What Positions Should the Phillies Pursue in Free Agency?

MLB: SEP 27 Phillies at Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, FL – SEPTEMBER 27:Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Didi Gregorius (18) during the MLB game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays on September 27, 2020 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

Following our in-depth look at who should return to the Phillies’ roster in 2021, we now look outward and ask the question who should the Phillies pursue in free agency this offseason?

First, here’s a quick summary regarding who we believe should return to Philly next year:

Infield: J.T. Realmuto*, Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, Alec Bohm, Jean Segura, Andrew Knapp, Phil Gosselin

Outfield: Andrew McCutchen, Adam Haseley, Bryce Harper

Starting Pitchers: Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin*, Spencer Howard

Relief Pitchers: Jose Alvarez*, Hector Neris*, Tommy Hunter*, Blake Parker*, Vince Velasquez, Seranthony Dominguez

Assuming that owner John Middleton does indeed spend money this offseason, the Phillies have between $60 and $80 million available until they hit the $210 million luxury tax limit. Keep in mind that any players listed above with an * will either need a new contract via free agency or receive a pay increase via option or arbitration. So, while $60 to $80 million may sound like plenty, it will wash up quickly. Or the Phillies can finally go over the luxury tax and show the world that they are ready to compete.

Position Players

Aside from re-signing Realmuto, the largest decision in the field for the Phillies will be whether or not re-sign Didi Gregorius or possibly pursue Marcus Semien. That decision will depend on whether the Phillies believe Scott Kingery is worth giving another chance as starting second basemen for 2021. 2020 was not a good year for Kingery on or off of the field as he not only performed terribly but also came down with COVID-19 pre-season. If the Phillies give Kingery another chance, then the money that would be spent on Gregorius or Semien (likely between $15 and $20 million a year). could be spent elsewhere.

The Phillies will get by with a McCutchen-Haseley-Harper outfield. But if the Phillies want to pursue George Springer, Marcell Ozuna, or the cheaper Joc Pederson, that could only improve the outfield.

Regardless of how they pursue both positions, the Phillies should re-sign J.T. Realmuto and then add three new faces to the dugout. They should likely go after either Gregorius, Semien, or Springer, and then add a lower-cost name at the other position and one bench utility role.

Phillies need Pitching help

The teams’ free-agent shopping spree could go many ways. One of the more expensive ones would be to sign Trevor Bauer. Bauer is looking to go to a competitor for the largest sum of money he can, so the Phils will need to bid with the Yankees, Dodgers, and the rest of the league for this controversial commodity.

But there are other starting pitchers available as well. With Nola and Wheeler as the one-two-punch, and Eflin and Howard as the back-end of the rotation, the Phillies just need a competent pitcher to replace Jake Arrieta in the number three spot. Unless they want to go big on Bauer, of course.

Assuming that Alvarez, Neris, Hunter, and Parker all are re-signed and options picked up, the bullpen will need two or three new pieces. Velasquez can cover multi-inning relief duties while Connor Brogdon or Jojo Romero fill up the slot that Seranthony Dominguez would take up. Ideally, the Phillies snag a bona fide closer and a strong setup man on free agency, allowing the returners to pitch in lower-leverage situations.

Phillies free agency outlook

In summation, the Phillies should look to sign the following positions this offseason: J.T. Realmuto, one infielder, one outfielder, one utility bench bat, one #3 starting pitcher, and two-to-three bullpen arms.

Ultimately, the Phillies’ free-agent signings will need to fill the gaps that could not be filled by proper talent evaluation within the Phillies’ system. But, given the odd times for the sport of baseball, the Phillies just might be able to make pin-point signings to help turn this boat around, lest it sinks on an iceberg of stupid money. Either way, the Phillies are, for the third year in a row, set to make a splash in free agency.

Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire