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Phillies Offseason Preview

Manny Shklar

Managing Editor

If Bryce Harper hadn’t needed Tommy John surgery on his partially torn UCL (ulnar collateral ligament), Phillies’ President of Baseball Operation Dave Dombrowski wouldn’t have to make a franchise-altering decision this offseason. Hypotheticals can be fun in sports, but this situation is now a reality for the Phillies. We can only speculate for now, but the team’s announcement that Harper will move to first base full time could be a sign that the Phillies are ready to move on from star first baseman Rhys Hoskins.

Hoskins seemed primed for another great season heading into 2023, but a torn ACL suffered in spring training sidelined him for the entire year. The former 2014 fifth round pick has hit at least 27 homeruns in each of his four full seasons (excluding the shortened 2020 season) and has been an elite postseason performer in the power department. He’s averaging a homerun every 11.5 at-bats in 17 career playoff games despite a low .159 batting average. He was a key piece in the Phillies’ World Series run in 2022, and would’ve been a huge player to have in 2023’s deep run.

Despite the loss of Hoskins, the Phillies were just fine. Moving Harper to first and promoting outfielder Johan Rojas from AA affiliate Reading Fightin Phils proved to benefit the team a ton, as they improved both their hitting and fielding. Harper was good as he always was and Rojas shined defensively and is widely considered one of the elite young outfielders now. Additionally, Brnadon Marsh, who became the starting left fielder, was serviceable in the regular season and simply incredible in the playoffs. Right fielder Nick Castellanos broke numerous homerun records in the playoffs despite ending on a cold streak. All of this depth in the outfield, and Harper at first, leaves zero room for Hoskins on this team. He’s a free agent, and it seems imminent that the staple first basemen has played his last game in Phillies’ red and white.

While the bats were usually carrying this team in the postseason, pitching was important as well. Zach Wheeler continued to be an ace, and both Ranger Suarez and Jose Alverado provided many valuable innings. One player who stood out, and not in a good way, was reliever Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel had back-to-back chances to seal wins in the NLCS, but blew it twice. Had the Phillies won just one of those games, this city would be celebrating a World Series appearance, maybe even a championship. Kimbrel’s abysmal outings have made him a target of many insults on social media, and many fans have voiced that they never want to see him pitch for the Phillies again. Thankfully, he’s a free agent, so that solution looks likely. Another pitcher whose contract is up is Aaron Nola, who has been one of the most inconsistent players in baseball year-to-year. When he plays well, he can be one of the best pitchers in baseball, as shown by his 2.37, 3.28 and 3.25 earned run averages in 2018, 2020 and 2022, respectively. However he has also had horrible years, proven by his 4.63 ERA in 2021 and this season’s 4.46. Ultimately, because of his highs, Nola is requesting a long and expensive deal, but the Phillies can look for better options at their number two option.

In free agency this year, some of the players the Phillies should target are Blake Snell, Brent Suter, Aroldis Chapman and Travis Jankowski. Snell, a starting pitcher, is a Cy Young Award candidate after an amazing 2023 and would replace Nola perfectly as a consistently great pitcher. Suter and Chapman are both lefty relievers, similar to Kimbrel, and each are coming off impressive years in their own right. Suter pitched well in the Colorado Rockies’ hitter friendly Coors’ Field, while Chapman continued to build his MLB legacy by domination in the postseason and winning the World Series.

Dombrowski clearly has a lot of options on the table, and he knows that the Phillies’ World Series window could close very soon with how stacked the rest of the National League is. With necessary changes coming to this team, fans can expect some new and exciting players helping the 2024 campaign.


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