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November 25, 2019

MLB rumors: Phillies could sign big-name starting pitcher by New Year's Day

The worst thing about the MLB offseason is there is really no telling when anything will happen.

In stark contrast to the other major sports — which see a flurry of activity once their free agency period begins — baseball takes its time. Phillies fans know this pain well, as the trek to landing Bryce Harper took all of last winter, and the year before, Jake Arrieta wasn't inked until the season was starting.

Will this year be the same?

The Phillies have a lot of needs and a lot of moves to be made. We already took a look at the rumors swirling around Jean Segura and a potential reunion of Joe Girardi and Didi Gregorius. We also took note of another potential reunion between Cole Hamels and the Phillies. And while we have absolutely no idea when those might occur (if they even will), there does seem to be a little forward momentum with regard to the starting pitching market.

A few days after tweeting about the Phillies in discussion with former Giants starter Madison Bumgarner...

... the MLB insider went on TV and gave it a timeframe.

The Phillies' rotation has a lot of question marks right now and all three of the above hurlers would likely be slotted in as the No. 2 man, right between Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta. 

Bumgarner is likely the prize of the bunch, as he is still 30, is a three-time All-Star and has ample postseason experience. He is also a lefty, a side of the mound the Phils have been lacking.

Wheeler is a righty and is on the right side of 30 (at 29), but has a less proven track record with a 3.77 career ERA and a bevy of injury issues with the Mets over the last few years.

And finally there's Hamels, a third lefty who most remember as either the cocky World Series MVP that won Philly's hearts in 2008, or as the wryly veteran who tossed a no-hitter in Chicago before being traded away from a team in decline. 

The trio are the meat of the second tier of starters right after Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole — both of whom may take their time well into February before finding a new home. It sounds like Bumgarner, Wheeler and Hamels are looking to sign a deal a little sooner, which could play into the Phils' hands.

The team has a variety of needs including at infield, the bench and in the bullpen. In order to put together the 2020 squad, they'll need to make some tough decisions on arbitration-eligible players as well as on everyday veterans like Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez. 

The sooner one domino drops, the sooner more can follow.

Baseball fans surely hope things get started sooner rather than later.

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