December 05, 2019
Almost out of nowhere, Wednesday became quite a busy day for Phillies free agency news and rumors.
Reports in the morning that the team was interested in signing Zack Wheeler quickly led to an early afternoon signing by the Phillies, who reportedly agreed on a five-year, $118 million deal with the former Mets starter. There was also a report that the Phillies are interested in another starter from a division rival, Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals.
In the meantime, the Phillies had to watch one of their former aces, World Series MVP Cole Hamels, sign a one-year deal with the Braves.
Of course, despite the big contract they handed out to Wheeler — and the contract extension they're presumably going to give to J.T. Realmuto before the 2020 season begins — the Phillies still have some money to spend. Just how much they ultimately wind up handing out to other free agents depends on how willing they are to go over the luxury tax threshold.
Either way, it's safe to assume the Phillies are far from finished when it comes to free agency. And Mark Feinsand of MLB.com agrees:
The addition of Wheeler to a rotation that includes Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin and Jake Arrieta answers a major question for the Phillies, who could still be in the market for another starter. Would Philly make another big move for an arm such as Bumgarner or Keuchel?
We all remember the “stupid money” comment made by managing partner John Middleton last winter, and even after signing Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson (not to mention trading for J.T. Realmuto and Jean Segura) before the 2019 season, the Phillies have plenty of payroll flexibility to work with. It’s difficult to believe they’re done this offseason. [mlb.com]
As Feinsand pointed out, the Phillies could still use another starting pitcher to round out their rotation, and one of the two names he mentions has already been linked to the Philadelphia.
Then there's PhillyVoice contributor and Baseball Hall of Famer Paul Hagen, who thinks the Phillies should dream a little bigger. How much bigger? Try the best free agent starter available, Gerrit Cole. And the best part is, they can afford it.
They could give Cole, by far the top pitcher available in this year’s free agent market, a $225 million package — the biggest ever for a pitcher — and still be comfortably under what they spent last season. Not only that, it would give them a team that, on paper, will be as formidable as any team in the division.
Look no further than Nationals Stadium to see what kind of impact this can have. Washington already had Stephen Strasburg five years ago when they signed Max Scherzer to an eye-popping 7-year, $225 million contract. Plenty of people snickered. Scherzer was approaching 30. He was coming off two superlative seasons but his record before that was mixed.
Sounds a lot like Cole’s profile, come to think of it.
Then there's the rest of the roster. After moving on from Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez, the Phillies suddenly have an opening in their infield, assuming Scott Kingery moves from the outfield and takes one of them.
In other words, while Wednesday was a busy day that's looking like a win for the Phillies, there's still plenty of work to be done for Matt Klentak and the Phillies front office as they prepare for next week's Winter Meetings, when the real action should heat up.
In the meantime, we'll have this live feed up and running to keep you up to date on all the latest news and rumors surrounding the Phillies, both when it comes to trades and free agency...
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