Following The 40: Off-season Primer

October 12th, 2015 by Mike H. | Filed under Baseball, General, MLB, Phillies.


As the Phillies off-season begins, the first order of business was to pair down the roster to 40 players including ones that would be coming off of injured status. Earlier last week, the Phillies outrighted Justin De Fratus (who recently elected free agency), Jonathan Pettibone, Adam Loewen, Ken Roberts, Erik Kratz, Jordan Danks, and Chase d’Arnaud. The roster currently stands at forty, but with a strong likelihood that Cliff Lee, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, Brian Bogusevic, Jeff Francoeur, and Andres Blanco all head to free agency.

Francoeur and Blanco are expected to be asked to return, but will both certainly be given offers with other clubs. Domonic Brown may have seen his last inning as a Phillie as he has a very strong chance of being non-tendered a contract. Jesse Biddle and David Buchanan are both likely to be outrighted in the near future due to their respective injury statuses. That sets the Phillies at 30 players.

Whoever the next General Manager may be, while they have the resources, there probably won’t be any huge splashes for 2016. In fact, the Phillies acquisitions will most likely be role players and players coming off of injury looking to establish value. The rotation will most likely consist of Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Adam Morgan as pitchers three thru five with Alec Asher and Severino Gonzalez given opportunities.

Matt Harrison, whom the Phillies acquired at the trade deadline in the Cole Hamels deal, could also be an option if he is healthy enough to compete. The Phillies could also add from within with Zach Eflin and Ben Lively as potential candidates. My personal targets for the Phillies to add from free agency: Mat Latos or Doug Fister.

The bullpen currently has just one lock to return, and he may not even be a lock to not be traded. Kenimage Giles didn’t skip a beat after Jonathan Papelbon was traded and he was promoted to closer. Being that the Phillies may not be all that successful in 2016 (or 2017), why keep a cost-controlled, potentially elite closer/setup man in Giles? Past Giles, right handers Luis Garcia, Hector Neris, Dalier Hinojosa and Jeanmar Gomez in addition to left handers Elvis Arajo and Mario Hollands are all candidates to be a part of the Phillies bullpen in 2016. Arajo and Hollands are working their way back from injury, so a left-handed reliever could/should be close to the top of the list as far as bullpen needs are concerned. Tom Windle could also be a potential addition from within. My personal targets for the Phillies to add from free agency: James Russell (L), Neftali Feliz (R), and/or Ryan Webb (R).

The biggest need for improvement this off-season is in the outfield. 2014 Rule V Draft pick Odubel Herrera was the brightest spot the Phillies had in 2015. As addressed earlier, both Domonic Brown and Jeff Francoeur are both potentially not in a Phillies uniform in 2016. Should Aaron Altherr be considered a starter? He may be given the opportunity in Spring Training. Kelly Dugan and Darnell Sweeney are both already on the 40-man roster, but I highly doubt the Phillies go into 2016 with that much inexperience in the outfield.

Could Cameron Perkins be given a shot? Sure, but again there would be an absurd amount of inexperience. The Phillies and Francoeur both supposedly have interest in extending their relationship, but other teams may give Frenchy a better chance to win. Cody Asche could be given another opportunity in left field, but he is just as easily a buy-low trade candidate. My personal target for the Phillies to add from free agency: Sean Rodriguez.

The infield is probably the least of the Phillies of the Phillies concerns. Maikel Franco will be manning the hot corner. Freddy Galvis will be keep the shortstop position warm until top prospect J.P. Crawford is deemed ready to go. If the Phillies can’t re-sign Andres Blanco, Cesar Hernandez will be given the first crack at second base. Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf will be splitting time at first base unless the Phillies release or manage to trade Howard. The Orioles have been rumored to have back burner interest in Howard if Chris Davis were to leave, but the Phillies would most likely have to pay most, if not all, of Howard’s contract. Maybe a bad contract swap of Howard and cash for Ubaldo Jimenez? Cameron Rupp and Carlos Ruiz have the inside track for both catcher spots on the roster, Andrew Knapp could be added to create some competition. My personal target for the Phillies to add from free agency: Kelly Johnson.

2016 is definitely going to be another trying year for the Phillies. However, I do not think that the Phillies will come close to being as bad as 2015. I think 2016 will be the beginning of the next core and that 70-80 wins, even at this point in the offseason, is a definitely a reality. The first order of business is to hire a general manager. While the Phillies had returned to baseball mediocrity, between the financial backing and the recent influx of talent to the minor leagues, whoever lands this position will be the envy of their peers.

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