Phillies lose out on yet another relief pitcher as spring training approaches

With spring training right around the corner, the Phillies remain observers in the free agent reliever market as Phil Maton strikes a deal with the Rays.
Championship Series - Texas Rangers v Houston Astros - Game Seven
Championship Series - Texas Rangers v Houston Astros - Game Seven / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages
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Another day, another relief pitcher the Philadelphia Phillies were said to be targeting is off the board. This familiar situation and headline have become the norm during an offseason where the front office has done little to improve the on-field product with under two weeks until the beginning of spring training. Any day now, Dave?

Phil Maton is the latest free agent name who has reached a deal, as the former Houston Astros reliever is nearing an agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. Watching the Phillies lose out on a free agent to the notoriously frugal Rays is a new low for a franchise that has spent money the last few offseasons while chasing a World Series trophy.

Free agent relief pitchers are starting to become a scarcity

Heading into the 2024 season, the Phillies have a solid yet undefined bullpen. Following an epic meltdown in the 2023 NLCS that cost them another World Series appearance, the Phillies bullpen has clear needs as we enter spring training. After letting October scapegoat Craig Kimbrel walk in free agency this offseason, who will close games for the Phillies in 2024? Could we be looking at a dreaded "closer-by-committee" arrangement in the ninth?

The Phillies have been repeatedly been linked to some of the top arms available all offseason. Most recently, The Philadelphia Inquirer's Scott Lauber had them linked to Maton and Jacob Junis (subscription required). Nothing.

And who remembers the excitement of the Jordan Hicks and Robert Stephenson watch brought on by the New York Post's Jon Heyman? Yep, nothing to see here, Phillies fans.

It's still possible the Phillies could be in on Junis or another relief pitcher as we get closer to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, but it's starting to look like an offseason where the Phillies will stick to their roster the way it's already constructed.

With NL rivals like the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Chicago Cubs all getting better, the time is now for the Phillies to invest in upgrading their bullpen.

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