The Philadelphia Phillies are just days away from beginning their Grapefruit League campaign and as it stands, Dave Dombrowski and the front office are not quite ready to close up shop on the offseason.
The team has “checked-in” on right-handed pitcher Jake Odorizzi, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
Odorizzi, 30, is the top starting pitcher left available on the free-agent market. He struggled mightily with the Minnesota Twins in 2020, posting a 6.59 ERA while surrendering a career-high 2.63 home runs per nine innings. Just a year before, Odorizzi was a four-win pitcher and an All-Star that had a 3.51 ERA and 10.08 strikeouts per nine innings. He previously played for the Rays and Royals before making his way to Minnesota. Phillies general manager Sam Fuld was teammates with Odorizzi in Tampa Bay during the 2013 season.
The Phillies’ interest in Odorizzi tells us a lot about how the ownership group views the $210 million luxury tax threshold with Dombrowski in charge. According to Baseball Prospectus, the Phillies’ collective bargaining tax payroll stands at $198.4 million. Odorizzi’s asking price probably wasn’t what it was at the beginning of the offseason (three years, $40 million). A one-year deal at $7 to $9 million for the Phillies will push them even further towards the threshold.
A deal for Odorizzi and the team opting to guarantee a roster spot to both Brandon Kintzler and Tony Watson will push them over. The team, depending on the dollar amount of Odorizzi’s deal, could get back under by making a trade. Vince Velasquez and his $4 million salary is the most likely candidate to be dealt if the team signs Odorizzi.
Like most teams, the Phillies are short on roster spots at this time of the year. Making space for a player like Odorizzi, however, is a no-brainer if the price is right.
The Phillies are also far from the only team to have interest in the nine-year veteran. The Angels, Cardinals, Giants, Blue Jays, Twins and Red Sox are among the many teams to have reportedly had an interest in signing him at some point this offseason.
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