Let’s imagine a conservative approach to the Phillies offseason

There are many ways the Phillies can play this offseason. They could trade any number of prospects for established talent like Chris Archer and Giancarlo Stanton. They also could decide to move on from existing talent like Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis and Vince Velasquez. They could stand pat. They could make wild moves.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s imagine two scenarios the Phils could play out this offseason. One, which I’ll tackle tomorrow, is extremely radical and is based on our hedonistic whims. This one, though, is buttoned-up, 8 p.m. don’t tell anyone much about what you’re doing before you do it, conservative. Some would say it’s not fun. Some would say it’s annoying and lacks creativity. But is it the right plan?

Playing the offseason: The conservative approach

The Phillies essentially tried a bunch of stuff last year. Some of it worked (most of the offense) and some of it crashed hard (not the offense). So, in moving to 2018, a conservative approach would focus on staying the course on what worked while making tweaks on the things that didn’t work. The front office would essentially be saying “We’re trying a few more things, but we’re getting closer!”

I know, it sounds terrible.


There are five players contracted in the arbitration period of their careers. Under this plan, all five – Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis, Luis Garcia, Cesar Hernandez, Cameron Rupp – would stay in the organization. Franco would be given one more shot to stick at third base. Galvis would essentially coast around the infield as a super-utility player. Garcia is a late-innings reliever. Hernandez is your starting second baseman (for now). Rupp gets a job either starting or backing up Jorge Alfaro.

Pre- and Non-Arbitration

Everyone stays put! Alfaro, Rhys Hoskins, Andrew Knapp, JP Crawford, Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams, Cameron Perkins, Aaron Nola, Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson, Ben Lively, Mark Leiter, Nick Pivetta, Adam Morgan, Hoby Milner, Victor Arano, Zac Curtis, Edubray Ramos and Hector Neris are safe and sound.

As for non-MLB talent, Eliezer Alvarez, Jesmuel Valentin, Engelb Vielma, Dylan Cozens, Roman Quinn, Drew Anderson, Seranthony Dominguez, Franklyn Kilome, Ricardo Pinto, Yacksel Rios, Ranger Suarez and Jose Taveras are fine. For now.

Oh, and Odubel Herrera, the only guy out there with a long-term contract, is still here.

Obviously even in a conservative approach some things will change, such as the glut of weak-hitting middle infielders on the 40-man roster. Let’s remove Vielma. Let’s also remove Pinto, who is to me the young pitcher most likely to be axed. Finally, I’d imagine a couple names from the first list should go, too, if we’re going to add anything. Thus, goodbye Perkins and Curtis.

That leaves four open spots on the 40-man roster.

Free agency

So what do the Phillies need? At the very least, two starting pitchers, a fourth outfielder and a reliever. While President Andy MacPhail hinted that the team may be more active in the trade market to acquire pitching, let’s imagine instead that they’re fine for now with two lower-level free-agent signings (remember, we’re being conservative).

So the Phillies sign Jason Vargas (SP) and Chris Tillman (SP).

I like Vargas (4.16 ERA, 134 K, 58 BB in 2017) as a mid-to-back rotation piece. Tillman (7.84 ERA, 63 K, 51 BB in 2017) is a reclamation project with injuries last season, but can’t you just imagine Klentak bringing him in, especially considering MacPhail traded for Tillman as one of his first moves upon becoming president of baseball ops in Baltimore?

Let’s continue: Phillies sign Daniel Nava (OF).

Nothing screams conservative like bringing back a guy you had the year before.

Finally: Phillies sign Pat Neshek (RP).

Like I was saying.

So that’s it. The rotation becomes Nola, Velasquez, Eickhoff, Vargas, Tillman, with the same cast of characters ready to step in when someone (most of them) get hurt in 2018. Neshek comes back into the fold with Neris, Ramos, Garcia, Morgan, Milner, Arano and let’s say Leiter. The starting offense is Alfaro, Hoskins, Hernandez, Crawford, Franco, Williams, Herrera, Altherr. The bench is Rupp, Knapp, Galvis, Nava and let’s say Quinn, though it’s hard to see that sticking.

I’m so excited.

If the Phils take the conservative approach this offseason, I’ll go mad.



  1. Mike Fassano

    December 2, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Well I hate the conservative approach and I’ll probably hate the radical approach too. I want the Phillies to stand pat on the positional players, with the exception of a couple of middle infielders. I do want the Phillies to trade for a solid starting pitcher, and I think we should target a good young starter and make an offer that can’t be refused. Then I’d sign Tyler Chatwood to a three year deal with a fourth year Phillies option. We can outspend everybody else.

  2. Keg

    December 2, 2017 at 11:49 am

    Your conservative approach isn’t that bad. Both Vargas and Tillman are better than average pitchers. I’d actually make them 2 and 3 in the rotation. You’re not going to get anything out of Rupp; so why not keep him as the back up. (Side note, bring in Chooch as 3rd catcher/ coach) Nava can play the corner outfield spots and back up Rhys at first. Overall there could be worse approaches.

    • Mike Fassano

      December 2, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      Vargas and Tillman aren’t going to put asses in the seats. As for Rupp/Knapp, they both have options, and they’re both cheap. Let them fight it out in the Spring, and based solely on defense, choose one and send one to Lehigh. I like Nava only as a fifth outfielder. I’d rather Quinn/Cozens fight it out for the fourth outfielder.

  3. Craig Glessner

    December 2, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Ok so I read this article 5 times and unless I’m mistaken or forgot how to count that is a swell 26 man roster. Next explain to me how Vargas or Tillman is any reasonable upgrade over Thompson Pivetta or Lively. And finally I would say I like us getting Neshek but Nava would be the first man gone to give us a 25 man roster I like him but really he is just taking someone’s spot til they are ready. Don’t forget May 1 we get Kingery Go Phillies

  4. Justin McElroy

    December 4, 2017 at 7:43 am

    I can’t see them carrying three catchers, and where did Tommy Joseph end up?

  5. betasigmadeltahag

    December 4, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    I truly think you roll the dice on Kingery, get a ML ready pitcher and prospects for Hernandez, I am not high on Perkins and would rather see what Cozen has at the ML level. 2018 should be a year you make decisions on your position players, and start looking for starting pitching. I would give Franco a few months to see if the talent at the plate he showed in the last month of the season can continue. An infield of Hoskins, Kingery, Franco/Crawford, Galvis would be a solid way to start the season. Even if you move on from Franco after a few months you can play either Galvis or Crawford at third, I feel Galvis would be above average 3rd basemen, and has proven to be a solid leader. Not sure what you would get for a package of Hernandez, Joseph, Crawford and maybe one of the back of the line starters, but if you can get talent back for them, I would be fine with having Kingery be your starting 2nd basemen in April, forget about his arbitration clock and just bring him up.

  6. Jeff Orbach

    December 4, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    If you don’t give up on Franco , then perhaps you can get Todd Frazier to push him a little. If you think Franco’s not going to get better, then you try to trade for Longoria or you sign the “Moose”.

    I like the Tillman and Vargas ideas , but I think Pivetta and Lively are both combative enough (not afraid to throw inside) that they could be ok as well.

  7. Bob D

    December 5, 2017 at 7:55 am

    I could see Phillies in on a Stanton deal to Dodgers. Dodgers have luxury cap problems/Phillies have plenty of salary cap room. Dodgers and Marlins work out trade with Phillies getting prospects or young controllable player(s) plus having either a high priced player going or passing thru Philly for them to take on salary in exchange. If he is being traded for pennies on the dollar then why not cash in?

  8. Bill Worth

    December 7, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    what happed to the “One, which I’ll tackle tomorrow, is extremely radical and is based on our hedonistic whims. ” – tomorrow came and went and we never saw the article…

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