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November 01, 2018

What they're saying about the Phillies: Paul Goldschmidt, Clayton Kershaw and other interesting fall trade, free agency rumors

MLB's free agency officially begins Friday afternoon, which is when the clock will begin on Manny Machado and Bryce Harper as each treks to find a home for 2019 and beyond. Obviously, the Phillies hope they are the chosen ones this fall — Las Vegas seems to think they are. But there are more monster players potentially on the move this offseason.

While the names we examine below — like Clayton Kershaw, J.T. Realmuto, Paul Goldschmidt and others are probably pipe dreams for the Phillies as they look to figure out how to contend next season, there do appear to be the makings for some kind of blockbuster deal to get Philly back on the baseball map.

And so, here's a look at some of the most interesting Phillies takes we've seen as the hot stove begins to heat up:

A Realmuto deal?

The Phillies have good resources to make some acquisitions via trade this offseason, and one of the biggest potential trade targets is Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Last year he hit .277 with 21 homers. According to's Scott Lauber, there is a chance Philadelphia may test the waters or even make a move to acquire the hard-hitting catcher.

The Phillies have the farm system, particularly the pitching prospects (Sixto Sanchez and Adonis Medina), to make a deal. They're bullish on young catcher Jorge Alfaro, but Realmuto represents a clear upgrade. He's 27, under club control for two more seasons, and coming off a career-best year in which he hit 21 homers and posted an .825 OPS. For a team that must improve its defense, Realmuto offers a rocket-launcher arm and a reputation as a solid game-caller. []

Left-hand turn

The Phillies have a big need not many are talking about: left-handed starting pitching. Phils' president Andy MacPhail admitted that having no lefty starters may be a problem, and it sounds like there's a chance the Phils could take a long hard look at one of the top lefties available in free agency. According to's Matt Breen, Arizona's Patrick Corbin and Zach Greinke (via trade), Boston's Nathan Eovaldi and New York's J.A. Happ are the top names available. If the Phillies want to make a statement that they are a free agent destination, it starts with pitching.

MacPhail wishes the rotation could "get a little more lefthanded" and there's no better way to do that than by signing Corbin. The 29-year-old had a 3.15 ERA in 200 innings for the Diamondbacks, with a career-best strikeout rate of 11.2 per nine innings. His xFIP, the advanced metric preferred by manager Gabe Kapler, was the second best among major-league starters. ...
Perhaps signing Corbin early would be a move that helps persuade Machado or Harper to take the Phillies' money. Corbin grew up a Yankees fan in upstate New York, and the Yanks will be after his services. []

Arizona firesale

The Diamondbacks are rumored to be in the midst of conducting a fire sale and partaking in an ambitious rebuild. We already mentioned Greinke as a possible trade target. The biggest trade target? Well that would be Paul Goldschmidt of course. The first baseman has turned in MVP-caliber performances for four seasons now and if he's on the move, could be as big an impact bat as any. Why wouldn't the Phillies jump at the chance to get one of the best sluggers in the game? Well, he plays first base, which is less than ideal. Here's how The Good Phight's Ethan Witte sees it:

While Rhys Hoskins has been saying all the right things about wanting to improve as an outfielder, there is little doubt he wants to return to first base. Bringing someone like Goldschmidt, as good as he is, blocks that spot for Hoskins, pushing him back to the outfield and not addressing the issue of the team’s poor defense at all. [The Good Phight]

Slow burn

Last year, free agency was abysmally boring and slow. So much in fact, that one of the top free agents — Jake Arrieta — waited until March to sign a contract. With bigger names like Harper and Machado on the docket, will this year be a repeat? In the first of two Phillies takes from NBCSP's Corey Seidman, this year could be more exciting.

Will this offseason move at such a glacial pace? My assumption is no. The statuses of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will obviously delay other moves because the big-market teams won't know whether to go with Plan B. But it just seems unlikely that Harper and Machado remain unsigned until January or February. The major players — the Phillies, Yankees, Dodgers and Cubs, to name a few — have to have an idea of what kind of prices to expect for those two players. This didn't creep up on teams; front offices have been planning for the Harper-Machado class for years. The other factor to consider is the league is now a year wiser with how price valuations for free agents have changed. Five to seven years ago, Arrieta would have gotten a five-year deal. But teams have gotten smarter over the years, especially with starting pitcher contracts. Overpaying slightly on a two- or three-year deal just makes more sense for teams than locking themselves into long-term deals that are crippling in the final couple years. [NBC Sports Philadelphia]

Keeping tabs on Kershaw

Is it a pipe dream for the Phillies to land Kershaw? Probably. The ace hurler and three-time Cy Young Award winner has until Friday afternoon to decide whether he will opt into his deal with Los Angeles. In the unlikely event he does not, Philly has to be in the mix, right? According to Seidman, it could take a gargantuan deal worth upwards of $45 million for a single season.

It just seems impossible, Kershaw ending up in Philadelphia, even if he opts out and the Phillies also prove they can win now by signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. That just wouldn't be enough of a guarantee at a ring for Kershaw, who will be 31 years old on March 19. He has reached the World Series in consecutive years only to watch his team fall short. It's hard to envision any scenario in which the 2019 Phillies offer him a better chance at a ring than the 2019 Yankees or Dodgers. [NBC Sports Philadelphia]

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