Grading the Phillies' 2023-24 offseason entering spring training

What grade does the Phillies front office deserve after making one giant move this offseason and then going into hibernation until just recently?

What grade does Philadelphia Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski deserve this offseason?
What grade does Philadelphia Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski deserve this offseason? / Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports
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After the Philadelphia Phillies' disappointing playoff exit in October last year, they looked to make adjustments to their roster to compete again in 2024. Heading into spring training, they have made various moves this offseason, both minor and major, in preparation for the upcoming season.

So how well have the Phillies done in their retooling? 

In terms of the club's biggest move, they secured team ace Aaron Nola for the rest of this decade by re-signing him to a big seven-year, $172 million contract. Doing so helped maintain their big two of Nola and Zack Wheeler at the front end of the rotation for 2024 and hopefully beyond.

Phillies went quiet after Nola re-signing

However, other than that, it has truly been an underwhelming past three and a half months for the Phillies. The bulk of the other moves, whether by free agency, waiver claims, or trades, have been minor — until very recently.

In the minor free agent moves, notable signings include former Detroit Tigers standout Spencer Turnbull and Kolby Allard, a former first-round pick of the division rival Atlanta Braves. Another notable signing, albeit on a minor league deal, was former Phillies pitcher David Buchanan, who last pitched with the team in 2015 and spent the last seven years overseas in Japan and Korea.

In terms of claims off waivers, the Phillies were able to snag hopefuls Max Castillo and Diego Castillo — although Diego was recently designated for assignment with the addition of Kaleb Ort off waivers from the Boston Red Sox.

Finally, on the trade front, the Phillies brought in Michael Mercado from the Tampa Bay Rays and Michael Rucker from the Chicago Cubs for organizational pitching depth.

Other than Turnbull, who was a key effective rotation piece for the Tigers back in 2020 and 2021, most of the other recruits appear to be mainly depth pieces. The Phillies are perhaps hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with at least one, if not hopefully more, of them. How they will eventually pan out? Only time will tell. But for now, their track records don’t produce much confidence.

But as always, the Phillies like to surprise us just when we least expect it with the recent signing of veteran Whit Merrifield to a one-year, $8 million deal. In doing so, it will help provide the team with the necessary insurance depth for their outfield, along with serving as a solid backup for the infield. Hopefully, more moves are on the way.

Phillies' offseason grade depends on perspective

If the main goal of the Phillies for 2024 was to run it back with more or less the same competitive team they had in 2023, they have certainly accomplished that. Not only is the bulk of the roster intact for the coming year, but they have even gotten rid of their weakest links from last season in Michael Lorenzen and, to some extent, Craig Kimbrel. In that respect, their overall grade would be an A.

On the other hand, if the Phillies were looking to make big-time upgrades to significantly bolster their lineup for the upcoming season and compete against the Braves for the NL East, they have failed to some extent.

With the outfield a bit thin on offense, aside from Nick Castellanos, plus the recent injury to Brandon Marsh, the addition of Merrifield will help a bit in that regard. But had the Phillies landed a big name free agent such as former NL MVP Cody Bellinger, a move like that would have been a huge difference maker for the ballclub and would no doubt elevate them to the next level.

In the bullpen, instead of adding someone like Josh Hader or bringing back a much-improved Hector Neris, they're opting to go with internal solutions to address their closer role. The Phillies haven’t had that “wow” factor yet this offseason to totally convince the Phillies faithful they are really in it to win it all. In this respect, they deserve a C+ grade.

Considering both viewpoints, we're giving the Phillies an offseason grade of B+. Although they did a great job bringing back one of the key backbones to their starting rotation along with adding a useful versatile piece in Merrifield, they failed to significantly upgrade other areas, adding mainly minor depth options that may or may not help the team in their quest for a World Series in 2024.

Hopefully, with over a month until the start of the MLB regular season, the Phillies still have a big surprise up their sleeve we all have been waiting for.

Grade: B+

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