The Phillies have done a good job of avoiding toxic contracts, but they also don’t have much in the way of homegrown stars in the upper levels of the minors, Matt Gelb of the Athletic notes. It seems obvious, then, that the route to improve this offseason is the free agent market, and they have been one of the teams with assumed interest in free agency’s biggest fishes, to wit, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. That said, owner John Middleton once balked at a perceived lack of on-field hustle from former Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis, which would seem at odds with a willingness to go all-in on Machado, given his growing reputation. Generational talents or not, it’s Middleton’s money, and it’ll ultimately be his decision whether or not Machado and Harper are worth the long-term investment.
- Regardless of what happens with Machado and Harper, the Phillies do not appear inclined to overreach in the secondary market, per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, specifically as it pertains to their outfield, where in-house options Nick Williams, Odubel Herrera, Roman Quinn, and Aaron Altherr are comparable-to and cheaper-than the middle class of talent available in free agency. GM Matt Klentak also says the Phillies are unlikely to explore the starting pitching market, despite potential interest in upgrading in that area. They are hypothetically interested in a left-handed starter, but Patrick Corbin, the top name on the market, figures to command more money than the Phillies are willing to spend on him.
- Cole Hamels is open to signing an extension with the Cubs, or at least that’s the impression 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine came away with after speaking with his agent, John Boggs. The Cubs have until Thursday to decide whether to pick up Hamels’ $20MM option for the 2019 season or let the Texas Rangers pay his $6MM buyout. His impressive turnaround with the Cubs (12 starts, 2.36 ERA, 3.59 xFIP) leads many to believe the team option will be exercised, but nothing official has come down from Chicago yet. If the Cubs do pick up the option, they could begin negotiating an extension as early as Friday with the soon-to-be 35-year-old lefty. In theory, the Cubs could decline their option and negotiate a new contract with Hamels from there. This is unlikely, however, as the Rangers would be on the hook for the $6MM buyout, and they’d have grounds to file a grievance in that circumstance. However it happens, we should know by Thursday if Hamels will play his 2019 home games at Wrigley Field.
- The Marlins are open to being active in free agency this offseason, albeit for moderately-priced, low-risk veterans, per MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. With six arbitration cases and only three hefty contracts on the books, the Marlins are better positioned than in recent seasons to bring in some reinforcements from the outside to help build culture and mentor their younger players. One of those arbitration cases, last year’s Opening Day starter Jose Urena, has been rumored to be available via trade, but according to Frisaro he is much more likely to be the Opening Day starter in Miami for the second consecutive season.