Rumors

4 pre-lockout free agent rumors involving NL East rivals that won’t bode well for the Phillies


Major League Baseball’s lockout has officially been in place for nearly a week, leaving the baseball world in a state of dystopia defined by silhouetted headshots and exacerbated by utter silence on the free-agent market. A guarantee: You’ll be waiting for the Philadelphia Phillies to sign your preferred power hitter, defensive whiz or lockdown reliever for an indefinite amount of time. 

Let’s make things harder on ourselves, shall we?

As time inched toward 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 1, many of the biggest fish in this offseason’s free agent class inked deals with clubs looking to beat the clock. Many of them, however, remain on the board — and the last we heard of their negotiations before the CBA’s expiration were rumors linking them to teams that will likely have to wait until January or February to make a run at them. 

So in case MLB’s first lockout since 1990 hasn’t been hard enough, here are a few of the rumors involving division rivals in the hours before things went silent.

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Carlos Correa to the Atlanta Braves

Carlos Correa was already set for a hefty payday this offseason. Lucrative deals for Corey Seager (10 years, $325 million), Javier Báez (six years, $140 million) and Marcus Semien (seven years, $175 million) have only made that truer.

Apparently, according to FOX 26’s Mark Berman, one of the teams considering providing Correa with that payday is the Atlanta Braves.

Such a union would be disastrous to the Phillies for obvious reasons. Current starter Dansby Swanson is a fine shortstop, but probably not much more than “fine” — unless you’re talking about his production against the Phillies, which can make him feel like an inner-circle Hall of Famer.

But Correa would represent a clear upgrade, and it’s one that would torment the Phillies for at least the better part of a decade. An infield with Correa, Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley would not be kind to Phillies pitching.

A silver lining in a potential Correa-to-the-Braves deal: It’s unlikely Atlanta would devote the necessary resources toward both Correa and Freddie Freeman, so if they win out on the Correa sweepstakes, maybe Freeman’s out. (Matt Olson, anyone? That rumor exists.)

If the Braves do sign Correa, and especially if they somehow manage to remain elite at first base, Phillies fans can take solace in the fact that at least they didn’t just win the World Series without Ronald Acuña Jr. 

Oh, wait. 

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Ketel Marte to the Miami Marlins

What’s that? One marquee center fielder with the last name Marte landing with an NL East opponent was already one too many? 

Well, to make matters worse, there could eventually be a second one: Ketel Marte, whose Arizona Diamondbacks have reportedly been in contact with the Miami Marlins about a potential swap.

Fun!

Given Marte’s production (a .909 OPS in 90 games in 2021 and a .981 mark in the last full-length season before that), the potential years remaining on his deal (three) and the average price of those years (just $10 million), the package required to land the 28-year-old would figure to be astronomical. As The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal reports in the story mentioning the interest, Arizona would “almost certainly” ask for a starting pitcher (plus others) in a Marte deal, which would somewhat diminish the Fish’s pool of young, talented arms that has Miami viewed as a team on the rise in the NL East. 

But though it would come at a cost, having to deal with Marte and his versatility on a team as pesky as the Marlins, who have served as an unsolvable puzzle the last few years, would not be fun for the Phillies. 

Want another parallel, unnecessary and slightly irrelevant but worth mentioning anyway? Over parts of two seasons as a Marlin, Starling Marte posted a .431/.442/.686 slash line for a 1.129 OPS against the Phillies, and it’s very possible Ketel Marte could continue that Phillie-killing legacy in Miami: He’s compiled a .961 OPS against them in his career.

So, yeah. Root against that one.

Steve Cohen could finish off the Mets’ expensive offseason by signing Kris Bryant. (Photo by Stephen Hopson/Icon Sportswire)

Kris Bryant to the New York Mets

What’s that? Two (or three or four) marquee free agents landing with the New York Mets was already two (or three or four) too many? 

The Mets have already dedicated a staggering $254.5 million combined to Eduardo Escobar, Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Max Scherzer this offseason, but if the Grand-Canyon-sized gap between them and the luxury tax is any indication, they may not be done spending. 

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Kris Bryant could potentially become the next beneficiary of Mets owner Steve Cohen’s spending spree. Bryant’s arrival to New York would add to an improved Mets lineup, and a combination of that and a starting staff featuring Scherzer and Jacob deGrom would present a stacked roster with which even the Mets should (key word: should) be able to win.

Bryant to the Mets would also take another name off the Phillies’ board of free-agent targets, as Heyman’s same report noted them as one of several other teams to have checked in with Bryant’s camp. I noted in Phillies Nation’s ideal offseason podcast that the Phillies should go all-in on Bryant due to the sheer number of holes he could fill for the team — left field, center field, defense at third base and a middle-of-the-order bat — but the only thing worse than missing out on Bryant would be seeing him land with a division opponent.

Speaking of which …

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Nick Castellanos to the Miami Marlins

Once the lockout ends, the Phillies will likely turn their attention to left field, where they’re looking to acquire a game-changing bat, likely even at the cost of adequate defense. 

The two biggest names linked to the Phillies in that conversation: Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos. 

As Phillies Nation’s Tim Kelly detailed last week, Robert Murray of FanSided believes Schwarber and the Phillies could be close to striking a deal post-lockout. The Miami Herald reported that Schwarber’s asking price is around three-years, $60 million. If they can’t, though, Castellanos, whose camp has been in contact with the Phillies, could emerge as the solution in left. 

Unless the Marlins swoop in and sign him first. 

According to Heyman, Miami is interested in the right-handed Florida native. It’s worth mentioning that if Castellanos’ asking price remains in the seven or eight-year range that MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand suggests, he would become a less realistic option for Miami. But if that desired length drops, or even if it doesn’t, the Marlins could emerge victorious in a move that would kill two Philadelphia birds with one stone (in a bad way). The Phillies have allowed the fourth-highest OPS to Castellanos in his career, at 1.035 — which includes a drive into deep left field that was a home run and made it a 4-nothing ballgame against NL Cy Young runner-up Zack Wheeler in August.  

Castellanos will be putting on a [batting helmet] again. I don’t know if it’s going to be for the Marlins — but if it is, he feels like an ideal Phillie-killer.

I leave you with one final flashback. Happy holidays:

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Steve

    December 8, 2021 at 6:22 pm

    The PHILLIES are NOT going to sign many expensive Free Agents
    They might sign one. The rest of the clubs needs are waver wire wonders
    THIS is how they do it and it NEVER changes. YES they signed Harper
    YES they signed Wheeler BUT that is all they do. ONE and DONE. The
    rest of the time they are shopping in the bargain basement of low cost
    WHY? Because it’s a Business, with handsome profits as JOB number one.

  2. Jim Payton

    December 11, 2021 at 10:41 am

    No you’re very wrong. The Phillies are the best and will compete I know. You all should listen to be I go to the complex The Phil’s will spend i know my friends tell me. They will spend

  3. Steve

    December 12, 2021 at 11:46 am

    I hope I am wrong. But the Phillies history is obvious.
    I think they need to sign at least 3 high priced free agents
    A starting left handed Pitcher (Carlos Rodon) A 3rd basemen
    in (Kris Bryant) and A left fielder in Kyle Schwarber.
    We will be LUCKY if they sign one of those. But again
    I hope I am wrong.

  4. Steve

    December 12, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    So your Friends tell you the Phillies will spend?
    And just how do they know? But OK again I hope
    You and your friends are correct, Only problem is
    the Phillies Ownership. They DO NOT like to SPEND
    they have a LONG HISTORY of NOT spending. Question
    WHY would they sign Corey Knebel who has a .04 war
    ANSWER because he came CHEAP that’s why. See? or No?

  5. Steve

    December 12, 2021 at 12:13 pm

    WHY are the Phillies picking up Players off the waiver wire?
    IF they according to your friends and because you go to the
    complex are going to SPEND? I appreciate your enthusiasm and
    fandom, BUT I think your not seeing the entire picture when it
    comes to the ownership of the Phillies. This CLUB WILL NOT GO
    OVER THE CAP! NEVER! WHY? Because they want a PROFIT not a LOSS
    And AGAIN WHY? Because it is a BUSINESS FIRST and FORMOST and a
    BASEBALL TEAM a DISTENT SECOND. Those are the FACTS.

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