Oct 23, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA;
Kansas City Royals fans hold up a sign in reference to Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Price (not pictured) in game six of the ALCS at Kauffman Stadium.
(Photo Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)
The Philadelphia Phillies are now under the control of a new management team, and the new decision makers certainly want to win sooner rather than later. However, while fans may hope for an immediate turnaround from the club’s status as worst team in baseball in 2015 to a contender in 2016, that is not likely to happen.
One thing that has become obvious from the approach voiced by those key Phillies decision makers: owner John Middleton, president Andy MacPhail, and general manager Matt Klentak, is that the club wants to do this the right way. That means building a core from within, and then adding from outside the organization once that core appears ready to make noise.
In his public statements since being hired, Klentak has repeatedly referred to the great Phillies teams of the last decade having been largely built in that manner. A talented, homegrown nucleus of players including Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Brett Myers, Cole Hamels, Ryan Madson, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Carlos Ruiz was developed, and then supplemented by players added via trades and free agency.
But while that core was developing, the previous Phillies regime led at times by Ed Wade, Pat Gillick, and Ruben Amaro Jr did not sit on their hands, only waiting for homegrown players. The Phils began to emerge as winners a half-dozen years before finally capturing the 2008 World Series title. To make that happen, players such as Jim Thome, David Bell, and Billy Wagner were brought into the fold.
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This new Phillies management team is not going to simply sit back and wait, hoping that every good prospect in the minor league system actually develops into a star, and then starts spending money and making deals. They are going to look for every opportunity to intelligently and responsibly push the rebuilding program forward.
Klentak especially has earmarked improved pitching as the organizational focus, both now and moving forward. When first introduced, Klentak made that pitching emphasis abundantly clear:
“If you can pitch, you have a chance. That will absolutely become an organizational focus for us, to add pitching at every turn. In trades, through waiver claims, in the draft, international, free agency. However we need to do it, we will add pitching, pitching, pitching. Because if you can pitch, you have a chance to win every night.”
It would appear, based on the finish to the 2015 regular season, that both Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff definitely have roles in the Phillies’ 2016 starting rotation. There is a good chance that Adam Morgan will fill another slot as a lefty option. That leaves at least two slots open to be fought over by incumbent possibles such as David Buchanan, Severino Gonzalez, and Alec Asher, but also leaves room to improve with experienced help brought in from the outside.
Just this week, CSNPhilly’s insider Jim Salisbury wrote that the Phillies are not likely to shop at the top of the free agent market this off-season, so arms such as David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Zack Greinke are not likely to be on the club’s radar.
However, there are a number of other arms that should interest those decision makers. In particular, three of the available free agent starting pitchers would appear to fit a profile the Phillies might find attractive: under the age of 30, healthy, and not necessarily looking to break the bank.
Let’s take a look at each, examining pluses, minuses, and what it might take to sign them.
Next: Phillies Possible Free Agent SP Target One