Well, nobody saw this coming.
Major League Baseball’s opening day could very well be in late May, if not June. While we’re all suffering in isolation together, let’s look at the bright side of things.
Two months gives the Phillies time to heal up. Just a couple weeks ago, I wrote about how the Phillies had a left fielder competition with Andrew McCutchen out to start the season.
That no longer holds true. The 2013 NL MVP should be ready whenever the season starts. In fact, the extra time ensures that McCutchen isn’t rushing back into action. A torn ACL isn’t an easy injury to come back from. The Phillies need McCutchen at the top of their lineup. Last year, the Phillies lineup seemed lost without his .256/.378/.457 slash line.
Scott Kingery tried his best from the leadoff spot. His best wasn’t pretty with a .197/.271/.333 slash. Rhys Hoskins was moved up top to try to reignite his swing. It didn’t work as his .138/.297/.172 slash would show. Bryce Harper’s .267/.405/.567 slash line looks good at leadoff, but that spot makes no sense for Harper. Why would you lead off a guy who slashed .331/.422/.665 with men on base? #JustKaplerThings
McCutchen isn’t the only player the Phillies could get back from injury. Victor Arano, although already slated to be back for the start of the season, will have some extra time to make sure he’s coming back at 100%.
Tommy Hunter should also be available to bolster the bullpen. Before you moan he’s not good, he has a 3.50 ERA in 70 career games as a Phillie. Most of the hate he gets is from the beginning of his Phillies tenure. In his first 29 Phillies games, he had a 5.04 ERA. In his next 36 games, Hunter had a 3 ERA on the dot.
There are also some question marks, injury-wise. If Seranthony Dominguez needs Tommy John, then there’s no way he’ll be back in 2020. David Robertson could play a role in 2020. How large of a role is yet to be seen, but this break could surely move up his timetable.
Guess what the Phillies have plenty of time to do now. If you said “negotiate with JT Realmuto on an extension”, go get yourself a nice cookie.
It was last reported that JT Realmuto was seeking a 5-year, $130 million extension. While $26 million a year for Realmuto would be fair, the Phillies aren’t just going to put all the chips on the table that quickly. That’s not how negotiation works.
The Phillies should look to try to go for a lower average annual value. That’s what reflects on the “salary cap”. The Phillies could try to push for a 6th year to spread out a large contract. Let’s just leave that to the Phillies front office and JT Realmuto
The other non-injury positive is Spencer Howard. He was going to be on an innings limit anyway. This artificially slows him down after an injury-shortened 2019. Howard could still be ready for a late-season call-up.
The highly-regarded top-40 prospect could benefit the most from this delay to the 2020 season.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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.