After jumping out to a quick start to the offseason, re-signing their top priority in long-time ace Aaron Nola, the Phillies front office has been quiet, not inking another major league free agent since. However, with John Middleton and Dave Dombrowski at the helm, there's always hope.
In a recent question-and-answer session with Phillies manager Rob Thomson, courtesy of John Foley of PHLY Sports, he spoke briefly about the offseason and what may be left to do to add to the already-loaded roster.
Throughout the session, Thomson emphasized the importance of having increased pitching depth within the system.
"You are typically going to go through (knock on wood) eight or nine starters over the course of the year, most teams do," Thomson said.
This makes a ton of sense after a 2023 season where eight different pitchers started more than one game for him throughout the 162-game season. Depth at the starting pitching position has become more and more important for teams throughout the grueling 162-game schedule.
Thomson was also asked about the importance of veteran leadership in the back end of the bullpen and how the loss of closer Craig Kimbrel would affect the squad. Thomson continued to emphasize the importance of depth and listed several bullpen depth options within the organization who have already impacted the major league team, including Andrew Bellatti, Connor Brogdon, Yunior Marte, and Luis Ortiz.
It seems that the focus of management and the front office is bringing in a variety of pieces that can fill holes and roles in the pitching staff throughout the season instead of a big, splashy free agent signing. This is reminiscent of the Trade Deadline last year when the front office acquired pitcher Michael Lorenzen as a back-end starter or multiple-inning reliever, giving Thomson and the Phillies options going into the postseason.
While there are still question marks on the offensive side, particularly in left field, as well as a few bench spots, Thomson's remarks give the fans hope that the Nola signing isn't the only thing that will be seen from the Phillies before spring training.
Thomson believes the front office isn't done either
In a recent piece by MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, the third-year manager was quoted as saying, "There’s a whole bunch of players out there on the market. A lot of things happen right before Spring Training, and that’s why our Spring Training invites are down, because we know that people are going to fall out of the sky and want to sign someplace."
The Phillies cut their spring training non-roster invitee count from 21 in 2023 to 15 in 2024, making it clear that they aren't finished yet.
The Phillies system has increasingly become better at drafting young athletes and developing talent who might make an impact at the major league level. While there are countless names available to fill a sixth or seventh rotation spot, such as Zach Davies, Mike Clevinger, or even a familiar face in Michael Lorenzen, there are options within the system to bolster the bullpen and relieve some pressure off the top-end guys like José Alvarado and Seranthony Domínguez.
Thomson's recent comments and the smaller group of spring training invitees point toward more additions across the board within the next few weeks. With plenty of options still on the open market, there could be some new faces wearing the red jersey when the Phillies come out for their first spring training contest on Feb. 24 against the Toronto Blue Jays.