Free Agency: Four remaining players the Phillies should target
The Phillies made their first big splash in free agency yesterday, inking outfielder Kyle Schwarber to a four-year deal worth $79M.
While the Phillies found their left-fielder, it’s no secret they still need more talent. The Phillies are currently the third-best team in the NL East, behind the Braves and Mets. If the team wants to end their decade-long playoff drought in 2022, they’re going to need to continue being active in the market.
4 free agents left on the board that the Phillies should target
The Phillies have had reported interest in Castellanos since before the lockout, dating all the way back to reports in November. Dave Dombrowski has worked with Castellanos before, selecting him with the Detroit Tigers’ top pick in 2010.
Nick Castellanos is coming off the best season of his career, being the backbone of the Cincinnati Reds team throughout his 138 games played. Castellanos slashed .309/.362/.576, with 34 HRs, 100 RBIs, 38 doubles, and an OPS of .939. He finished the season with a 3.2 WAR and played 135 games in left field for the Reds last season.
Although the team did land Kyle Schwarber yesterday, they still need more bats in their lineup. With the DH making its way to the National League this season, signing Castellanos would give the team another option. Schwarber could play left-field and DH, and even a little 1st base if needed. Castellanos can play your everyday left-field and mix back into right-field when Bryce needs a day off.
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Outfielders are flexible, and Joe Girardi would have a ton of options with lineups if Castellanos found his way to Philadelphia. With Kris Bryant receiving a shocking 7/182M contract from Colorado yesterday, it seems like the outfield market is inflated. If Dombrowski truly cares about winning, Castellanos would be a Phillie in the near future.
With the pitching market slim, veteran closer Kenley Jansen could get pricey. The Phillies have already “prioritized” their bullpen this offseason, inking Jeurys Familia, Brad Hand, and Corey Knebel to one-year contracts. Corey Knebel is set to close ballgames at this point in time, but Jansen would fill that role, which would slot Knebel down to an 8th inning guy.
Kenley Jansen tallied a 2.22 ERA in 69 games with the Dodgers in 2021, racking up 38 saves, 86 strikeouts, and just 17 runs in 69.0 innings pitched. Jansen has been the solidified closer for the Dodgers since he made his MLB debut in 2010 and has saved 350 games in his time with Los Angeles.
The Phillies haven’t had a good bullpen in years. They blew a league-leading 34 saves last year, and haven’t had a true closer since Jonathan Papelbon. Kenley Jansen would bring a great arm to the bullpen but would provide a veteran presence as well.
The second-biggest shortstop left on the free-agent market is Trevor Story, only behind former Astro Carlos Correa. If you wanted to get Story without going over the luxury tax, the team would have to find a way to trade Didi Gregorious and get off of his $14 million in 2022.
Trevor Story hit .251/.329/.471 over the 2021 season, with 24 HRs, 75 RBIs, and 20 stolen bases, crossing the plate 88 times as well. Story posted a .975 fielding percentage over the 2021 season, with 14 errors in 138 games played. Trevor Story is one of the best shortstops in the game, plain and simple. He’s bound to get big money from wherever he signs.
The Phillies have around $12M left in total space before exceeding the luxury tax. If Dave Dombrowski could find a way to trade Didi Gregorious, that would give the team around $26M to spend without rising above the tax. The money makes sense, and the team could do it. It comes down to how much John Middleton cares about his baseball team.
2x World Series Champion and World Series MVP Jorge Soler would be a perfect fit in Philadelphia.
Jorge Soler hits the ball just as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen. The outfielder hit 27 total home runs in 2021, splitting the season with the Royals and Braves. Soler got to Atlanta at the trade deadline and became a huge bat in their World Series lineup.
Soler hit .300/.391/.800 in 23 plate appearances during the World Series, tallying 3 HRs, 6 RBIs, and a 1.191 OPS. Jorge Soler would be another insurance option in the outfield, and another great hitter in the new DH spot.
Dave Dombrowski still has options on the market, and the Phillies still have just above $12M to spend before the season starts. The team has already inked Kyle Schwarber, Corey Knebel, and more. But if John Middleton wants to see his team compete with the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves, he needs to go get another impact player.
Phillies baseball is back. The team will play their first Spring Training game on Friday vs the Detroit Tigers. Friday’s game will not be televised, with Michael Kelly starting the first game of Spring. Aaron Nola will get the start on Saturday vs Toronto, the team’s first televised game of the season.