Alec Bohm arbitration saga hints at Phillies' plans for top prospect at third base

Alec Bohm will make $4 million this season after winning his arbitration battle, but does the absence of a multi-year deal hint at the Phillies' long-term plans at third base?
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm won his arbitration, but is his time limited without a multi-year extension?
Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Alec Bohm won his arbitration, but is his time limited without a multi-year extension? / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

Last Friday, Alec Bohm finished the first year of his arbitration process, winning his case against the Philadelphia Phillies and earning himself $4 million for the 2024 season.

While this is a major win for Bohm and his camp, scoring an extra $600 thousand from the Phillies bid, he will enter the 2024 season the same way as last, on a one-year commitment.

When the salary filing deadline passed on Jan. 12, the 27-year-old was the only one of eight salary arbitration-eligible Phillies who could not agree to a contract. At the time, most assumed that Bohm's team and Phillies front office were working on a multi-year contract that would take him through or past his three arbitration years.

This has been commonplace for the Phillies, inking two similar multi-year deals to bullpen pieces José Alvarado and Seranthony Domínguez last February, just a day apart. It wasn't the same outcome for the Phillies starting third baseman, however.

Do the Phillies consider Alec Bohm a bridge player?

A major takeaway from the Bohm arbitration saga is the team's trust in the young hitter. During the arbitration process, there isn't much flexibility for players, as they are under team control either way.

A two- to three-year extension would benefit Bohm as well as the team. Along with cost certainty, there would be no questions about the future plans and worries about contract negotiations each offseason. With the Phillies not being able to iron out a deal for a mid-level player like Bohm, it points toward the idea that they may have someone ready to fill that role sooner than anticipated, possibly in 2025 or 2026.

Aidan Miller, the Phillies' fourth-ranked prospect in 2023, has begun to make a name across the baseball world, rising up many prospect lists after hearing great things about his work ethic.

Although Bohm's agent, Scott Boras, is notorious for squeezing every penny out of his athletes' teams, even leading to some extended time without contracts like some of the major free agents this winter, it's likely that the hesitation was on the Phillies' end.

Aidan Miller has overly impressed the front office

Miller, 19, fell in last year's draft due to his young age and an injury to his hamate bone during the spring. This caused him to fall to number 27 in the draft to the Phillies, a pick that quickly caught wind as one of the steals of the draft.

Preston Mattingly, son of all-time Yankee great Don Mattingly, was hired in September of 2021 as director of player development but has quickly risen in the ranks to become assistant general manager in charge of player development. His opinion and words are held very highly across the organization, leading many to believe the Phillies have a ton of faith in their No. 1 draft pick from 2023.

Mattingly appeared on the High Hopes podcast in November and had nothing but praise for the youngster.

“He’s been around the complex 24/7. He’s a big, physical kid, he has huge power. ... I think there’s a chance he stays at shortstop but if not, he has a third base type body. I think he's going to be a power bat, and it's tremendous makeup and a tremendous work ethic. The kid's special, and he has big tools. ... We were shocked he got to us.”

In high school and the beginning stages of professional baseball, Miller played the majority of his time at shortstop but projects better at the major league level at third base. The Florida native has plus-raw power and has no trouble facing high velocity, already adjusting to the leap in skill from high school to the pros.

In his first 20 professional games last season between Rookie ball and Low-A, Miller slashed .303/.425/.379 with an .804 OPS and walked 12 times. He collected hits in eight of his first 10 games for the FCL Phillies, hitting .414.

Miller has landed himself No. 61 among the Top 100 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, and as the ninth-best third base prospect. There are obviously good things going on with this kid.

While the future is never set in stone, not being able to reach an agreement with Alec Bohm to extend his contract through his arbitration years could hint at what Dave Dombrowski and the Phillies front office are thinking. If Miller can develop the raw talent into professional skills at the plate, he could arrive to The Show much quicker than expected, similar to the rise of Orion Kerkering in 2023.