New predictions have Phillies signing these top free agents

Oct 20, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Joc Pederson (22) reacts after hitting a foul ball in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game four of the 2021 NLCS at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 20, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Joc Pederson (22) reacts after hitting a foul ball in the fifth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers during game four of the 2021 NLCS at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /
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While there were many major free-agent signings before MLB went into lockout, none of them belonged to the Philadelphia Phillies; they only added a few players before the ninth work stoppage in the league’s history went into effect on December 2.

Before the lockout, Sports Illustrated predicted that the Phillies would sign three of the top-50 free agents: Noah Syndergaard, Zack Greinke, and Kendall Graveman.

Starting pitching wasn’t the Phillies’ top priority before the lockout (slugging outfielders and bullpen arms), so Graveman was the only sensible name of the three. But Syndergaard signed a lucrative one-year deal with the Angels, and Graveman signed with the White Sox for three.

With MLB in lockout, SI has revised its original list with new predictions, and the Phillies are no longer favored to sign Greinke. Instead, they’ve got two new predicted targets: Kwang Hyun Kim and Joc Pederson.

Will the Phillies sign free-agent starter Kwang Hyun Kim?

KBO standout Kim signed with the Cardinals ahead of the 2020 season. The starting pitcher was excellent for St. Louis in his first MLB season, posting a 1.62 ERA over eight games (seven starts, one finish, one save), and only allowing seven earned runs over 39 innings.

Kim’s sophomore season in the majors didn’t go as smoothly; he pitched 27 times, including making 21 starts, finishing two games, and earning another save. Over 106 2/3 innings, the former KBO MVP and four-time Korean Series champion compiled a 3.46 ERA.

One thing that will at least give the Phillies pause is that Kim had to be moved to the bullpen late in the 2021 season due to elbow soreness. With Aaron Nola’s struggles and Zach Eflin’s surgery, Kim might be a risk the Phillies aren’t willing to take.

Will the Phillies sign free-agent slugger Joc Pederson?

The Phillies’ division-rival Braves acquired Pederson in July, and he made an immediate impact with his play and personality. Over 64 games with Atlanta, he slashed .249/.325/.428 with a .752 OPS, eight doubles, a triple, seven home runs, 22 RBI, and 20 runs scored. He also seriously improved his plate discipline; after striking out 74 times in 73 games before the trade, he only struck out 43 times in 64 games.

While SI originally thought the Washington Nationals would get him, they’re now changing their tune.

In terms of the fire he brings to a team, he’d be the jolt this club desperately needs. His 79 games of Joctober expertise – he’s appeared in every postseason since 2015 – would also be an upgrade for the Phillies, who haven’t made the postseason since 2011.

Related Story. How the latest MLB lockout news impacts the Phillies’ free-agent needs. light

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