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.
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.