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November 29, 2021

MLB free agency rumors: Phillies interested in Kris Bryant, Nick Castellanos and Chris Taylor

The team also DFA'd outfielder Roman Quinn to make room for Yoan Lopez, who they claimed off waivers...

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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 [2:33 p.m.] — Just like our last update, this probably isn't one Phillies fans should get too excited about, although it does directly involve their team. 

On Monday afternoon, the Phils announced that they designated Roman Quinn for assignment in order to make room for Yoan Lopez, who they claimed off waivers. 

It probably shouldn't be a huge surprise that the team has DFA'd Quinn, who was arbitration eligible this offseason. Battling injuries throughout his career, Quinn was never able to stay healthy for long enough to truly harness his greatest strength, his speed. 

UPDATE [12:55 p.m.] — This is probably not the update Phillies fans wanted to hear, as it doesn't directly involve their own team. Instead, it's a hated rival adding a veteran All-Star to its starting rotation as the Mets continue to go all-in on 2022. 

The Phillies had just gotten Scherzer out of their division when the Nationals, where he spent the previous seven seasons, traded him to the Dodgers last season. Now, the three-time Cy Young winner who has gone 14-4 with a 2.50 ERA against the Phillies in his career, is back pitching in the N.L. East. Not great... 

UPDATE [10:38 a.m.] — It's looking like it might be one of those days. No sooner did we get this post up discussing a pair of outfield possibilities for the Phillies when Jon Morosi dropped another name for Phillies fans to consider, one they've likely already been considering for some time now: 

Aside from Bryant being friends with Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper, he would also be a great fit in Philly, as he could play outfield, specifically left field (although he has made some appearances in center). He could fill in at third base when neccessary. And he could certainly spend time as the team's designated hitter. The former MVP and Rookie of the Year slashed .265/.353/.481 for the Cubs and Giants and earned his fourth career All-Star nod. 

Stay tuned, as Bryant is expected to have several suitors. 


FROM EARLIER

So far in free agency, the Phillies have been relatively quiet, not really making any signings and boasting a couple of lower-level trades that won't move the needle. And if they want to make an impact move before the league shuts down due to an anticipated lockout, then they might be running out of time as that is expected to come later this week. 

The Phillies have needs all over — outfield, pitching, bench pieces. They need it all. And while they haven't been active, at least in terms of actually making moves, their name did pop in regards to a player a the first position listed above: outfield.

According to Jon Morosi, Phillies president Dave Dombrowski has been in contact with representatives for Nick Castellanos, who has a link to the Phillies boss from their time in Detroit. 

While Castellanos, a first-time All-Star in 2021 with the Reds, wouldn't fill the Phillies' need for a centerfielder, he has in the past played left field (where Andrew McCutchen is a free agent) and could certainly be the team's designated hitter if the DH returns to the National League in 2022, as some expect. Last year, the right-handed hitter slashed .309/.362/.576, which was good for a .939 OPS, the second best of his career and added a career-high 34 home runs, as well as 100 RBI and 95 runs. Not too shabby.

Not long after that, Jon Heyman reported that the Phillies are also interested in free agent utility man Chris Taylor, who played every position for the Dodgers last year expect pitcher, catcher and first base, and spent more time in the outfield, specifically in center field, than at any other position. Taylor, 31, is two years older than Castellanos, but like the latter the former was a first-time All-Star this past season, and slashed .254/.344/.438 to go along with 20 home runs, 73 RBI and 92 runs. 

But a move might not be imminent, even as the Phillies see other potential free agent targets, like Starling Marte, go off the board (and in the case of Marte, wind up with their division rivals in New York.)

There have been reports, like this one from The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal, suggesting that the Phillies are deliberately taking their time and not rushing to make signings before said work stoppage. 

In his first full offseason with the Phillies, Dombrowski is taking a more deliberate approach, balancing his desire to fill holes with the understanding that he does not need to find two starting outfielders, multiple relievers and multiple bench players before the expected start of the lockout at midnight ET Thursday.

To this point, the Phillies’ only moves were a trade with the Astros for backup catcher Garrett Stubbs, a four-player deal with the Yankees that brought them right-hander Nick Nelson and waiver claims of three left-handers — Scott Moss from the Guardians, Kent Emanuel from the Astros and Ryan Sherriff from the Rays.  [theathletic.com]

Adding Castellanos or Taylor would certainly be a bigger move than any of those listed above and might begin to quench Phillies fans' rabid desires that their team does something — ANYTHING — of note before the lockout begins and fans are left out in the cold. 

The lack of true centerfield depth could necessitate a trade and the Phillies' biggest need right now is likely a closer (not outfield) after Hector Neris signed with the Astros, Rosenthal adds. So adding someone like Castellanos might have to wait.

In the meantime, we'll keep you posted with live updates and analysis from free agency as the clock ticks down to a likely lockout. Will Dombrowski and Co. make a move? Or will they feel comfortable waiting until after this labor dispute is figured out? We'll find out before too long... 


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