Phillies: Free agents who could be tricks or treats this offseason
Trick: Josh Donaldson
The Phillies are more than likely moving on from Maikel Franco this offseason after years of waiting for their former top prospect to blossom into the MVP candidate many projected him to be.
By moving on from Franco the Phillies have several options when it comes to who will start at third base on opening day. Top prospect Alec Bohm hasn’t played above Double-A, although he performed well in the Arizona Fall League.
Scott Kingery bounced between center field and third, but his true position is second base.
Josh Donaldson, a former MVP and All-Star, would fit into the middle of the Phillies lineup as another power bat, but at what cost and for how long? Bohm isn’t ready yet, but he shouldn’t be caught in a logjam if the Phillies sign Donaldson, who turns 34 this offseason, to a multi-year contract.
Donaldson has also dealt with injuries in recent years, playing just 52 games in 2018 and 113 the year before that. He’ll be another year older with a questionable injury history, a recipe for disaster.
The Phillies have missed on a lot of their first round picks, but it feels like Bohm will finally break the spell. Unless Donaldson signs a one-year deal,which he likely won’t, it’s not the right move given the potential of Bohm and Donaldson’s injury history.
Treat: Gerrit Cole, SP
While the Astros didn’t go to Gerrit Cole out of the bullpen in the World Series, he proved his worth throughout the postseason for Houston. The number one overall pick in 2011 went to Pittsburgh and had his ups and downs, but once he reached the Astros Cole proved he was one of the best pitchers in baseball, potentially leading to a Cy Young in 2019.
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The Phillies need to add starting pitching this offseason, whether through free agency or the trade market. At this point they need at least two starting pitchers to go with Aaron Nola, a deteriorating Jake Arrieta, and possibly Zach Eflin.
Cole might be the best starting pitcher to hit the free agent market since Max Scherzer in 2015. He’s coming off a season where he led baseball with 326 strikeouts and a 2.50 ERA while winning 20 games for the Astros.
The price tag for Cole will be astronomical, likely the largest contract given to a pitcher in baseball history. He just turned 29-years-old and has almost no injury history in his seven year career with Pittsburgh and Houston. He appears to be just hitting his prime, the perfect time to hit the open market.
While giving a pitcher a six or seven year contract is very risky, we just saw what that did for the Nationals when they signed Scherzer in 2015. In the right situation, Cole can be the greatest treat available this offseason. Unfortunately, the buzz around baseball is that he wants to go back to California, giving the Angels a big advantage, but Middleton’s stupid money could change that and bring him back to the Keystone State.