Phillies: Why overspending on this year’s free agent class is a bad idea


The Phillies certainly have the ability to make a big splash in free agency if they want to. However, it’s probably not a great idea.

At this point, we have yet to see the Phillies’ young nucleus complete a full season. The month of September that they were together however, the team was competitive throughout, injecting hope into the fanbase and front office. They simply have not shown enough to constitute big spending in this year’s free agent market.

There is an immediate need for starting pitching, and with names like Jake Arietta and Yu Darvish on the market, it is tempting to pursue them in free agency. However, it is just not worth overspending on aging pitchers when the Phillies are more than one ace away from competing for a championship.

If the club does go out in 2018 and prove that they are merely a strong pitching staff away from serious contention, the 2019 free agent pitching class is younger and stronger. Young, emerging stars like Dallas Keuchel, Drew Smyly, and Garrett Richards, along with names of established veterans such as Gio Gonzalez, Josh Tomlin, and James Shields round out next year’s class.

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If the Phillies are going to overspend on pitching in free agency, they need to do it with a purpose. While the fanbase and front office alike would love to point to the month of September as a symbol of hope for the future, they still had the third worst record in all of baseball last year. They haven’t been competitive in years and are unfortunately more than a few pieces of away from doing so.

The two most coveted pitchers in the class, Darvish and Arrieta, both are projected to receive more than $20 million a year. The two pitchers are not coming off of Cy Young caliber years they are capable of, with above 3.50 ERAs and under 15 wins in 2017. They will also both be well into their thirties at the commencement of the 2018 season. Philadelphia has the cap room to make these kinds of moves, but doing it now would be untimely and futile.

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With the overabundant cap space GM Matt Klentak has to play with, they could choose to spend their money on a veteran offensive centerpiece. However, this year’s class is riddled with aging hitters now on the decline of their careers. The hitters that may prove to be the best investments are outfielders in Carlos Gonzalez, J.D. Martinez, and Carlos Gomez. Klentak and the front office seem staunchly set on the idea of developing Nick Williams, Odubel Herrerra, and Aaron Altherr. I just do not see them spending big money offensively, and certainly not in the outfield, and with good reason.

Now is not the right time for the Phils to spend. With an unproven, young core that is likely a few years away from true contention, indulging in one big name free agent is not the right move. They are more than one starting pitcher away, and with a nearly complete offensive core, that is not where they should spend their money, especially with the free agents available.

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If they do in fact prove competitive in the 2018 season, Klentak and the front office should undoubtedly pursue the cream of the crop in the 2019 free agent class. They have the money to do so, and the available players following next season are much more suited to the type of culture the team is attempting to build.