Phillies Mailbag: Trade Deadline, Bryant, and a Long-Term Plan
Once again it's time for the 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag. We take your questions each week, and answer them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill each Tuesday at 2:40. Send your questions any time on Twitter to @FrankKlose, or comment during our livestream broadcast.
Do you think John Middleton & Dave Dombrowski have a plan long-term outside of just trying to make the postseason in 2021?
I actually do believe they have a long-term plan, Kevin. I do think that the plan does include trying to make the 2021 playoffs, but at the same time trying to restock and retool the system. When John Middleton hired Dave Dombrowski, I believe that the message from Dombrowski was that he felt that the Phillies could make the playoffs in 2021, understanding the need to rebuild.
The first rebuild failed. Many of the prospects that have not become impact players part of the team's long-term future: Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro (though credit here goes to him helping land J.T. Realmuto), Adam Haseley, Mickey Moniak, Adonis Medina, Francisco Morales, Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, J.P. Crawford, Scott Kingery, and many more I feel I could keep mentioning.
But thanks to Ruben Amaro Jr.'s last draft and free agent singings and the trade of Sixto Sanchez , the Phillies have Aaron Nola, Realmuto, Bryce Harper, and Zack Wheeler. They are all in their prime. So the choice is to do one of two things: Sell them all, or try to surround them with pieces to win.
The Phillies chose the latter. Yes, the payroll will be large. But they believe they will find the right players to put around these players to maybe take advantage of a weak National League East.
They could trade a couple prospects, but I think they plan to hold onto the drafts from new scouting director Brian Barber and let them rise through the system. That is why I think the Phillies seem to be looking mostly players who will be under Phillies control next year, too.
I would expect Dombrowski to continue to fully-evaluate the team and make some bigger changes this offseason, perhaps to the core.
It's a tough balancing act, but I believe the Phillies will try to do it. Unlike other years, this is not about a Wild Card. There's a very winnable division here. With the right pieces, Dombrowski can maybe make the playoffs.
Do you think that Kris Bryant is a fit with the Phillies?
I do not think that Kris Bryant is a fit with the Phillies in 2021. Even though his buddy Bryce Harper seemed to be sending a message to the Phillies front office by using a Kris Bryant Chicago Cubs bat on Monday, I doubt he would be a piece the Phillies would acquire. Here's why.
As I mentioned, the Phillies seem to be focusing on players with multiple years of control. They have little prospect capital to trade, and if they do trade prospects that represent potentially six years of control, I believe the Phillies are looking to get back something more than a two-month rental. Bryant is a free agent this offseason.
Further, the Phillies have just around $4 million under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold, so they would be spending pretty much all of it on one player. Even though there has been reports the Phillies might be willing to exceed the limit, I still believe that's something they will avoid unless there is a true impact move. I would think that should come from other positions.
Starting pitching and relief pitching should really dominate the Phillies' pursuits this week. Maybe a center field upgrade, too. But third base can be covered in-house with still-developing Alec Bohm who does not need to hit higher than six or seven, and the corner outfield spots - where Bryant also plays - are locked with Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper.
Could Bryant be someone the Phillies pursue in the offseason? Maybe, depending on what happens with the rest of the roster. But for now, I just don't see Bryant being the guy.
I was at Saturday's 15-3 debacle, can I demand a refund? By the time I count the price for two tickets, parking, concessions, our time wasted at the game when the team clearly quit because Vince Velasquez was on the mound for 2 1/3 innings. $900.00 should cover my expenses.
John, I am very sorry to say, but it looks like you will be out that money. While the Phillies do not give refunds, I understand your feelings about Vince Velasquez. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results.
We are in year six "Maybe this is the year he will finally figure it out!" I thought for sure Velasquez would be non-tendered by the Phillies this Fall. But alas, the Phillies leadership under Andy MacPhail and Ned Rice brought him back, and nine days later Dave Dombrowski took the reigns as president of baseball operations. He could have spent this money better.
With Zach Eflin out, the Phillies are rolling out three starters who cannot go deep into games: Velasquez, Matt Moore, and Spencer Howard. That is deeply concerning. This hurts particularly since Bailey Falter, a long man and potential starter, has contracted COVID and is also out.
Let's also consider that unvaccinated pitchers such as Nola could be placed under COVID protocols at any time, should he come into contact with the wrong person. So the Phillies need starting pitching.
Ideally, they get Eflin back, acquire one starter, and figure something else out internally. If the Phillies get relief help, namely a closer, perhaps they can make Ranger Suarez a starter once again. Hopefully Falter gets healthy and can start.
This trade deadline is certainly a serious one for the Phillies. Because yes, the Velasquez starts are deflating. No team wants to feel like they are out of the game so early, and that's what Velasquez has been doing.