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November 30, 2022

Ranking the Phillies free agent targets: Who are the best fits?

Phillies MLB
Trea-Turner-Dodgers-2022-Pending-Free-Agency-MLB.jpg Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies' 2023 shortstop Trea Turner.

MLB's Winter Meetings are back for the first time since before the pandemic. Will next week bring with it the first Phillies signings of the offseason?

Over the last few years, free agency has drawn out for a long time. Most of the Phillies' most noteworthy acquisitions in recent offseasons have come near the start of spring training. But that's also because there were no traditional Winter Meetings.

The buzz coming from San Diego is that a bunch of dominoes could fall over the coming days, with every MLB front office out on the west coast — meaning we are running out of time to pontificate about free agent rumors and fits with the Phillies.

The Phillies have some very clear needs, with an infielder and starting pitcher topping the list. Let's assume, for a moment that the front office has a free agent big board (they might!). Which players would top that list? 

Here's our ranking of the best free agent fits for the Phillies. We'll skip over the Aaron Judges of the world, as signing an outfielder that will cost, like, $35 million a year is probably not an investment Philadelphia is looking to make. 

Sticking to the players who would make the most sense, here's our ranking of the best additions available on the open market right now for the reloading Phillies:

The elite shortstops

1. Trea Turner
2. Carlos Correa
3. Dansby Swanson
4. Xander Bogaerts

From all the reports we've seen of late, Turner is the Phillies' top target and he is a picture-perfect fit for them. Friends with Bryce Harper, he reportedly wants to be with a team that trains in Florida and that is in contention. He has an elite combination of speed, power, contact and defense that the Phillies desperately need. The only real issue could be his price point — likely to be more than $30 million per season. Would the Phils pay Turner more than Harper makes per season?

The other three shortstops are all incredible talents that would fill a need in Philly. All four candidates above would move Bryson Stott to second base and improve the Phillies' overall defense a great deal. Correa is the youngest of the four and has the second-best bat, while Swanson is a better defender than Bogaerts — hence our order.

The Phillies need pitching, badly, and we called starting pitching their top offseason priority when we ranked them earlier this week. However, as far as targets on free agency, the infielders they need are much more scarce, and the four players above should be the top four on their big board.

The elite starters

5. Carlos Rodón
6. Jacob deGrom
7. Justin Verlander

Rodón has got to be the No. 1 pitching target for the Phillies, as he is a little younger than the other top available arms and sort of fits in with the other flame-throwers on the staff. However, with so many talented young pitchers waiting in the wings in the farm system right now — like Andrew Painter and Mick Abel — the Phillies do not want to block their path to joining the rotation. A one- or two-year deal to deGrom or Verlander would likely be ideal, and it's possible the two above Cy Young winners would be willing to sign short-term contracts with a team very close to winning it all.

The mid-rotation starters

8. Chris Bassitt
9. Nathan Eovaldi
10. Andrew Heaney
11. Jameson Tallion
12. Sean Manaea
13. Jose Quintana
14. Corey Kluber
15. Zach Grienke

If the Phillies miss out on the top trio above, there are a handful of appealing arms who could slide into the starting five under Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Last season, the Phillies relied on Kyle Gibson and a revolving door of fifth starters in addition to lefty Ranger Suárez. They need to get some stability and reliability after their top three and all of these arms above would be worthy investments.

None of these hurlers are likely to be All-Stars next season, but they should also be able to post respectable numbers over the course of a full season.

The familiar faces

16. Jean Segura
17. Zach Eflin

The Phillies made it all the way to the World Series this past season and the contributions of this duo above made a difference in that run. Both are free agents, and if the Phillies miss out on the shortstop free agent market, Segura is a good defender and a good hitter who would be worth bringing back to play second base in a worst-case scenario. Eflin proved he could be a back of the bullpen arm and having him back in that role isn't the worst idea in the world.

Bullpen aces

18. Taylor Rogers
19. Kenley Jansen
20. Craig Kimbrel
21. Aroldis Chapman
22. Adam Ottavino
23. Chris Martin

It's unlikely that the Phillies throw a ton of money at the top bullpen pieces out there — particularly if they're going to spend on an infielder and a starter. Still, these relievers have a proven track record and at the right price it might be nice for the team to have an experienced closer ready to go when called upon.

Start-able infielders

24. Elvis Andrus
25. Brandon Drury
26. Josh Bell
27. Justin Turner
28. Adam Frazier
29. Brian Anderson

These guys are backup plans to the Phillies' backup plan, and if any of them are tagged to start in the field next season, things have likely gone very very wrong in free agency. However, with Harper shelved for the first half of the year the Phils will need a DH, and they could always use depth on their bench. These are all veteran hitters who can play multiple positions.

Bottom rotation starters

30. Michael Wacha
31. Kyle Gibson
32. Ross Stripling
33. Taijuan Walker
34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Drew Smyly
36. Danny Duffy
37. Wade Miley
38. Mike Minor
39. Johnny Cueto
40. Jordan Lyles

There are a lot of veteran arms out there who might be worth bringing in for spring training. The Phillies are inevitably going to need more than five pitchers to start games in 2023, and it isn't the worst idea in the world to build some depth or to bring in a fifth starter type to begin the season in South Philly to give the pitching prospects a little more time in Triple-A if necessary. 

Middle of the bullpen

41. Michael Boyd
42. David Robertson
43. Trevor Williams
44. Tommy Kahnle
45. Andrew Chafin
46. Seth Lugo
47. Trevor Rosenthal
48. Chad Green
49. Matt Moore
50. Zack Britton

There are tons and tons and tons of relief pitchers out there, but these 10 are the kinds of guys the Phillies are likely to target at the end of free agency. They have all proven to be effective over their respective bodies of work and could be additions in the middle of the Philadelphia pen. All of them could be affordable and could be had at shorter contract lengths.

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