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November 13, 2019

Phillies looking to trade away several veteran pieces, report says

The Phillies are looking to make additions this offseason — at pitcher, outfield and perhaps third or second base. But at the same time, they are looking to make several subtractions.

These are key for the team as it looks to build a contender in the competitive NL East. Why?

For one, they need to make room for potential upgrades. Jayson Stark reported Tuesday that Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez were two of these pieces, as the team looks like it has probably seen enough from the third and second baseman (despite their solid contributions over the last few seasons).

There are a bevy of infield options available that would represent an upgrade. Some, like Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson, would boost the Phils offense immediately while others, like Mike Moustakas and Didi Gregorius, are a marginal step forward. 

In order to overhaul the roster for a second time in as many years and stay somewhere reasonable with relation to the luxury tax, the Phillies can only spend around $74 million more dollars before next season. While that number seems high, the team has 18 under-contract players on their 25-man roster right now — leaving seven spots (and possibly more) with which to allocate that money.

That number also doesn't include players who are still in pre-arbitration (like Rhys Hoskins, who will earn just around $575,000 in 2020). These players will also eat up a bit of salary, though some, like Ranger Suarez, can return to the minors to start next season.

If the team adds, say, two big-name free agents like Donaldson and Madison Bumgarner, that would likely eat up around $50 million in salary, maybe more. Maneuvering the full roster under the $208 million luxury tax threshold — one which they could always surpass and pay extra for — is a difficult task. The team would still need at least one more starter, several relievers and some bench depth. Shedding Franco and Hernandez won't only open up a pair of infield spots on the roster, it also will clear around $18 million in cap space.

All of this is a complicated way of saying that Philly needs to subtract to add. 

Seeing the team strike deals to bring in some mid-level minor league talent while parting with the Francos, Hernandez's (or perhaps even Odubel Herrera's) of the world is a good sign that the team is confident it can land a big fish.

It's just another of the many things to keep an eye on as the hot stove (slowly) heats up this fall.

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