The Philadelphia Phillies spent big last offseason, which led to playoff expectations. In the end, though, they managed a mere .500 record and a fourth-place finish in the NL East. As a consequence, manager Gabe Kapler lost his job (he's since landed with the Giants), and the front office realized further roster improvements were needed. 

In addition to bringing in veteran skipper Joe Girardi, the Phillies also recently inked coveted right-hander Zack Wheeler to a reported $118 million contract. Add him to a returning core of Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, Rhys Hoskins, and others, and the Phillies figure to be ably positioned, even in a division that yielded three winning teams. That said, if the Phillies want to return to the postseason for the first time since 2011, there's more work to be done. The good news for Philly partisans is that ownership seems to know it. 

First, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Phillies have interest in free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, who's the top position player on the market. Rendon is coming off an age-29 season in which he batted .319/.412/.598 with 80 extra-base hits, 80 walks, and a third place finish in the NL MVP balloting. Needless to say, Rendon is coveted and will command a large contract. Signing Rendon, as Nightengale notes, would put the Phillies over the Competitive Balance Tax (CBT) threshold for the first time, but the penalties for first-time "offenders" aren't particular steep, especially for a team with the Phillies' resources. As a bonus, they'd be plucking Rendon from the roster of the defending world champs. Failing that, Nightengale reports the Phillies could turn to Josh Donaldson, the second-best free agent third baseman on the market. He'd of course be coming from the division champion Braves.

Elsewhere, the Phillies also have eyes for free agent starters Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit ColeJon Heyman reports. Those are, of course, popular names this offseason, and depending on how the money plays out the Phillies probably aren't among the frontrunners for either. The Phillies do indeed need additional help in the rotation, and that's the case even after the addition of Wheeler. While the Phillies by most accounts are willing to go into CBT territory, it's hard to imagine their landing one of the two top third basemen and one of the two top starting pitchers. 

The good news -- especially in an era when teams go to great lengths not to get better -- is that the Phillies seem poised to make additional investments in the roster.