Though much of the talk around the Philadelphia Phillies has been about potential changes in the front office, the busiest time of the offseason is nearly upon us.
The Winter Meetings will occur virtually in just one day, running from Dec. 7-10. Last offseason, the Phillies signed starting pitcher Zack Wheeler during the Winter Meetings and picked up shortstop Didi Gregorius shortly thereafter. While free agency has been ongoing for weeks, this is the time of year when signings really pick up.
Of course, it is unclear who will be making the decisions for the Phillies. It could be Ned Rice, who is currently serving as interim general manager, or Andy MacPhail, the team president. Or, the Phillies could hire someone from outside the organization, although it is unclear how close they are to doing so.
Here is everything you need to know about the current Phillies roster and payroll, along with free agents and trade targets that they could pursue.
The player’s 2021 salary will be shown with the luxury tax salary in parentheses afterward. The luxury tax salary is what actually matters if the team approaches the competitive balance tax, which is set at $210 million in 2021. The year in which the player is set to enter free agency is in italics. This is the season for which the player will be set to sign elsewhere.
Bryce Harper – $27,538,462 ($25,384,615)
The Phillies signed Harper prior to the 2019 season, and he has been very good in his first two years with his new team. In 215 games, he has a .903 OPS and has been the best hitter on the team. FA in 2032.
Zack Wheeler – $22,500,000 ($23,600,000)
It became clear right away that the Phillies got a good deal on Wheeler in an offseason in which Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole both signed gigantic contracts. Wheeler excelled in his first season as a Phillie, pitching to a 2.92 ERA in 11 starts. FA in 2025.
Andrew McCutchen – $20,000,000 ($16,666,667)
When the Phillies signed McCutchen, they paid for both his baseball abilities and his tendency to stay healthy. Unfortunately, McCutchen tore his ACL in 2019, and was not the same in the field or at the plate in 2020, when he had a .757 OPS. McCutchen figures to be the Phillies full-time left fielder in 2021 before becoming a free agent after the season. FA in 2022.
Jean Segura – $14,850,000 ($14,000,000)
The Phillies acquired Segura prior to the 2019 season in a trade that sent Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford to the Seattle Mariners. After struggling in 2019, Segura was solid in 2020 for the Phillies and played excellent defense at second base. He looks to slot into second, third or shortstop in 2021, depending what else the Phillies do in the offseason. Segura has two seasons worth a total of $29.7 million left on his contract. $17,000,000 club option in 2023, FA in 2024.
Aaron Nola – $12,250,000 ($11,250,000)
While he didn’t return to his 2018 form, Nola enjoyed somewhat of a bounce back in 2020. He pitched to the tune of a 3.28 ERA and headed one of the best tandems in baseball with Wheeler. Nola signed a four-year, $45 million extension before the 2019 season. $16,000,000 club option in 2023, FA in 2024.
Scott Kingery – $4,250,000 ($4,000,000)
The Phillies made history in 2018 when they signed Kingery to a six-year, $24 million extension before he even played a major-league game. The team probably expected Kingery to be up-and-down in his first stints as a major leaguer. Unfortunately for the team, though, there have been more downs than ups for Kingery. In 2020, after battling COVID-19 before the season started, Kingery had an OPS of .511 and struggled in the field despite the Phillies making it a point to move it back to his natural position at second base. $13,000,000 club option in 2024, $14,000,000 club option in 2025, $15,000,000 club option in 2026, FA in 2027.
Players Entering Arbitration
Tim Dierkes and Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors recently published their arbitration predictions, giving three different numbers. For the purposes of right now, we will use the numbers from their third method for Rhys Hoskins and Vince Velasquez, who have not yet settled.
Rhys Hoskins – $3,400,000
Hoskins’ second-half struggles in 2019 were a big topic of conversation during the long offseason. But the first baseman bounced back in a big way in 2020, slugging nine home runs in his final 19 games of the season. Unfortunately, Hoskins tore his UCL and had to get surgery to repair it, and his season ended in the middle of September. Hoskins should be ready to go in 2021, although it is unclear if he will be able to man first base right away. This will be Hoskins’ first of three years of arbitration. FA in 2024.
Zach Eflin – $4,450,000
The Phillies acquired Eflin in a trade that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014. Since then, Eflin has slowly but surely improved, and 2020 was his best season to date. In 10 starts, he pitched to a 3.97 ERA and struck out 10.7 hitters per nine innings. He is the clear No. 3 in the Phillies rotation. FA in 2023.
Andrew Knapp – $1,100,000
Knapp excelled in the shortened 2020 season, playing in 33 games and hitting for an OPS of .849. While Knapp had shown defensive improvement from year to year, his offensive showing came out of nowhere. He will almost certainly still play as the backup catcher in 2021, although how big a role he plays will depend on who the Phillies sign to start at catcher. FA in 2023.
Vince Velasquez – $4,000,000
Velasquez had his typical season in 2020, showing some flashes while remaining a clear back-of-the-rotation — if that — type of pitcher. The Phillies decided to hold onto Velasquez and tender him a contract for 2021 despite some thinking that he could . FA in 2022.
Hector Neris – $5,000,000
The Phillies recently declined the $7 million club option on Neris, but still can keep him in his final year of arbitration. Currently the longest-tenured Phillie, Neris has been up-and-down as a reliever, but, considering the state of the bullpen, seems to be an easy decision to tender for 2021. FA in 2022.
Seranthony Dominguez – $727,500
The Phillies settled with Dominguez to avoid arbitration, a decision that showed they believe in his long-term potential even if he is unable to make an impact in 2021 as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Dominguez was electric as a rookie, and although he has not shown the same ability since, the Phillies were willing to take a chance considering the current state of the bullpen. FA in 2025.
David Hale – $850,000
The Phillies acquired Hale from the New York Yankees in August as their bullpen woes became apparent. Hale only made six appearances with the team and did not pitch all that well, allowing 17 baserunners and five earned runs in 11 innings of work. Hale’s role in 2021 will depend on how well the Phillies do in free agency, but he is best suited as a middle reliever in low-pressure situations. FA in 2024.
There are several projected members of the Phillies 2021 roster who have yet to reach arbitration, which occurs after a player has accrued at least three years of service time. These players will make the major league minimum of $570,500 for the season. A player can also become arbitration-eligible if they accrue more than two and less than three years of service time and are in the top 22% in service time of players that fit that description. That is why Dominguez is in arbitration this season, and it could apply to some of the following players in a couple years.
Bohm skyrocketed through the Phillies farm system after being selected third overall in the 2018 amateur draft. And in 2020, he excelled during the shortened season, slashing .338/.400/.481 and finished second in NL Rookie of the Year voting. While it is unclear if he will stick at third base long-term, Bohm is set to be a key cog in the Phillies lineup for years to come. Likely arb eligible in 2023 (Super Two), FA in 2027.
When the Phillies traded prospect Sixto Sanchez for J.T. Realmuto, Howard became the best pitching prospect in the organization. Unfortunately for the Phillies, Howard struggled during his first major-league stint and his seasoned ultimately ended early due to a shoulder injury. Howard is still just 24 years old and is certain to get a shot in the rotation again in 2021. Likely arb eligible in 2023 (Super Two), FA in 2027).
Haseley had a .690 OPS in 40 games for the Phillies in 2020. That’s production that might be considered okay for an above-average defensive center fielder, which he is not. The 2017 first-round pick out of Virginia still has a future with the Phillies, but it is unclear if it will be in a starting capacity. Arb eligible in 2023, FA in 2026.
Quinn was the other part of the Phillies center-field platoon in 2020, and he struggled through most of the season. In 41 games, he had a .576 OPS, and also had some misplays in the outfield that cost the Phillies. It is unclear what Quinn’s role with the Phillies is moving forward, but the speed he brings to the table is a game changer that might keep the 27-year-old up with the major-league squad. Arb eligible in 2022, FA in 2025.
It’s no secret that the Phillies bullpen was the worst part of the team in 2020. While Brogdon struggled in his first stint, he came on strong down the stretch and struck out 14 hitters in 8 2/3 scoreless innings. He figures to be a key part of the Phillies bullpen moving forward. Arb eligible in 2024, FA in 2027.
Romero surprised everybody in his first appearance with the Phillies when he started pumping fastballs in the mid-to-high 90s. He struggled down the stretch and finished the season with a 7.59 ERA, but still appears to be a promising middle reliever for the team in the future. Arb eligible in 2024, FA in 2027.
Rosso impressed in spring training and in summer camp, throwing a hard cutter with some serious movement. He did not make the same impression during the season, however, allowing seven earned runs in 9 2/3 innings as he floated between the alternate site and the major-league team. Still, Rosso has a future as a reliever or a swing man with the team. FA in 2026.
It’s unclear what happened with Arano in 2020, but he never made an appearance with the Phillies and has not pitched with the team since April of 2019. When healthy, Arano has been effective, pitching to an ERA of 2.65 in 73 career appearances. Arb eligible in 2022, FA in 2025.
Suarez might have been the favorite to claim the fifth spot in the Phillies rotation in spring training before baseball shut down for three months. When it started back up again, Suarez dealt with COVID-19 and was unable to make an appearance with the club until early September. Suarez got lit up in all three of his appearances, allowing nine earned runs in just four innings pitched, and it is unclear what his future with the Phillies will hold. Arb eligible in 2023, FA in 2026.
The soft-tossing left-handed pitcher has struggled thus far in his major-league career, pitching to a 6.75 ERA in 19 games since 2019. Irvin only pitched in three games in 2020 and was buried in the depth chart even with the struggles faced by the Phillies bullpen. Considering this, it is hard to imagine how much of a role Irvin has with the Phillies moving forward.
According to Spotrac, the Phillies were set to spend roughly $204 million in 2020, which is just $4 million below the luxury tax number for that year. While their actual payroll ended up changing due to the shortened season, the team was clearly set to spend as close to that luxury tax number without clearing it.
Right now, if the Phillies tender all of their players entering arbitration, their luxury tax payroll is set at roughly $149.5 million. This accounts for all of the players mentioned above, the salary for outfielder Odubel Herrera, and the estimated costs for player benefits and minor-league contracts.
That leaves them with just over $60 million in room before they hit the luxury tax threshold and $54 million in room below their payroll from 2020. While that is a decent amount of room to make some helpful roster moves, owner John Middleton has not made it clear if the team will spend that highly with the uncertainty regarding fans attending games in 2021.
The Phillies have explicit needs at catcher, shortstop and in the bullpen. They could also look to bolster the team at center field and in the starting rotation, although with a self-imposed budget, it is uncertain they will do this.
Significant Phillies Entering Free Agency
When the Phillies sent top prospect Sixto Sanchez as part of the trade for Realmuto, it seemed like they were doing so in confidence that they could also extend him. Well, two years later, the Phillies are without the star catcher, who is now a free agent, and Sanchez flashed brilliance and even won a playoff game with the Marlins.
There is still hope for the Phillies to re-sign Realmuto, but considering he is the top position player available, they are going to have steep competition in pursuing his services. If Realmuto does walk, it will ultimately be considered a massive failure for the team.
Gregorius’ decision to sign a one-year deal with the Phillies turned out to be a great choice for both parties. The shortstop fit right into the middle of the lineup, playing in all 60 games and hitting for an OPS of .827. Gregorius is now a free agent, and it is unclear if the Phillies will entertain bringing him back.
Phillies shortstop prospect Bryson Stott is rising through the system, and as Phillies Nation‘s Ty Daubert noted, the team may be looking for a stopgap shortstop to take over in 2021 until Stott is ready. Gregorius seems set to receive multi-year contract offers, so it does not feel likely that the Phillies will retain his services moving forward.
No matter what the Phillies do at catcher, if they fail to re-sign Realmuto, they will get worse at that position. Fans called Realmuto the best catcher in baseball for a reason: That’s what he is! No other catcher in baseball matches Realmuto’s combination of offensive production and defensive prowess.
James McCann, CWS
McCann is the clear choice for the Phillies in free agency if Realmuto signs elsewhere. But like with Realmuto, the Phillies will likely have competition in signing McCann, who had an OPS of .808 over his last two seasons. McCann is also not bad as a whole defensively, although 2020 was the only season in his career in which he had positive value as a framer, per FanGraphs. Signed with New York Mets
Yadier Molina, STL
Molina might be a Hall of Famer one day, but right now the 37-year-old is still serviceable at catcher. While he isn’t the hitter he once was, he is still one of the better defensive catchers in the game. He makes sense for the Phillies if they are unable to sign Realmuto or McCann.
Mike Zunino, TB
While he has some major pop, Zunino struggles at the plate, as evidenced by his career OPS of .682. The best part of his game comes from behind the plate, where he is regarded as one of the better all-around defensive catchers in baseball and has had a DRS of eight or higher in five of his last seven seasons. If the Phillies sign him, it would likely be closer to a full platoon between Zunino and Knapp. Re-signed with Tampa Bay Rays
Kurt Suzuki, WAS
Like Zunino, Suzuki would likely platoon with Knapp. Suzuki is a good hitter for a catcher, with an .812 OPS since 2017, but is consistently rated negatively behind the plate. Suzuki would come cheap, so it depends on how much the Phillies value defense behind the plate.
Tyler Flowers, ATL
Flowers was effectively the backup catcher behind Travis d’Arnaud for the Atlanta Braves in 2020, but had a bigger role in his previous four seasons with the team. In his last three seasons, Flowers had an OPS of .712, but was rated as one of the best defensive catchers in baseball based on his elite framing abilities. He represents a platoon option to go along with Knapp.
Shortstops and Second Basemen
The Phillies middle infield situation for 2021 is unclear, especially if they fail to re-sign Gregorius. In 2020, they planned to enter the season with Segura at third base, Gregorius at shortstop and Kingery at second base. That did not last long, however, as Kingery struggled out of the gate and Bohm broke out. Ultimately, Segura spent much of his time at second base and excelled defensively at the position.
The positional versatility of Segura allows the Phillies to operate with some flexibility this offseason. They could sign a second baseman and move Segura back to shortstop, or sign a shortstop and leave Segura at his better defensive position. They likely want to avoid counting on using Kingery as an everyday player given his struggles, but there is a scenario in which the Phillies enter 2021 with no middle infield signings and Segura and Kingery the shortstop and second baseman. Here are some options outside of Gregorius for the Phillies to pursue as everyday players:
Marcus Semien, OAK
Semien was a superstar in 2019, when his 7.6 fWAR was the fifth highest in baseball thanks to an unreal season at the plate. And while Semien has shown elite defensive capabilities outside of that season, it is the only one in which he flashed the ability to hit at a high level. Semien has never had an OPS above .735 outside of that season, and disappointed with a .679 OPS in the shortened 2020 season. He makes sense for the Phillies on a one-year, prove it deal similar to the one Gregorius signed last offseason.
Andrelton Simmons, LAA
Arguably the greatest defensive player of his generation, Simmons is a star in his own right despite inconsistency at the plate. He has improved as a hitter over the past several seasons and has an OPS of .730 since 2017. He would still be a big downgrade from Gregorius at the plate, but would solidify the left side of the Phillies infield that has an iffy defensive presence at third base in Bohm.
Jonathan Villar, MIA/TOR
The Phillies traded Villar in the deal to acquire Roy Oswalt in 2010. It took Villar a few years to break through, but he had a solid season for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016 and an excellent 2019 in Baltimore with the Orioles. Villar spent 2020 with the Miami Marlins before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, and was one of the worst hitters in baseball with an OPS of .593. He offers positional versatility, and represents a cheap stopgap option while the Phillies wait for Stott to become ready.
Freddy Galvis, TOR
Phillies fans likely remember Galvis as the light-hitting shortstop who could make flashy plays defensively, and that has stuck while he has bounced between a few different teams the past three seasons. He has tapped into his power a little bit more and even hit 23 home runs in a career 2019 season. Galvis certainly makes sense as a cheap, one-year stopgap in 2021.
Ha-Seong Kim, Kiwoom Heroes
Kim, who is 25, has spent the first six seasons of his professional career with the Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization. Kim has been great, with a career OPS of .866 while splitting time between shortstop and third base. If he is posted this season, which seems likely, it will certainly take a multi-year deal to bring him on board. Kim could make sense for the Phillies considering the short-term need at shortstop and the long-term question mark for Bohm defensively at third base.
Cesar Hernandez, CLE
One option at second base is Hernandez, who is back in free agency after playing well with in Cleveland after signing a one year, $6.5 million deal. The former Phillie slashed .283/.355/.408 in 58 games with the Indians, leading the league in doubles and winning his first career Gold Glove Award. A reunion with the Phillies makes sense if the team decides to move Segura back to shortstop.
Enrique Hernandez, LAD
Hernandez can play pretty much anywhere on the diamond, but his .707 OPS since 2019 is well below league average. He may be a redundancy on a roster that already has Kingery, but he would be an upgrade in that role. The Phillies would likely prefer to target a better hitter than Hernandez, since they are essentially replacing Gregorius in the lineup with the player they ultimately sign.
DJ LeMahieu, NYY
LeMahieu followed up an excellent 2019 with a near-MVP in 2020. The second baseman slashed .364/.421/.590 and led the American League with an OPS of 1.011. While he would actually be an offensive upgrade over Gregorius, the Phillies probably will not pursue LeMahieu in free agency considering their needs elsewhere on the roster.
Kolten Wong, STL
Wong was a surprise non-tender by the Cardinals earlier this offseason, and represents an option for the Phillies to pursue at second base. Wong struggled in 2020 but was consistent in the previous three seasons with a combined OPS of .766. He has also been good defensively at second base throughout his career, and is a comparable option to Cesar Hernandez in free agency.
Hanser Alberto, BAL
Alberto, 28, has played both second and third base during the last two seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. During that time, he slashed .299/.322/.413 with a 96 OPS+. While there are better middle infield options out there, Alberto is a potential addition for the Phillies this offseason.
Jonathan Schoop, DET
Schoop has been serviceable throughout his major league career and is another stopgap option for the Phillies in 2021. He spent his 2020 season in Detroit with the Tigers, hitting for a .799 OPS and spending all of his time at second base.
The Phillies failed to get much production out of center field in 2020 with the combination of Haseley and Quinn. They got a combined fWAR of exactly zero from the position, which ranked 24th in all of baseball. Kingery can also play the position, which gives the Phillies three viable in-house options. None of these options are particularly attractive, however, and the Phillies may be better suited looking elsewhere in free agency. Here are some options to either play everyday or platoon with another player already on the Phillies roster:
George Springer, HOU
Springer is the best position player available outside of Realmuto, and plays a position of need for the Phillies. The 31-year-old had a nice 2020, with an OPS of .899 and clutch postseason hits with the Houston Astros. Springer does come attached to the recent Astros cheating scandal, and it feels unlikely that the Phillies will sign another big free agent even if they are unable to land Realmuto.
Jackie Bradley Jr., BOS
Bradley Jr. makes his impact as a defensive player, and with an aging McCutchen in left, the Phillies could use a center fielder with unlimited range. The soon-to-be 31-year-old has had some nice seasons at the plate, including an .814 OPS in 2020. But he had a combined .727 OPS in his previous seasons, and is not a guarantee to make a big impact at the plate.
Brett Gardner, NYY
It feels like Gardner will never leave the New York Yankees, but for now, he is a free agent. He might not be an above-average center fielder like he might have been in the past, but has had an offensive resurgence with an OPS of .812 over the last two seasons.
Kevin Pillar, COL
After receiving a questionable MVP vote in 2019, Pillar had a nice 2020 with an OPS of .798 across 54 games with the Boston Red Sox and the Colorado Rockies. Pillar’s defense has declined in recent years as evidenced by his combined -10 DRS since 2018, but his bat could be an upgrade over the Phillies current situation in center field.
David Dahl, COL
Dahl struggled greatly with the Colorado Rockies in 2020, slashing .183/.222/.247 over 24 games played. But, he was an All-Star in the prior year and slashed a combined .291/.342/.528 over the course of 2018 and 2019. He plays a position of need for the Phillies, and makes sense as a target this offseason. Signed with Colorado Rockies
Michael A. Taylor, WAS
Taylor has been the Washington Nationals fourth outfielder for what feels like forever, and that is probably the role he would play if the Phillies were to bring him onboard. Taylor’s career splits are better against left-handed pitching, with a .720 OPS against lefties and a .673 OPS against righties. This, combined with his solid defensive play, makes him a serviceable platoon option to go along with Haseley.
Jarrod Dyson, PIT/CWS
Dyson has consistently been one of the better defensive center fielders in baseball, but is typically well below average at the plate. In 2020, Dyson had a .411 OPS and considering his rising age, his defense will probably start to worsen as well. Dyson represents only a depth piece or someone who could split time with Haseley or Kingery in center field.
While free agency has been ongoing for nearly a month, it is still unclear if there will still be a DH in the National League. If there is, the Phillies have some in-house options in Hoskins, Bohm and McCutchen. But all three of these players can play the field in some capacity and are more valuable used in those roles. Here are some options for the Phillies to pursue at DH this offseason, although there is obviously a plethora of players who could fit this role:
Nelson Cruz, MIN
Cruz is the best DH available in free agency and almost certainly prices out of the Phillies range. In 2020, Cruz had a .992 OPS and just keeps hitting, now at the age of 40. He would be an excellent addition to the Phillies lineup, but it is hard to imagine the team prioritizing spending on DH with the other holes present throughout the roster.
Brad Miller, STL
The former Phillie turned cult hero turned multi-home run king had a solid 2020 in St. Louis, hitting for an .807 OPS while spending most of his time in the DH spot. Miller, who signed with the Cardinals for only $2 million last season, likely comes at a relatively cheap price and makes sense for a Phillies team that is budgeting itself. Miller can also play every infield position and both corner outfield positions, making him a useful add to any roster.
Ryan Braun, MIL
Braun has notoriously killed the Phillies throughout his career and has an OPS of 1.265 at Citizens Bank Park. Braun can still be of value at the plate, and he had an OPS of .849 in 2019 before a down year in the shortened 2020 season. He can also stand in left field when Andrew McCutchen needs a day off, and makes sense for the Phillies depending on his cost.
Shin-Soo Choo, TEX
Choo is a left-handed version of McCutchen as he has sustained his on-base skills into the later part of his career. While he had a down 2020 in Texas with the Rangers, Choo had a combined OPS of .818 in the two previous seasons. He would likely come cheap and represents an upgrade on the Phillies DH situation in 2020.
Kyle Schwarber, CHC
Schwarber was hyped when he made his debut with the Chicago Cubs in 2015, and became a hero when he returned from an ACL injury to make a major impact in the 2016 World Series. Since then, Schwarber has been up and down, and slashed .229/.334/.480 while hitting 105 home runs in 480 games. He is well below average in the field but could still make sense for the Phillies if the DH is part of the National League in 2021.
Eddie Rosario, MIN
Like Schwarber, Rosario represents a solid option to add if the DH remains in the National League. Over the last four seasons, Rosario has slashed .281/.317/.493 and slugged 96 home runs in 483 games. He can also play in the outfield and fill in for McCutchen when he needs a day off.
Adam Duvall, ATL
Duvall was one of the better home run hitters in baseball last season, as he hit 16 home runs over 57 games played. He had an OPS of .852 over the last two seasons with the Atlanta Braves, with most of his offensive production coming in the form of extra-base hits.
The top three in the Phillies rotation is practically set with Nola, Wheeler and Eflin. While Howard slots in as the four, it is hard to imagine the Phillies will allow him to start regularly over a full season considering he has never surpassed 112 innings in a single season. The Phillies will also lose Jake Arrieta, who was at least serviceable at most points of his tenure, to free agency.
That leaves one definite spot to fill, and another with the consideration of Howard. Bringing Velasquez back in some capacity would offset the uncertainty with Howard, leaving one spot in the rotation. Phillies Nation‘s Ty Daubert looked at what the Phillies have already in the organization to take that spot, and it certainly feels more likely that they look in free agency to find a surer thing.
Trevor Bauer, RHP, CIN
Bauer was elite in 2020, when he pitched to a 1.73 ERA en route to the NL Cy Young Award. There is some uncertainty with Bauer considering his only other top season came in 2018 while he struggled in 2019. He will command a large contract, whether it be of the one-year variety or if he chooses to go the multi-year route. Considering the Phillies’ holes elsewhere, it would be surprising to see them sign Bauer.
Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, NYY
Tanaka has spent the entirety of his major-league career with the Yankees and has been serviceable during that stretch. The 32-year-old had a 3.56 ERA in the shortened 2020 season, but did get roughed up in the postseason for the first time in his career. Tanaka is another player that likely prices out of the Phillies desired range considering their needs elsewhere.
Jake Odorizzi, RHP, MIN
Odorizzi was excellent in 2019, pitching to a 3.51 ERA across 30 starts, and agreed to the qualified offer to stay with the Minnesota Twins in 2020. But the 30-year-old struggled in the shortened season, and he only made four starts due to injuries. Depending on how this impacted his market, Odorizzi could make sense on a shorter two- or three-year deal.
Jose Quintana, LHP, CWS
Quintana has taken somewhat of a step back since his trade to the Chicago Cubs, pitching to a 4.36 ERA over the last three seasons. While he may not be the pitcher he was with the Chicago White Sox, Quintana has still shown an ability to eat innings and, like Odorizzi, makes sense for the Phillies on a shorter term multi-year deal.
James Paxton, LHP, NYY
Like Quintana and Odorizzi, Paxton could not stay healthy in 2020 and made only five starts. But Paxton is certainly an attractive free agent given his 3.68 ERA and 11.1 K/9 since the start of the 2017 season, and would be an instant upgrade over Arrieta.
Taijuan Walker, RHP, SEA/TOR
Walker has dealt with injuries throughout his career, but is coming off an excellent 2020 season. He was especially good after a midseason trade to the Toronto Blue Jays, where he had a 1.37 ERA in six starts. Like other players on this list, he makes sense on a short term deal as an upgrade over Arrieta.
Garrett Richards, RHP, SDP
When healthy, Richards has been excellent, with a career ERA of 3.62 since he debuted in 2011. But staying on the field has been an issue, as he has not pitched more than 80 innings in a single season since 2015. Richards was solid for the San Diego Padres in 2020, pitching to a 4.03 ERA across 14 appearances and 10 starts.
Corey Kluber, RHP, TEX
Kluber’s demise happened quickly, as he finished third in Cy Young voting in 2018 to finish a stretch of three straight top-three finishes. The last two seasons have been difficult for Kluber, and he has pitched just one inning since getting hurt early in 2019. If the price is right, Kluber make sense as a guy to take a flier on considering his elite production during much of his career.
Adam Wainwright, RHP, STL
Like Molina, Wainwright is a lifetime Cardinal who could go elsewhere for the first time in his career. Wainwright has seen somewhat of a late-career revival with a 3.91 ERA over the last two seasons. At the very least, Wainwright could match Arrieta’s production at a much lower cost.
Mike Minor, RHP, TEX
The Phillies were linked to Minor in the offseason prior to 2019, and make sense as a potential suitor now. While he took a bit of a step back in 2020, he had a 3.59 ERA in an excellent 2019 season. Minor makes sense as a bounceback candidate for the Phillies to pursue in free agency. Update: Signed with Kansas City Royals
J.A. Happ, LHP, NYY
The former Phillie Happ had an up-and-down tenure with the Yankees, struggling over the course of the 2019 season but pitching well during shorter stints in 2018 and 2020. A reunion between the Phillies and Happ makes sense on a shorter term deal.
Jon Lester, LHP, CHC
Like Wainwright and Happ, Lester is well beyond the best parts of his career. Lester, who will be 37 next season, had a 4.46 ERA over the last two seasons. He may not be an upgrade over Arrieta at this stage of his career, but would likely come at a cheaper cost.
Cole Hamels, LHP, ATL
Hamels signed a one-year, $18 million contract with the Atlanta Braves last offseason and seemed poised to torture the Phillies, his former team. But he only appeared in one game because of injuries to his triceps and shoulder in a very forgettable Braves tenure. Hamels expressed interest in a return to Philadelphia last offseason, per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. He makes sense as a low-cost, high-reward option if his market is low following a disappointing 2020 season.
Rick Porcello, RHP, NYM
Porcello has actually been worse than Arrieta the last two seasons, pitching to a 5.55 ERA during that span. He might be available at a cheap cost, but the Phillies are likely better off relying on Velasquez, especially if Porcello costs more.
Chris Archer, RHP, PIT
A one time up-and-coming pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays, Archer has struggled since his trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the trade deadline in 2018. Archer has a 4.92 ERA as a Pirate and missed all of 2020 due to thoracic outlet syndrome. Perhaps Archer makes sense on a deal laden with incentives, but he is probably not a pitcher the Phillies would want to count on to be productive over 30 starts.
It’s no secret that the Phillies bullpen was a complete and utter disaster in 2020. The team blew eight games in which they led by three or more runs — a 162-game pace of 21 games! The bullpen was the clear reason the team missed the playoffs, and is the clear spot that needs improvement this offseason.
The following list includes the 20 best relief pitchers available in free agency. While the team will clearly sign some players not on this list — someone like Blake Parker or Jose Alvarez, for example — they are likely to sign at least one of the following players as well in efforts to improve the league worst bullpen.
Liam Hendriks, RHP, OAK
Hendriks is easily the best relief pitcher available in free agency and, if signed, would instantly slot into the relief ace role in the Phillies bullpen. Since 2019, Hendriks has a 1.79 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 110 1/3 innings pitched. A decision to sign him would be dependent on how the Phillies choose to approach their bullpen: Do they want one or two of the best relievers available, or would they prefer to bolster it through several signings of lower-tier relievers?
Brad Hand, LHP, CLE
Earlier this month, 29 teams had the chance to claim Hand off waivers and pay him $10 million in 2021. But no team opted to do so, despite Hand coming off a three-year stretch in which he pitched to a 2.85 ERA and struck out 13 batters per nine innings. Hand has been one of the best closers in baseball, and is a cheaper alternative to Hendriks for the Phillies in their search for a closer.
Trevor Rosenthal, RHP, KC/SDP
Rosenthal was not good in 2019 when he lost control of his pitches and allowed 23 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings of work. But he bounced back in a big way in 2020, pitching to a 1.90 ERA while striking out 14.5 batters per nine innings. He might be a risky pickup considering his very recent struggles, but is an elite reliever at his best.
Trevor May, RHP, MIN
The Phillies sent May to the Minnesota Twins when they acquired Ben Revere in 2012. May has since turned into a solid reliever, pitching to a 3.19 ERA and striking out more than 12 hitters per nine innings over the last three seasons. Signed with New York Mets
Blake Treinen, RHP, LAD
Treinen was the best reliever in baseball in 2018, when he had a 0.78 ERA and finished sixth in AL Cy Young Voting. He hasn’t been the same dominant reliever since, with a 4.59 ERA across 84 appearances. Still, Treinen is another option to help bolster the back of the Phillies bullpen.
Alex Colome, RHP, CWS
The right-handed closer is coming off an excellent 2020 in which he allowed just two earned runs in 22 1/3 innings pitched. Colome has been one of the better closers in baseball since the Rays moved him to the bullpen in 2016, with a 2.62 ERA during that span.
Kirby Yates, RHP, SDP
Yates was one of the best relievers in baseball coming into the 2020 season, with a 1.67 ERA and nearly 14 strikeouts per nine innings in 2018 and 2019. But, injuries sidelined Yates for a majority of 2020 and he only appeared in six games. Yates is a clear bounce-back candidate and makes sense for the Phillies on a short-term deal.
Greg Holland, RHP, KCR
Holland has been up-and-down the past few seasons but was excellent in 2020, pitching to a 1.91 ERA in 28 appearances. The key for Holland was control, as he had the lowest walk rate of his career. The Phillies could not count on Holland to be their best reliever, but he would be a solid add to bolster depth in their bullpen.
Mark Melancon, RHP, ATL
Melancon is no longer the shutdown closer that he once was, but he has been serviceable for the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants over the past couple seasons. In 2020, Melancon pitched to a 2.78 ERA in 23 appearances. He would be a great complimentary piece for the Phillies to add to the bullpen this offseason.
Shane Greene, RHP, ATL
A teammate of Melancon, Greene has a 2.39 ERA over the last two seasons. His peripherals have not been as great, as he strikes out less than nine batters per nine innings and has a 3.79 FIP during that span. Still, Greene would be a solid complimentary piece in the bullpen in 2021.
Jake McGee, LHP, LAD
McGee came out of nowhere to have an unreal 2020 season in which he struck out 14.6 batters per nine innings and had a 2.66 ERA. This was the best McGee has been since early in his career with the Tampa Bay Rays, so it is risky to pick him up under the assumption that this kind of production will continue.
Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, CHC
Jeffress had great 2018 and 2020 seasons with ERAs of 1.29 and 1.54, respectively, but had a tough 2019 in which he had an ERA of 5.02. His peripherals in 2020 showed the great production is not sustainable, but, really, anything is an improvement in the Phillies bullpen.
Joakim Soria, RHP, OAK
Soria, now 36, is in the twilight of his career, but is coming off a productive 2020 season. In the last two seasons with the A’s, Soria pitched to a 3.94 ERA across 93 appearances. He is a solid middle-reliever option for the Phillies bullpen, which needs all the help it can get.
Darren O’Day, RHP, ATL
O’Day has only pitched in 27 games over the last two seasons, but has an impressive 1.25 ERA during that stretch. On a larger scale, O’Day has an ERA of 3.18 since 2016 and has struck out 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings during that stretch.
Brandon Kintzler, RHP, MIA
Kintzler signed for $2 million with the Miami Marlins last season and was great in the closer role. In 24 games, he pitched to a 2.22 ERA following a 2019 in which he had a 2.68 ERA in Chicago with the Cubs. Kintzler is not at all a strikeout pitcher, and his recent numbers are unsustainable to some degree. Still, he represents another solid potential addition for the Phillies bullpen.
Keone Kela, RHP, PIT
Kela only pitched in three games in 2020 due to right forearm inflammation, but has a solid track record outside of injury issues throughout his career that have limited his availability. He pitched to a 2.87 ERA during the previous two seasons, and would certainly help to solidify the Phillies bullpen if they target him.
Pedro Baez, RHP, LAD
Baez has been a conistent producer in the Dodgers bullpen throughout his career, pitching in at least 50 games between 2015 and 2019. His strikeout numbers were down to a career low of just 6.9 per nine innings in 2020, but he pitched to a 3.18 ERA in 18 appearances.
Tyler Clippard, RHP, MIN
Clippard, who will be 36 in 2021, has been excellent over the last three seasons, pitching to a 3.22 ERA in stints with the Blue Jays, Indians and Twins. He had excellent control in 2020, striking out over six hitters per every walk, and would be a welcome veteran addition to the Phillies bullpen.
Sergio Romo, RHP, MIN
The longtime Giants closer has been solid the past two seasons, pitching to a 3.59 ERA with the Marlins and Twins. He can certainly be relied upon, as he’s made at least 40 appearances in every season since 2009 (outside of 2020).
Steve Cishek, RHP, CWS
Cishek struggled in 2020 pitching to a 5.40 ERA in 22 appearances. However, he had a 2.52 ERA in the previous four seasons and represents an affordable bounce-back candidate for the Phillies to target.
Archie Bradley, CIN
The 28-year-old has seen success as a reliever, with a 2.95 ERA in four seasons since failing as a starter. Bradley can go more than an inning if he needs to and would be helpful in fortifying a Phillies bullpen that needs plenty of help.
Matt Wisler, MIN
Wisler had the best season of his career in 2020, pitching to a 1.07 ERA in 18 appearances for the Minnesota Twins. While he struggled in the previous season with an ERA over five, his strikeout rate of 11.5 per nine innings in the last two seasons is promising.
Chasen Shreve, NYM
The 30-year-old was solid for the New York Mets in 2020, pitching to a 3.96 ERA in 25 innings of work. He also posted an impressive 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings, but struggled with his command, walking over four per nine innings.
If the Phillies fail to meet all of their needs in free agency, they could look to make a move on the trade market. Here is one player from each position of need that could make sense for the Phillies to target:
Gary Sanchez, NYY
If the Phillies miss out on Realmuto and McCann, they could decide to look in the trade market to find their next catcher. Sanchez, the offensive-minded catcher who nearly won the AL Rookie of the Year in 2016 despite playing in only 53 games, is a prime trade candidate. The Yankees seem to have soured on Sanchez to some extent, as they sat him in favor of Kyle Higashioka during the 2020 playoffs.
Sanchez his 105 home runs between 2016 and 2019 and had an OPS of .847 during that span. He has been know to struggle defensively, although that has improved during his career. 2020 was certainly a down season for Sanchez, as he had a .618 OPS in 49 games played. If the Yankees decide to sell low on Sanchez, the Phillies make sense as a team to work out a deal.
Francisco Lindor, CLE
The 27-year-old star shortstop is coming off the worst season of his career, with a .750 OPS in 60 games. But Lindor has been one of the best shortstops in baseball otherwise, finishing top-10 in MVP in three of the last five seasons and accumulating 28.9 fWAR during his short time as a major leaguer.
Lindor is the most likely of anyone on this list to get traded. He is also the least likely to get traded to the Phillies considering what it might take to get him. The Phillies could put a package together to get him, but such a trade would strip them of much of their MLB-ready organizational talent. Couple that with Lindor’s monetary price tag, which is north of $20 million in 2021, and it seems unlikely that the Phillies would make a move to acquire him.
Kevin Kiermaier, TB
Kiermaier has been one of the best defensive centerfielders in baseball during his time with the Rays, but he has struggled to put it together at the plate. The 30-year-old is owed $11.5 million in 2021 and $12 million in 2022 before becoming a free agent, which is a big part of why the Rays would trade him.
The Phillies might not be motivated to take on Kiermaier’s contract on its own, but they could do it to help bring aboard other talented players in a position of need, such as shortstop Willy Adames or one of the seemingly infinite talented Rays relievers. Of course, Kiermaier would also fill a position of need for the Phillies, becoming their full-time center fielder.
Joe Musgrove, RHP, PIT
Musgrove, who will be 28 in 2021, has been solid during his time with the Pirates, pitching to a 4.33 ERA so far in his career. His peripherals on Baseball Savant imply that he could be even better. In 2020, Musgrove ranked in the 93rd percentile in exit velocity and the 84th percentile in whiff percentage in baseball. He is a player who could truly break out if he can tap into his stuff.
The Phillies would probably prefer to just sign a starter this offseason, especially considering many of them are available on one-year deals. But, if they want to find a way to save money, trading for Musgrove makes sense. He is projected to make $3.4 million in 2021, which is his second year of arbitration.
Kyle Crick, RHP, PIT
Crick is another Pirates pitcher whose stuff has been better than his results so far in his career. While he ranked in the 91st percentile in exit velocity and the 76th percentile in whiff percentage, Crick had an ERA of 4.96 in 2019 before only making seven appearances in 2020. The Phillies certainly have plenty of relief pitching options to sign in free agency, but could certainly make a move for a player like Crick who could have a breakout in the future.
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