3 signings the Phillies should make this offseason

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kiké Hernández watches his home run against the Cleveland Guardians during the ninth inning of a baseball game Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Sometimes, Major League Baseball’s free agency is like the Wild West.

Other times, it is like a ghost town, where you can see tumbleweeds drifting through the sand.

Whenever the action does get started, I expect the Phillies to be active, with some of the bigger names available. While I am not saying Shohei Ohtani is coming to Philadelphia, I would expect the team to follow the trend of spending money to upgrade the club.

As we get set for this upcoming off-season, these are some moves that I would like to see the Phillies make.

Phillies Player Payroll

I will preface this article by saying that this is not my money that will be spent this off-season.

Phillies’ ownership has proven they will spend money to compete, and I applaud them for their commitment to try and bring a championship home to Philadelphia.

Being realistic, however, I do not expect the Phillies to spend more than they have in past seasons. Per Spottrac, they spent $256,352,940 on payroll this season. Factoring in projected arbitration amounts, the Phillies payroll is roughly $210,421,161 for 2024.

That gives the Phillies roughly 46 million dollars in AAV (average annual value) to spend in the 2024 off-season.

Sonny Gray – 3 years | $70 Million

I fully expect Aaron Nola to sign elsewhere this off-season.

Once Nola joins a new team, the Phillies will have to pivot and fill the vacancy in their starting rotation. The team will be named as potential suitors for pitchers like Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, but I ultimately expect them to land on Sonny Gray.

A well-traveled veteran, Sonny Gray is coming off a strong season with the Minnesota Twins.

In 32 starts, Gray went 8-8 with a 2.79 ERA in 184 innings pitched. Sonny is not a high-velocity pitcher like Zack Wheeler and isn’t a high-strikeout guy like Aaron Nola, but what he does possess is a strong command of five pitches.

The veteran right-hander is a very consistent pitcher, which is something that makes him an attractive target for the Phillies. He allowed more than three runs in just three of his thirty-two starts this season.

In what Aaron Nola lacked at times in his Phillies career, you can almost pencil in six innings of three-run ball from Sonny Gray.

At age 34, the Phillies can grab Sonny Gray for a short-term contract. At $23.33 million AAV, this leaves the Phillies with 23 million left to spend if they were to match last season’s payroll.

With Mick Abel and Andrew Painter in the pipeline, this type of deal would be ideal for the Phillies moving forward.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Alec Bohm, Bryce Harper, Trea Turner and Bryson Stott, from left, celebrate the team’s win over the Miami Marlins in Game 2 of an NL wild-card baseball playoff series Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023, in Philadelphia. The Phillies swept the series, and move on to face the Atlanta Braves. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Kiké Hernández – 1 year | $6 Million

A player that I can see the Phillies signing is Kiké Hernández.

Hernández is another well-traveled veteran player, mostly spending his time in Los Angeles with the Dodgers. Last season, Kiké went back to LA at the deadline, where he slashed .262 /308/.423/.731.

He has experience playing every position (aside from catcher), which gives Rob Thomson flexibility with his lineups.

Offensively, Hernández has a contact-first approach. Excluding the 2020 COVID season, he has hit at least 19 doubles going back to 2017. He averages around 60 RBIs a season and can bat low in the Phillies lineup. Not everyone needs to be an offensive star, but Kiké can carve out a nice role with this team.

The best part of this signing is that it does not prevent the Phillies from making other moves. Hernández’s versatility can allow them. to make another move during the season without being tied down to a free-agent signing.

With $17 million more added to the books, the Phillies would then have $14 million more to spend if they were to match last season’s payroll.

Liam Hendriks – 2 years | $17 million

This signing is more of a want than a need, but I think it could make a lot of sense for the Phillies.

Over the last couple of off-seasons, Dave Dombrowski has targeted veteran closers on 1-year prove-it deals: Corey Knebel and Jeurys Familia in 2022 and Craig Kimbrel in 2023.

Liam Hendriks not only fits that mold but, in my opinion, still has what it takes to be an elite closer.

The Australian fireballer missed the majority of the 2023 season as he was fighting stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He got to pitch in a few games at the end of the year, and the White Sox then declined his option for this upcoming season.

The former closer is a 3-time All-Star and 2-time Reliever of the Year award winner. Excluding 2023, in his last four seasons, he has pitched to a 2.51 ERA in 154 innings pitched. In that same frame, he amassed 89 saves and 235 strikeouts.

The Phillies bullpen ran out of steam at the end of this past season. Rob Thomson seemingly did not have enough options that he could trust in big spots. Hendriks can be someone you hand the ball to in the 9th inning and not have to worry. I still think he is a big-game pitcher and that he can shine for a true contending team.

The Phillies can give him the opportunity and contract that he deserves. I would love for Dave Dombrowski to explore adding Liam Hendriks to the mix.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)