11/2/2021 : Considerations
This is the first in a series of articles on Phillies off-season potential actions. The Baseball Operations team met in Clearwater during the last week of Fall Instructs … while I saw many of the leadership team I couldn’t listen in on discussions … my invitation must have been lost in the mail 😳🥴.
Many members of the minor league development staff had contracts expire on October 30th … some of the coaches I thought had invaluable experience were not renewed. Others are in process of deciding whether to accept contract extensions or look elsewhere. There will be openings to fill regardless. It’s new Player Development Director Preston Mattingly’s initial opportunity to choose his own staffing. I won’t share names or make guesses until the Phillies make their own announcements, if they choose to do so.
Congrats to Josh Bonifay on his new opportunity with the Texas Rangers, he’s a good man and I wish him the best as the Rangers Player Development Director.
On a personal note I’ve applied for a Quantitative Analyst position with the Phillies … recently I was in consideration for a writer’s role with Baseball America but got my letter yesterday that someone else had been selected. Is what it is … no effort no gain, rejection is part of the process 🤓.
With the World Series nearing conclusion and hopefully no extended work stoppage to occur it becomes “Hot Stove” season. The Phillies have “considerations” to make in building the 2022 opening day roster. Let’s take a look at what they might be.
Starting with outfielders …
Both the Center and Left Field positions are positions of consideration with Right Field locked up for the foreseeable future.
Odubel Herrera & Andrew McCutchen both have team contract options however they are likely more expensive than the team would value each player for. McCutchen would cost $15 million to extend and Odubel $11.5 million … their combined buyouts are $5.5 million. Herrera would be eligible for arbitration but it’s estimated his arbitration award would be $11.6 million, doesn’t make sense to buy his contract out and also go to arbitration as it would actually cost more money. It’s likely both are bought out and made free agents … just a tidbit - the buyouts will not count against the 2022 luxury tax salary whatever that may be in the new CBA.
Matt Vierling, Mickey Moniak, Adam Haseley & Roman Quinn are players with various levels of big league experience under current contracts. Simon Muzziotti & Jhailyn Ortiz are likely to begin the season at the AA level but could become in season options. Johan Rojas is a strong potential everyday player in the making … he is likely a full season away however.
Free Agents :
Kris Bryant ( Giants ) would be an expensive choice … it’s estimated his market value is a six figure deal with an average of around $24 million per season. He can play center field well even though many don’t see him in that position. Would be a middle of the order bat who can play multiple positions ( no draft pick lost for signing him either ). Is good friends with Mr. Harper as well. A conversation will be had at least. 29 years old.
Chris Taylor’s ( Dodgers ) market value estimates are at $11 million per season on a four year deal. The 31 year old is a super utility regular and is a good defender in center field, also can play the corners and infield slots well. Would fill two needs, a lead off hitter and defensive strength. He’s looking for an opportunity to play everyday like Kiki Hernandez got with the Red Sox.
Kyle Schwarber ( Red Sox ) is projected to receive in the neighborhood of a three year deal with an annual value of about $14 million. He has ties with new Phillies hitting coach Kevin Long. He’s made himself into a decent left fielder and if the Universal DH rule is adopted could also see time there. Would certainly add power to the lineup. Is 28 years old.
Starling Marte ( A’s ) - he made $12.5 million in 2021 and is projected to seek a three or four year deal in the $50 million range … a yearly value of $12 to $17 million depending on contract length. He’s an excellent center fielder and hit .308 in 467 AB’s with an OBP of .381 in 2021. He’s 33 years old.
Mark Canha ( A’s ) - 32 year old who made $7 million in 2021 … has power - 17 homers in 519 AB’s … can handle left field adequately. Likely looking in the $7 to $9 million range on a two year deal.
Nick Castellanos ( Reds ) can opt out of three remaining years on his contract which averages $16 million per year and become a free agent … if he does so the market value estimate is $21 million per year for a five or six year deal for the 29 year old. He’s not a very good fielder, would play left field likely but certainly has offensive skills - .309 batting average, 34 home runs and 100 RBIs in 2021. From my perspective if spending that kind of money I’d prefer the more versatile Kris Bryant.
Jorge Soler ( Braves ) made $8 million on a one year contract in 2021. He’s likely looking for a three year deal with an annual average of around $10 to $11 million per year given his success in the second half with the Braves and in the playoffs/World Series. He would certainly provide a power bat to the lineup and can handle left field adequately. 29 years old.
Michael Conforto ( Mets ) - market value estimates are $19 million per year for six years. He had a down season in 2021 but is just 28 years old and has seemingly always performed well against the Phillies and in CBP. Very good defensive skills albeit primarily as a right fielder, he has played both center and left in his career. Likely gets close to annual market value from someone although may be on a shorter term.
Whit Merrifield ( Royals ) is someone all teams seem to be inevitably interested in. He’s akin to Chris Taylor in his abilities to play multiple positions and serve as a lead off hitter. Very team friendly contract … he’s due $10 million total the next two years. The 32 year old’s ability and contract means KC will expect a very strong return in trade. That’s the reason his name always comes up and he’s remained a Royal.
Brian Reynolds ( Pirates ) would solve both center field and the lead off spot. The 26 year old is an excellent defender and hit .302 with 24 homers and 90 RBIs for Pittsburgh in 2021. The trade price most definitely would be steep in the Pirates even entertained moving him. He’s only entering his second arbitration year … made $ 4.5 million in 2021.
Byron Buxton ( Twins ) when healthy is an all-star … he’s had issues staying on the field. The 27 year old is an elite defender in center field and has the ability to put up solid numbers at the plate. Contract wise he’s due to make $7.5 million next season and then becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Twins are open to making a trade, the Phillies seemed very interested at the trade deadline. A swap of 1st round draft selections or a multiple player deal is likely what it takes. This one may have legs to it this off-season.
Kevin Kiermaier ( Rays ) is another center fielder who can likely be had in trade. The 31 year old also has had difficulties avoiding injuries. He’s an excellent defender who provides leadership and has good offensive skills. The 31 year old has two years remaining on his contract totaling $25 million with 2023 being a club option price of $13 million or a $2.5 million buyout. The Rays are pro scouting gurus and would be selective in their return asking in trade. It makes a lot of sense though for the Phillies to go after Kiermaier to fill both on field and clubhouse voids. Another one to watch closely.
Time will tell.
Closers will be part two of the series.
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️