MLB Offseason Preview: Philadelphia Philliesby Ben Fadden October 30, 2020 4 comments
The Philadelphia Phillies have their most important offseason in recent memory in front of them, and if they don’t succeed then there might be riots in the city of Philadelphia.
The Phillies had a huge offseason before the 2019 season, as they signed numerous star players including Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler. But they still haven’t been able to make the postseason since 2011, which is the longest current postseason drought in the National League.
Joe Girardi was brought in to be the manager of the team after a brief time away from the dugout after parting ways with the New York Yankees. He was more open to analytics and welcoming the personalities of his players but he wasn’t supplied with the necessary tools to get the Phillies to October.
His hottest hitter, Rhys Hoskins was hurt down the stretch and the bullpen was absolutely atrocious, as it seemed like every single night the Phillies had a lead that was blown. Philadelphia was one win away from getting the eighth seed in the postseason going into the final day of the regular season but they lost to the eventual American League champion Tampa Bay Rays despite having ace Aaron Nola on the mound.
GM Matt Klentak stepped down from his position and was reassigned to another spot in the organization after he failed to produce a winner. There isn’t a consensus whether the Phillies will name a head of baseball operations this winter or if they’ll go with an interim until the conclusion of the 2021 World Series.
If you ask Phillies fans what the strategy of their offseason is going to be they would give you three words: sign J.T. Realmuto. Signing him is their biggest priority and will determine if they had a successful winter but they have more work to do than just that.
1. Sign Realmuto
2. Find a shortstop
Didi Gregorius is a free agent after he had another solid season in his first year with the Phillies. Gregorius is arguably the biggest name among free-agent shortstops this offseason so there should be plenty of interest. There isn’t a clear frontrunner in Philadelphia to be the shortstop if they don’t sign a free agent. Scott Kingery would likely be the man, but he has been very inconsistent at the plate early in his career.
3. Find any bullpen help
The Phillies bullpen was historically terrible and Girardi might have a heart attack next season if he doesn’t have some established relievers coming out of that bullpen next season. Hector Neris‘ club option should be picked up but other than that, it is an open competition for bullpen spots when Spring Training comes around.
4. Find the third starter in the rotation
Nola and Wheeler are the top two arms in the starting rotation and Zach Eflin is going to be in the rotation next season but Vince Velasquez was pushed into the bullpen due to his struggles in 2020. Jake Arrieta is a free agent and his contract with the Phillies went horribly so don’t expect Middleton to give much effort at bringing back their former 35-year–old starter.
J.T. Realmuto, 29, Catcher
Realmuto is the best position player in this year’s free-agent market but there won’t be many suitors for him because of the price tag attached to him. He is reportedly going to try to receive a record-setting contract for a catcher, which currently is held by Buster Posey. He signed an eight-year, $168 million extension with the San Francisco Giants in 2013. The Realmuto sweepstakes are likely going to come down to two teams: Philadelphia and the New York Mets.
Assuming Cohen is approved and Bill de Blasio stops trying to ruin Mets fans’ dreams, New York will have the richest owner in the league who has more than enough money to beat out Middleton in the Realmuto bidding. It’s just a matter of how much Realmuto truly wants to stay in Philadelphia or if he is using them to get more money.
Didi Gregorius, 30, Shortstop
Gregorius is one of the most underrated players in the game and he’s going to be an important player for the Phillies to bring back. In his first season in Philadelphia, Gregorius hit .284 with 40 RBI and double-digit totals in home runs and doubles.
The good news for the Phillies is there aren’t many teams in need of a shortstop ahead of the greatest free-agent shortstop class in Major League Baseball history next winter. The Los Angeles Angels, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Detroit Tigers are the only teams that might be in need of a shortstop but the Phillies are the team that’s closest to winning.
Pedro Baez, 26, Relief Pitcher
The Phillies are very desperate to find bullpen help so anybody will do but Baez could be a good fit because although he isn’t a fast worker on the mound, he’s always been consistent. Baez has never had an ERA north of four and has only given up more than nine home runs in a season once (2016).
Sean Doolittle, 34, Relief Pitcher
Doolittle’s time in Washington could be over and Philadelphia would be a solid fit. He has spent the last four seasons in the National League East and would likely slot into the closer role. He played a big part in the success of the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals bullpen, as he and Daniel Hudson were simply dominant in October. Doolittle only pitched just 7 2/3 innings in 2020 due to a loss in velocity and knee fatigue. With that said, he likely won’t have a big market so he could be a low risk-high reward option for Philadelphia.
Other relief options include:
Brandon Kintzler, age 36 (2.22 ERA as Marlins closer in 2020)
Mark Melancon, age 35 (2.78 ERA as Braves reliever in 2020)
Check us out on our socials:
Follow Ben Fadden on Twitter @benfaddensports
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images