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November 15, 2023

History suggests Phillies' Dave Dombrowski will make a big offseason splash

Don't be surprised if the Phillies make some blockbuster transactions this fall. Dave Dombrowski has done it many, many times before.

Dave Dombrowski doesn't like to simply run it back.

The Phillies' president of baseball operations has a history of making the playoffs, and then spending the following offseason aggressively trying to improve his roster.

We looked back (not all the way back) beginning with his stint as the general manager for the Tigers, where he had a ton of success but didn't quite win the big one. In Boston, he won a World Series, and in Philly, he lost one. 

Here's a look at the big-name free agents that each of his teams signed right after a playoff appearance or deep run:

Prior seasonTeamPlayerContract
2012 (ALCS)TigersPrince Fielder9 years, $214m
 TigersTorii Hunter 2 years, $26m
2013 (WS)TigersJoe Nathan2 years, $20m 
2014 (ALCS)TigersJ.D. Martinez2 years, $10m
2016 (ALDS)Red SoxChris Young2 years, $13m
 Red SoxDavid Price7 years, $217m
2017 (ALDS)Red SoxJ.D. Martinez5 years, $110m
2018 (Won WS)Red SoxNathan Eovaldi4 years, $68m 
2021 (No playoffs)PhilliesJ.T. Realmuto5 years, $115m
2022 (No playoffs)PhilliesNick Castellanos5 years, $100m
Kyle Schwarber4 years, $79m
2023 (WS)Phillies
Trea Turner11 years, $300m
Taijuan Walker4 years, $72m
2024 (NLCS)Phillies??

Some of these moves, like giving David Price seven years and $217 million, didn't age well. But Dombrowski now has that knowledge in the back of his mind as he negotiates with free agent Aaron Nola, who reports suggest is seeking a seven-year deal worth more than $200 million.

There will be a new face in red pinstripes, and he will be paid handsomely. That's what previous transactions suggest, and while Dombrowski has done most of his recent roster crafting through free agency, he's made monster trades as well. Players he has acquired in the past range from bringing Gary Sheffield to the Marlins in 1993, Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers in 2007, and Chris Sale to the Red Sox in 2016 (among many others). 

So making a splash and sending some pitching prospects to the Padres in exchange for star outfielder Juan Soto, or breaking the bank for NL Cy Young finalist Blake Snell or Japanese superstar Yoshinobu Yamamoto are all realistic scenarios for this hungry front office team.

They will no doubt exceed the luxury tax for the third straight year, as the Phillies are already pretty close to the $237 million demarcation line. But the ownership group, led by John Middleton, is just as hungry as the front office is. 

As with nearly every recent offseason, teams are waiting for the first domino to fall. The Phillies will probably not make a big move until Nola makes his decision, but don't be surprised if things pick up whenever that decision is finally made. 

MLB Rumors: Phillies have 'legit interest' in Japanese ace Yamamoto

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