General manager Matt Klentak and the Phillies made headlines during the last week as their flurry of moves came as a shock to the rest of the baseball world.
The week began in Orlando, Florida as the annual MLB Winter Meetings kicked off last Monday. The week is always known as one of the more busy weeks of the offseason but this year it was particularly slow.
For the Phillies, their name was plastered all over every rumor but during the meetings, they only struck for a pair of relievers. First, they agreed to a 2-year/$16.25 million deal with reliever Pat Neshek who found his way back to Philly after being dealt to the Rockies last July. Not long after, they agreed to a 2-year/$18 million deal with another vet in Tommy Hunter despite false reports that had the Phillies signing Addison Reed.
Nonetheless, the two signings served as way to solidify the bullpen and perhaps help support a starting pitching staff that really struggled to throw deep into games, often exiting in the 6th inning or earlier.
The Winter Meetings came and went with just a few moves but after they ended the Phillies made a shocking free agent signing that sent a strong message to the rest of the MLB: the rebuild is over earlier than expected and the Phillies are ready to contend.
The shocking free agent signing came in form of former Cleveland Indian Carlos Santana who inked a 3-year/$60 million with Phillies. Their interest in Santana was rumored a few weeks ago but from the outside it appeared to just be smoke with not much substance to it. There was no obvious answer why they would sign him particularly with Rhys Hoskins already occupying first base.
However, after the news broke that the Phillies had signed him, their reasoning slowly started to become apparent. Their confidence in Hoskins playing in left field, something he did for a good chunk of his first major league stint, was solidified as it seems he will begin the season there with Santana taking over at first.
There are bigger implications of this situation though. With Hoskins occupying an outfield spot, one of Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera, and Nick Williams will lose their starting position.
Suddenly, it all makes sense as they could use their new abundance of outfielders by flipping one to get much needed help in the starting pitching rotation. Each of the three outfielders are promising young players that each hold significant trade value.
Some of the possible targets the Phillies could pursue are Marcus Stroman, Chris Archer, Michael Fulmer, and Gerrit Cole. Any of the four would fit well with the Phillies needs: a young starting pitcher with several years of control. They need someone to pair with Aaron Nola at the top of the rotation as they move into contender status.
The Santana signing serves a two-fold purpose for the Phillies. It not only frees up and outfielder for a starting pitcher but it tells the rest of the MLB that they are serious and ready to be a contender.
Next year’s free agent class is going to be ripe with stars commanding unprecedented contract money. Players like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Dallas Keuchel, just to name a few, will be on the free agent market.
The Phillies have the financial flexibility to outbid the rest of the MLB to land one but the it’s understandable that a player would want to pick a contender. The Santana signing provides the Phillies with credibility as a contender. It shows they are ready win and gives them a full season prove it. When next offseason comes, they hope to be in the best possible position to potentially lure a big name free agent.
It remains to be seen what the rest of the offseason will bring for the Phillies but so far they have shocked everyone by showing their core is in place and they are ready to win now.