Phillies Offseason: The Dombrowski To-Do List
Dave Dombrowski accepting the Phillies VP of Baseball Operations vaulted him into a situation that he has never been in before. This Phillies team will present him with a new challenge, unlike the expansion team Marlins, the talentless Tigers, or the young core and prospect heavy Red Sox.
The Phillies have key pieces to become a championship team, highlighted by three pitchers atop the rotation, a young star in Alec Bohm, and two players entering their prime years in Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins. As we all know, there are glaring holes that need to be addressed this winter to have a shot at ending an almost decade long playoff drought.
On day one, Dombrowski will have to address the elephant in the room that is JT Realmuto. Girardi spoke with the media yesterday and said it as clear as any manager in the MLB could, when speaking about their ball club; “We’ve lost our shortstop. We’ve lost our catcher.”
Realmuto is seeking a longterm contract that could be worth a number close to $20 million per year. The Phillies’ budget following a pandemic-shortened season remains unclear. While no one has jumped to the front of the line for JT Realmuto, the Toronto Blue Jays and Washington Nationals have expressed interest. There’s optimism for the Phillies to still land Realmuto, after the Mets signed James McCann to a four-year $40 million dollar deal last week.
Realmuto is only the tip of the iceberg on the to-do list for the Phillies this offseason. They also need to build a bullpen that ended last year with a historically bad ERA. I guess you could call Dombrowski “old fashioned” when it comes to building a solid bullpen. He stated that he would like to build around a foundation of a closer and set-up guy. From there, the rest of the pieces will fall into place.
“One of the places where I’ve changed … the philosophy for many years was if you had a closer and a set-up guy, you could build the rest of your bullpen,” Dombrowski said. “I’ve really changed that depth is important.”
The problem for the Phillies, is that they have neither. The closest player they have for either position would be Hector Neris, who would most likely take the role of a set-up man in 2021 if the Phillies have a competent closer. Even with Neris, Depth is clearly a concern. You can add Connor Brogdon and Jojo Romero as bullpen arms butBrogdon’s lack of experience at the MLB level and the fact that Jojo Romero hit a wall late last season makes them far from a “sure things”.
The majority of MLB teams seem to be in a “wait until prices go down” state of mind which means answers might not come soon. Although the Phillies have stated several times that they to date, are not willing to spend money this year, it contradicts Dombrowskis “re-tool, not rebuild” philosophy. The team cannot stand by without addressing these issues if a retool is to happen.
The good news is that the bullpen was top-of-mind for Dombrowski during his introductory press conference.
“I know there’s a lot of relievers out there. I will admit that that’s something that’s happened throughout my career. You have a good-arm guy, fix something in their delivery, and all of a sudden they’re an effective reliever for you. They might not last for the long term but they may last for a year or two. I do think that’s a possibility.”
Given the fact that the Phillies cut over 80 office positions last month, Dombrowski’s need to retool and the Phillies organization unwilling to spend money could leave the two at odds. This was one of the reasons that Dombrowski and Boston’s front office clashed. There’s a good chance that a retool in 2021 could just be preventing the boat from taking on more water.
“I went into Boston a few years ago, we really didn’t make any major changes right off the bat,” Dombrowski said. “I hear the same thing about the Phillies as I did with Boston … it’s getting to know people. Maybe you make adjustments in responsibilities at times. … It’s really not my style to come in and make a bunch of changes. I think it’s more appropriate to give people an opportunity and see how they perform and get a chance to work with them and hopefully we don’t make any changes.”
Assuming the Phillies stick to their current statements and are not willing to spend money. We should all be prepared for trade talks surrounding players that we have now. Those names would include Vincent Velasquez, Hector Neris, and Rhys Hoskins. Top prospects Mick Abel and Bryson Stott could also be on the table. Velasquez and Neris are tough to imagine due to the lack of pitching the Phillies already have. Without a shortstop on the roster besides Jean Segura, who has also been involved in trade talks, any move of Stott would seem unlikely.
It’s safe to say that the Phillies wouldn’t even consider a Rhys Hoskins trade until the MLB decides on their rules for the National League designated hitter role in 2021. I would absolutely hate the idea of using Rhys Hoskins in any type of trade conversations given the fact that he’s part of the small foundation the Phillies currently have.
Drombrowski is dealing with an organization that has pieces in place but not enough to overcome the holes in the bullpen and starting lineup. The offseason is clear:
- JT Realmuto
- Middle Infield
First and foremost, this Phillies team needs a budget and attack plan. Luckily for us, I believe Dave Dombrowski is the perfect guy to make it happen.