On Tuesday, the Phillies had their biggest move of the offseason… and they didn’t move a muscle. Josh Donaldson left the NL East, signing with the Minnesota Twins.
It seems that the Atlanta Braves didn’t want to pay the hefty 4-years $92 million (even though $23 mill was exactly what they paid Donaldson last season). The Washington Nationals also seemed to run out of funds to sign the former AL MVP. They now run out an infield that includes 3 players over 33 years old (Kendrick, Cabrera, and Thames). The Nationals also lost their MVP-caliber third baseman in Anthony Rendon to the Angels.
Recent breaking news could affect the New York Mets as well. New manager Carlos Beltran was the only player mentioned in the Astros’ sign-stealing report. Both AJ Hinch, manager of the Astros, and Alex Cora, manager of the Red Sox, have been terminated. It could only be a matter of time until Beltran faces the same fate.
These departures could aid the Phillies’ quest for their first division crown since 2011. Both Donaldson and Rendon were huge obstacles for the Phillies. In 2019, Donaldson had an .867 OPS against the Phillies with 6 home runs. Rendon slashed .353/.455/.647 against the Phillies.
The Braves and Nationals both lost a star third baseman while the Phillies didn’t lose anyone of note. Cesar Hernandez was the Phillies’ biggest departure, which isn’t saying much. He was an average hitter with a career .733 OPS and 97 OPS+.
While the Nationals and Braves did improve their bullpens, the Phillies were the only team to drastically improve other areas. Zack Wheeler makes the Phillies rotation somewhat of a threat. His 3.65 ERA over the past 2 seasons would top any Phillies pitcher from the 2019 campaign.
Didi Gregorius will have to have a bounce-back 2020 but if he can get back to his 2017-18 number, he’ll represent a major improvement. From 2017-18, Gregorius slashed .277/.326/.486 with 53 HR from the left side of the plate.
The changes to both the Phillies and other NL East teams should reflect in the Phillies’ record for the better. In 2019, the Phillies went 10-9 against the Braves. Without Donaldson in their lineup, things could go ever better. The Phillies struggled mightily against the Nationals in 2019, going 5-14. Without their MVP-level third baseman, the Phillies should win at least a couple of extra games.
Shifts in power within the NL East are coming. Hopefully, the Phillies can capitalize on them.
Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sport
Alec Kostival graduated from La Salle University with a degree in communication with a focus in mass media and journalism. He covered high school sports for the Chestnut Hill Local. He has interned with the Reading Fightin Phils and the Philadelphia Eagles.