Philadelphia Phillies: 2017 season review and offseason preview

Hernandez has the most value of any available Phillie. Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images.
Hernandez has the most value of any available Phillie. Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images. /
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Top Offseason Priorities

According to CBS Sports, the Philadelphia had the 21st-highest payroll in baseball on Opening Day, at around $111 million. They no longer have the six highest-paid players from last year, so that payroll will come way down if they don’t spend some cash on free agents in the offseason. The biggest guaranteed contract is the $3.35 million for Odubel Herrera, although Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, and Maikel Franco will see an increase in salary through arbitration and are likely to make more than Herrera in 2018.

This is how the lineup and rotation look for 2018 based on their current roster, with salaries from Cot’s Baseball Contracts at Baseball Prospectus:

C Jorge Alfaro, pre-arbitration

1B Rhys Hoskins, pre-arbitration

2B Cesar Hernandez, arbitration-eligible (made $2.55 million last year)

SS Freddy Galvis, arbitration-eligible (made $4.35 million last year)

3B Maikel Franco, arbitration-eligible (made $560,000 last year)

LF Aaron Altherr, pre-arbitration

CF Odubel Herrera, $3 million

RF Nick Williams, pre-arbitration

1B Tommy Joseph, pre-arbitration

C Cameron Rupp, arbitration-eligible

C Andrew Knapp, pre-arbitration

SP Aaron Nola, pre-arbitration

SP Jerad Eickhoff, pre-arbitration

SP Vincent Velasquez, pre-arbitration

SP Ben Lively, pre-arbitration

SP Jake Thompson, pre-arbitration

SP Mark Leiter, Nick Pivetta, and others

RP Hector Neris, pre-arbitration

RP Edubray Ramos, pre-arbitration

RP Luis Garcia, arbitration-eligible

RP Adam Morgan, pre-arbitration

Free agents: SP Clay Buchholz, OF Hyun-Soo Kim, OF Daniel Nava, INF Andres Blanco 

More from Call to the Pen

The first priority for the Phillies will be hiring a manager. They moved previous manager Pete Mackanin to a front office role and have been searching for a replacement. It’s been reported that they’ve interviewed Mariners third base coach Manny Acta, Giants third base coach Phil Nevin, Athletics bench coach Chip Hale, and their own third base coach and former Phillies player, Juan Samuel. Mickey Callaway was a possibility, but the former pitching coach of the Cleveland Indians has reportedly been hired to be the manager of the New York Mets.

Other internal candidates include Dusty Wathan, who has been a manager at various levels of the minor leagues in the Phillies organization the last 10 years. Special assistant to the GM, Jorge Velandia, was also interviewed for the position. But wait, there’s more. Jon Heyman has suggested the Phillies have interest in Red Sox bench coach Gary DiSarcina, former Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, and Rockies bench coach Mike Redmond. Basically, anyone with a pulse will get a look, except for Larry Bowa (too old) and former GM Ruben Amaro, Jr (Phillies fans would revolt).

Along with finding a new manager, the team needs to decide which of their young players will be part of a future Phillies contender. They have an abundance of outfield talent, with Herrera, Altherr, Williams, and Hoskins all looking for playing time. Hoskins could shift to first base, which would leave Tommy Joseph as potential trade bait.

The middle infield duo of Galvis and Hernandez could soon be pushed out by young prospects J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery. Young catcher Jorge Alfaro was very good in 29 games last season and should be the regular behind the dish in 2018, perhaps sharing time with Andrew Knapp. That makes Cameron Rupp expendable.

Unless the Phillies decide to go shopping on the free agent market, the pitching rotation will be headed by Aaron Nola and whatever pitchers emerge from a young and inexperienced group that struggled this season. With contention not likely for a couple years, they could take their lumps as the young arms sort themselves out and forego the expensive free agent pitchers (Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish) until the time comes for a big push for an expensive veteran starter to lead the staff.

When it comes to the payroll, the Phillies will have money to spend in the next few years. Like they did with Herrera last December, they could lock up some of their young talent with team-friendly deals. They just need to pick the right players. In addition to the youth they have at the big league level already, they have some good prospects in the minor leaguers. If they want to make a splash this offseason, a bid for Giancarlo Stanton would excite the fans.

Next: Rays season review, offseason preview

They could also save their money until next offseason, when some premier free agents are likely to be available, including Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Charlie Blackmon. If their young talent develops this season, they could be ready to lure one of those big name free agents to Philly in the hopes of contending sooner rather than later.