The MLB winter meetings are underway in Las Vegas with the rumors swirling around the game’s top free agents and which teams will acquire them. One of those teams who has been the talk of the baseball world is the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Phillies surprised everybody with their exciting play in the summer, before they came crashing back down to earth in August and September.
With that being said, many analysts expect the Phillies to spend a lot of money in free agency to compete in 2019 and for the foreseeable future. They began spending some of that money on Tuesday with the signing of veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen.
However, the Phillies are still in the running for both superstar outfielder Bryce Harper and infielder Manny Machado. Regardless of whom Philly gets out of the two, that player will be an immediate upgrade in their starting lineup.
In addition to acquiring another bat, they are also very active in the free agent pitcher market, seeking a left-handed starter and dominant reliever. Last month, the Phillies were one of the teams connected to then free agent Patrick Corbin, who signed a colossal six-year, $140 million deal with the Washington Nationals.
But he was not the only pitcher that they are reportedly keeping tabs on. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reported on Tuesday that the Phillies are in on both Dallas Keuchel and Zach Britton.
After Corbin signed with the Nationals last week, it was immediately reported by Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports that the Phils would consider the former A.L. Cy Young award winner.
Last season, the 30-year-old Keuchel dealt with numerous injuries on the mound, but still ended up posting a record of 12-11 with an ERA of 3.74. During the Astros’ World Series run in 2017, he had an ERA of 2.90 and was one of the reasons why they captured their first title in franchise history.
If the Phillies were to go all in for Keuchel, it would give them a nice 1-2-3 combination in the starting rotation with Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta.
In regards to Britton, he spent the second half of last season with the New York Yankees, after being traded from the Baltimore Orioles. The veteran reliever posted an excellent 2.88 ERA with 21 strikeouts over 25 innings pitched in 25 games with New York.
Before joining the Yanks, the All-star closer spent eight seasons in Baltimore. Over a two-year stretch with the Orioles (2014-16), Britton racked up a total of 120 saves and averaged a ridiculous ERA of 1.38. It is no secret that the Phillies could use a closer as they depended too much on the young arm of Seranthony Dominguez, who is right now better suited to be a setup man.
Outside of Britton, the Phils have also been connected to veteran relievers Andrew Miller and Craig Kimbrel. And last but not least, there is J.A. Happ, who spent the beginning of his career in Philadelphia.
Last week, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reported that the Phillies were turning their focus towards the 36-year-old Happ. The MLB scribe also mentioned that the veteran pitcher is seeking a three-year deal.
With that being known, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported on Tuesday that Happ has numerous two-year deals on the table, but will sign immediately when a team offers him a three-year deal.
Should the Phillies jump the shark and be that team to offer Happ what he wants? It totally depends on what else happens in the pitching market.
If they move quickly on Happ, before Keuchel goes off the board first, it works in their favor. But if Keuchel gets signed first, then that opens up the opportunity for more teams to pounce on the 36-year-old starter.
It should be interesting to see how the pitching market progresses between potential trades and signings because that will ultimately decide what the Phillies do.