Over the past eight hours, a handful of sources have emerged with various details surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies’ offseason blueprint, all confirming the rumors from earlier in the month that the front office is expected to spend “stupid money” in its quest to remain competitive in the National League East.
While the Phillies have already been cited as a potential suitor for both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, Jon Morosi of MLB.com cites a myriad of starters, relievers, and outfielders of whom the Phillies have expressed interest, and could very well target before decisions are made regarding either of the 26-year old All-Stars (four-time and six-time, respectively).
With under $70M being invested in their current roster, the Phillies have more than enough payroll flexibility to go after whoever they please this offseason, at least considering the fact that the team had operated beyond $170MM earlier in the decade. Per sources, starting pitchers Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ, and Nathan Eovaldi are all currently on the Phils’ radar, as are closers Craig Kimbrel and Zach Britton, along with outfielders Michael Brantley and A.J. Pollock. Each player – though likely to command high prices – would be a surefire improvement to either a pitching staff that struggled to work cohesively or a lineup that deflated during the second half and stumbled on defense.
“This is a franchise that’s carried big payrolls for a lot of years,” general manager Matt Klentak said during the General Managers Meetings in Carlsbad, California. “It’s no secret to you, or to me, or to the fans, or to the agents. Everybody knows that. It’s always been a matter of when – and not if – the Phillies were going to spend again.”
That said, there’s still a chance that Philadelphia attempts to improve not only via free agency, but also through trades. It’s been understood (also thanks to Morosi) that Seattle Mariners’ closer Edwin Diaz is of interest to the Phillies as well as the Atlanta Braves, though the Mariners remain poised to hang onto Diaz alongside outfielder Mitch Haniger and left-handed starter Marco Gonzales, unless they’re met with an offer they can’t refuse.
The most substantial development in the Phils’ office, at least among those reported, comes from a recent tweet by Jayson Stark of The Athletic, which ties them to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ discussions of trading first baseman and six-time All-Star Paul Goldschmidt.
More specifically, Stark claims that the Phillies had discussed a package featuring starter Zach Eflin and “several young players” that would have netted Goldschmidt, though negotiations “fell apart” after Klentak attempted to shoehorn first baseman Carlos Santana into the deal. Although he managed a 1.7 bWAR and 1.9 fWAR while hitting 24 homers and driving in 82 runs to complement a career .805 OPS, Santana is owed $60MM over the next three years, and at 32, is unlikely to have much stock in the Diamondbacks’ current rebuilding efforts.
Once considered a significant piece in the Phillies’ transition back to relevance in the National League, Santana unfortunately profiles as a square peg in a round hole, and an expensive one at that. Moving him and shedding his salary, especially in a deal for as formidable a hitter as Goldschmidt, might be the Phils’ biggest obstacle this offseason.