Phillies Roster Push to Contention

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Mar 13, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford (77) against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 13, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford (77) against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mar 13, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Crawford (77) against the New York Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia Phillies remain in rebuilding mode, but the development of young players and prospects may lead to a contending 2017 season.

I want to have some fun today.

Phillies fans are in a bit of a tailspin at the moment.  The team’s struggles over the last six weeks have gotten into many of the heads across the City of Brotherly Love.

Late season success and a playoff spot for the Flyers, excitement surrounding first overall draft pick Ben Simmons and the return of Joel Embiid have brought out the 76ers lovers, and the never-ending love for the NFL’s Eagles have all buried the Phillies in last place as far as postseason contention expectations.

When I ask about the concern in comparison to the other franchises, I am met with Aaron Nola‘s recent struggles and Maikel Franco‘s troubles throughout this season.

I understand that, but look at it realistically.  Nola has never had these issues in his career.  I truly believe one solid outing turns it all back around for him, because right now, it appears to be completely mental.

Franco’s case is simple.  The third baseman feels as though he has to hit an eight-run home run in every at bat.  He will not feel that way in the near future.

Look, I am a 4-4 guy.  I am as excited about the other three teams as anyone else, but I think there are some blind spots in our city.  The Phillies do not belong last in a conversation of our rebuilding teams.  They have as much organizational depth and money (if not more) than all of their sibling franchises.  The Phillies can be competitive next year if they would like to be.

What do we know about the 2017 Phillies?  In terms of the rotation, we know Nola will be starting game one or two.  Barring injuries, we know Vincent Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, and Zach Eflin will fill in other spots.  From there, one of Jake Thompson and Ben Lively will round out the rotation.

The bullpen will likely have a few more holes, but Adam Morgan and Tom Windle could be the left-handers.  Let’s assume Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos have continued success and stabilize the 8th and 9th innings.  I do think Severino Gonzalez has a chance to be effective with more experience in a pen role.  If they can fill in with Jimmy Cordero as well as a veteran signee, or maybe even Mark Appel, the bullpen could be pretty stable.

As for the offense, the Phillies likely have four players that will start for next year’s lineup: Cameron Rupp, Tommy Joseph, Maikel Franco, and Odubel Herrera. Each will likely be every day players.  It is probably safe to assume that Freddy Galvis will grab the second base job, since they love his defense, but I am making him a part of my experiment today.

This leaves us with second base (for fun), shortstop, and two outfield spots.  J.P. Crawford and Nick Williams will begin their tenures as hopeful long-term solutions at shortstop and one of the outfield positions.  While they could look internally at someone like Galvis or Altherr, the rest could come in the form of free agency, considering other organizational options are not ready yet.

The Phillies will have only $24 million tied to their roster next season before arbitration eligible players are paid.  The only player on their roster to whom they will pay any dollars will be Matt Harrison.  You forgot about him, huh?  Yeah, me too, but I digress.

It leaves the Phils with a boatload of money to fill in the following lineup:

Catcher- Rupp/Andrew Knapp

1st Base – Joseph

2nd Base – ???

3rd Base – Franco

Shortstop – Crawford

Outfield – Williams/Herrera/???

With the available money, I can’t imagine the Phillies going into 2017 with Galvis playing 2nd base every day.  His current offensive output is not enough to warrant a spot in the lineup on a daily basis.  A .217 average and a .250 OBP is barely enough to play every day on my men’s softball team.  I love Galvis defensively, and think he would be a solid utility guy moving forward.

However, giving Galvis the chance to play every day when so much money is available to fill that hole is bold.  Finding and signing someone, or trading for someone, capable of playing a decent second base with better offensive output would make the Phillies better automatically.

Scott Kingery and Jesmuel Valentine need one more year, perhaps two in order to be fully ready.  With no prospects ready, a one year deal would suffice.

So who could the Phils look to make a move on in order to improve?  A quick search shows a few veterans who could slot into the position.  Justin Turner, Neil Walker, and Martin Prado are all possibilities as they enter their free agent years at ages 32, 31, and 33 respectively.

I honestly would not mind any of the three, but I feel like Prado is the most likely to take a reasonable one-year deal. He also just hits.  Plain and simple.  Wherever he goes, Prado hits.  Tell me his .312/.359/.404 would not look better than the albatross that Galvis is offensively?

Both Turner and Walker have cases to be made, but I do not see them taking less than two years on a contract, and it might be difficult for the Phils to want to go that far without some option to let them out of the deal.

The outfield situation provides even more options for the Phillies.  Here is a short list of possibilities: Michael Saunders, Josh Reddick, Jose Bautista, Ian Desmond, Colby Rasmus, and possibly Yoenis Cespedes.

Jun 9, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Bautista (19) hits a double against Baltimore Orioles in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 9, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Bautista (19) hits a double against Baltimore Orioles in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

Again, the Phillies may not want to lock into something long-term.  All of above names will be looking for deals that give them stability in a city.  The problem is, there will not be enough homes for all the nomads.

Saunders will be coming off a career year (.291/.367/.563 with 15 homers and 33 RBIs) and will more than likely stay in Toronto.  Reddick and Desmond are playing well enough to receive multi-year deals considering they are both in their early thirties.  Reddick is slashing .322/.394/.466 with five homeruns and Desmond is slashing .321/.371/.532 with 14 bombs and 51 RBI.

I want to eliminate Rasmus just for the sole fact that he is left-handed and does not fit into the middle of the order.  If Cespedes does hit free agency, it will be for a deal consisting of more money and years than what he is now receiving in New York ($25 million in both 2017 and 2018).  If he is not convinced he can get more, he is more than likely to stay in New York to live out the current deal.

Which leaves us with Bautista.  “Joey Bats” is making $14 million this season, but wants more.  The weird part of the situation is trying to decide whether or not a team is going to take a long-term risk on the powerful Bautista.

For a 36-year old, even one who keeps himself in the shape Bautista does, in today’s game, it seems near impossible to land a multi-year pact.  However, a year (perhaps an option for a second) with a ton of dollars guaranteed could lure Bautista to Philadelphia, where his right-handed power could fit in perfectly.

Ok, so let’s try to imagine the lineup, pitching, and supporting roster if the pieces I list fall into place.

Next: POTENTIAL PHILLIES 2017 LINEUP

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