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December 18, 2019

MLB rumors: Are Phillies still in on Dellin Betances, Josh Donaldson, Kris Bryant?

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Kris-Bryant_121819_usat Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant.

The Phillies made enough of a splash in free agency to actually be considered "winners" by MLB.com, inking two veterans over the month and a half since the World Series ended.

How about quality over quantity? The Phillies have made two solid signings in getting right-hander Zack Wheeler and shortstop Didi Gregorius, and while they’ve surprised us in the past, this could be the end of the offseason’s heavy lifting. What the Phils need now is a little bit of luck in keeping their core players healthy and finding out how they stack up in the NL East.  [MLB.com]

However, the team may not be done. At least that's the implication one can glean after hearing general manager Matt Klentak address the media earlier this week.

Most of the top names on the board have been snatched by opposing teams, but a few good fits for the Phillies remain, via free agency or even the trade market.

While there are a lot of potential options still out there, we'll take a look at three players who have been linked to the Phils for some time now:

Josh Donaldson, 3B

The latest news on the former Braves infielder is that the Nationals have started to get aggressive, looking to tag Donaldson to replace the departed Anthony Rendon, but reported Phillies interest from a few weeks ago still remains — at the right price of course.

His age and what he might cost are the negatives for Philly, but the team is likely to exceed the luxury tax line this offseason anyway with any subsequent moves, and they can afford it. Dolandson had 37 homers and 94 RBI last season and would be a perfect fit in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park. 

Here's the latest we could find on the Phils and Donaldson, from MLB.com on Tuesday:

The Phillies might have a third baseman ... or they might not. Signing Didi Gregorius pushed Jean Segura off of shortstop, likely to second base, which might push Scott Kingery to third, unless he's playing center and prospect Alec Bohm is playing third, unless ... well, you get the idea. It's complicated. The Phillies have been connected to Donaldson this winter, though it's unclear if signing Gregorius removes them from the conversation. They could still use his bat.  [MLB.com]

The team remains a dark horse but it's still in the realm of possibility that they move closer to discussing a deal as the offseason drags on.

Dellin Betances, RP

In contrast to Donaldson rumors, which started before the Winter Meetings and have yet to be confirmed or denied in subsequent days, the Phillies interest in former Yankees reliever Betances appears to be still very much alive:

With David Robertson sidelined for 2020, the Phils don't really have a marquee, reliable reliever, and are instead looking to bank on the improvement of their returning group of bullpen pitchers in 2020. Adding a pitcher with a track record could be a smart idea and Betances is among the best available right now. 

An elite pitcher from 2014-18, he has had some injury concerns and that is the last thing the Phillies need right now. More on his fit with the Phillies from NBC Sports Philadelphia's Corey Seidman:

The Phillies right now do not have hard-throwing right-handed relief options beyond Neris they can feel great about heading into 2020. Seranthony Dominguez is a major X-factor because they need his bat-missing abilities and upside late in games. But can his elbow hold up after he chose to forego Tommy John surgery yet still missed the season's final 100 games? 
Because of the injury concerns and the Phils' recent track record, this is not a perfect fit. But it's a pretty good fit, it would fill a need, and there are ways to get below the tax with a trade of someone like Vince Velasquez. The Phillies would just need to feel really, really good about Betances' medicals.  [NBCSP]

Kris Bryant, 3B

And finally, perhaps the most tantalizing of the three on our list is Bryant, a former NL MVP who has worn out his welcome in Chicago as the team looks to move him before his big impending payday. The Phillies have been linked to the infielder since his availability became known.

First, his numbers are glorious. Over five seasons, the 27-year-old has a career batting average of .284, while also averaging 32 homers and 92 RBI per season. He's won a World Series and has started games at third base, first base and in all three outfield spots. 

In addition to having Scott Boras as his agent — a man the Phils have had a lot of dealings with of late (Jake Arrieta, Bryce Harper) — Philly is one of very few teams with the flexibility to afford a Bryant extension. In 2021, Arrieta, Robertson and Gregorius come off the books, leaving some much-needed room under the tax threshold to comfortably negotiate with him. There are other reasons he's a fit in Philly too, from 94WIP's Jack Fritz:

Here’s why a trade to the Phillies makes all the sense in the world: He’s a high-impact bat, a former MVP, only 27 years old, his agent has become close friends with the owner and he’s best friends with your franchise player, Bryce Harper. 
That last one is the most important one. 
When Bryce Harper signed here, and most importantly, signed the type of contract he did, the idea was to pair another star with him to grow with. J.T Realmuto is one of those stars, whom the Phillies are going to re-sign him before the start of next season, the other star is a guy like Kris Bryant. 
Bryant is the type of blue-chip offensive talent that you need to win World Series’ with. Couple that with the fact that him and Harper are long-time friends and the ingredients are there for a long-term relationship in Philadelphia. [94WIP]

Simply making sense isn't enough to implore a front office to make a move. The Phillies have to be comfortable with whatever price his acquisition would cost — potentially top prospects Spencer Howard or Alec Bohm. The offseason may look like it's slowing down, but it could speed up again pretty quick if the Phillies decide to go all-in once again and solidify third base for the next decade.


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