Phillies: 5 lessons to learn from 2019 World Series
2. Don’t be careless
It’s one thing to make a bet on a 30-year-old because you think he will provide value for your team. But it’s another thing to do it just for the sake of “being aggressive”. The Phillies have shown a desire to add players through multiple outlets, including free-agency and trades, and they should use both avenues to mitigate the risk of pouring hundreds of millions more dollars into long-term deals for free-agents.
The team already has two 30-plus players: Andrew McCutchen and Jake Arrieta, and both are coming off injuries. We have no idea what this season has in store for them. Adding a free agent starting pitcher could very likely add another “high-risk” pitcher to the roster.
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In the early portion of the 2010s when the Phillies were contending in a five-year run, then-GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. pushed all the chips to the table, trading for Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, and followed those moves by signing Cliff Lee, entering his age-32 season, to a five year deal and a sixth-year vesting option or buyout that eventually cost the Phillies a total of $120 million. Lee pitched well in the first three years of the deal (only one of which the team made the postseason: 2011), started 13 games in the fourth year, and didn’t pitch again in the majors.
The Phillies ended up paying Lee almost $45 million for baseball that he never played.
While that’s the risk that you take when you invest in an aging player, it’s a risk that’s worth taking if you feel your team is right on the cusp of winning it all.
The catch? I’m not sure the Phillies are there yet – they have some more work to do before I think it’s worth taking on too much extra risk. But I don’t think they should miss out entirely on the elite talent available to them this offseason.