’ve recently heard that they’ve been sniffing around the likes of Jakob Junis and Phil Maton, but they’re likely all looking for a major league contract and guaranteed money at this point. Is that something the team should be looking at doing if they’re likely to be the fifth or sixth best option in the pecking order?
We’ve written about the bullpen quite a bit lately and not a whole lot has changed outside of Kolby Allard being signed to either serve as rotation depth in the minor leagues or a pitcher to challenge Dylan Covey for the long-man job in said bullpen. If the team is considering one of the two names mentioned above, it probably is best to just go with what they have now and see where they are at in July.
There is a plethora of options available to the team in the minor leagues that remain on the 40-man roster that might be a better fit for what the team needs to do to get the season started. There are the above five stated names that are all solid options for Rob Thomson to use without tiring anyone else out so much in the beginning of the season and I haven’t even mentioned Orion Kerkering. That’s six solid names that would probably be called on before anyone else the team might bring in. Sure, signing someone like Maton for example makes the bullpen much deeper, but what is the cost?
Fangraphs has the team’s estimated luxury tax threshold at ~$249 million right now before any other signings take place. That’s about $8 million shy of the second threshold where tax penalties start to get a little stiffer. Not something a deep pocketed team like the Phillies should be worrying about, but what person, wealthy or not, like to pay extra in tax? At this point in the offseason, is there anyone available that would entice the team to go a little bit further with their payroll as opposed to holding on to that bit of breathing room and see what is available in July? As Gelb and Boye pointed, at that time, there is the possibility of more holes being opened up on the roster that need backfilling if Cristopher Sanchez flops as a starter, if Johan Rojas’s hitting flaws continue to be exposed, if an injury occurs and on and on. It’s probably a better idea to simply roll with what they have and see if someone like Yunior Marte can harness his control, if Connor Brogdon can regain his form, if someone like Michael Mercado can tweak his stuff and take a step forward.
As much as we might want the team to continue making splashes to discuss in the offseason, sometimes the right move is not making a move. It’s foolhardy to make one just for the sake of doing so and adding a reliever and placating a restless fanbase, but holding steady might just be the smartest course of action.