After owner John Middleton declared the Phillies would spend money even if they end up being “a bit stupid”, attention turned to their pursuit of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Which one will they sign? Will they sign both? Philadelphia is the most exciting team this offseason and could turn into a playoff contender with some big acquisitions.
Phillies Acquire SS Jean Segura, RP Juan Nicasio, RP James Pazos in Exchange for SS JP Crawford and 1B Carlos Santana
In a big trade, the Phillies have acquire shortstop Jean Segura, as well as relievers Juan Nicasio and James Pazos in exchange for shortstop JP Crawford and first baseman Carlos Santana. Segura, 28, is the prize of this trade. He had a 4.3 WAR last season, made the All Star game, though he only had a .755 OPS. That’s due to second half struggles, as he had just a .659 OPS in the second half. There was a lot of chaos with a bad locker room in Seattle, so the hope is that in Philadelphia, Segura can put together a full season at All Star level. His fielding went back to being average to above average last season, with 5 defensive runs saved. As for the relievers, the 32-year-old Nicasio had a 6.00 ERA last season, but had a 2.99 FIP. In a change of scenery, the gap between his ERA and FIP should close for the better. Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Pazos gives the Phillies a reliable lefty in the bullpen, who has a career ERA of 3.54. In other words, Philadelphia is upgrading massively at shortstop and adding two pieces in the bullpen. Losing Crawford, a former top prospect, hurts. Still, he’s shown no signs of development at the major league level, and getting rid of Santana clears $20 million off their payroll for the next two seasons while allowing Rhys Hoskins to move from left field to first base. Therefore, it upgrades their defense directly and indirectly, thus making them a better team. As far as money is concerned, it balances out. Therefore, the Phillies didn’t have to sacrifice their financial flexibility nor their prospect capital. It’s a terrific move, and hopefully it’s the start of a flurry of moves to bring Philadelphia back to contention.
Phillies Acquire RP Jose Alvarez in Exchange For RP Luis Garcia
In a reliever for reliever swap, the Phillies have acquired left-handed reliever Jose Alvarez in exchange for reliever Luis Garcia. Alvarez, 29, was terrific for the Angels last season. He had a 2.71 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and a 3.05 FIP, and was arguably Los Angeles’ most consistent reliever last season. He’ll give Philadelphia another reliable lefty in their bullpen, which will allow them to not have to pay big in free agency for one. Even if he regresses next season, which he probably will, he’s still a great addition to a strong bullpen. All it took was Garcia, who had a 6.07 ERA and needed a change of scenery, to make this trade happen. That’s impressive, and even if both have similar ERAs next season, exchanging a right-handed reliever for a left handed reliever is always a great idea.
Phillies Sign OF Andrew McCutchen
To fill a hole in their barren outfield, the Phillies have signed outfielder Andrew McCutchen to a three-year, $50 million deal. McCutchen, 32, had a .792 OPS with 20 home runs and a 2.7 WAR with the Giants and Yankees last season. He’s no longer an MVP candidate, but he’s still an above average outfielder. He has terrific on base skills; he had a .368 on base percentage and an outstanding 13.9% walk rate. He also may have been a victim of bad luck, as his hard contact rate was a career high of 43.4%. His defense was average with two defensive runs saved last season, but his defense should be even better in left field at Citizens Bank Park, rather than the large AT&T Park. As soon as he got traded from the Giants, his spiked his OPS by 20 points. In McCutchen, the Phillies are getting a huge on base threat with solid defense and veteran leadership. McCutchen should have a much better season in Philadelphia, and they should benefit from this. $50 million may be a little too much, but what McCutchen provides to a young Phillies team in need of outfield help is priceless.
Phillies Sign RP David Robertson
To shore up their bullpen, the Phillies have signed reliever David Robertson to a two-year, $23 million contract with a $12 million club option for a third year. Robertson, 33, has been one of the more constant relievers in the MLB. He’s pitched in 60+ innings in every season starting in 2010, where his ERA has been below 3.50 in each of this season. Last year, he had a 3.23 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and a 2.97 FIP for the Yankees. He allowed hard contact at a career high 33.1% rate, but he also maintained a excellent whiff rate (30.3%), and his 11.8 K/9 is still a great rate. He’s one of the league’s best relievers, yet he got less than Andrew Miller and less years than Jeurys Familia. He may have been the best and most reliable reliever on the open market, yet Philadelphia is getting him at an affordable price. There’s no signs of Robertson slowing down, and for just two season, he should continue to pitch 60+ innings at a high level in important, late inning situations. This is a tremendous acquisition for the Phillies, and it should go down as one of the best of the offseason, and for sure their best move so far.
Phillies Acquire C JT Realmuto In Exchange For RHP Sixto Sanchez, C Jorge Alfaro, LHP Will Stewart, $250K International Slot Money
In an absolute blockbuster, the Phillies have acquired catcher JT Realmuto from the Marlins in exchange for pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, catcher Jorge Alfaro, minor league pitcher Will Stewart, and $250K in International Slot Money. Realmuto, 27, has established himself as one of the game’s premier catchers. He led all catchers with a 4.3 WAR, posting an .825 OPS. An increase in hard contact rate, line drive rate, launch angle, and walk rate likely led to this breakout. Furthermore, Realmuto’s home-road splits make him even more appealing. He only posted a .773 OPS in Miami, but that number jumped to .870 on the road. While it’s not a huge difference, those splits should serve as a reminder that his production offensively should increase further in a more hitters friendly park. Realmuto doesn’t rate well as a defender (-5 drs) with below average framing, but there’s a possibility that he will improve other time, and it’s not like Alfaro was doing much better in that department. This is a risky by the Phillies to give away their top prospect in Sanchez, but Realmuto makes them a significantly better team now, and with Sanchez not being as much of a blue chip as others in the past, this isn’t as huge of a price to pay as it seems. This trade reminds me a little of the Christian Yelich trade last year, and that worked out well for Milwaukee to say the least. Assuming Realmuto continues to improve and develop into a star, he’ll be well worth the price for Philadelphia, who’ll have him for at least two seasons, with an extension definitely in the cards as well.
Phillies Extend SP Aaron Nola
The Phillies have signed starting pitcher Aaron Nola to a four-year, $45 million extension. Nola, 25, blossomed into one of game’s top pitchers season, posting a 2.37 ERA with a 3.01 FIP and a 3.21 xFIP. He did so by avoiding hard contact (25.1% hard contact rate), by striking out significantly more batters than he walked (3.68 K/BB), and by inducing ground balls (50.6%). While a low .251 BABIP means he may have gotten lucky and is more of a 3.00 ERA pitcher than a Cy Young contender, the low hard contact rate likely validates the low BABIP at least a little. This buys out at least a year of his free agency and has a club option for $16 million, and even if Nola isn’t exactly the ace Philadelphia thinks he is, there still paying him well below market value for the next five seasons.
Phillies Sign RF Bryce Harper
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Phillies Make