This could be the week. Manny Machado is said to be close to deciding on where he’ll spend his next eight to 10 years of his baseball life, and Bryce Harper was supposedly impressed with the visit from Phillies front office members and manager Gabe Kapler and could also make a decision very soon. Even with those two issues moving toward a resolution, the Phillies aren’t done for the winter. There are still other things to get done.
The Phillies came into the offseason wanting to sign – or trade for – a left-handed starting pitcher. They lost out on Patrick Corbin and J.A. Happ and haven’t made any other moves to find a lefty. Dallas Keuchel is the big name lefty remaining on the list of free agents and the Phillies are said to have had at least some cursory contact with him about becoming a Philly. The Phillies have also been linked to the Giants in trade talks about Madison Bumgarner but GM Farhan Zaidi recently called Bumgarner “a huge part” of the Giants plans for 2019.
In the middle of last summer the Phillies decided that Jorge Alfaro wasn’t good enough to win with so they acquired catcher Wilson Ramos, who promptly exited Philadelphia following the season as a free agent. If Ramos wasn’t good enough then, why is he good enough now? J.T. Realmuto is sitting there for the right package in a deal with the Marlins, but the Phillies reportedly aren’t pursuing him.
Then we come to third base. The Phillies have dropped some not so subtle hints that Maikel Franco isn’t the guy to have playing there moving forward. Of course, if Machado signs with the Phillies, Franco is as good as gone and replaced by the big money deal that Machado will get. What if the Phillies don’t get Machado? Is free agent Mike Moustakas the answer? Teams who miss on Machado will likely instantly pivot to Moustakas, thus invoking the rule of supply and demand and driving Moustakas’ price higher than it is now. The other option is that Franco suddenly becomes good enough if all of the other doors close.
And amid all of that, it says here that it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Phillies and Aaron Nola to ink a long-term deal. The two sides are far apart in the numbers they’re proposing for arbitration but the Phillies can’t ignore their own players while they’re out spending millions on other players. Working to get Nola signed long-term is good baseball business and sends a message to other players that the Phillies are serious about being good not just now, but for a long time to come.
While this week may provide some answers and check off some of the to-do items on the Phillies list, there are still things to be done before the equipment truck leaves for Clearwater and players start filing in to prepare for another season.