If the Phillies miss out on big bats this offseason they could rebound in 2019
Phillies fans have rightfully waited for the 2018-19 offseason to lure the big fish into Philadelphia. While the offseason isn’t as star-studded as once predicted, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper headline Philadelphia’s shopping list as the club looks to take a step forward in their rebuild.
Philadelphia has long been connected to Machado, especially since the team hired Matt Klentak as their general manager, Klentak’s connection to Machado is well documented, but not as well regarded as Machado’s desire to play for the Yankees.
Unless the Phillies blow Machado away with an excessive amount of money, he appears destined to play in the Bronx. Not getting Machado will cause several other dominos to fall with the exception of Maikel Franco.
It’s hard to see a team with both Franco and Machado, especially with the addition of Jean Segura at shortstop. No Machado means Franco gets another year to prove he can be the third baseman of the future for a team that’s gone through third basemen like none other since trading Scott Rolen.
If the Phillies can’t get Machado, their next-best option could be to wait until 2019-20 to sign Nolan Arenado, currently set to be a free agent.
Mike Schmidt once said Arenado could become the greatest third baseman of all-time, high praise from the Hall of Famer. When you look at the numbers, it’s easy to see why Schmidt said that. Arenado has led the league in home runs in three of the last four seasons, though many will be quick to point towards Coors Field for that success.
Arenado is a career-.291 hitter who has been healthy each of the last four seasons, during which he’s finished in the top-five of the MVP vote three times.
Defensively Arenado is just as impressive, earning six Gold Gloves in as many major league seasons, already tied for the fourth-most all-time behind Rolen, Schmidt, and Brooks Robinson.
Targeting a superstar player like Arenado is obviously a no-brainer, especially for an owner like John Middleton if he misses out on Machado. However, several other factors will come into play for this to become a reality.
One is the pending future of Harper this offseason. If Philadelphia gives Harper the largest contract in major league history, can they afford a similar deal for Arenado? It’s unlikely, especially given the fact that Arenado’s agency helped ink Giancarlo Stanton’s record-breaking deal with Miami, and Arenado could look to surpass Harper’s projecdted deal as the largest in history following this arduous offseason.
Looking even further down the road, would signing Arenado prevent the Phillies from giving Mike Trout the largest contract in baseball history, should be become a free agent in 2020-21?
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What would signing Arenado mean for the future of prospect Alec Bohm, Philadelphia’s first round pick in 2018 and one of the top third base prospects in baseball? Philadelphia has likely targeted Bohm as the heir to Franco at third base unless Machado signs this offseason.
Bohm would likely become a trade chip, a valuable one at that, if a big-time third baseman comes to Philadelphia. Perhaps the team holds onto him just in case, especially if a player like Machado uses an opt-out early in the deal.
A lot of “ifs” remain, but if the Phillies can afford Arenado they’ll likely be in the mix next offseason.
Unfortunately, Arenado has no direct ties to Philadelphia, or even the east coast for that matter. He’s a California kid who has spent every hour of his professional career in the Rockies organization. While it’s fun to dream, it’s unlikely Arenado lands in Philadelphia next year.