External options: Josh Hader and others
The current free agent market is loaded with many strong options that the Phillies can explore to fill their closer role. But there is one that stands out above the rest, and that candidate is none other than Josh Hader.
MLB.com has even previously suggested he would be a great fit for the Phillies. Hader has been one of the game’s most dominant closers for five of the past six seasons. In addition, he won’t even hit 30 until after Opening Day next season, so he definitely has plenty of great years remaining ahead of him.
After enduring a down season in 2022, he bounced back in a big way in 2023, posting a minuscule 1.28 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, giving up only eight earned runs all year with 85 strikeouts in just 56 1/3 innings pitched. More importantly, the Phillies had been rumored to be already linked to the All-Star closer prior to the start of free agency. He may cost a lot, as many other teams will compete for his services, but the Phillies will definitely be willing to go big to get the game-changer.
If the big push for Hader somehow falls through, the Phillies still have some viable options left in free agency in Liam Hendriks, Aroldis Chapman, Jordan Hicks, and former Phillie David Robertson. Obviously, they would fall in a tier slightly below Hader, but they have shown in the past to get the job done as the closer whenever called upon.
Among that group, Hicks would probably have the greatest upside, given he is just starting to hit his prime at the age of 27. In addition, he's coming off a solid second half of the 2023 season with the Toronto Blue Jays after being traded by the St. Louis Cardinals at the trade deadline. With the ability to constantly hit triple digits on the radar gun, Hicks is exactly what the Phillies need to solidify their closer role.
With the Dave Dombrowski mentality that you need stars to win championships, look for the Phillies to go all out for Hader in upcoming free agency.
Probability of the Phillies using an external option in the closer role: Highly likely