According to Bryce Harper's agent, Scott Boras, the Phillies' superstar player is looking for a…
The Phillies 2021 payroll is currently sitting at around $198 million. Thats leaves Dave Dombrowski and GM Sam Fuld with only $12 million to make much needed further improvements to the pitching staff.
The top three spots in the rotation appear to be set in stone with Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin leading he way. In the past few weeks the front office has signed Matt Moore and Chase Anderson to team friendly one-year deals with the hope that both will rekindle previous success and bring stability to the back-end of a rotation.
Add in top-prospect Spencer Howard and Ivan Nova, who was signed to a minor-league deal earlier in the off-season and it would appear that the Phillies would be content to head into spring training with this group.
Alas, rumors are swirling that the club may not be finished…
I personally would prefer James Paxton, as the Phillies have not had a lefty in their rotation in what seems likes forever. The Phillies have had the 3rd-fewest games started by left-handers since 2017. Rumors have Paxton searching for a one year deal in the $12 million range.
Paxton struggled last season with the Yankees, posting a 6.64 ERA over just 20.1 innings. But the big Canadian southpaw was solid the previous 3 seasons in New York and Seattle posting 9.2 Wins Above Replacement. Paxton just turned 32 and as long as he is healthy could be an incredible steal for the Phillies on a one-year deal.
Jake Odorizzi would be another solid option to lock down the #4 spot in the rotation. But reports have him seeking a multi-year deal as he is widely viewed as the best remaining starter available after Trevor Bauer. Add Odorizzi to the list of pitchers who had a forgettable 2020 season as he only was able to throw 13.2 innings while sporting a 6.59 ERA. He is a righty with a good track record of success who was once a top-prospect in the Rays organization.
Signing mid-level starters to multi-year deals in the eight figure range is a terrible way to spend your tight budget. If I was the Phillies front office, I would continue to look for veterans seeking one-year prove it deals. Especially with most of the league refraining from increasing their payrolls due to the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19.
Taijuan Walker is another former 1st round pick who actually managed to have a good 2020 season. He was 4-3 with a 2.70 ERA in 53 innings posting 1.3 Wins Above Replacement in Seattle and Toronto. I believe Walker has the pedigree and recent success to command a multi-year deal. He was finally healthy last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018. To be honest, Walker doesn’t move the needle for me. His fastball sits in the low 90’s and he doesn’t have a dominant second pitch to overwhelm batters. Unless Walker is willing to take a reasonable one year deal, I would pass.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY