Phillies: NL East’s 4-way battle in 2019

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McCutchen isn’t the superstar he once was, but he’s still a solid hitter and defender. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images.

Even though the Phillies and their divisional rivals have six weeks of wheeling and dealing left before spring training, general manager Matt Klentak and his contemporaries have made meaningful roster changes.


Additions and subtractions:

The Philadelphia Phillies faithful like their divisional foes in New York are bemoaning a fourth-place finish based on their unfulfilled expectations. On the other hand, a few franchises make major acquisitions in January because some negotiations are time-consuming.


“Ambition is like love, impatient both of delays and rivals.” – Gautama Buddha

In 2018, a couple Phils’ shortcomings became clear: The offense needed two pieces –one big. The pitching plan was to add a closer and rotation southpaw and have four arms competing for the two bottom slots. However, Klentak could swap one and use one as a long man.

As for the fans, some locally are dreading a .500 campaign because they have doubts about the front office. Firstly, the asking price is not a “take it or leave it” cost: It’s a starting point. For the agent, it’s higher than the exec’s proposal. But the organization usually makes the final offer.

Before the haggling, the player, agent and management estimate a star’s value. But each side opens on either side of that figure: The player wants more but takes a reasonable proposal, and the team prefers to underpay: a rare bargain. Yes, exceptions notwithstanding.

While the Winter Meetings produce major trades and signings, the headliners have the most suitors, the highest price tag, and the longest time frame to complete an agreement. So, if a star has limited opportunities or desires to have a contract before January, he doesn’t hesitate regarding his future employment.

By now, many clubs have moved on from the holdouts who will decide during January’s 31 days. Otherwise, those GMs had feared roster holes if they didn’t fill them before year’s end. Among them, the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals and New York Mets have mostly completed their heavy lifting.

Klentak had picked up a .300 hitter, replaced his first sacker’s bat with Andrew McCutchen, and improved his infield and outfield defense. But while the faithful expected stupid money in ’18, the red pinstripes had not said how and when they’d spend it. Or on whom! Translation: a late January surprise.

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