Free agency is officially underway and the consensus around the MLB is that the Philadelphia Phillies will land superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Harper is expected to receive a lifetime deal from a lucky team, which means he will make upwards of $300 million.
However, nothing is guaranteed until Harper makes the announcement himself and signs a contract. If the Phillies do not somehow get the 26-year-old superstar, they do have interest in a solid secondary option.
Last week, Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com reported that the Phillies along with the Atlanta Braves and Chicago White Sox have offered a contract to free agent outfielder Michael Brantley. The 31-year-old Brantley spent his entire career with the Cleveland Indians but did not receive a one-year, $17.9 million qualifying offer from them.
In addition to what was initially reported, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland mentioned over the weekend that “there is nearly a zero percent chance” Brantley returns to the Indians.
This season, the veteran outfielder played in 143 games, which was a considerable improvement from the previous two seasons where he dealt with various injuries and only played in 101 games.
Along those same lines, Brantley had one of his better seasons, hitting .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs and 76 RBI. He also only had 60 strikeouts and 48 walks in 631 plate appearances.
With all that being said, did the Phillies make the right choice in offering a contract to Brantley?
Without question, even though his walks could be a tad bit higher, having only 60 strikeouts is impressive. And it is something that would be intriguing to Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.
This past season, the Phils were pretty good when it came to patience at the plate, drawing 582 walks, which ranked third in the National League.
Another good thing that works in Brantley’s favor is that he primarily plays in left field. As of right now, Philly’s plan for next season is to have Rhys Hoskins at first base, instead of left field, which opens up a spot for someone else.
Could that someone else be Harper or Brantley? It honestly depends on whoever else is in the running for the superstar outfielder because the Phillies could get Brantley for a reasonable price.
According to Spotrac.com, Brantley’s calculated market value is a four-year deal worth $77 million. That is not horrible, especially when you consider other players such as Justin Turner and J.D. Martinez who signed lucrative long-term deals.
Now that is not to say Brantley will make a huge impact like Martinez did with the Red Sox this season. But he would be a nice bat to have in the middle of the order, hitting in front of Hoskins preferably.
Nevertheless, it should be interesting to see how things play out for the Phillies. If they do not get Harper and opt for Manny Machado instead, then Brantley could be their starting left fielder in 2019.