January 05, 2021
On a normal baseball calendar, we'd be circling February 17th, and counting down the days until pitchers and catchers report.
But as we all know, 2021 is not a normal baseball year — just as 2020 was not. Most MLB clubs have not yet announced their reporting date for spring training, because, due to the pandemic, the exact timeframe, format and logistics of what spring training, and the regular season will look like are yet to be determined.
The 2020-21 offseason thus far has been incredibly boring, even by baseball's recent snail's-pace standards. The Phillies have made some major front office decisions, but few actual on-the-field ones. And so, with just over a month left before — hopefully — real baseball activities begin, Philadelphia still has no idea who'll be starting at catcher, shortstop, in centerfield, in the bullpen or rounding out the team's bench.
The Phillies have just about $133 million allocated already for the 2021 season, and if you factor in minor league salaries and benefits, the club has just around $59 million of clearance before hitting the luxury tax threshold. Comments made and reports this offseason make is abundantly clear that the team will not be challenging that number, so for our purposes below, we've made sure to steer clear of getting too close to it.
With little to no actual news of signings or trades anywhere to be seen, we've decided to project our own 26-man roster for the 2021 season. This will no doubt change once we get some actual transactional news to report, but we're sick of waiting.
(*2021 salary estimate; players italicized are theorized free agent signings)
J.T. Realmuto ($22m)*, Andrew Knapp ($1.1m)
The longer Realmuto remains unsigned, the more optimistic Phillies fans should be. There does not appear to be any aggressive suitors for Realmuto, and the Phillies may or may not have an offer on the table for the All-Star backstop. With Dave Dombrowski the new front office chief, the importance of retaining a player who cost the team significant prospects three years ago is extremely clear, and Dombrowski knows that. It's also been stated multiple times by Realmuto himself that, all things equal, he wants to stay in Philly. We're predicting he inks the biggest deal ever for a MLB catcher, somewhere in the area of five years, $110 million.
Rhys Hoskins ($4.5m)*
Hoskins is arbitration eligible, and we're predicting he will make a little under $5 million. Hoskins has been extremely inconsistent during his Phillies career, and he may be on the hot seat if he doesn't change that trend in 2021, especially with Alec Bohm able to play a solid first base.
Jean Segura ($14.85m)
Segura is under contract for at least two more seasons, with a club option for 2023. He has the fourth highest salary on the Phillies as of right now, but he does play multiple infield positions and has shown he's capable of posting numbers befitting a $15 million man. There were rumors that he was on the trade block, and his theoretical trade may be more reliant on the team's hopes that former first-round pick Bryson Stott emerges as a starting infielder in the next season or two, but the team has few infield options to fall on if Segura is traded for prospects. He'll probably be back in 2021 and remain here as a stopgap.
Freddy Galvis ($5m)*
Here's our first creative solution for the Phillies, as we think a reunion with Galvis is a perfect fit for the 2021 team. First, he offers a clear discount from Didi Gregorius, who will likely be seeking somewhere in the neighborhood of his 2020 contract that paid him $14 million. The Phillies don't really have the cash to sign both Realmuto and Gregorius, and are better served spending their money on the more premium position (even though Gregorius had a fantastic offensive season last year). Galvis is an OK hitter, but he is a great defender which is something the Phillies could certainly use. He'd also be able to split time with Kingery, who yields a bigger bat. Here are his numbers since he left Philly:
|With Phillies (6 seasons)||.245/.287/.372||9/39|
He has hit better with the Padres, Blue Jays and Reds while maintaining his plus glove skills. If he is open to a short-term deal, the Phillies will open their bank account.
Alec Bohm ($570k)
Bohm is the Phillies golden boy, and he'll likely be in the heart of the batting order for years to come.
Bryce Harper ($27.5m)
Barring some kind of Carson Wentz-like trade demand, Harper has a decade left of being a Phillie (with no opt-outs) and has had two very productive seasons in Philly so far.
Jackie Bradley Jr. ($11m)*
We've almost gone through the entire lineup without getting to the Dombrowski factor. Bradley Jr. is a Gold Glove winner and All Star from his time with the Red Sox. He is a free agent and is coming off one of his best seasons (though it was partial), having hit a career best .283 last year. Bradley is a guy who can hit leadoff for the Phillies, as he has speed, but he also has some pop, averaging 18 homers per 162 games. The Phillies may be able to steal Bradley on a prove-it deal, somewhere in the $11 million range. He is a World Series champion who can lead in the locker room, and can play all three outfield spots and has ties to the new President of Baseball Operations.
Andrew McCutchen ($20m)
Cutch has a club option in 2022, but will most likely playing his final year in Philadelphia in 2021, especially if the fan-less MLB continues and the team loses revenue again next year. He can lead off, play some defense and hit for power, and will be a valuable asset if he stays healthy.
Scott Kingery ($4.2m), Adam Haseley ($570k), Roman Quinn ($570k), Kyle Holder (Rule 5, $570k), Ronald Torreyes ($570k)
Kingery is the most important piece on the bench, and he's someone who can play almost every single position on the field. He's a bench player in name only, as he will no doubt get plenty of spot starts in several different places. He also gives the team a valuable injury replacement who can start all over the field. Haseley is a former first-round pick who'll be the fourth outfielder while Quinn has no minor league options left, and therefore will likely start with the MLB club. Holder is the team's Rule 5 pick, a former Yankee minor leaguer who plays the infield. Torreyes is a journey utility man who has been with the club before. There will an open competition for the last bench spot in spring training.
Aaron Nola ($12.3m), Zack Wheeler ($22.6m), Zach Eflin ($4.4m)*, Vince Velasquez ($4.3m)*, Spencer Howard ($570k)
As much as we'd like to bring in a big name to help supplement aces Nola and Wheeler, we've already burned through $38 million with our theoretical signings of Realmuto, Galvis and Bradley Jr. With around $20 million left to wiggle with, we're going to throw that money at the bullpen. Which leaves serviceable Zach Eflin, top pitching prospect Howard and fan favorite (just kidding, we know you can't stand him) Velasquez rounding out the starting rotation. It's worth mentioning that the Phillies would be wise to keep some spot starters at arm's length, as COVID-19 rescheduling and injuries forced the Phillies to start several games with bullpen arms in 2020, and was arguably one of the reasons the bullpen ultimately cost the team a playoff spot. Cole Irvin, Adonis Medina, JoJo Romero and others will hopefully be in Triple-A this season ready for a call.
Hector Neris ($5m), Jose Alvarado ($1m), David Hale ($850k), Ranger Suarez ($570k), Victor Arano ($570k), Shane Greene ($7m)*, Ken Giles ($4.5m)*
The bullpen in 2020 was the worst ever. That will be a key focus this offseason, and the team has already made a relatively minor move to acquire Alvarado. He'll join veteran Neris, last year's acquisition of David Hale, and homegrown youngsters Suarez and Arano in players we project to return to the 'pen. As for Greene and Giles — the pair are veterans with postseason experience and the ability to close games. Greene has a combined 2.39 ERA over his last two seasons, with the Braves and Tigers and an All-Star appearance. Giles, a former Phillies draft pick, won a World Series in Houston and has struggled of late, which could allow the Phillies to offer him a change of scenery and get him at a discount. The Phillies will need more than seven bullpen pitchers, if history has shown us anything, so don't be surprised to see a lot of arms brought into camp on minor league deals.
We've done it — at just under $183 million, the above is a roster that will surely improve the Phillies World Series odds — currently sitting at +3000, the 13th best in baseball according to thelines.com's consensus odds. And it's also a roster that offers a combination of short term competitiveness with long term flexibility, and a bunch of wiggle room under the $210 million tax number.
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