The Phillies had a laundry list of items to address this offseason. Between bringing back J.T. Realmuto, re-signing or replacing Didi Gregorius, finding another starter for the rotation, and fixing the bullpen, Dave Dombrowski had his work cut out for him. Not to mention the added financial uncertainties across professional sports.
And while there is a lot of work left to be done, the moves the Phillies have thus far made are enough to call the offseason a success.
Phillies’ Offense Returns to Form
The Phillies scored the fifth most runs (306) across the Majors in 2020. Following the Phillies’ re-signings of both Realmuto and Gregorius, the Phillies have the same offense returning.
|CF||Adam Haseley/Roman Quinn/Scott Kingery|
But there is also cause to believe that the offense will be better in 2021. Alec Bohm joined the offense midway through the 2020 season, quickly demonstrating his abilities at the plate. A full season with Bohm as the starting third baseman will only further amplify the Phillies’ offense.
Additionally, Andrew McCutchen will be a full year removed from his torn ACL. While he did play in 57 of the Phillies’ 60 games, he acted as DH for 16 of those games. ACL injuries take time to heal, and the Phillies were cautious with the 34-year old outfielder last year.
Scott Kingery is another player who will likely see improvement in 2021. After contracting COVID-19, Kingery failed to truly get into the swing of things during the shortened season. Whether it was missing Summer Camp or lingering side effects from the virus, Kingery will now have had an entire offseason to recover and be ready. While the utility player will likely start the season on the bench for the Phillies, he should prove himself an asset.
The Bullpen is Better, But Not Perfect
After the atrocious 2020 season from the bullpen, there was no way there would be a 360-degree turnaround in 2021. But improvements have been made and there is cause for celebrations.
First, the Phillies brought in two high-velocity relievers in Sam Coonrod and Jose Alvarado. Neither reliever is perfect, and they certainly have room for improvement, but will have time to do so under pitching coach Caleb Cotham. Not to mention, the two relievers are cheap and under team control for years to come.
Then, the Phillies went and got a bonafide closer in Archie Bradley. While Bradley has not yet been named closer, he will likely beat out the incumbent Hector Neris for the job during Spring Training.
It would be in Philadelphia’s best interest to bring in another strong reliever, and there are still several good names out there. But even if they don’t the bullpen will be exponentially better than last season. Those pitchers who remain (Neris, David Hale, Connor Brogdon, JoJo Romero, Ranger Suarez, etc.) will have all had the offseason to make additional changes, in addition to a new voice in Caleb Cotham.
The Rotation Hasn’t Improved
The starting rotation is the area that the Phillies have ignored this offseason. Besides the recent acquisition of Matt Moore, there has been next to nothing done to improve upon the back-end.
Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin will be just fine as the top three for the Phillies in 2021. The trio is the main reason the Phillies owned a top-10 rotation ERA in 2020 (4.08). But now with Jake Arrieta’s contract expiring, there is one less pitcher available who can at least eat innings at the bottom of the rotation.
Spencer Howard may be looked upon as a member of the rotation for years to come, but he is not fully major league ready. He had only pitched in six games at the AA level prior to the end of the 2019 season. While he will still pan out long-term, expect some hiccups this year from Howard. Not to mention Vince Velasquez.
The point is: the Phillies should look to bring in a solidified pitcher who can eat innings in the fourth slot for the Phillies. The Phillies could do this by either signing a veteran free agent or possibly trading for a pitcher like Lance McCullers Jr.
Deals To Be Made
Given the deferred money in both Realmuto and Gregorius’ deals, the Phillies are likely not done this offseason. If they can continue to find deals in the final few weeks before Spring Training, the Phillies could improve their rotation and bullpen even more. Assuming the Phillies can do so, they will solidify themselves as a competitor for the NL East title in 2021.
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