As spring training hits, there are still so many free agents the Phillies probably shouldn’t target. The off-season is boring since teams won’t give Scott Boras his money.
I came up with some notes and one of the greatest sections in The Good Phight history.
I Would Monitor the Jorge Soler market
There aren’t many guys in this free agency class that would help get them over the edge in the postseason.
I’m not sure Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery would do that, given how good Ranger Suárez has been in the playoffs. Josh Hader is very good but the bullpen wasn’t really what lost them the NLCS (the bullpen was very good all postseason).
Cody Bellinger has more questions than answers when it comes to projecting future performance and Matt Chapman regressed at the plate this year.
Jorge Soler would be a risk but he’s the type of player this team needs.
The Phillies right-handed hitters weren’t bad this year, ranking 11th in wRC+ as a group, and they should get a better Trea Turner in 2024.
What they lack however is a middle of the lineup hitter who walks and hits home runs.
Most of you are probably saying “What about Kyle Schwarber” and my answer would be, that the same problem still exists.
Nick Castellanos is too inconsistent and isn’t even a great hitter anymore, JT Realmuto is a catcher who turns 33 in March, and Alec Bohm just hasn’t developed his power enough.
Among right-handed hitters, the Phillies ranked 16th in home runs and had the fourth-worst walk rate in the game. Soler’s 36 home runs and 66 walks would give this a much-needed boost.
The Phillies right-handed hitters also chases... a LOT. Their right-handed hitters had the third-worst chase rate in the sport. Soler posted a well above-average rate of just 25.9%.
There are questions about his consistency, he was disappointed in 2022 after dealing with back and pelvis injuries that only had him suit up for 72 games.
Before 2023, he hasn’t had an OPS+ above 110 since 2019. Some of that was probably playing for the Kansas City Royals, where hitters go to die, and some of that is due to injuries.
Kyle Schwarber faced similar consistency questions before the Phillies signed him and he’s turned out to be worth his contract. I would buy into someone with a plus approach.
The defense would also suffer but Brandon Marsh was very good in center field before Johan Rojas took over, posting an Outs Above Average of 4.
I’m not sure what I would give Soler, probably in the range of 3 years and $50 million, which would keep them below the third CBT.
The bat upgrade, especially for what this team needs, is worth it enough to at least monitor his market.
Brandon Marsh’s BABIP
There’s sort of this notion that because Brandon Marsh had a high BABIP in 2023, he is automatically a massive regression candidate, and that just doesn’t sit well with me.
His xwOBACON (which just takes a guy’s xwOBA on contact) is high and always has been.
2021: .470 (22nd min 250 PA) and in the same boat as Teoscar Hernández, Paul Goldschmidt, Max Muncy, and J.D. Martinez
2022: .410 (59th), same range as Wilson Contreras, José Abreu, and Bo Bichette
2023: .411, same range as Kyle Tucker and Yandy Díaz
This is why his BABIP is high and always has been. Even with the Angels, he posted a .403 BABIP in 2021, and a .341 before getting traded. His BABIP with the Phillies that year was .398.
He hits the ball hard, in the sweet spot a lot, and generates a lot of backspin.
The reason his numbers were worse with LAA is because he struck out more. He cut his strikeout rate down by almost four percent this year and over four percent from 2021. When he puts the ball in play, good things typically happen.
I would expect some regression but mainly because the Phillies will (hopefully) let him face more lefties. He just won’t hit them as well.
Nick Castellanos Reminds me a little of Jack Burton
Have any of you ever seen Big Trouble in Little China?
Well for almost everyone here that hasn’t, go watch the movie and come back.
For those who have, Kurt Russell plays Jack Burton, a bumbling idiot who’s supposed to come into San Francisco Chinatown, take down David Lo Pan, get Wang his girl back, and save Kim Cattrall.
This comparison may be a stretch but let me cook. Nick Castellanos was supposed to come in and help get the Phillies over their playoff hump.
In 2022, Castellanos finished with a 94 OPS+ and -0.8 fWAR, and then became a nonfactor in the playoffs. He was uncomfortable in his first season as a Phillie.
This sort of reminds me of how everyone has to explain to Jack Burton what happened to his truck, who David Lo Pan is, and how today is the biggest day of Egg Shen’s life. Jack Burton barely wanted to hear any of it, “And I don’t wanna hear act of god”.
It’s a stretch here since Burton would never reveal any fear or vulnerability but we clearly see it at times in the film, just go with it here.
2023 came around and Castellanos started to have a bounce-back season, finishing with a .842 OPS after June.
The July happened and it’s sort of like when Burton rescues several sex slaves including Gracie Law (Cattrall) gets to a green door, and tells everyone things will be ok once the door is opened. The door is opened and the Lords of Death are right there “Alright, we may be trapped.”
Castellanos’s chasing and eventual drop to seventh in the order is kind of like when Burton throws his knife away as Wang beats up more Lords of Death or when Burton knocks himself unconscious during the final battle.
Then comes the ending (don’t take this too seriously), Castellanos may strike out on a slider in a pivotal moment in game seven of the NLCS, just like how Burton misses his first knife throw on Lo Pan.
Just like Burton, it’s all in the reflexes, Castellanos has one of the greatest moments in CBP history with his home run off a 100 mile-per-hour Spencer Strider fastball.
Again, I’m stretching it a little with this comparison but they both have had such similar archs. The only real difference is that the Phillies didn’t win the world series.