The Phillies are close to winning the offseason after Realmuto trade, but here's what else they need to do
Getting either Manny Machado or Bryce Harper is the only route to a successful Philly offseason
The big baseball transactional news of the day was the Phillies landing All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto to the Marlins. You can check out the . It was a good move for the the Phillies, just as adding Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson via free agency and Jean Segura via trade have been as well.
On paper, the Phillies have improved since the beginning of the offseason to the point where I'd handicap them to sit low-to-mid 80s in wins, just off the top of my head. SportsLine is less bullish, putting them at 80 wins. Regardless, they were looking to assemble a playoff team, so in what figures to be a tough NL East, this simply isn't good enough just yet.
Fortunately for the Phillies, they still have a good chunk of money left to spend. Swapping in Realmuto's $5.9 million salary for Jorge Alfaro's likely $600K-ish second-year pre-arbitration salary, the Phillies are still shy of $100 million in payroll (looks like it'll be around $94 million, per Cot's Contracts). The franchise has gone as high as $177 million and change before and the luxury tax threshold for 2019 is $206 million.
Basically, they could in theory add $100 million in salary, meaning they could afford both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Keep in mind, starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel are still out there, too. Let's run through some looks.
Phillies lineup with Harper
- Andrew McCutchen, LF
- Jean Segura, SS
- Bryce Harper, RF
- Rhys Hoskins, 1B
- J.T. Realmuto, C
- Maikel Franco, 3B
- Odubel Herrera, CF
- Cesar Hernandez, 2B
That's a lineup, eh?
Phillies lineup with Machado
- McCutchen, RF
- Segura, SS (or 2B)
- Manny Machado, 3B (or SS)
- Rhys Hoskins, 1B
- Realmuto, C
- Nick Williams, LF
- Herrera, CF (or Franco, 3B)
- Hernandez, 2B (or Herrera, CF)
As noted in the parenthetical, you can switch it up depending upon where Machado would play.
Let's kick this into the stratosphere, though.
Phillies lineup with Machado and Harper
- Segura, SS
- Machado, 3B
- Harper, RF
- Hoskins, 1B
- Realmuto, C
- McCutchen, LF
- Herrera, CF
- Hernandez, 2B
In this case, they'd probably trade Franco or Hernandez for bullpen help, so I just picked one. That is a "now we're talking" lineup for the Phillies, though. A very good table-setter in front of three marquee power hitters, the best offensive catcher in baseball, a still-productive Cutch and two players who have been better than 2018 and could bounce back.
Now, if the Philies don't land both Harper and Machado, which I imagine they won't, they should make a run at Keuchel, Kimbrel or both. Let's look at those alignments.
Phillies rotation with Keuchel
Zach Eflin and Jerad Eickhoff remain options as well. There's good depth and upside in this scenario with a true ace at the top followed by two veteran former Cy Young winners who also each have a championship ring.
Phillies bullpen with Kimbrel
- Closer: Craig Kimbrel
- Top setup: David Robertson
- Other setup: Seranthony Dominguez, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek, Juan Nicasio
- Lefties: Adam Morgan, Jose Alvarez
Really, if we went bonkers and added all four players I've discussed here, that team would be in the mix for the the best in the NL. As things stand, the Phillies can become a legitimate contender in adding one from the Harper/Machado group and either one or both of the pitchers mentioned.
Their grade to this point in the offseason is incomplete. They can still complete the job by spending big in free agency. The opportunity is there with so many other deep pocketed teams seemingly sitting this one out.
Your move, Philly.
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