Phillies: Answering the 3 biggest questions of the offseason
The Philadelphia Phillies cemented a full decade without postseason play this year, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t make enough progress to say they shouldn’t be active this offseason. Their first winning season since 2011 is certainly something to build upon.
In what will be president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski‘s first full offseason (he was hired in December), the longtime executive will have his work cut out for him. Many of their acquisitions from last winter failed dismally, and the franchise’s player development has ruined many top prospects, leaving them with little to work with internally.
However, according to Spotrac, the Phillies had a $183,852,734 total payroll in 2021, and when current contracts with impending free agents expire, currently stand to have a $153,763,462 payroll in 2022. So, between the significant amount of space they have under the luxury tax threshold and their claim ahead of the trade deadline that they are finally willing to exceed said threshold, the Phillies have plenty of money and roster space to make serious improvements before next year.
Here are the three most pressing questions the Phillies need to answer this offseason…
Who can bolster the Phillies bullpen?
The Phillies bullpen had the distinct dishonor of tying the all-time MLB record for blown saves in a single season (34) set by the Colorado Rockies in 2004. Thankfully, the Washington Nationals ended up setting a new record by blowing 35, but it’s still embarrassing for the Phillies that they hit the all-time mark first.
Clearly, an overhaul of the bullpen is required. First things first, they have to decide if they want to bring back Hector Neris, who was excellent in the first two months of the season, a disaster for the next, and then came back around for the final two months. Reliable closers are a rare breed, so replacing Neris wouldn’t be easy. And with his seesaw-esque struggles, they can re-sign him to an affordable one-year deal with a club option for 2023.
Archie Bradley, Ian Kennedy, and Matt Moore all hit free agency this winter along with Neris. Bradley is the only one who feels worthy of bringing back.
Signed to a one-year deal for $6 million, Bradley posted a 3.71 ERA over 53 appearances, pretty much in line with his numbers in the two full seasons pre-pandemic, when he totaled a 3.58 ERA over 142 games. Bradley only allowed five home runs all season and lowered his walks-per-nine rate from 2019.
Kennedy was acquired in a large trade with the Texas Rangers, but fell apart with his new team. He had a 2.51 ERA over 32 games in Texas, and a 4.13 ERA over 23 games in Philly.
Moore worked as a starter, middle reliever, setup man, and closer throughout his 24 games with the Phillies, and wasn’t particularly effective in any role. In the rotation, he had a 6.55 ERA over 13 games; in the bullpen a slightly better 5.40. He finished the season with a 6.29 ERA and -0.8 WAR.
Many Phillies pitchers were gone before the season ended, including Chase Anderson, Brandon Kintzler, Vince Velasquez, and Enyel de los Santos.
The good news is, Dombrowski is known for bringing amazing pitching talent to his teams. He brought David Price, Rick Porcello, Chris Sale, and Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox, and they won three consecutive division titles from 2016-2018, and a franchise-record 108 regular-season games and the World Series in the third go-round.