Phillies Rumors: Cy Young winner back on Phillies’ radar for short-term deal

Now that the price has come down, the Phillies are reportedly interested in free agent pitcher Blake Snell.
The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly interested again in free agent pitcher Blake Snell
The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly interested again in free agent pitcher Blake Snell / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

Even with spring training in full swing, heading into the second week of games, the MLB offseason is far from over. With teams and players standing their ground looking for the best deals possible, it looks like the biggest names may have to settle for less than what they and their agents had envisioned at the beginning of this process four months ago.

There are still some big names on the free agent market, most notably a pair of starting pitchers who have both been linked to the Phillies at one point or another over the winter. Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell, both Scott Boras clients, have had a hard time finding a contract even though we're less than a month away from Opening Day.

While there hasn't been much talk about the Philadelphia Phillies signing either of the starters in recent weeks, since training camp began really, the rumors are starting to pick up again after another pair of big Boras clients recently inked deals with new teams. After Cody Bellinger's and Matt Chapman's new contracts with the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants, respectively, the price seems to be coming down for still-out-of-work players.

New free agent prices might bring the Phillies back to the table for pitching depth

On Sunday, MLB insider Bob Nightengale of USA Today mentioned in his column that the Phillies are showing interest in Snell again, but not for the original asking price. According to Nightengale, the Phillies are interested in the two-time Cy Young winner on a short-term deal. Maybe just a single year or something similar to the option-laden deals Bellinger and Chapman signed.

After reportedly looking for 12 years early in the offseason, the former MVP Bellinger signed a three-year, $80 million deal and will have to prove himself all over again after his phenomenal 2023 bounce-back season. But he has an option after each year, so he'll likely be back on the market again next winter.

Chapman just got his three-year, $54 million contract this weekend, and like Bellinger, has an option after each season. It allows him to go to market again but is a far cry from the six-year, $120 million extension the Toronto Blue Jays offered him to stay up north.

With those deals now setting a new precedent for players desperate to find a team for the upcoming season, the cost for starting depth may have come down enough to entice Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld back to the table. If Snell is agreeable to a single year, or a similar multi-year deal with opt-outs, it may give the Phillies a chance to upgrade the rotation for their short-term push to another World Series appearance.

Snell would slot in nicely between staff ace Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola and make it a fight for the fifth spot between a surging Cristopher Sánchez and Taijuan Walker, who has been off to a sore start in spring training.

But that whole scenario might be too short-term focused for the Phillies, considering they’d be paying the highest luxury tax rates with Snell’s added contract, as explained by CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa. They’d also lose a couple of draft picks and $1 million in international bonus pool money for signing a qualified free agent.

Phillies aren't the only team that will be enticed by shorter deals

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. While Nightengale specifically mentions the Phillies as having interest, he also writes that MLB executives believe the lefty will land elsewhere.

"MLB team executives widely believe that two-time Cy Young winner Blake Snell will ultimately sign with the Los Angeles Angels or possibly the San Francisco Giants," he writes.

However, he follows that up by saying: "While the Giants have long been a favorite for Snell, as one executive said, “If [manager] Bob Melvin really wanted him, don’t you think he’d be there by now? I think it tells you something.’’

So, like the rest of the offseason, nobody really seems to know what's going on with the free agents, especially those under Boras' care.