The Phillies active offseason didn’t go as planned- they team finished with just a 81-81 record. Still, they have a very talented roster that could easily win the NL East next season. That is, if they’re able to add some pitching depth- general manager Matt Klentack likely be very busy in finishing off the complete roster he’s in the process of building.
Expected Direction: All-In On Winning Next Season
Phillies Sign SP Zack Wheeler
Contract Details: Five Years, $118 Million
The Phillies are clearly all-in to be a World Series contender next season, and know that they have to fix their pitching staff, which had little depth outside of Aaron Nola. Well, they now have Nola’s partner in crime- they signed starting pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year contract worth $118 million. That’s certainly a lot more money than expected for Wheeler, who has been closer to a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher than a front-line starting pitcher. Still, it’s easy to see why teams, and the Phillies, fell for him. He ranks in the 90th percentile in fastball velocity and exit velocity allowed, per Baseball Savant, which is a great combination. Plus, if he can match his elite pitching arsenal with better strikeout numbers, we could be looking at an ace. However, that’s yet to happen, so there’s a chance that he’s closer to the 4.06 xFIP pitcher he was last season; Wheeler also has an extensive injury history. Still, if he replicates last season’s production (4.7 WAR), he’ll still live up to his $23.5 average annual value, going off of a $5/WAR model. It’s a gamble for the Phillies, but it’s hard to ignore the upside, and as long as Wheeler stays healthy, there’s not a significant amount of downside- his health and improvement is a major if, however.
Phillies Sign SS Didi Gregorius
Contract Details: One Year, $14 Million
Reuniting him with new manager Joe Girardi, the Phillies have signed Didi Gregorius to a one-year contract worth $14 million. Most likely, the former Yankee will slot in at shortstop for Philadelphia, while Jean Segura will move to second base. After posting back-to-back 4 WAR seasons, last season didn’t go as planned for the 29-year-old Gregorius. He missed the first two months of the season recovering from Tommy John Surgery, and even when he came back, he clearly wasn’t the same; he had just an 84 weighted-runs-created plus (wrc+) and .276 on-base percentage (OBP). Usually, I’d blame that on the injury, but still, perhaps Gregorius’ past luck is catching up to him. In both 2017 and 2018, he massively overachieved, based on his expected statistics, as he doesn’t exactly have a knack for hard contact and doesn’t walk much. Plus, if he can’t be an above-average offensive producer, he won’t be able to make up for it with his defense, as he’s been an average defender. On the surface, this looks like a great deal for the Phillies, who shore up a hole on the infield without any long-term financial risk. However, it’s not a sure thing that this works out for Philadelphia, and for a team with some financial restrictions and with pitching still a need, $14 million is not a small amount.
Phillies Sign RP Tommy Hunter
Contract Details: One Year, $850K (w/$1.3 Million Incentives)
In a very underrated signing that could pay-off in a huge way, the Phillies have made an attempt to shore up their bullpen, inking Tommy Hunter to a one-year contract with $850K, along with another $1.3 million in incentives. The 33-year-old Hunter pitched in just five innings last season after dealing with a right forearm strain, but by all accounts, he’ll be ready to pitch off a mound in two weeks. After signing a multi-year deal with the team, he wasn’t quite as dominant in 2018 as he was in 2017, striking out batters at a much lesser rate (7.11 K/9), but based on his 4.01 xFIP, he was certainly serviceable. If he can be just that type of pitcher, then this will be a steal for Philadelphia, but if he can somehow be the pitcher he was in 2017 (.240 xwOBA allowed), that sentiment dramatically increases. There’s not much risk at all, and when looking at other relievers who’ve earned a similar contract this offseason, Hunter is the most qualified; I love this deal for the Phillies.
*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Phillies Make