Phillies To Focus On Mid-Rotation Starters, Back-End Relievers

After agreeing to an 11-year, $300MM deal with shortstop Trea Turner, the Phillies will now focus on pitching, specifically mid-rotation starters and back-end relievers, according to Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer. That’s unlikely to be through signing players with a qualifying offer attached, per a quote from president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski (relayed by Alex Coffey).

Dombrowski was asked about the likelihood of the Phillies signing two players with qualifying offers attached (they’ve already added one in Turner) and had this to say: “Probably not very much. One seems like a lot already. I don’t think we’d have much of an appetite for that. Not saying we never do it, but I would say there’s not much of an appetite.” 

Chris Bassitt, Nathan Eovaldi and Carlos Rodon are the remaining starters on the market that have a qualifying offer attached, but there’s plenty of other options out there. Philadelphia could pursue a reunion with Noah Syndergaard, or go after Jameson Taillon, who they’ve already been linked to. Other options could include Andrew Heaney, Taijuan Walker and Sean Manaea.

Philadelphia did see Zach Eflin sign with the Rays this off-season, Kyle Gibson head south to Baltimore and Syndergaard hit free agency, so it’s not surprising they’re looking to bolster their rotation as they look to return to the World Series in 2023. Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler will be back atop their rotation, with Ranger Suarez and probably Bailey Falter taking four of the spots. They do have some strong pitching prospects, including Andrew Painter and Mick Abel, working their way through the minors, but a solid, mid-rotation arm would slot in nicely to provide a bit of stability.

On the relief side of things, Corey Knebel, David Robertson and Brad Hand all departed, leaving the team a bit thin in the bullpen. Seranthony Dominguez, Andrew Bellati and Jose Alvarado will all be back, but in a competitive NL East the Phillies will need a deep bullpen. They could bring back any of the trio of free agent relievers, or target relief arms such as Taylor Rogers or Andrew Chafin.

As far as payroll goes, the signing of Turner brings them closer to the $233MM luxury tax threshold. They’re currently sitting approximately $15MM under that mark with Turner on board, and it’d be challenging for them bring in a mid-rotation starter and strong relief options and stay within that mark.

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