The Phillies have an agreement in place with free-agent outfielder Kyle Schwarber, according to multiple reports. Schwarber, 29, is likely to be the big get for the Phillies, but that doesn’t mean the team is done adding to the roster.
Matt Gelb reports that “team officials believe adding Schwarber at this price will still allow them to add one or two more pieces to the edges of the roster.”
With the Schwarber signing, the Phillies have approximately $12.8 million in tax space before hitting the first threshold. As Gelb mentioned, the Phillies probably won’t spend up to the tax at this moment to ensure they have space prior to the trade deadline.
If Phillies ownership is looking to operate under the payroll constraints of the $230 million luxury tax threshold, where should they spend that money? They have options.
Very few starters remain on the market. The best one left at the time of publication is Tyler Anderson, who was supposed to go to the Phillies in a July 2021 deal that never happened. In a perfect world, all five of Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin, Ranger Suárez and Kyle Gibson would be healthy and ready to pitch on April 8. That’s far from the case as of now. Wheeler has the flu and Suárez is still trying to get back to Clearwater from Colombia. The Phillies ace was already behind schedule after dealing with fatigue and shoulder soreness during the offseason. It’s very possible that out of the five Phillies starters listed, only two are ready for Opening Day.
The Phillies’ plan to combat the uncertainty is … more uncertainty. Bailey Falter, Hans Crouse, Cristopher Sánchez and others are likely to get stretched out in preparation of having to make an early season start or two. Will it be enough? It could be considering that rosters might expand early on and the Phillies could allocate those spots to swingmen.
Julio Teheran is expected to hold a showcase in Miami on Thursday. Could J.A. Happ return for a second stint with the Phillies? Drew Smyly and Brett Anderson are among the other free agent options. The Phillies have yet to be connected to any of the prominent trade candidates.
In Phillies Nation‘s second mock offseason, I made the case that the Phillies should have five outfielders they feel comfortable playing on an everyday basis. Since it seems like the team views Odúbel Herrera and Matt Vierling as a platoon pairing, the Phillies could use another sure thing in the outfield. Unless ownership does a 180 and gives Dave Dombrowski the budget to pursue Michael Conforto or Nick Castellanos, former Padres outfielder Tommy Pham is probably the best fit among remaining free agents.
The Herrera deal shouldn’t completely take the Phillies out of the center field trade market. Bryan Reynolds is worth trading the farm for, but even that might not be enough to pry him away from Pittsburgh. A’s center fielder Ramon Laureano could be still be available as part of the ongoing fire sale in Oakland.
The Phillies could use one of the following two types of utility players to fill out their bench: A defensive specialist or someone who can play third, second and first base with some offensive upside. As good as a defender Ronald Torreyes was last season, they can’t afford to allocate nearly 350 plate appearances to him again. Maybe a player of his defensive caliber is available on the waiver wire later this spring.
Matt Carpenter could be an option that falls in the latter category. Since finishing ninth in NL MVP voting in 2018, Carpenter has slashed a meager .203/.325/.346. Ken Rosenthal documented Carpenter’s months-long journey to reinvent his swing this offseason. He could be worth a flier.
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