The Phillies, as you certainly know by now, are in the middle of a rebuild. They had the worst record in baseball last year, and are transitioning to younger talent at almost every position. They have a farm system loaded with prospects that could turn this franchise around.
Another aspect of this rebuild is to save money. To stay away from big contracts and avoid having lots of dollars on the books. Not only will the Phils have to pay their own guys–provided they reach their potential–at some point, they will likely need to spend in free agency or on international players. I think it is perfectly clear that spending big in free agency doesn’t exactly translate to success. Just look at the Red Sox disaster a few years ago. But at the same time, going completely with your own guys, and avoiding big acquisitions isn’t the way to go either. There needs to be a happy medium. And what the Phillies are doing right now is just that. They are saving money now so they can spend later. And they’ll definitely need to spend. There will be a ton of guys that could help the club becoming free agents next year. One big name to watch is Stephen Strasburg.
When you look at the raw numbers, things do look good. Compared to last year at this time, the Phillies might have somewhere near $50 million less on the books. That’s insane. Of course, that is just a projected number and doesn’t take into account any signings they may make during Spring Training. And after next year, they will have Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz (if they aren’t traded before then) off the books as well. The only player that they have committed money to after the 2017 season is Matt Harrison. And there is an insurance policy in his contract that would get the Phillies off the hook for some money that he’s owed.
So, looking ahead to this time, there could be a huge amount of money at their disposal in the future. Depending on how their prospects develop, they could be poised to make some big moves. Here’s a look at some of the free agents that could be available coming up next year. And the following year In that those pools of players, I see several potential players the Phillies could sign, provided they want to go that route. I already mentioned Strasburg. But if they haven’t figured out the future of first base yet, they could grab Pedro Alvarez for a few seasons. Assuming the rest of the infield will be set, they could look at outfielders Josh Reddick and Jay Bruce. There’s no way to tell what international players will become available, but that’s another place they could spend. They dropped the ball with Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, but that shouldn’t stop them from continuing to go down that path.
The catch with all of this is that the team will not be fun or exciting for a lot of people. People like wins. They like names they recognize. The only excitement I foresee in 2016 is the potential to see some of the prospects come up (J.P. Crawford, or 104 MPH- throwing Jimmy Cordero), as well as the development of the ones already with the big club (Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco). That won’t be enough for a lot of people. Attendance will probably dip again. The Phillies are kind of in the same position the Sixers are in. Stocked with assets, but not quite ready to unleash them just yet. But the idea of the future is compelling. It will keep some fans interested. And when they finally make a push to compete, hopefully it’ll all be worth it. It’s not a ‘tank’–at least not on the level of what the Sixers are doing–but maybe we’ll call it that. And maybe we’ll see a deep playoff run from Philadelphia’s baseball team before its basketball team.