Phillies Mailbag: Kingery, Alfaro, Arrieta
We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag! We take your questions and then respond to them on the air on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill today at 3:30 p.m. Ask a question at any time on Twitter to @FrankKlose
What is the plan for Scott Kingery?
Phillies second base prospect Scott Kingery turned some heads last night when he homered with two outs and a full-count in the top of the 9th inning to keep the Yankees from victory (at least for the time being) as he tied the score at three. For the second Spring Training in a row Phillies fans have the opportunity to see Kingery's skills. Kingery has many: both offensive and defensive skills.
But no matter how well Kingery plays throughout 2018 Spring Training, he is likely headed to Triple-A Lehigh Valley for some more seasoning. Kingery only has 265 at bats at Triple-A under his belt while only having 278 at Double-A Reading. While his numbers combined in 2017 are impressive (.304 average, 26 home runs, ..889 OPS) there are other considerations.
One is that the Phillies have a full infield with talent that will need for the long-term. Maikel Franco has frustrated fans at times, but the Phillies need to know if he will develop into a long-term talent for the club. J.P. Crawford has earned the opportunity to show he belongs at shortstop, and Cesar Hernandez has proven to be a valuable major league bat and defensive second baseman.
Hernandez has three years left on his deal, which means he could still be part of the Phillies future, too. Hernandez started yesterday at shortstop to increase his versatility. He has also played center field and third base for the Phillies. That versatility could help the Phillies accommodate Kingery within the season should they lose an infielder to injury.
But barring that, Kingery will get more experience at Triple-A and the Phillies can evaluate what else they have. Kingery could force their hand with strong play at Triple-A in the same manner Rhys Hoskins did last season.
With a pitching staff that need some growth/development- is Alfaro’s offensive potential worth this defensive shortcomings?
Do you think the Phillies will carry three catchers up north?
I think it's too early to say that Jorge Alfaro has defensive shortcomings as a matter of fact. It is true that Alfaro has had some early struggles with passed balls. But I do not think we really know his game-calling skills just yet. Alfaro will enter the 2018 season as the Phillies starter and have time to work those issues out.
The Phillies elevated bullpen catcher Bob Stumpo to catching instructor for 2018 and they also have Craig Driver, who is serving as the receiving coach. Both will likely work with Alfaro this season to determine if any issues can be worked out or if they are permanent. I think that they need to see Alfaro start to see Alfaro's fit.
While the Phillies have some work to do with Alfaro's receiving game, I do not think that it is necessarily a bad thing that Alfaro grow with the young catchers together. I think part of what will happen in 2018 is that the Phillies can fully evaluate Alfaro's situation as the starter of this catching staff. Long-term there will be free agent options available if they feel they need to make a change.
I think when the season breaks the Phillies will ultimately give priority to Alfaro and Andrew Knapp, the two young receivers the Phillies have. That spells an unfortunate situation for incumbent catcher Cameron Rupp. The Phillies could option Rupp to the minor leagues if they so choose, or they could trade Rupp to someone in need of a catcher, perhaps due to a Spring Training injury.
But there could be an injury to a Phillies catcher, too, so there is no rush to make a decision. The Phillies have been particularly lucky in recent seasons and not had to put a catcher on the disabled list. Having Rupp stashed at Triple-A would not be terrible. Alfaro cannot be sent to Triple-A because he is out of minor league options. The Phillies may prefer to find out Knapp's ceiling because they already may feel they know Rupp's.
How many years and how much money for Arrieta? Would they offer 3 at $90M and would he take it?
Where ace pitcher Jake Arrieta will land remains one of the intriguing story lines in 2018 Spring Training. The Phillies have been consistently linked to Arrieta throughout the offseason. The Washington Nationals are frequently mentioned, but there is no clear home for Arrieta just yet.
The Phillies probably are interested in Arrieta, perhaps even at a number slightly less than you have mentioned. Trying to figure out what Arrieta is worth, super agent Scott Boras will begin the conversation with the six-year, $126 million deal that Yu Darvish signed with the Chicago Cubs. Boras will want more than $21 million a season for Arrieta, and Boras is reportedly still asking for five or six seasons in any contract's length.
For the Phillies to land Arrieta, the deal will have to be a shorter term, preferably for three years. Could the Phillies offer a three-year deal with some vesting options? Perhaps. It all depends how desperate Boras gets to find a home for his client.
But whenever we seem to think that Boras may finally have misread the market, his clients always seem to end up landing a big deal in the end. I would never put it past Boras to somehow find the deal that he really wants. That is why I am not sure he will end up with the Phillies.