During an interview on “High Heat” with Christopher Russo, MLB Network insider Jon Morosi said he believes the Phillies will sign either Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner or Cole Hamels by New Year’s Day.
Just this past Friday, Morosi reported that the Phillies were “actively interested” in signing Bumgarner. Morosi also called the three-time World Series champion “an ideal fit” for the Phillies as he is lefty with significant playoff experience that would join a young, righty-dominated rotation.
It’s also interesting that Morosi included Wheeler in his prediction. In a previous report, he did not include the Phillies as early front-runners to sign the former Mets pitcher. The teams Morosi named as the early favorites to ink Wheeler are the Los Angeles Angels, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins. The Cincinnati Reds have also been heavily connected to Wheeler.
The perception surrounding these two pitchers in free agency cannot be more different. Bumgarner is seen as an aging arm whose peak is behind him while many believe Wheeler’s best years are still to come. Bumgarner is only less than a year older than Wheeler but has pitched more than twice as many innings throughout his career.
Both pitchers have injury histories and both happen to hail from Braves’ country. Oddly enough, Bumgardner is the only one of the two connected to Atlanta and his desire to play closer to home is typically cited as a big reason why. MLB Trade Rumors predicts Bumgarner will sign for four-years, $72 million and Wheeler will ink for five-years, $100 million.
It’s also no secret that there’s mutual interest between the Phillies brass and Hamels. A reunion, however, is not anywhere near a guarantee. According to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, as many as 14 teams have checked in on Hamels. The soon-to-be 36-year old’s willingness to sign a one-year deal with a competitor is a big reason why. Hamels is predicted to sign for two-years, $30 million, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Another interesting caveat from Morosi’s appearance on “High Heat” was that he does not like the Phillies chances to sign either Cole or Strausburg. That would mean the signing of either Wheeler, Bumgarner or Hamels would probably be their biggest offseason acquisition to the rotation. While signing either of the three would certainly be an upgrade relative to last year’s rotation, it most likely won’t be enough to declare the Phillies as serious contenders in a division stacked with starting pitching depth.
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