Moves the Phillies should make to improve their offseason grade
Sign Whit Merrifield
Whit Merrifield is a guy who would fit perfectly into this Phillies lineup both on the offensive side and in the field. Merrifield is a 34-year-old, right-handed batter who can play multiple positions in the outfield and second base. In 2023, he played parts of 84 games at second base, 81 games in left field, and six games in right field. His above-average glove and versatility would allow him to move all over the field and enable the guys all over the diamond to get rest throughout the year.
Not only is his versatility a huge asset, his bat isn’t so bad either. In 2023, he slashed .272/.318/.382 with 11 home runs, 26 steals, and just 101 strikeouts. For his career, he is a .284 hitter and gets on base at a .330 clip. He would give the Phillies the right-handed side of the Brandon Marsh platoon and provide them with insurance if Rojas doesn’t look like he’s quite ready to hit major league pitching consistently. It would be a perfect short-term bridge to Rojas, giving him time to develop.
Sign Hector Neris
A reunion with Hector Neris would be a welcome sight for all of Philadelphia. A fan favorite for eight years when he was a Phillie, he left for the Houston Astros in 2022 and has performed terrifically the last two years. In 2023, he ended the year with a 1.71 ERA and 1.054 WHIP while pitching in 71 games. He is a right-handed, late-inning guy familiar with the Phillies organization and would fit right in immediately.
Though his velocity has dipped a bit in recent years, he kept his whiff, chase, and strikeout rates around the 80th percentile in the league in 2023. Being able to miss bats and keep the ball in the yard is something the Phillies bullpen could use with their late-inning relievers. The Phillies could offer Neris higher AAV for a shorter number of years to limit exposure and keep money from being tied up in future years.
Sign Jordan Montgomery
The Phillies already have one of the best starting rotations in baseball but adding another premier arm could push them over the top and be the difference between winning the Wild Card and winning the division.
Jordan Montgomery, a 31-year-old left-handed pitcher, is one of the best pitchers on the free agent market. In 2023, he was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals midway through the year to the Texas Rangers and helped lead them to the World Series title as a 90-win Wild Card team. While with the Rangers, he had a 2.79 ERA and a 1.094 WHIP in the regular season and had a 2.90 ERA in the playoffs over six games, winning four of the games he appeared in.
He was a difference-maker for the Rangers and was one of the big reasons they were the last team standing. The big concern is whether the guy pitching for the Rangers was a flash in the pan or if he can consistently deliver the same results we all saw in Texas.
He’s a pitcher who keeps the walks to a minimum and uses his sinker and changeup to keep batters off balance. While his strikeout rate is low (21.4 percent), his hard-hit (37.9 percent) and barrel (7.5 percent) rates are also low, and his groundball rate is higher than average (43.8 percent). He would be a good addition as a high-end third or even fourth starter for the Phillies.