What each Phillies player has at the top of their holiday wish list

As we navigate the holiday season, it's time to ponder what each player wants this year and going into next season.

Philadelphia, PA, USA; The Phillie Phanatic gives Santa Claus a ride on his bike
Philadelphia, PA, USA; The Phillie Phanatic gives Santa Claus a ride on his bike / Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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Starting Pitchers

Zack Wheeler: A contract extension + holiday raise

With one year left on his deal, it's Zack Wheeler's turn to put pen to paper on an extension. From 2021 to 2023, the 33-year-old put up the 11th-best ERA (3.08), second-best FIP (2.86), ninth-best WHIP (1.04) and fifth-most innings (558 1/3) among qualified pitchers, according to FanGraphs. In five postseason games in 2023, he went 3-0 with a 1.95 ERA.

Aaron Nola: Pitch clock magic

Aaron Nola took some time — including using many delay tactics on the mound like asking for new balls frequently— to adjust his mechanics to account for the new pitch clock rules in 2023, and there might be even more tightening of the pitch clock in 2024. With the sped-up game, Nola gave up a career-high 32 home runs in 2023 and will need to work more magic with his mechanics to keep adjusting.

Ranger Suárez: A Gold Glove

It's hard to find anyone who's more cool, calm and collected than Ranger Suárez on the mound. While the 28-year-old lefty had a bit of a down year by his normal standards in 2023 (.964 fielding percentage, 21 assists, 13 putouts), he's only one year removed from barely missing out on well-deserved Gold Glove consideration in 2022 (1.000 fielding percentage, 31 assists, six putouts) because of falling just short of the innings limit for the award.

Taijuan Walker: A first-inning pass

The 31-year-old Taijuan Walker struggled with velocity throughout 2023 but would generally get stronger as games went on. The problem is being able to get deep into games to settle down, though. The right-hander posted a 7.04 first-inning ERA in 2023 while handing out 17 walks and allowing opponents to hit .310 in that frame. On the flip side, his ERA dropped to 3.90 in the second inning.

Cristopher Sánchez: A spot in the starting rotation

With the Phillies continuing to meet with starting pitchers in free agency, there's some question about where Cristopher Sánchez will slot in if they make an addition, even after his stellar performance in 2023. With a 3.44 ERA, 1.047 WHIP, and a 96-to-16 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the left-hander has continued to cut down on walks, going from a walk percentage of 11.9 to 9.6 to 4 percent the past three years.

Michael Mercado: A chance to prove himself to Phillies organization

At 24 years old, Michael Mercado was brought over in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays in November. In 62 innings between Double-A and Triple-A last year, the right-hander put up a 4.79 ERA. His 5.1 walks per nine stat is too high, but his 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings were promising. With no MLB experience, he'll need to make a strong impression on the coaches in Spring Training.

Catchers

Rafael Marchán: A return to Philly

Rafael Marchán hasn't seen action in a big league game since 2021. Overall, in 23 MLB games, he hit .267 with two home runs and seven RBI. Across three minor league levels and 55 games in 2023, he slashed .305/.397/.442 with two homers and 35 RBI.

Garrett Stubbs: A new pair of overalls

Resident DJ and Chief Vibes Officer Garrett Stubbs could use a new pair of overalls in preparation for a third straight season of clubhouse celebrations late in the year. After partying late into the night to "Dancing on My Own" on Sept. 26 to celebrate the clinching of a wild-card spot, the 30-year-old backup catcher came out the next day and hit his first and only home run of the year. We'll chalk it up to the power of the overalls and the importance of good clubhouse culture.

J.T. Realmuto: A return of the smaller bases

In 2022, J.T. Realmuto led the league by throwing out 44 percent of baserunners attempting to steal a bag. When the league increased the size of the bases from 15 inches square to 18 last season, that clear advantage to his game disappeared. In 2023, 81 runners swiped a bag on Realmuto and 23 were caught, good enough for a caught stealing percentage of 22 percent, which was still above league average but likely makes the catcher long for the past.