Open Discussion: Week of January 2, 2022

Day 33 of Mister Manfred’s lockout.  No action on the negotiating front.  No likelihood of any for a couple more weeks, it seems. 

Happy New Year to one and all.  Let’s hope things get better.  Let us also hope that the people responsible for baseball come to a speedy and equitable resolution.

Now, I’m convinced that a resolution will be reached sooner rather than later.  My reasoning for this is rather convoluted and grasps at the slimmest evidence.  See if you can follow and maybe have the same false confidence as I in a resolution.

The primary reason for which I expect a timely settlement is money.  The owners experienced a season of monetary loss (in 2020 or the loss of profits at the very least).  The players brokered payment of the bulk of their salaries that season, but no active player has ever experienced an April without a paycheck.

Another reason is the collective intelligence of the negotiators.  They are all aware of what’s at stake.  It’s their job to reach an agreement, not prevent one.  I don’t for a moment believe that they have not been in contact since talks broke off at the Winter Meetings,

Now, is it possible that negotiations could be held without word leaking to the press?  Well, Manfred forbade any team from speaking with the media except for the owners.  The types of articles being reported by the baseball media would seem to indicate that team personnel have listened to Manfred’s order.

With no leaks from the owners, the usual collection of water carriers among the national media have not been printing the usual pro-owner articles as they have in the past.  And, the players’ association in the past only responded to the owners’ leaks.  With no leaks, there has been no reason to comment.

But, how are the negotiations being held?  One word, Zoom.  Or something similar.  With just the negotiators involved on zoom calls, there is no one place where the media can camp out to find the leaky participants.  With Manfred’s gag order on MLB employees other than players, negotiations could have been going on for weeks.

So, in my mind, no news is good news.  If negotiations are being held as I choose to believe, and negotiations aren’t being reported to influence the public by the media, then I am hopeful a deal can be struck in time to save the season and most of spring training.

Over the weekend, one of you offered up several predictions.  One was that Nick Maton would open the first month of the season at shortstop.  This was the first departure from the more common Stott starts the season at shortstop, a Galvis-like interim solution until Stott was ready, or the acquisition of one of the pricey free agents.  This has opened the door for what I feel is a brutal, honest, unpopular truth.  Didi Gregorius will start the season as the Phillies’shortstop.  He WILL be playing for his next contract, and maybe he can be flipped at the trade deadline.

Either solution, Maton or Gregorius, would make use of existing assets on the roster and would negate the necessity to make a trade of or for a shortstop.  Or at least mitigate it while they pursue left and center fielders.

Another brutal, honest, unpopular truth may be that the Phillies are out of the relief pitcher market.  In addition to signing FA Corey Knebel as their closer, they also either signed, re-signed, traded for, or claimed 15 pitchers to minor league contracts this offseason.  Maybe I should add scary to the string of adjectives?

This is the courtesy thread for comments and discussion about the Phillies and other BASEBALL topics.

Rosters and Stuff

Key Dates:

  • December 1, 2021: CBA expires
  • December 2, 2021: Manfred locks out players
  • December 15, 2021: Close of the 2020-21 international signing period
  • January 28,2022: Caribbean Series
  • TBA: Minor League spring training reporting date (probably late February)
  • April 5, 2022: Lehigh Valley season opener at home v. Columbus
  • April 8, 2022:  Clearwater season opener at home v. Fort Myers
  • April 8, 2022:  Jersey Shore season opener at home v. Aberdeen
  • April 8, 2022:  Reading season opener at home v. Somerset




63 thoughts on “Open Discussion: Week of January 2, 2022

  1. If the Phillies are indeed out of the free agent reliever market for the time being, they’ll be back to square one in terms of bullpen output. Knebel is a good addition, no doubt, but I’d target Ryan Tepera as another late-inning option.

    1. Back to square one may sadly be optimistic. While Neris may not be the second coming of Mariano Rivera, and of course not many are, he leaves pretty large shoes to fill in terms of innings and multiplicity of roles!

  2. Any thoughts on the affects on ST that this lockout may have; i.e. pitchers/catchers reporting dates, games starting, etc ?

  3. I may be wrong on this point but I believe players agents can still talk with GM’s to gauge their interest once the lockout ends. I’m not sure if teams can be the ones reaching out to players agents…A subtle difference but important..

    1. Are you positive about that?
      According to an ESPN article last month..Jesse Rogers.

      “….agents can’t meet with teams. In fact, team personnel aren’t even allowed to speak to the media about players on 40-man rosters during the lockout. And teams aren’t supposed to talk to each other about their players also. So technically, no trades will be agreed upon during the lockout — ——assuming executives follow the letter of the lockout law”

      1. Romus; I was thinking something more general absent discussions about years/dollars to how a particular team views a player…So maybe nothing is going or some back channel discussion continue… It’s hard to believe there is nothing being discussed.

        1. Yeah…I can see your point.
          Human nature would dictate that there are those few who will find a loop hole.

  4. Between Covid and the lockout, it looks like I’ll miss ST again, and that really sucks as I sit here in a snowstorm.
    I would agree that money will be spent on a LF and a CF first. Then any remaining money up to the new limit will be spent on RPs. I believe that Didi will bounce back with better health and I bet he loses some weight too. Yes I agree he’s hard to trade and will be our starting SS when the season starts.

  5. There are plenty of relievers out there, so chances are the team will end up with at least 1 or 2 more. The question is: will they be good quality reliever or someone on Minor League deal?
    I would expect at least one more back end pitcher to be added and its possible it could be via trade.

  6. If Didi is the shortstop come April….and the team, and he himself, are playing well enough and hovering around 1st or 2nd place in the NL-East, come July, I think Dave D. will hang on to Didi for the long haul.
    Trading the starting shortstop at that point probably disrupts the chemistry of the club.

    1. I think Didi burned bridges after the way he spoke about the Phillies medical staff last season. I believe Dave Dombrowski would love to deal Didi. However, I don’t believe he’s interested in attaching a prominent prospect in the deal. So maybe that means Didi is back. Or maybe Didi can be thrown into a bigger trade.
      I’m the one who predicted Nick Maton gets most of the PT at SS for the first month of the season. If Didi doesn’t rebound with the bat, I don’t think the team will put up with his glove in the field. Maton is the better defensive SS.

      Speaking of relievers … I saw on social media Archie Bradley got married over the weekend. Lots of Phillies (and former Phillies) attended. I wouldn’t rule out a second season of Bradley at a much cheaper price than his first go-round with the club.

      1. Their wives/girlfriends all look like the same woman with slightly different (but not much different) hair styles.

        1. That’s great, catch! they look like Sisters. I agree that there may not be any additions to the SS position, and Didi is probably not tradeable without attaching something, but I can’t see being done with BP additions. I know we added the usual suspects from the dented can aisle, but especially with Neris leaving, I would, at least hope, that there is another fairly significant BP addition. Jim may be right, and me entirely wrong, but we have seen this quantity of mediocrity over quality approach before, with terrible results.

            1. Thanks Romus, to me, it was a list of names, and he had a really good AA year in 2017 for Richmond. It would be great for even 1 of these guys to work out. I would like at least one more RP who has some Major League success with a little consistency to factor into that 7th/8th inning role. And, I believe we do add 1 more. But Cyr, or any of the group of 15 that we added having success this season would be a huge help.

            2. matt13….velo in mid-to-upper 90s….I guess the next reclamation from the Giants, ala Sam Coonrod

  7. 📻 Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio this weekend: “The Philadelphia Phillies are the best fit for (Kris) Bryant. I think they have the biggest need for him. Kris Bryant’s wife and Bryce Harper’s wife are very close friends. It would be a really good thing for Harper to have Bryant hitting behind him. It would be a really good thing for Harper both on and off the field.”

    Bowden went on to praise Bryant for his defensive flexibility, but said he would play Bryant mostly in LF, and continue to develop Alec Bohm at 3rd base. Bowden called CBP hitter friendly/”a band box”, and said Bryant would hit 30 HRs here. Bryant’s career #’s at CBP: 15 G … .361/.418/.656 slash.
    He also mentioned Dave Dombrowski’s relationship with Scott Boras as another reason to believe things could trend toward a Bryant ➡ Phillies scenario.

    Personally … I still think Michael Conforto (another Boras client) is the best option for the Phillies in LF. I prefer the LH bat, and I think you probably get him for less than his true market value because of a down 2021 season. IMO, Conforto is an excellent bounce back candidate. He suffered from a near career low BABIP last year (.024 below his career avg). Just playing in CBP instead of Citi Field should inflate Conforto’s offensive production going forward. There’s also a pretty good chance the new CBA will either lessen or completely do away with the penalty for signing a QO FA.
    Kevin Kiermairer still seems the most likely CFer to be had in a trade (and why not expand it to acquire Tyler Glasnow?). In a dream scenario, the Phillies POBO swings a deal with Billy Beane for Ramon Laureano, but I think Dombrowski could also call on Cleveland for backup options. Bradley Zimmer or maybe Steven Kwan (who would be perfect for what the Phillies are looking for) could be dark horse trade candidates.

    1. Hinkie, Ciada, mark me as another hoping for Conforto! I’m a big fan. In fact, I rooted for the Phillies to draft Conforto but was also happy with the choice of Nola. It was a win-win decision. I would love to have BOTH now!

      Conforto had produced to his top prospect billing until recently and I believe the dip is mostly due to injury & covid disruptions. I believe he could be a steal at a reduced price!

      1. Dombrowski mentioned in October, he prefers not to forfeit a 2nd round pick on a QO if he doesn’t have to……so more than likely Bryant will be his first choice.
        But if the CBA changes the penalty and reduces the punitive effect….then that may change everything, and Conforto may be who they will go after..

  8. Mr. Hinkie – I agree with you whole heartedly on the Conforto front and weren’t

    Romus and Moffo invited to Archie Bradley’s wedding. They’re not in the photo.

  9. Jim, I can agree with most of what you predicted. Luckily, for my sanity, I’m not waiting on baited breath for the resolution. As for the SS & RP FA market, I differ on the opinion that Middleton will open his wallet, but with the negotiations, we don’t know just how much, as the LTT limit is likely to change. I’m expecting it to change upward, and thus allowing the Phillies to add a quality player, possibly a RP but it may allow Bryant & Schwarber/Conforto depending on how much the limit is raised. That’s how I see it l.

    Maybe you can shed some light on this, because it would give us some nice insights. . During the deadline was the PIT trade that fell through supposed to be the main addition … or was the Tex/Phi only completed because the PIT trade fell through? If both trades were approved … the Phillies would’ve been over the LTT for the 1st time. Interesting to know if the PIT goes through, if Tex trade doesn’t .. and they still have Spencer Howard

    1. Both Bryant and Schwarber? I’d bet money against that. Bryant can’t be the primary CF. Lots of comments here about folks favoring Kiermier (sp?) but I still don’t expect it or want it. He makes too much and hits too little. If they can’t swing one of the three big trades and can’t swing a Laureano deal either, I’d just bring back last year’s guy on a cheap one year deal. It wouldn’t be popular but it might happen. LF will most likely be one of the obvious 4 choices and cost real money. Two of them will cost a draft pick under the current rules but we need one of the 4. I’m hoping for a rules change though.

          1. I’m not saying he’s plan B or plan C. But, there is a non-zero chance of this happening.

            I think most underestimate the Phillies’ interest in Bryant. I mentioned months ago that he was the player they’ve been most interested in acquiring for a few seasons. He’s their white whale in much the same way that Halladay was for Amaro. However, I think 6/$160 is a little too pricey. I like him at around 5/$120 with some generous bonuses.

  10. Harper, Stott, Bryant. It would be Las Vegas East. Maybe they can announced the Bryant trade from Live! casino.

    1. No trade needed but a slot machine in the clubhouse might be needed at that point. Gallo will certainly want to join his buddies.

      1. Murray, thanks for the catch. As we say in the news business, everybody needs an editor.

  11. What pro player had the most HR’s in 2021? I think the answer is Phormer Phuture Phil, Kyle Martin. After slugging 31 (2nd in the league) for Winnipeg In the American Association, he went South and hit 17 for Navojoa to lead the Mexican Pacific League. He hit 7 more than the 2nd place HR finisher. He added 1 more in the playoffs. That should best Vlad and Salvador.

    1. Good for him. Still not hitting for a high average. If I were him I’d consider trying to go to Japan and getting a second shot at the big leagues that way. Playing in that Mexican League and playing Independent League ball is not easy stuff.

  12. I’ve been sidelined for most of the week with my second bout with COVID (first since March 2020). Trying to catch up on some things that were published while I’ve been sick ⤵

    From Jeff Passan’s story …

    “IN THE SPIRIT of avoiding a winter more nuclear than the one already underway, ESPN asked more than a dozen major league sources what they believe a path to a deal looks like. Most of the group — a mixture of one owner, two league officials, two general managers, one assistant GM, four players, one union official and two agents — offered a version of an agreement that looked something like this.

    1. Raise minimum salaries to around $650,000 — a 14% bump

    2. Add a performance bonus pool for pre-arbitration players

    3. Implement the universal designated hitter

    4. Expand the postseason from 10 to 14 teams

    5. Remove indirect draft-pick compensation for free agents

    6. Make significant changes to the draft to disincentivize tanking and reward small markets

    7. Raise the CBT threshold into the $230 million-plus range and remove other restraints, including nonmonetary and recidivism penalties”

    1. Jim Bowden lists the Phillies as the best fit for Kris Bryant (pretty much everything he said on MLB Network Radio over the weekend (I posted it near the top of this thread). He also listed the Phillies as a possible destination for Michael Conforto, Kenley Jansen, Collin McHugh, and Tommy Phan.

      1. Prospects Live has the Phillies taking LHH OF Dylan Beavers (from Cal) at pick 1-17.
        BTW … they have Kumar Rocker going to the Reds one spot after the Phillies pick.

      1. Thank you, Skeet. Feeling much better today.
        I’m vaxxed so even though it felt like I’d been run over by a truck Monday night thru yesterday, the symptoms weren’t nearly as bad as the first time I had it.

  13. Glad to hear Hinkie is doing better ! Continued progress !

    On the back of Hinkie’s observation about Bryant I have seen —since he first mentioned it —that other national writers believe Bryant is Philly bound. Too much influence from Harper, Boras having a relationship with DD and the Phillies. He fills a couple of holes, protects Harper, and lengthens the lineup. In fact – he fills quite a few holes for DD’s shopping cart ; CF, LF; 3B; DH; and good bat. I imagine with Schwarber not signing before the lockout the Phils will go hard for Bryant when the ice breaks. Bowden is on to something. It goes without saying we know Hinkie is on to something too…..

    1. I am extremely wary of Kris Bryant. Yes, in theory, he fits their needs very well. But the problem is that I think he’s a seriously declining player and one who is going to demand a minimum 6 and probably 7 year contract for uber bucks. I think it’s a trap and I would avoid Bryant. He could get the type of contract that drags a franchise down for years and years. He hit his peak as a second year player, he was bad in 2020 and he was just okay, and far from a star, last year. Buyer beware.

      1. But I think he’ll be decent for a few years, so if they want to throw a big pillow contract at him for 2022 (assuming they don’t get Schwarber), I’d be all in on that play.

        1. Apparently Bryant will be destined to start in LF, and Dave D will look to man CF via a trade.
          I still think they can get Reynolds..sure it will hurt prospect -wise in the trade, but it is the most sensible thing to do in order to win over the next 4/5 years…. while this core is at its prime production level.
          When it comes to risk……he may like to look to the D-Back and Daulton Varsho….the bat looks to play, more so than a Kevin K., but defensively he is an unknown to a degree, due to limited playing time in CF..
          But he would cost a lot less than Reynolds…probably Haseley and a AA/AAA minor league pitcher

          1. Interesting, Romus. Very interesting. Varsho, son of former MLB player and Phillies coach Gary, was named after Dutch Daulton. The fact that he can both play CF and catch (as 3rd C on the big league roster?) without being considered an emergency catcher, at that. Intriguing. So far his major league numbers aren’t particularly impressive but with Bryant’s flexibility to play CF, it’s sensible and more than reasonable to envision this going down. At 25, there seems to be some upside. I’m in. Especially since it wouldn’t require giving up top prospects like Rojas who would still be in line to be the future CF, maybe by 2024.

            1. Upon further research, I stand corrected…Varsho’s overall value is significantly higher than I originally expected. I’m fairly certain he will cost a couple of highly ranked prospects, if not the highest. I wonder if DD would look to swap bad SS money in such a trade – Gregorius for Ahmed, who is at least a much better glove. Didi is a bounce back candidate, but is Dombrowski really counting on that for ’22?

              How about Varsho and Ahmed for Rojas, Painter, Marchan and Didi. Some non-Phillies fans may argue that it’s not enough for Varsho….

            2. Not sure he will cost all that much more….he is not currently in the Reynolds class, nor even teammate Marte’s class.
              IMO, it will not be an arm and a leg to obtain him.
              One very interesting fact on him…his reverse splits are very odd…minors and majors.
              He hits lefties, for overall metrics, better than RHBs…..just the opposite of a Joc Pederson.
              His power though is vs RHPs….so vs LHPs he must just try to make contact and go gap-to-gap.

              “How about Varsho and Ahmed for Rojas, Painter, Marchan and Didi. Some non-Phillies fans may argue that it’s not enough for Varsho….”

              Not sure Dave D wants to move Stott off of shortstop…Ahmed would move him off for a few years it appears since he is under contract until the end of 2023.

        2. I agree with catch. I worry about Bryant. The fact that Farhan Zaidi hasn’t shown greater interest in re-signing Bryant raises all kinds of red flags IMO. The Giants have lots of payroll space, and Zaidi got an up close and personal look at Bryant last season. Michael Conforto is the best fit for the Phillies for LF IMO.

          I like Daulton Varsho a little, but I just don’t think the DBacks (a rebuilding team) would want to trade a developing young player under club control for 5 more seasons … unless, of course, you’re willing to overpay for him? He’s not the level of player I would overpay for.
          IMO … Keirmairer or Laureano are more realistic CF trade targets. The Rays and A’s are bottom line organizations. And while Varsho is passable in CF, Keirmairer and Laureano dominate (with the glove {and arm}) out there. I still think Bradley Zimmer could be a dark horse trade candidate. He’s been a big disappointment offensively in Cleveland. Maybe he improves in a better/deeper LU, and under the tutorship of Kevin Long. I’d also ask about Steven Kwan. The Guardians are loaded with good young players/prospects. Kwan has sort of been overlooked in their system. He’s exactly what the Phillies need: a leadoff guy/CFer with the ability to get on base.

          1. Varsho does have that one element that sets him apart…sons of pro baseball players seem to be able to make the necessary adjustments and prosper.
            They have a work ethic and a knowledge of the game and a maturity level to keep them focused as professionals.
            My guess he will be ready to bloom.
            DBacks may see the same and put a high price tag on him, so Dave D in his quest for that future CFer will have to make his choices….and there are a handful or more out there in can pursue.

  14. Going back to the summer, I’ve told you all that Bryant is a Phillies’ target. I’ve repeated it on at least two other occasions, recently labeling him as the organization’s current white whale. And, Jim Salisbury, on more than one occasion, has reported the Phillies’ interest in Bryant.

    So, try giving a little less credit to the national guys who are probably taking their lead from Salisbury.

    Remember, local/beat writers know more than the national guys. BTW, Jeff Passan is the current “leak” for MLB. Read anything he writes with great interest. But, keep in mind that he is getting it direct from MLB for a reason, until they get mad at the way he presents it and “Rosenthal” him, too.

  15. I’m dreaming Reynolds, Schwarber and Bryant are to risky. Vierling/Miller platoon in left.

  16. I agree with Romus (above) when he says, “I still think they can get Reynolds.” I wouldn’t bet money on it, but I certainly wouldn’t put it past Dave Dombrowski either. Middleton hired DD to win now. We’ve seen Dombrowski make (many) big deals over the years. That’s what he does. I put nothing past him.

    1. I suppose Dombrowski will need to get the player, the one via a trade, that will come close to complement, in age and abilities, to Harper, JTR, Nola, Wheeler and Hoskins. If their window of prime production is 3 to 5 more years….then he will need to get someone already producing in the majors….and Reynolds is probably the one he has set as his primary target.
      Plus it would make Harper happy…..signing Boras’ client Bryant and getting Reynolds makes Harper’s team happy.

  17. Once the CBA is finalized and the dam breaks on trades and signings the Phillies will sign Bryant and trade for a CF. There seems to be a handful of possibilities but speaking of Reynolds he would take more than I believe we would want to give up in an already thin system. The Pirates are still smarting from the Archer highway robbery so their looking to get some upper level talent back. They’ll ask for Abel, Stott and maybe Miller or O’Hoppe.

  18. If it’s true that the Giants are looking for a right handed bat, Rhys Hoskins may be a good chip to play in that market. SF has lefty Kyle Harrison in their system, ranked #5 with an ETA of 2024. He would probably slot in our top 10. I would also ask for minor league 3b/1b Luis Toribio (in their top 15).

    If indeed Bryant is in Dombrowski’s sights and signs, he would IMO get lots of ABs as a DH. I most definitely see Bohm shifting to 1b permanently. And once Stott arrives, he could be given an opportunity to lock down 3b. Meanwhile, KB gives you options (if only in small doses) at CF, LF, 3B and 1B. Word is the Giants cooled on his defensive metrics. Fine, we’ll take the bat which should play up at CBP which it has throughput his career.

    1. One of the items on the Phillies’ to do list is a middle-of-the-order bat to add to the existing bats. Acquiring Bryant (or Schwarber or any other middle-of-the-order bat) and then trading Hoskins just creates another hole in the lineup.

  19. Count me as someone who is ALL in on Bryant, for several reasons. For one, the guy plays a zillion positions and if the Phils get him perhaps they finally allow Kingery to concentrate on the position the team originally drafted him to play, 2b. I have in no way given up on him. He is a good player who has been badly mishandled, one of the biggest black eyes in Phillie recent history.

    Bryant also gives the Phils an outstanding right handed bat to follow Harper and I suspect they would professionally and personally push themselves in positive ways. Great friends who would make great teammates. He is also a guy who will take a walk, a most valuable weapon in today’s modern game. His power translates well to CBP and by all accounts he is a great teammate and clubhouse presence.

    Oh, and two more things. One, he has won a WS, and this is nothing to sneeze at on a team with very little experience at that. Heck, Harper and Realmuto have never even been to a WS. And the other may seem insignificant but I believe is very important, their agent. You could make a very solid case that Harper and Bryant are Boras’s two most valued clients and it would behoove Boras to keep them happy after delivering them to the Phillies.

    Boras would never cause a free agent to take less to join a team but if all things are equal, I bet dollars to dimes that if the Phils are one of the two finalists, said player would soon be singing the tune Philadelphia Freedom.

    To me, this is a win-win-win-win-win.

    1. I am worried about Bryant being a “bad” contract, I think it’s a legitimate concern, but I’m still bullish on his production for the next 4 years. 70/30. My preference is Schwarber, just because how ridiculously clutch he is. This retool process likely takes more than 1 season, what Bryant does is give options for next offseason. I’ll roll the dice on him, I think he brings some intangibles that can’t be measured. Once the final piece is added next off-season or deadline .. Bryant’s flexibility will come in big time. Hope the contract is reasonable .. in baseball terms

      On trading Hoskins – I don’t think you can. He has good production for his salary. Gotta keep that, unless you think Bohm can match it at 1B

      On CF … I’d like to find the next Reynolds so they don’t overpay but … I’d easily take KK, his defense is nuts. Imo, The Phillies are going to need both Abel & painter. One in the rotation & 1 as trade bait. Going to need another surprise arm like Suarez pop up to help

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