As the offseason passes into 2024, for Philadelphia Phillies fans who have been patiently waiting for the front office to do something — anything — since the Aaron Nola re-signing, things are moving at a seemingly excruciating pace.
Realistically, the Phillies aren't actually sitting on their hands doing nothing, even if it feels like it to those of us stuck on the outside looking in. Like every other team in the hunt for the best available talent, they're at the mercy of the market. So it's not time to press the panic button just yet. There are still six weeks left until Spring Training.
With the airtight ship that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski runs, with nary a leak to be found, one could be excused for misinterpreting the lack of action for a laissez-faire attitude toward seriously improving the team. Couple that with Dombrowski's comments throughout the offseason, in which he insists he's content with the current roster, and it's conceivable that some fans may have already sounded the alarm, even if just to themselves.
Obviously, Dombrowski is experienced enough at his job and more than adept at playing his cards close to his chest. Probably not someone you want to get into a high-stakes poker game with — or even a staring contest. So another big move to pair with the Nola contract won't come as a big surprise.
But as it stands, the 2024 Phillies will look a whole lot like the squad that finished out the 2023 season being smacked back to reality by the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks. And that's fine. The Phillies are a good team. They've proven as much.
But with the offseason arms race ramping up around them, it's time for Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld to get aggressive and go get their guy ... or guys.
Phillies need to keep up with the Joneses
The division rival Atlanta Braves have added to their bullpen and recently bolstered their rotation with the trade for Chris Sale. It's a big move if their gamble pays off and Sale stays healthy (and is actually Chris Sale). Fingers crossed, it blows up in their face.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, the new evil empire, look like a juggernaut-in-waiting after signing both Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Although they'll have to contend with the Diamondbacks in the NL West, who have been busy reinforcing themselves after their improbable World Series run.
So where does that leave the Phillies?
After whiffing on Yamamoto, even with an offer north of $300 million, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan, there's money to be spent. So let's see them spend it if they're really serious about upgrading the rotation and making a splash to improve the bullpen.
Yes, they're reportedly pursuing the next pair of free agent starters on everyone's mind, Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery. However, Passan also thinks they could make a move for Shōta Imanaga, whose window closes on Jan. 11.
Barring the signing of one of those starters, there's always Josh Hader. Whether you'd agree with the move to sign the top free agent closer to the biggest reliever contract ever, or not, it would certainly cause a stir at the top of the National League. It would also ignite the Philadelphia fanbase into a frothing sea of excitement.
And if you're against spending silly money on the bullpen, there are still great options that would make the relief corps deeper and far more dangerous. Think Jordan Hicks or Robert Stephenson, both of whom Passan ranks right behind Hader as the best available relievers.
Nothing can really be done until the market starts to work itself out and the players (and their agents) are willing to begin signing contracts. Phillies fans would love to see their team start asserting itself on the market. The Phillies aren't a small-market team, and they're willing to exceed luxury tax thresholds for players they feel will put them over the top.
And at this point, with a fanbase that feels like it's World Series or bust in 2024, the front office can't afford not to spend the cash and make good on this currently wide-open competitive window.
It's time for Dombrowski to take another big offseason swing, or two.