The Philadelphia Phillies added to their bullpen on Wednesday. A three-team trade with the Rays and Dodgers become public knowledge, with the Phillies acquiring left-handed reliever Jose Alvarado.
Dillon Paulsen and a player to be named later will head from the Dodgers to the Rays. Philadelphia sent Garrett Cleavinger to the reigning World Series champions to add the high-upside Alvarado to a bullpen which ranked 27th in wins above average last season.
The Phillies’ offseason has been one of disappointment. Ownership have talked up their losses and shown a reluctance to spend. J.T. Realmuto’s free agency appears unlikely to end back in the city of Brotherly Love, the sting of which is amplified by the stellar outings of Sixto Sanchez for the Marlins.
Here are three things the Phillies must do after landing Alvarado.
Trade for a catcher
The Phillies haven’t made an offer to J.T. Realmuto. All the rumors appear to be a glorified PR exercise. If they’re not willing to pay what Realmuto wants, the Phillies should look elsewhere. There is no better alternative than Willson Contreras. The Cubs catcher has reportedly been made available in trade talks – Chicago is embarking on a rebuild after trading Yu Darvish to the Padres.
Among catchers with more than 400 plate appearances since the start of the 2019 season, only Mitch Garver has a better wRC+ than Contreras. His 121 is comfortably clear of Realmuto’s 112. Contreras ranked 85th percentile in framing last season and possesses a strong arm.
The question, of course, is what would the Phillies have to give up? Would Chicago accept a trade without including Bryson Stott, Spencer Howard or Mick Abel? Given the return the Cubs just accepted for Darvish, there could be a bargain for the Phils.
Sign value starters
Trading for Alvarado helps a bullpen which ranked among the worst in the Majors. Starting pitch depth remains an issue for these Phillies, though, with no guaranteed above-average innings behind the ace-level front two of Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler.
Assuming a pitcher like Jake Odorizzi will be too expensive, the Phillies will have to find veteran value further down the starting pitcher free agent board. Garrett Richards is the upside option, Jose Quintana or Rick Porcello are more reliable back-end guys.
With several established arms already signed, the Phillies need to move quickly after the Alvarado trade to bolster their rotation. Even for an ownership group which doesn’t want to spend, their are good options out there. Quintana would be a good fit behind Wheeler and Nola.
Address center field
After all the bluster about investment and wanting to contend, the Phillies should be in the mix for George Springer. They are clearly not going to commit the money Springer would want.
Roman Quinn is tabbed as their everyday center fielder as it stands. An upgrade is a must if the Phillies want to contend. Unfortunately, behind Springer the options are limited. Jackie Bradley Jr.will be cheaper, but still costly, and the Phils might be reluctant to put another lefty in the outfield alongside Bryce Harper.