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March 14, 2022

Phillies top targets remain at large, what's the holdup?

Will the Phillies pull the trigger on a big name free agent this week?

Phillies MLB
kris-bryant-giants_112921_usat Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports

Kris Bryant is one of the biggest free agent names available, and would be a nice fit for the Phillies.

UPDATE [3:25 p.m.] — There's an "intense demand" for Kyle Schwarber, especially now that the National League will officially have designated hitters.

Speaking on "The Athletic Baseball Show" (via Audacy), senior reporter Ken Rosenthal said "Kyle Schwarber is another big name out there. He’s getting intense demand because teams saw what he did last season and are convinced now he’s going to be a dominant player."

Schwarber, 29, rejuvenated his career in 2021 and will bring immediate power to any lineup he joins. Starting last season in Washington, working with current Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long, Schwarber hit 25 home runs with 53 RBIs and a .910 OPS in 303 plate appearances. He was then dealt to Boston for the Red Sox' playoff run, hitting seven more home runs with a .957 OPS to close out the regular season.

The Phillies can definitely find a spot for him in the lineup if he's interested in reuniting with Long.

UPDATE: [9:45 a.m.] — As we mentioned earlier, the Phillies are continuing to address their bullpen first and could be adding another veteran back of the pen arm, in lefty Brad Hand:

Hand is 31 and pitched most recently with the Blue Jays, who grabbed him off waivers after he was dropped by the Mets during the 2021 season. He performed the rare feat of pitching for three different teams last season, and had a 3.90 ERA in 64.2 innings combined (between the Mets Jays, and Nationals).

He is a three-time All-Star and most importantly is a left-hander. He has 126 career saves, as a closer by committee role seems to be developing for manager Joe Girardi to play with this season. 

His deal is the same as Jeurys Familia's:

From earlier...

Conventional wisdom would suggest that a team looking to contend and spend in free agency would go after the big ticket items first, and then fill in on the margins afterwards. But the Phillies seem to be doing the opposite.

This past weekend, the team (which still badly needs outfielders, starting pitchers and a bevy of other things) reached a deal to sign 32-year-old former closer Jeurys Familia, and is reportedly also bringing controversial outfielder Odubel Herrea back. Familia will likely play a back of the bullpen role, while Herrera will potentially be a part of some kind of outfield platoon — possibly next to Matt Verling. 

Even if that strategy is correct, the team needs another starting outfielder. Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber are still out there, as is Kris Bryant, who can not only play a corner outfield spot but is also able to play at first and third.

Bryant is a former MVP and a very close friend of Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper and the recruiting may have already begin. With spring training games beginning this coming weekend, the clock is ticking for the Phillies to assemble their full roster, and so something could happen very soon.

We'll have you covered right here, in this space. In addition to updates as soon as news breaks, you can also follow the action below in our live MLB free agency thread and open stream:

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