Okay, this will not be a popular discussion topic. But, what if the Phillies are finished making moves this off season? That’s not to say that they aren’t on the phones every day, making and taking calls. But, what if the Phillies aren’t going to make any of the trades or free agent signings that have been suggested here or in other sports and social media outlets?
Now, I don’t have any inside information suggesting such a tack. Nor, is this my opinion of what the Phillies’ course should be. I sometimes post articles and comments, whether rooted on some tidbit of inside information or not, to foment discussion, to contradict a popular but possibly flawed discussion, or to offer an alternate plan for consideration, This is one of those occasions. But, which?
Okay, we’ve been told by many sources this off season that the Phillies are not going over the salary threshold of $208M. Still, we cling to the owner’s promise to spend “stupid” money at this time last year. And, we recall the team president’s comment last season that the Phillies wouldn’t go over the threshold to compete for the second wild card. In addition, we’ve seen all sorts of speculation regarding additional signings and/or trades. So, what are we to believe?
Well, ,for the sake of this discussion, let’s say the following are true.
- The Phillies have no intention of going over the tax threshold unless it is for a player who will almost guarantee a playoff spot.
- The Phillies are willing to go up to the mythical $228M first penalty limit.
- The Phillies don’t believe there is a free agent left on the market who could fill the shoes of such a player.
- The best avenue for the Phillies to improve is via trade.
- While interested in Cubs’ third baseman, the Phillies are unlikely to trade for Bryant. Because …
- the Cubs are looking to shed salary, and are unlikely to take salary back in a deal;
- the Cubs will want to wait and win the service time grievance (the most likely outcome), so that …
- Bryant will have 2 more years of controllable service, albeit two expensive, arbitration years;
- the price will go up due to the additional year;
- and, the Cubs can postpone a decision until the trade deadline or next off season depending on the Cubs’ position in the Central standings
- Bryant would put the Phillies over the threshold;
- he’s going to cost prospects rather than cash;
- a trade would limit future moves – less cash under the second threshold and fewer prospects to trade;
- when Donaldson finally signs, other suitors will join the market and drive the prospect price up;
- if the Braves don’t sign Donaldson they have more prospects to trade;
- and, going over the threshold for Bryant still leaves other pesky holes to fill.
That leaves trading for players that fans and media experts identify as being needed to fill the perceived holes. This is not a bad route to take. However,
- Some of the identified trade targets are on teams that have been pretty active so far this off season and don’t appear to be in “sell” mode.
- Fewer teams “selling” means fewer attractive player available. The law of supply and demand will drive the prices up for the less than premium players who may be available.
- A couple of once-premium players are available but have the albatross of “bad” contracts attached to them. These players may be more attractive acquisitions closer to the trade deadline when a team thinks they are close to a playoff spot and the prospect cost to take on the bad contract would conceivably be lower.
So, the Phillies may actually and really be done for now.
This doesn’t rule out acquiring a bargain off the waiver wire before the season starts. Or, adding a few more veterans with spring training invites and tickets to Allentown. But, it is a lot more likely that they are saving their cash and prospect capital for the trade deadline when they can identify and address their specific needs for their second half run.
I know this is not an attractive course of inaction for the coming months. But, it is something we might have to accept.