5 free agents who would significantly improve 2021 Phillies
1. Masahiro Tanaka
Yes, I know this one is a longshot. Masahiro Tanaka has been a Yankee since he first came to the major leagues in 2014, and if the Yankees want to keep him around then no one is going to stop them. There have also been reports that Tanaka might be fielding offers from teams back in Japan.
If it does happen though, signing Tanaka could be a smart move to stabilize the back of the Phillies rotation. He’s not as flashy or exciting an option as Trevor Bauer or Marcus Stroman, but Tanaka is still a good pitcher.
Most importantly, he’s a durable player who can pitch deep into games. He’s averaged 27 starts per season and about 6 innings per start over his MLB career. This means that Tanaka is another starting pitcher who would also indirectly improve the bullpen.
However, it is important to acknowledge that Tanaka will be 32 next season, and at that age, we have to start worrying about his health. One of the reasons the Phillies chose to sign David Robertson to a multi-year deal even though he was on the wrong side of thirty was because of his reputation as a durable and healthy pitcher. We all know how that turned out.
Even if Tanaka does stay healthy, we should expect his performance to decline as he ages. To use another Phillies example, Jake Arrieta was 32 when he signed with the Phillies in 2018, and he’s been steadily declining every year since he turned 30.
Thus, Tanaka certainly won’t be the top of the rotation pitcher that he was at the beginning of his Yankees tenure. However, he could be a solid addition to the middle of the Phillies rotation, slotting in at number four behind Zach Eflin.
If the Phillies miss out on the top starters on the market, Tanaka could be a really strong backup plan.
So which of these free agents should the Phillies pursue? Let me know in the comments below!