Phillies offseason sim: Buildings towards a championship
Free agent moves galore
In this simulation we made six free agent signings, three big and three small.
We’ll address the three small moves first, which came before the team signed Josh Harrison to a minor league deal to compete for a bench spot. We decided to bring back Brad Miller, who hit 12 home runs in 66 plate appearances for the Phillies. He also played across the diamond with adequate defense. His bamboo energy was also very helpful.
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Capping out our bench moves was backup catcher Matt Wieters on a one year deal to battle Andrew Knapp for either the backup catcher job or the 26th roster spot. Wieters is a switch-hitter who hit 11 home runs for St. Louis last year, and he’d be a valuable veteran in the clubhouse.
Phillies President Andy MacPhail held the same position in Baltimore when Wieters first came up.
In a weak bullpen market, the only deal the Phillies were able to pull off in free agency was re-signing Jared Hughes to a cheap “prove it” deal. From August 25 through the end of the season Hughes had a 2.41 ERA and allowed only five runs, four of which were solo home runs. He’s not the worst option out there, and a cheap deal is worth it to see if Hughes can show what he did last summer.
Now to the big moves we made to bulk up the roster.
Mike Moustakas – 3 yrs, $51M
First, we signed Mike Moustakas to a three-year deal worth $51 million, a bit of an overpay, but he fills a big hole at third base. Originally we offered a two-year deal hoping that Alec Bohm would be ready for 2021 and Moustakas could be traded next offseason, but the White Sox and Indians pushed the deal to three-years.
This deal puts Moustakas ahead of the Zach Cosart deal and just behind Justin Turner’s, and would give him the seventh-highest AAV for a third baseman.
As mentioned earlier with Realmuto, the National League could institute the DH soon. If that happens, the Phillies could move either Moustakas or Rhys Hoskins to the DH role to make room for Bohm.
Cole Hamels – 2 yrs, $36M
The Phillies and Cole Hamels are reunited on a two-year deal that finally brings back one of the great pitchers in franchise history and adds a lefty to the starting rotation.
Hamels and the Phillies have mutual interest in a reunion and the timing of the opportunity is perfect for both sides. Philadelphia needs a veteran pitcher who can fill out the middle of the rotation and provide guidance for some of the younger arms, just as Roy Halladay did for Hamels.
As many as 14 teams may vie for Hamels this offseason, but we faced no fight in the offseason simulation.
Gerrit Cole – 8 yrs $289M
Finally, the big move that capped off the offseason simulation and made Phillies fans very happy. After fighting off the Braves and Yankees, the Phillies gave Gerrit Cole the largest contract in baseball history in terms of total dollars and average annual value.
Philadelphia needs an ace to pair with Aaron Nola atop their rotation, and few pitchers were better than Cole last year. He’s had two consecutive seasons with a top-five Cy Young finish and since going to the Astros he’s really found another level of success. He led baseball with 326 strikeouts and a 2.50 ERA, dominating American League opponents.
By the end of the simulation we were pushing way over the luxury tax, leading to the Arrieta trade to open up room. Realistically, Philadelphia is unlikely to add three major free agents as well as trade for multiple high-priced players, but in this simulation we were able to get it done and save some money along the way.
Look for them to potentially add a third baseman, such as Moustakas, and two free agent pitchers, but not a combination of Hamels and Cole.