4 next moves Phillies need to make after signing Whit Merrifield

After inking Whit Merrifield, it's time for the Phillies to keep things rolling before Opening Day!
What else do the Philadelphia Phillies need to do after signing Whit Merrifield?
What else do the Philadelphia Phillies need to do after signing Whit Merrifield? / David Berding/GettyImages
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For much of the offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies had been generally quiet in terms of major moves following the re-signing of Aaron Nola back in November. They have made plenty of transactions, but the majority of them tended to be minor in nature. However, the team got things rolling again with the recent signing of veteran super utilityman Whit Merrifield to a one-year deal with a club option for a second year.

To ensure that the Phillies significantly bolster their chances this season to have a legitimate shot at a World Series title, they can’t stop there. Let’s take a look at the next major moves they need to make to give themselves the best chance of winning in the upcoming year and beyond.

1. The Phillies need to extend Zack Wheeler now

With the Phillies starting to enhance their roster with recent relevant signings, it's about time that they lock down pitcher Zack Wheeler with a contract extension. Wheeler has been an integral part of the Phillies’ success in recent years, including finishing as the runner-up to the NL Cy Young award in 2021, along with leading the way in two solid postseason runs in 2022 and 2023.

Collectively, he has compiled a stellar 43-25 winning record with a 3.06 ERA, 137 ERA+, 1.06 WHIP, along with 675 strikeouts in just 629 1/3 innings over 101 games started. More importantly, he took his game to another level in the postseason with four wins, a 2.42 ERA and 0.73 WHIP, giving up only 17 earned runs and 68 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings in 10 starts. Not only did he provide length in those critical starts, they were high-quality and effective, proving that he is indeed a true playoff performer.

As the Phillies aim to spend more on team upgrades to improve their long-term success, Wheeler will no doubt be getting better and better at the same time, which may eventually put his price beyond the range in which the team has budgeted. To maintain their perennial contending status, it would be wise for the Phillies to act now to secure Wheeler’s services for the long run with a fair-market-value deal before his future performance puts him out of their reach.

On a good note, contract extension talks have already begun between Wheeler and the ballclub, so hopefully, something will get done sooner rather than later. It may be easy to find a starting pitching replacement any time, but finding one of Wheeler’s caliber, who has proven to be one of the most consistent and effective pitchers ever since joining the Phillies, may be tougher than you think.