Phillies Mailbag: Kingery, Contract Extensions, Bullpen
We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill every Tuesday. Send your questions anytime on Twitter to @FrankKlose or send a text to the text board at 609-403-0973.
Are the Phillies messing up Scott Kingery’s development? At 25, doesn’t he need consistent playing time?
Second baseman Scott Kingery finally got a start on Monday night. The results were good, as he reached base three times with a walk and two hits. But prior to this, Kingery saw just five plate appearances, mostly as a pinch hitter. Kingery is 2 for 8 overall, with two walks.
The Phillies knew when they signed Kingery to a contract prior to the start of the 2018 season that they would likely have to find ways to get Kingery playing time other than a starting position at his natural spot, second base. Back then the question was simple: Should the best 25 players come to the big leagues? They answered "yes".
At the time, J.P. Crawford was ready to play shortstop and Cesar Hernandez was the starting second baseman. As we saw injuries to Crawford, Kingery ended up getting a good amount of playing time, albeit at shortstop. In 2019, Kingery enters without a clear destination. But the reason is the same.
Would the Phillies benefit more from say, Phil Gosselin or Andrew Romine on the roster, or Scott Kingery? Simply put, the Phillies are a better team with Kingery on it than other bench alternatives. And Kingery has made himself versatile enough that he can move around if they are forced to do so with an injury.
In all likelihood, Kingery will start at second base next season after Hernandez departs via free agency. There was not much of a second base market this offseason or the Phillies might have moved Hernandez. But they are both here and the Phillies will do what they can to win.
As we saw last night, that might even mean giving Kingery some starts ahead of Hernandez.
Your forecast on the future of key players: Will J.T. Realmuto get an extension? Odubel Herrera? Maikel Franco? Any trades that make sense?
First, let us remember that Odubel Herrera was already signed to a five-year deal back in December of 2016 that will keep him under club control through 2021. Herrera will stick around as long as he is productive. Because the $30.5 million deal is spread over five years, the Phillies will have a reasonable number affecting the competitive balance tax tally.
I think Maikel Franco still has much to prove. Franco is known for his scorching-hot streaks where he seems to hit almost anything. But for those peaks he also has many valleys that affect his overall value. Even today as we talk mailbag, Franco is 1 for his last 13. Whether the Phillies move forward with Franco or look to other option will depend upon his wider body of work this season.
J.T. Realmuto is the interesting name here. I think that the trend to sign extensions ahead of free agency could continue with Realmuto signing an extension. The Phillies have no clear heir apparent in the system, and Realmuto's bat, professionalism, and receiving skills have been incredibly valuable in this early going.
At the time of the trade, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said to reporters including Andy Schwartz of the Allentown Morning Call, "I think it’s a good idea to date the person before you ask to marry them". So far the romance has been strong, and especially if Realmuto gels with the Phillies, he would be a candidate to try to get something done.
Does a bullpen by committee work for this group or is a trade needed for another option?
This question from my buddy Brian Startare was one of many that came regarding the Phillies bullpen. Poor performances from Seranthony Dominguez and David Robertson at times has meant the Phillies have been going off-script for their bullpen plans so far. Jose Alvarez has struggled early. But of the two back-end guys, I think Robertson is getting on track, while Dominguez might remain a concern.
The Phillies used Dominguez in the sixth inning of last night's game against the Washington Nationals, tied at two. Dominguez actually got the win, but there was cause for concern from this outing. Dominguez relies on his velocity to get outs; when he does not have it, he becomes hittable. I think the Phillies will proceed with caution.
The Phillies have gotten strong performances from Pat Neshek, who earned the save last night despite giving up a home run, and the likes of Juan Nicasio and Adam Morgan. Hector Neris rebounded from a tough first appearance and ended up getting the save on Sunday. Edubray Ramos has not been scored upon in two outings.
So while Dominguez's velocity dip remains worth watching, there are enough pieces to keep the Phillies bullpen going. I think Kapler will shy away from Dominguez in the high-leverage situation when possible, and we will see more Neris in the back-end while Neshek, Morgan and Robertson get key outs towards the end of the game.
But the Kapler way of doing things is to manage the bullpen according to match-ups. I think that they will continue to do that. There is no need to add an external arm just yet (I noticed "Craig Kimbrel" was trending on Wednesday after the poor outings from Dominguez and Robertson) but I am sure the Phillies will be open to additions moving forward.