After a ninth consecutive playoff miss, Phillies owner John Middleton opted to move on from general manager Matt Klentak. Now, two years after Middleton’s infamous “stupid money” comments, the Phillies seem to be putting out signals cautioning against a splashy winter.
- Bryce Harper, OF: $274MM through 2031
- Zack Wheeler, RHP: $96.25MM through 2024
- Aaron Nola, RHP: $31MM through 2022 (includes $4.25MM buyout of $16MM club option for 2023)
- Jean Segura, INF: $29.5MM through 2022 (includes $1MM buyout of $17MM club option for 2023)
- Andrew McCutchen, OF: $23MM through 2021 (includes $3MM buyout of $15MM club option for 2022)
- Scott Kingery, INF/OF: $19MM through 2023 (includes $1MM buyout of $13MM club option for 2024; contract also contains club options in 2025-26)
- Odubel Herrera, OF: $12.5MM through 2021 (includes $2.5MM buyout of 2022 club option; Herrera is no longer on the 40-man roster)
Note on arb-eligible players: this year’s arbitration projections are more volatile than ever, given the unprecedented revenue losses felt by clubs and the shortened 2020 schedule. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, who developed our arbitration projection model, used three different methods to calculate different projection numbers. You can see the full projections and an explanation of each if you click here, but for the purposes of our Outlook series, we’ll be using Matt’s 37-percent method — extrapolating what degree of raise a player’s 2020 rate of play would have earned him in a full 162-game slate and then awarding him 37 percent of that raise.
- Seranthony Dominguez – $900K
- Zach Eflin – $3.7MM
- Rhys Hoskins – $3.4MM
- Andrew Knapp – $1.0MM
- Hector Neris – $5.3MM
- Vince Velasquez – $4.0MM
- Non-tender candidates: Neris, Velasquez
- Declined $12MM club option on RHP David Robertson (paid $2MM buyout)
- Declined $7MM club option on RHP Hector Neris (Neris remains arbitration-eligible)
- Declined $4.5MM club option on RHP David Phelps (paid $250K buyout)
- J.T. Realmuto, Didi Gregorius, Jake Arrieta, David Robertson, David Phelps, Jose Alvarez, Jay Bruce, Brandon Workman, Neil Walker, Tommy Hunter
It’s been nearly two months since Matt Klentak stepped down as Phillies general manager and accepted a reassignment to another position within the organization, yet we still don’t have any clear indication as to who will take over the reins. President Andy MacPhail, a former general manager of the Twins and Orioles himself, held onto his title amid the team’s front office shuffling, and assistant GM Ned Rice stepped into the GM role on an interim basis.
That pair brings decades of baseball operations experience to the table, but it’s rather befuddling that the next steps remain so unclear. The Phils reportedly gauged interest from Theo Epstein but were rebuffed, as the now-former Cubs president instead prefers to take at least a year away from the game. Former D-backs and Padres GM Josh Byrnes has interviewed, but there’s no indication as to whether he’s being strongly considered by Middleton.
The Athletic’s Matt Gelb suggested in early October that the Phils might wait for MacPhail to retire at the end of the 2021 season before bringing in a hire, but that’s a puzzling approach in and of itself. If the end result of Klentak resigning is that he remains with the organization in a new role while his top lieutenant, Rice, continues to work alongside MacPhail — how much have things truly changed?
Klentak increasingly drew the ire of Phillies fans, with many voicing dissatisfaction regarding the team’s stalled extension talks with star catcher J.T. Realmuto, who is now a free agent after rejecting a qualifying offer. That seems like misplaced frustration, frankly, as the final say on whether to pay Realmuto on a long-term arrangement lands with ownership, not the general manager. Over the past several months, most reports out of Philadelphia have suggested that the team is not optimistic about its chances to retain Realmuto.
If Realmuto walks, that seems like a Middleton-driven decision that would have happened regardless of who is in the GM’s chair. Yet at the press conference announcing the changing of the guard in the front office, Middleton almost seemed to endeavor to take credit for approving the Realmuto swap without taking blame for the failure to extend him. “…[M]y position was, I’d be willing to trade Sixto as long as you extend J.T.,” Middleton said at the time. “And if you don’t extend J.T., I wouldn’t trade Sixto.”
There’s a disconnect in those comments, plain and simple. Middleton implies that he held considerable influence over the acquisition of Realmuto but left the matter of an extension solely to his baseball operations outfit. That seems unlikely, and if it’s in fact accurate, that type of inconsistency with regard to autonomy is a failing in and of itself. It’s hard not to wonder if an experienced GM would look on from the outside and be turned off by an owner trying to take credit for the good and shirk responsibility for the bad.
None of this is to say that there weren’t plenty of misfires during Klentak’s time as general manager, of course. The Phillies’ catastrophic bullpen implosion over the past two seasons is glaring, and it seemed no matter what moves the front office made to rectify the situation, the outcome was poor. The signing of Carlos Santana that pushed Rhys Hoskins into an ill-suited left field role clearly did not pay dividends. Jake Arrieta’s three-year deal didn’t work out, either. At the end of the day, a five-year span of no playoff appearances in a big market will be enough to doom any baseball operations leader, as we saw not only in Philadelphia but in Anaheim this winter.
Front office composition aside, however, the bottom line for the Phillies this winter is that they’re not sure who will be catching games for them in 2021. They also have holes at shortstop and, to a lesser extent, in center field. On the pitching side of things, from the back of the rotation to the entirety of the relief corps, questions abound. The Phillies’ ability to strengthen these flaws are dependent on Middleton’s willingness to spend in the wake of 2020 revenue losses, and indications put forth thus far by both the owner and MacPhail have not been encouraging.
“At this time almost every club, honestly, it’s more about reduction of players than it is adding,” MacPhail said in late October (link via The Athletic’s Meghan Montemurro). “…But the likelihood of a significant add, I think, in the short term or even mid term is not very high.” There may be no better indication of the Phillies’ reluctance to spend than the fact that a team with a historically bad bullpen in 2020 allowed Brad Hand to pass through waivers unclaimed at $10MM. (Although, to be fair to the Phils, so did every other club in the game.)
To get a better handle on the Phillies’ outlook in the days and months to come, the payroll as a whole needs to be taken in. The Phils have seven players on guaranteed contracts in 2021 — counting Odubel Herrera, who was outrighted off the 40-man roster but is still owed this year’s salary. That group checks in at a weighty $108.5MM, and the remaining slate of arbitration-eligible players could push the Phils up to nearly $127MM. Add in pre-arbitration players to round out the roster, and the Phillies’ payroll could top $135MM before they make a single addition.
Vince Velasquez and Hector Neris stand out as potential non-tender candidates. Cutting bait on that duo would bring the Phils back into the $125MM range but would also create more holes; Neris has served as the team’s closer in recent seasons, while Velasquez has been a fifth starter despite (at best) inconsistent results.
The Phillies were set to open the 2020 season with a payroll upwards of $186MM, so there’s certainly some breathing room between that mark and this year’s current levels. However, the expectation is that Middleton plans to reduce payroll. There’s no set number that’s been floated, but the assumption clearly should not be that the Phillies will return to those heights in 2021.
For that reason, retaining Realmuto could be a long shot. He’s spoken in the past about advancing the market for catchers, and while it’s nearly impossible to see him topping Joe Mauer’s record eight-year, $184MM contract, he could set his sights on besting Mauer’s average annual value of $23MM. If that’s the case, Realmuto would be an exceptionally steep add for the Phils at this time, even if there’s some backloading of the deal to offset the hit in the early years. Of course, backloading the deal would come with its own complications; the Phils are already paying Harper and Zack Wheeler a combined $49.5MM in 2024, and Middleton may not be keen on locking in upwards of $75MM in salary to three players a whole four years down the road.
Should Realmuto land elsewhere — he’s been connected to the Mets, Blue Jays and Nationals, among other clubs — the market does present alternatives. James McCann and Yadier Molina bring two starting-caliber options to the free-agent pool, and the trade market could feature several names, including manager Joe Girardi’s former Yankees backstop, Gary Sanchez. The Phils are already reported to like McCann as a fallback to Realmuto.
The Phillies’ other question marks on the position-player side of the roster lie up the middle as well. Rookie of the Year finalist Alec Bohm has third base locked down now, and Rhys Hoskins will be back at first base once he’s sufficiently recovered from Tommy John surgery. Less clear, however, is the shortstop situation now that Didi Gregorius is back on the open market in search of a multi-year deal. Such a contract could come from the Phils, of course, but that again is dependent on Middleton’s tolerance for spending this winter. Jean Segura and Scott Kingery are on hand as potential options at second base and shortstop, although Segura doesn’t profile as a strong defensive option at the position at this point.
If the Phillies do bring in a shortstop — be it Gregorius, Marcus Semien, Andrelton Simmons or another option — they could play Segura at second base and pair Kingery in center field with Adam Haseley. The versatile Kingery struggled immensely at the plate in 2020, although he had a strong 2019 campaign and may have been severely impacted by a pre-season bout with Covid-19.
Kingery declined to make excuses for his poor showing on multiple occasions early in the year but eventually acknowledged that his overall energy level was not back to normal (link via the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scott Lauber). As of mid-August, Kingery was still dealing with repeated shortness of breath and fatigue. It’s easy to imagine a healthier version of Kingery trending back toward 2019’s .258/.315/.474 output, and depending on the extent to which the Phillies plan to reduce payroll, a rebound from him could be one of the keys to their 2021 fate. Kingery was a league-average bat with plus baserunning and average or better glovework at three positions in 2019, after all. Being able to rely on him in center and/or at shortstop could prove pivotal.
If the Phils prefer Kingery/Segura in the middle infield and want to look outside the organization for some outfield help, there are affordable options to pair with Haseley’s lefty bat. Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick and Cameron Maybin are all free agents. Enrique Hernandez has a strong track record against southpaws and could provide cover both in center field and around the infield, making him a nice fit (particularly if Bohm needs to spend time at first base early in the year while Hoskins finishes mending).
In the rotation, the Phillies’ need isn’t so dire. Aaron Nola and Wheeler are a formidable one-two punch, with Zach Eflin serving as a reliable source of innings in the third or fourth spot. Top prospect Spencer Howard struggled in 2020 but is still highly regarded. He’ll get another look next year.
That quartet has the makings of a competitive group, but the trade of Nick Pivetta, the possible non-tender of Velasquez and some struggles from prospects elsewhere in the organization all suggest that the Phils could benefit from a low-cost veteran to round out the group. The best course of action could simply be to see which veterans are left standing and willing to accept a low-base deal late in the winter. If they’re willing to spend more for some mid-rotation innings, names like Masahiro Tanaka, Jake Odorizzi and Jose Quintana are all available.
Looking at the Philadelphia bullpen, there’s little sign of immediate help for a group that in 2020 was one of the least-effective units in recent history. Several names are already gone — Brandon Workman, David Phelps, Jose Alvarez and Tommy Hunter are free agents. Heath Hembree was outrighted.
While the early market for free-agent starters has been strong, the relief market increasingly looks like an area where the “bloodbath” feared by many agents could manifest. Not only did Hand go unclaimed on waivers, but several seemingly reasonable club options on relievers were instead bought out. The expected glut of non-tenders could add another couple dozen relievers to the market.
For a Phillies club that doesn’t want to spend money but badly needs to add multiple arms to the relief corps, that could prove to be an ideal situation. The Phils could opt to spend big on one reliever and add several cost-effective names to round out the group, or more evenly distribute whatever resources they’re allotted to diversify risk and add several steady, competent arms to the bullpen.
The Phillies have underachieved for years now, and with several glaring holes on the roster and signals that they don’t plan to aggressively fill said needs, they could be in for more of the same. That said, this is still a group with a very talented core. The combination of Harper, Nola, Bohm, Hoskins and Wheeler is a strong start to any roster. If the Phils can shed some salary in creative ways or if Middleton changes course with a more aggressive financial approach, it’s possible to see this team contending.
Flawed as they may have been over the past three seasons, the Phillies have only narrowly missed the postseason each year. The NL East is more competitive than ever now that a young Marlins club is on the rise, but there’s enough talent in the Phillies’ core group to fuel a competitive unit next year if MacPhail/Rice or a new general manager push the right buttons.
Lots of holes to fill, so it’s really up to Middleton. They don’t necessarily need super stars to compete, but they do need to spend a bit.
and that’s the key here. its about spending smart, not spending stupid. you can throw loads of money at certain positions and it wolnt work, or you can make more conscious choices and do well. i think this can be turned around fairly easy with smart signings. some of the more rash ones like Arrieta, Cutch, etc are coming off the books, and i feel like later ones have been a bit better. hopefully a fresh name in the FO brings some fresh ideas.
This garbage Phillies rebuild wolnt work either. I could easily see a last place finish.
Very well put honey bunch.
After yesterdays flurry of non tenders?? There is an abundance of guys who could make this team a contender immediately
IF they spend the money
IF they decide to invest in all the prime years of our core
IF they put winning first
I’m not inclined to believe that will happen….feels more like Winter is Coming 🙁
If they don’t sign JTR back up that deal will be a huge bust. Giving up a stud arm and a solid catcher to go nowhere and then letting him walk. Sounds like a real philly move to me
Signing him won’t stop the trade from being a bust. At least not on its own. We would need to have some kind of tangible evidence that JT wouldn’t have signed with the Phillies if they hadn’t traded for him first, all other things equal. Like for instance, some other team verifiably offers him more money but he takes a discount to stay in Philly or he publicly says that he was adamantly opposed to signing with the Phillies at first but the trade opened him up to the idea.
And even if he does take a discount to stay in Philly, it very likely wouldn’t be enough of a discount to offset the surplus value they lost by trading Sixto ($63.6m according to Baseball Trade Values).
None of that is true.
@Creamandtheclear Why not? Enlighten us.
Two things here: Whether they resign JTR or not doesn’t have any impact on the initial trade. Secondly, let’s wait on Sixto. Stats show that batters have had more success facing him the second time around. We’ll see how he works out longterm. He looks great, but he has yet to provide what JTR gave the Phillies for a season and a half.
“Hitters having more success second time around” that’s every pitcher who ever pitched as it’s more difficult to get a guy out over and over again.
Sixto will be a decent/reputable starter. Not elite
I think he has elite potential, but you’re likely right. Time will tell. JT gave the Phils two solid seasons. I’m pretty sure Sixto will give the Marlins that, but we’ll see.
Sixto would have been a bust if it wasn’t for Miami coaching. Philly farm can’t develop pitching prospects. The few times I saw Sixto in Clearwater he fell in love with his fastball and got rocked.
If they don’t sign JTR back up that deal will be a huge bust.
One could also argue that signing JTR to a bad contract, will the original contract even a worse bust. Of course, one has nothing to do with each other, since JTR needs to be treated as any other FA, and signed according to his value, and the Phillies needs.
Either way, I can easily see JTR as being a too-costly addition for any team.
As a diehard Phillies fan, I’m not gonna lie – this looks bleak as hell. I don’t think they ever had any intention of resigning JT. Believe me, I want them to, but if they don’t, that is the biggest shot to the foot possible. And of course Sixto and Alfaro will lead Miami back to the playoffs – that’s the Philly way, to see others go on and win.
But disregarding that, I don’t know how many fixes you can make at once. Farm system is weak – so you have to sign free agents, but if you’re not spending money, then what do you do?
Someone on another thread mentioned trading Nola – as much as that would upset me, it makes the most sense. He’s on an affordable deal, and he would bring back a decent return. He might be their most valuable trade chip, outside of maybe Neris. Everyone else has a contract that no one would probably want (McCutchen, Segura) or just had a bad season and value is low.
I am loathe to say it, but this team almost needs to blow up again. Harper might have to sit through a few years of losing, which stinks, but these deals, and this inept ownership did it to themselves.
Dw you don’t have to worry about Sixto and Alfaro leading the marlins to the playoffs lol. As far the Phillies go y’all could make noise but you have to spend wisely. But Middleton sounds like a horrible owner. I feel bad bc we dealt with the wilpons
i wouldn’t say he’s the Wilpons. they were on a whole other level. Phillies fans are like Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox fans where if they arent top in payroll and a mile over the lux tax they riot. (which isnt realistic given the barriers exceeding the lux tax proposes) Phillies fans should remember the money he has dished out recently. Wether or not deals like Arrieta, Cutch, Wheeler, or other appeal, they show an intent to win. investing all that money into contracts doesnt do jack if it doesnt translate to on the field production and therefore ticket sales. i believe Middleton has fallen into the same trap the Cubs ownership has. they have maintained a fairly high payroll over the past few years but recency bias has made Cubs fans rabid and chances are they weren’t okaying Theo to spend more because they had a lot of recent experience with bad contracts.
This comment is completely unreadable.
You are so intellectually gifted sweetie.
@pinkerton would you still consider not signing JT a shot in the foot if some other team offers him a contract that is clearly a colossal overpay? ($200m+, for instance)
You’re right about them never being in on JTR- that ship has sailed and both sides know it. Also the postering from Phili seems that they won’t spend bug this offseason. I do think they are going to roll w what they got for mid infield. Let the market play itself out and then go add a few pieces. If they do anything early- it’ll be signing a catcher. Maybe before realmuto is even off the board.
Putting the “stupid” into “stupid money.”
pinkerton i feel ya! but the the phils could non tender neris today bc he has very little value to them so how is he a trade chip?
tommorows list of avail players could be the pool for phils to swim in
“‘My position was, I’d be willing to trade Sixto as long as you extend J.T,’ Middleton said at the time. ‘And if you don’t extend J.T., I wouldn’t trade Sixto.'”
If that was the case he should have told Klentak to make the trade contingent on an extension. Not sure how often that happens though. I know the Reds did it when they traded for Sonny Gray and I believe the Blue Jays did it when they traded for RA Dickey but I’m not sure.
A. J. Preller tried to do that with Realmuto two years ago but Michael Hill said no. Makes me think Hill knew all along that Realmuto was going to go to free agency because otherwise he had no reason not to let the other team try to work out an extension.
JT’s intentions to be a free agent i feel have been there for some time now. he contested arbitration to try and set new standards for catchers, and he wanted to hit the open market for the same reason. any extention that would have been worked out would have had to have blown him away.
You don’t know that.
JT has literally stated it openly
No they didn’t.
@Creamandtheclear no who didn’t do what?
@Darkside. It was indeed pretty common knowledge that he was going to test the free agent market and so the only extension that would have worked was one that would have either been the contract he was looking for or at least close to it since he said he wanted to advance the catcher market.
I suspect at the time of the trade to the Marlins, the Phillies may have thought they could resign him but with the pandemic losses, not so much.
@SalaryCapMyth they didn’t have to trade Sixto for Realmuto to give him “the contract he was looking for or at least close to it” later on.
Get rid of the softball players
The list of inept gms who don’t know how to control their player’s salaries to maintain their rosters keeps growing.
I’ll propose what I would do in this case, and I’d love to hear thoughts.
Sign JT to a 5 year, 120M contract (Screw financial losses from the pandemic, every team had them. There’s a line between cutting costs and dropping out from the best in a certain scarce position)
Trade Segura and Simon Muzzioti for Tyler Alexander ( Young reliever and sheds cap)
Sign Alvarez from Arb
Sign Knebel and Aledmys Diaz if the Brewers/Astros do not tender them.
Sign La-Stella to a 2 year, 16 mil deal (Severely underrated imo)
Resign Gosselin for depth, lefty hammer
Sign Cole Hamels to a 1 year, 7 mil (
Phillies fave, reestablishes his value after injury-filled season)
Don’t forget about internal options!
Arano, Brogdon, Romero, and Suarez can all get to be in the ‘pen
Tentatively sign Joc to a 2 year, 22 mil deal if and only if the DH is present next year.
26 Man roster
SP: Nola, Wheeler, Hamels, Eflin, Howard
RP: Alexander, Arano, Brogdon, Romero, Suarez, Knebel, Alvarez, Neris
C: Realmuto, Knapp, Marchan
IF: Hoskins, Bohm, Kingery, La Stella
OF: Harper, Haseley, McCutchen, Quinn, Pederson
UTIL: Gosselin, Diaz
I tried making this realistic, and I don’t have the exact budget numbers, but it shouldn’t be ridiculous unless I’m just forgetting something. Please, I’d like to hear your thoughts!
5/$120m won’t be nearly enough to get JT
It may in this market.
The market where Drew Smyly got $11m, Charlie Morton got $15m and Kevin Gausman got $18,9m?
Pitchers always get paid. 30 year old catchers? We’ll see.
You don’t know that.
@Jim. I have to admit some pitchers have gotten more than expected but then, those are all 1 year contracts which are always more expensive. Also, while they made a bit more than expected, non-tenders present the flip side of the point you are making.
Just FYI David Hale is also arbitration eligible.
“The Phillies: Baseball’s broken record”
Why do you fire your GM when you have no idea who you want to hire? And why do you, in the middle of the searching process, go out and say that you don’t really want to spend money, completely going against what you’ve said for the last few years? I get that you don’t want to go through the roof this year with Covid going on but matching last years payroll should be doable.
The said thing is that Philly is so close to being competitive. They need 3 bullpen guys ($24 MM total), a 4th/5th starter ($ 6MM) and a 2B/SS ($10 MM). The offense is good enough to roll with Knapp at C and Kingery/Helsley/Quinn in CF. These additions would put them back right at last years payroll according to fangraphs (without non-tendring Neris and Velasquez)
Molina, Semien, LaStella, Joc Pederson, Pillar all on 1 year deals looking to bounceback. Molina knows what it is to win. He could come in and kind of humble Bryce a little bit and show this clubhouse what a winner looks like and how to win. May have to overpay on 1 yr or extend a 2nd year. In 03′ the Marlins (with a similarly talented roster) did that with Pudge and won the WS.
Pitching side: Cole Hamels, Chris Archer, Liam Hendricks, Ian Kennedy, Wade Davis, Jake McGee, Typer Clippard, Tyler Chatwood, Steve Cisek, Jesse Biddle. Only guy costing you anything in terms of dollars/years is Hendricks. If even half of those names bounceback, this team could compete. Save face to fans as well by bringing Cole back.
As I scrolled through the article on my phone it was like the window shutting on philis playoff hopes at the same time. No way they spend like mets are about too and they are already behind nationals and Braves in talent. Their best hope is another 16 team playoff
the Nats have their own problems
The Nats have the best young player in the game, Scherzer and Stras. The Braves have the 2nd best young player in the game, the reigning NL MVP and oodles of pitching. Phillies cant pull the plug, they have to double down. I think 1 year deals to Molina, Semien & Hamels. makes too much sense. I’d offer JT 5/125 and if he doesnt take it, tell him to go kick rocks and get Molina. If you miss on Molina, Knapp and his elite plate discipline and solid defense is enough for at least a 50% of share of reps behind the plate. Pair him with Jeff Mathis, who’s elite game calling and pitch framing would do wonders for this pitching staff. Or go to the other side of the spectrum and get a bat first backstop like Contreras or Ramos that can make your lineup deeper. They need to throw dollars at the bullpen if JT walks. And help the PR department out by bringing back Cole, we need a lefty to slot in between Elflin and Howard. He’s the perfect fit. Honorable mention: Jose Quintana. Have a funny feeling about Chris Archer too, I’d be all over him and Semien on a pillow contract, maybe even 2 yrs at lower aav.
At least they understand punctuation.
Are you only capable of commenting in mildly inciteful one-liners?
Seems like most of the Philly fans suggestions are based on spending, augmented by more spending.
I notice at least a couple of suggestions to sign Pederson, but I don’t know what position he would play for them. He doesn’t really play CF, and I doubt the Phillies are going to sign him to platoon with their $20M LF.
If I were a Philly fan, I’d forget about every offensive position except catching, and then devote their spending money on at least one SP, and at least 2 RPs, maybe a low-level S/T solution at 1st, until Hoskins returns. Hitting is not your problem.
The suggestions for Pederson were mostly contingent on a DH in the NL, which makes more sense than the OF. I’m not sure it’s financially prudent, especially with the openings at other, more priority positions.
They need a catcher – Knapp is too volatile to be the primary starter on an ongoing basis. They need a 5th starter in the rotation, and probably a swing man to be a 6th starting option. They need several capable bullpen arms. They need a quality SS – I’m not a fan of Segura at short defensively, and Kingery looks more comfortable at 2B/CF.
They need a catcher, SS and CF. They can’t get all three, but at least 1 of those is needed. While SP should also be a focus, they don’t have a reliable closer and haven’t for some time. A bullpen arm is needed. A lot of holes and they need to spend a little to fill some of them because they have continously failed to develop talent in their farm outside of Nola, Bohm, Hoskins.
Bottom line: This team’s got no bullpen, no bench, no catcher, half an infield, a lousy owner, a nonexistent front office, a problematic farm system, and can we please stop pretending that Nola’s been pitching like an ace. Sure, he’s still got ace level talent, but functionally he’s questionable about half the time. His numbers on the road have been horrifying.
There’s no way to save this without either a huge injection of cash or a miracle. Since miracles don’t exist, and Middleton’s made it pretty clear he’s not going to spend, we might as well get used to the idea of the Phillies being a last place team for the foreseeable future.
Who knew that 2019’s 81-81 season was going to be the golden age of the Harper era in Philly. Sigh.
I think the Phillies have been poorly managed, but this is over the top. The Phillies were only 3 games out of 1st on 9/19, and that was with arguably the worst BP in history.
They can easily compete in 2021, and without necessarily breaking the bank.
While it’s certainly true the Philles were competitive late into last season it’s also true it was just a 60 game season. Late September in 2020 would be like early June in a normal year. If you analyze how the year went for the teams in the division there’s good reason to think that in a normal year the Philles would’ve kept on slipping and likely ended the year in last place with MAYBE 70-75 wins. They got very lucky last year that in August they had a few weeks where they hit well and rotation put together a brief period of consistency. But it wasn’t sustainable in 2020 in a short season and it sure wouldn’t have been sustainable in a 162 game season.
The truth is, in order to be merely as good in 2021 as they were in 2020 they’d need to bring back JT and Didi, or adequately replace them. And that still wouldn’t be nearly enough.
I do agree that this team doesn’t need to waste big money on any one player. They don’t need stars. But they need a lot of help in a lot of positions. At a dead minimum they need starters at catcher and short, both of whom need to make significant contributions on both offense and defense. And they need at least 3 and more likely 4 GOOD relievers, not to mention some depth on the bench. And that doesn’t even address a rotation that was at best shaky in 2020. Wheeler’s great, but Nola hasn’t pitched to his talent since 2018, Efflin’s at best a serviceable 4 or 5, and Howard’s a question mark who deserves every chance, but certainly can’t be depended on yet.
Are all of these things fixable? Yes. But it’s going to take money, maybe not huge money, but a significant outlay. And Middleton has made it pretty clear he has no desire to spend, and even if he did, the suits in the front office can’t be counted on to competently make deals.
The best that can be hoped for is they throw some old rumpled singles from Middleton’s mattress at a half dozen or so cheap reclamation projects and hope they can catch lightning in a bottle. It’s been done before, but I’m far too much of a cynic to waste time on that kind of hope.
All I can say for sure is, there’s a laundry list of good relief pitchers that should sign cheap this year, and the Phillies better get like 3 or 4 of them. They also should have let Neris walk and put that extra $5 Million towards a real closer. Cheap bullpen help, need to sign several out of Archie Bradley, Steve Cishek, Shane Greene, Mark Melancon, Darren O’ Day, Brad Peacock, Yusmeiro Petit, Trevor Rosenthal, Joakim Soria, Blake Treinen, Tony Watson.