For those of us who have been watching the Philadelphia Phillies' offseason crawl along at a snail's pace this winter, spring training can't get here fast enough. It feels like the offseason is all but over, at least from a Phillies perspective.
But if you consider that the offseason lasts until March 27, there's still plenty of time and plenty of free agents still looking for jobs.
If you're in the camp that the Phillies' winter has been a bust, considering it has been a nothing burger since re-signing Aaron Nola in November, you might be pleased with the latest rumors. According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, some MLB executives think Philadelphia is a "sleeper" for two of the top remaining free agents — starter Jordan Montgomery and outfielder Cody Bellinger.
"Several executives think the Philadelphia Phillies could be a sleeper for one of the remaining marquee free agents in starter Jordan Montgomery or center fielder Cody Bellinger," Nightengale writes.
It has been such a cold hot stove for president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld that any mention of the Phillies being even loosely connected to a player gets us at least mildly excited. It feels like rumors actually linking the Phillies to the top available players have been few and far between over the last few months.
What would Montgomery and Bellinger bring to the World Series-aspiring Phillies?
Montgomery, 31, would give the Phillies depth at the top-to-middle of the rotation. He would slot in as the No. 2 or No. 3, depending on how they value him compared to Aaron Nola. Last season, the 6-foot-6 lefty put up a 3.20 ERA and 3.56 FIP over 188 2/3 innings between the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers. He went 3-1 with a 2.90 ERA in the postseason for the World Series-winning Rangers.
Last year, Bellinger put up his best season since his 2019 MVP campaign. On a one-year "show me" contract with the Chicago Cubs, the left-handed hitting center fielder slashed .307/.356/.525 with 26 home runs, 20 steals and 97 RBI.
While he outperformed his expected stats, according to Statcast, with an xBA of .270 and an xSLG of .437, a move to slugging-friendly Citizens Bank Park would benefit the 28-year-old. Wrigley Field isn't a bad place to hit by any means, but the environment in Philadelphia is just a little bit better, according to Statcast Park Factors.
Bellinger would push Johan Rojas out of center field, causing a log jam — but an interesting competition with Brandon Marsh — for the left field job.
What this report means, we don't actually know. How much of a sleeper are the Phillies? What would the prices for these free agents have to drop to for the front office to consider making a move?
And are they actually sleepers, or is this a Scott Boras ploy attempting to drum up some additional interest and business for his clients?
As has been made clear previously this offseason, and again reiterated by Nightengale, "unless their price-tags drop, the Phillies plan to remain patient."
So, what kind of deals are the two free agents expected to get? At the beginning of free agency, MLB Trade Rumors predicted a six-year, $150 million contract for Montgomery and a 12-year, $264 million deal for Bellinger.
Those prices would have to drop significantly for the Phillies to be interested — at least one would assume, based on everything reported this winter from the Phillies' camp.
While Dombrowski has been known to pull off big moves out of nowhere in the past, these both feel like significant stretches, and fans shouldn't hold their breath. We'll likely see the Opening Day roster very similar to the one that ended last season.