The Phillies still have a lot of work to do before Spring Training
Yesterday, the Philadelphia Phillies finally secured JT Realmuto returning to Philadelphia for the 2021 season. The match always seemed ideal and the market kept moving back towards the Phillies. Realmuto inked a five-year $115.5 million deal and should be motivation for the Phillies front office to continue to add pieces to their team before Spring Training starts in Clearwater three weeks from now.
The Phillies 2021 project payroll sits around $156 million. They are currently $39 million under the luxury tax. Even with the COVID-19 revenue losses that the front office have clamored about for the last four months of the offseason, the Phillies have money to spend and holes to fill.
The next position the Phillies are focusing on would be shortstop. Yesterday, two of the top three shortstops left in free agency signed with other ball clubs, leaving Didi Gregorius as the best available option to return to the Phillies this season. Gregorius was great in his lone season with the Phillies, hitting .284 with 10 home runs and 40 RBI while playing in all 60 games last season.
Gregorius is now in the divers seat in terms of leverage, with no other shortstops at his level available in free agency. The Phillies and the Reds are front-runners to land Didi. However, Gregorius is seeking a long-term deal and it does not look like the Phillies are willing to do that. Given the free agent market at the shortstop position after this year, and top prospect Bryson Stott waiting in the minors, it wouldn’t make sense to lock up a shortstop on a multi-year contract.
With the Phillies investments in Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Bryce Harper, and now JT Realmuto, the window to become a contender has been escalated to now. Add Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm to the list, and the Phillies are looking like a team that can contend if the right pieces are still added to the team ahead of the 2021 season.
Outside of the obvious signing of a shortstop, the Phillies still need help with their starting rotation and bullpen. Spencer Howard didn’t exactly solidify himself as a part of the rotation last year and we are entering another season of “Vincent Velasquez breakout year” talk.
It’s perfectly fine to celebrate the fact that the Phillies did what they were supposed to do by re-signing the best catcher in baseball, but if the team fails to address the shortstop and pitching holes, there’s no other choice but to consider this offseason a failure given the pieces they currently have on their roster.
Spring Training is looming. There’s still time to address the positions listed above. The Phillies are in a position to take the next step in becoming a legitimate contender and only time will tell if they want to do just that over the next three weeks.
Mandatory Credit: The Philadelphia Inquirer