2. Key incoming players through free agency
Trea Turner, Taijuan Walker, Craig Kimbrel, Matt Strahm, Josh Harrison
Going with Dombrowski’s vision of winning with star players, the Phillies did end up going out on a limb to nab one of the biggest stars in the game that was available in free agency in Trea Turner. Signed to a massive 11-year, $300 million contract, the Phillies were expecting big things from Turner as he should be one of the key players to help lead the team to success once again in 2023. However, Turner has struggled to produce for the bulk of the 2023 season, leaving the Phillies’ faithful frustrated and worried at the same time. For the season, Turner has hit .247 with only 10 home runs and 32 RBI over 88 games played. Given his track record and dominant production in the past, he should eventually get back on track, but the main thing now is just a matter of when and if soon enough.
The trio of Taijuan Walker, Craig Kimbrel and Matt Strahm have been strong value signings made by the ballclub. Walker has been a strong, effective No. 3 starter behind Aaron Nola and Zach Wheeler, posting a brilliant 10-3 record with a respectable 4.03 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, with 85 strikeouts in 96.1 innings pitched. Kimbrel, on the other hand, has been just lights out recently during the Phillies winning stretch, essentially being worth every penny that they have spent on him. For the season, Kimbrel is 5-1 with a perfect 14-for-14 in saves, along with a 3.41 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, with an astounding 57 strikeouts in only 37 innings pitched. Matt Strahm has also had a solid season to date, compiling a 5-3 record, one save, to go along with a 3.74 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 72 strikeouts in 55.1 innings of work, both as a reliever and a starter at times this year.
The biggest disappointment has been the signing of Josh Harrison, who was expected to play a big role as the team’s utilityman off the bench with his veteran experience and solid production throughout his career. However, his numbers have regressed tremendously this season, as he has struggled to even get any playing time in the daily lineup as a result. As the trade deadline nears, his spot on the roster could be in jeopardy.
The strong performances of Walker, Kimbrel, and Strahm have helped offset the disappointments by Turner and Harrison, as they have somehow kept the Phillies in the thick of things with respect to the playoff race. Without them, along with the offensive outage of both Turner and slugger Bryce Harper for much of the season, the Phillies could have been out of the playoff picture long time ago.