Phillies president Andy MacPhail discussed his team’s winter plans in an end-of-season press conference today at Citizens Bank Park. Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News and Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia (two links) have the details….
- The Phillies will likely continue to have a “relatively low payroll” in 2018, a year after slightly topping the $100MM in their Opening Day payroll. With only around $6MM on the books for next season, however, that gives the club plenty of room to spend if necessary. The team will at least be open to creative spending, as MacPhail said that ownership “did not react extraordinarily well in the beginning” to the news of another low-payroll campaign. “Ultimately, they’re OK with it with one proviso: that if an opportunity presents itself, we do not exclude it. They understand the program,” MacPhail said.
- One possibility is that the Phillies could use some of their payroll space to take on bad contracts from other teams. “Most of you guys have written about how the ’18 (free-agent) class is a little on the light side, all the big guns come out in ’19. It may well be that teams that want to compete in that ’19 arena shed some salary that we won’t anticipate right now in ’18. So we have to keep our eye out for that, as well,” MacPhail said. The club took on payroll last winter while acquiring Howie Kendrick, Pat Neshek, and Clay Buchholz in trades, and flipped Kendrick and Neshek in midseason trades for prospects.
- While the rotation needs some serious upgrades, MacPhail hinted that the Phillies were likelier to obtain pitching via trades than in free agency. “There are times when you’re going to have to dive into that [free agent] pool and just take a risk. But it’s not my favorite place to be,” the president said. “We get inundated with stories across the game about how everybody is looking for starting pitching. ’Just get two quality starters, and we’ll be all set.’ Well, you might as well look for a unicorn at the same time. It’s tough. You don’t want to be paying for past performance.” MacPhail also noted that the possibility exists that the Phils could deal from their farm system to add help for the big league roster.
- The club hopes to have a new manager hired before the GM Meetings in early November.
- The Phillies will continue to build and spend money on their analytics staff, which MacPhail mentioned has grown from a one-person department to a 14-person team. Pitch-framing is one specific area that MacPhail said the Phillies are looking to improve on an organization-wide basis in 2018. Baseball Prospectus was very unimpressed by the framing abilities of Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp, respectively ranking the two Philadelphia catchers 110th and 115th out of 116 MLB catchers.