December 06, 2019
UPDATE [3:35 p.m.] — The Phillies rumors are starting to pick up again, with Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY writing that the team is still pursuing prized free agent infielder Anthony Rendon, with Josh Donaldson being a potential backup plan, regardless of the luxury tax implications.
The Philadelphia Phillies, luxury tax be damned, plan to strongly pursue free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, with third baseman Josh Donaldson as a potential fall-back plan, two people with direct knowledge told USA TODAY Sports.
The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Phillies have yet to publicly declare their intentions and have not met face-to-face with Rendon. ...
The Phillies still would like to pursue another starter and relief pitching, but Rendon has become their No. 1 target. [usatoday.com]
Nightengale also makes it seem like Didi Gregorius would be Plan C to Rendon and Donaldson.
Meanwhile, MLB insider Jon Heyman is reporting that the Phillies are in hot pursuit of the big name starters still left on the free agent market, namely Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg.
Stay tuned, because it looks like the Phillies are still very much looking to buy.
The Phillies wasted no time diving into the free agency pool this winter when they agreed with starting pitcher Zack Wheeler on a five-year, $118-million deal on Wednesday. And things might just be getting started.
Next up for the Phillies is the Winter Meetings, which kick off Sunday in San Diego and are often when a lot of the offseason wheeling and dealing gets done. With the Phillies expected to add a few more pieces before all is said and done, it could be a busy week for Matt Klentak and Co. out on the West Coast.
So, moves can be expected from the Phillies, who are still looking for help in nearly every area — pitching, infield and outfield? The team needs various levels of upgrades at each, and lucky for them, there should be plenty of help available if they can strike while the iron's hot.
Over at the Athletic, former MLB GM Jim Bowden listed one move for all 30 MLB teams to make at the Winter Meetings, and his idea for the Phillies involved a player who has already been linked to the team, Didi Gregorius, both because of his fit and because of his pre-existing relationship with Joe Girardi, who managed him in New York for several seasons.
Sign shortstop Didi Gregorius to a 3-year, $45 million deal. The Phillies need to improve their overall defense and if they can sign Gregorius, that would allow them to move Jean Segura to third base and Scott Kingery to second. This would be a significant improvement in infield defense for 2020 and would help boost the pitching staff at the same time. New Phillies skipper Joe Girardi managed Gregorius with the Yankees and would be key in recruiting him. [theathletic.com]
Given what the Phillies have already spent on Wheeler, a deal like that for Gregorius makes a lot more sense for the Phillies than signing someone like Josh Donaldson or Anthony Rendon, who will command a much higher price.
Over at MLB.com, Todd Zolecki seems to agree, as he thinks Gregorius could be the guy the Phillies need to solidify the middle of their infield after letting Cesar Hernandez go. Here's a look at the infield portion of Zolecki's offseason checklist for the Phillies:
Phillies third basemen ranked 24th in the Majors with a .725 OPS last season and 28th with a .721 OPS from 2016-19. It is time for an upgrade, but they might find an upgrade by moving Jean Segura or Scott Kingery to third. How would that work? Well, the Phillies could sign shortstop Didi Gregorius. For the moment, big-ticket infielders like Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson seem unlikely. [mlb.com]
Gregorius aside, Zolecki believes that the Wheeler signing puts the Phillies out of play for starting pitchers like Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg — or any other top-tier position player, a la Donaldson or Rendon, for that matter — but thinks there are lesser options out there that could make sense for a team looking to bolster its rotation.
RHP Blake Treinen
Treinen, 31, finished sixth in the American League Cy Young Award voting in 2018 and 15th for AL MVP, going 9-2 with a 0.78 ERA in 68 appearances with the A’s. He was incredible. But he struggled in 2019, posting a 4.91 ERA, walking a career-high 37 batters in 58 2/3 innings and losing the closer job. Relievers are volatile. If the Phillies can get him into camp on a relatively low-risk deal, it might be worth a shot.
RHP Jimmy Nelson
Nelson was 12-6 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts with Milwaukee in 2017 before he had shoulder surgery. He missed the entire ’18 season, then posted a 6.95 ERA in 10 appearances last season. He generated 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings, but he could not find the strike zone, averaging 7.0 walks per nine innings. Maybe with a few more months and some tweaks, Nelson can be a little more productive on the mound and give the Phillies some depth for the rotation. [mlb.com]
Neither of those would be franchise-changing moves, but the Phillies need pitching depth and they need it desperately, as we all saw last season. These two righties would certainly help with that.
While we wait for the baseball brass and their agent counterparts to make it out to California, we'll keep you updated with all the latest news and rumors surrounding the Phillies in free agency...
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