After re-upping J.T. Realmuto, the Phillies’ rotation has been a case of bargain bin shopping. Matt Moore and Chase Anderson have upside. Bryan Mitchell and Ivan Nova are useful depth, but these are cost-driven signings. The Phillies need more than that. They are fourth in their division in projected pitcher WAR, per Depth Charts.
Trevor Bauer is clearly out of their price range. Philadelphia is eighth in payroll for next season at over $156 million. While that’s not an enormous number given the noise made when they signed Bryce Harper, the public messaging this offseason suggestions spending power is limited.
Keeping Didi Gregorius and Realmuto could be their only significant free agent signings.
We’ve seen what this roster can do, though. Running it back does not make the Phillies a contender. Signing Bauer is understandably a bit extravagant, but there are other options to improve that rotation. Their 11.7 projected rotation WAR is good for only 16th in MLB – the Mets and Nationals rank in the top six, the Braves are 13th.
A high-profile roster addition is a must. Jake Odorizzi could be their man after seeing so many others go off the board. Odorizzi’s free agency has been quiet, and is seemingly dependent on Bauer’s situation, but that shouldn’t put the Phillies off. Trade opportunities have already been missed – Odorizzi is the best remaining option, barring someone like Kyle Hendricks hitting the trade market.
Joe Musgrove would have been a good fit if Blake Snell and Yu Darvish were out of their range. The Phillies, like many other teams, risk neglecting their rotation. Two All-Star pitchers – and there’s no guarantee Wheeler is at that level in 2021 – is not enough if the rotation behind them is average or worse. Washington won the World Series on the back of three elite starters and some great outings from Anibal Sanchez. The Padres, Mets and Dodgers are stacked.
If the Phillies are serious about competing this season, they need another established, above average arm. Odorizzi could be that man, despite an injury-ruined 2020 season. The already sizeable payroll risks being for nothing if the Phillies stick rather than twist on their rotation.