“Trust the process” has become the unofficial motto of the Philadelphia sports scene.
Originally used synonymously with the 76ers rebuild, the term has —in some manner —been instilled in all four of the city’s major pro teams, including the Phillies. General manager Matt Klentak furthered that mindset during the winter meetings when he told reporters he wouldn’t be forcing anything for the sake of making a move.
Through the early going of the offseason, the Phillies’ biggest moves have been the surprising return of Jeremy Hellickson and the signings of reliever Joaquin Benoit and the Swiss-army knife that is Howie Kendrick. The latter is expected to start in left field but could easily see time in the middle infield if needed.
None of those moves are the blockbusters that have come to define the winter meetings. There weren’t any “Chris Sale to Boston” or “Aroldis Chapman to the New York Yankees” type moves being made by the Phillies.
That’s perfectly fine.
The Phillies, for lack of a better term, are trusting their process, which means they’re banking on their prospects and smart, calculated acquisitions when the time comes.
Nonetheless, this is still a franchise that hasn’t won more than 73 games since 2012. To make matters worse, they’re stuck in the National League East, a division that is top heavy between the Washington Nationals and New York Mets, both of which possess young cores that should keep them relevant for quite a few years.
So improving this team for the time being definitely is a concern for the Phillies’ management. While they most likely won’t be making rumored moves like trading for Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen or Minnesota second baseman Brian Dozier, there are still low-risk, high-reward type players out there on the market.
If outfield is something they want to continue to address, having already brought in Kendrick, the return of Peter Bourjos could very well be an option. Bourjos had his most productive season since leaving the Los Angeles Angels in 2013. A reunion with Michael Bourn could be in the mix as he would be an improvement over Bourjos. Names like Matt Joyce, Chris Coghlan and Sam Fuld could also be considered.
The Phillies, though, will most likely place all their eggs in the bullpen. Bringing in Benoit is a good start to that seeing he posted a 2.81 ERA last season with Seattle and Toronto. If there’s any position that will see the Phillies willing to spend money, it’ll be a reliever. Benoit is most likely just the beginning for the Phillies.
Outside of that, the remaining roster will be filled with the same faces from a year ago and a potential infusion of youth depending on how spring training turns out. So don’t hold your breath for a front page-worthy acquisition this winter, but do pay attention as Klentak makes some shrewd moves to better this year’s roster.