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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2. The Phillies need to add a established reliever to their bullpen 

During the offseason, the Phillies lost 2023 closer Craig Kimbrel to free agency to the Baltimore Orioles. Despite his shortcomings near the end of the regular season and in the playoffs last year, you can’t take away the fact that he was a rock for their bullpen during the first half of the season when most others were struggling.

Kimbrel didn't blow a single save until after the All-Star break and helped the team save 23 games while posting an additional eight wins. When he was on his game, he was certainly one of the best in the business.

Now without Kimbrel, the Phillies lack an established, proven reliever to take on the closer’s role heading into the 2024 season. Gregory Soto may have done it before with the Detroit Tigers, but it was often accompanied by some nerve-wracking wildness, as exemplified by his high WHIP and walk rate. Even in his best season in 2022, when he notched 30 saves, he also had three blown saves along with a whopping 11 losses, showing that there was always some risk in using him to finish ballgames.

José Alvarado is a more solid option, as he had done it quite successfully in a part-time role for the Phillies in the past. Still, it's hard to predict if the added load and stress of carrying the full-time gig will impact his effectiveness.

The Phillies should add a legitimate bullpen arm who can contribute in the event the team pursues the bullpen-by-committee approach to close out ballgames. With the bulk of the premium arms almost all from the free agent market, only slim pickings remain that could still be viable for the Phillies’ situation.

One remaining ideal candidate is former Phillie Brad Hand. The 13-year MLB veteran has previous successful closing experience with the San Diego Padres and Cleveland Indians in his prime, including a career-high 34 saves in 2019. On top of that, he had a solid stint with the Phillies in 2022 when he pitched to a solid 2.80 ERA, along with five saves and 13 holds to help the team reach the World Series. The cost to sign Hand shouldn’t be an issue, and the fact he'll be given a chance to pitch for a contending team again could be a win-win situation for both parties.

Otherwise, the Phillies may need to resort to the trade route.