Nationals Baseball: Are the Phillies sneaking up?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Are the Phillies sneaking up?

So deals are coming - not fast and furious - but steady and with a mild sense of anger.  The relief arms are getting the most interest. Pat Neshek is back in Philly and are nearing a deal with Tommy Hunter - taking two of the better RH relief arms off the market.   Another one, Bryan Shaw, is headed to the Rockies. The Nats can wait it out and see what falls into their lap at a discounted price, but much like Blanton, there will be an underlying reason why this was the guy leftover.

The Cubs continue their gambles on guys who could be really good or nothing by picking up Drew Smyly who last threw a pitch in the regular season in 2016. He may not even get on the mound in 2018 making this a play for a cheap arm in 2019.

In the last big news the Yankees traded away Chase Headley to the Padres (who will try to flip him for something better than the gave up) and freed up his salary to let them go after one or two more free agents and stay under the luxury penalty cap. Some people see this as linked the the Orioles potentially offering up Machado in a deal, but it's very unlikely the O's would send Manny to a rival in division (and I kind of doubt the Yankees would trade in Jan for a rent a player they probably plan to pursue in 2019 when they are at the start, not the end of a run)

Most of the above are not surprises as you see good teams maneuvering to stay good or get better. This isn't great for the Nats, who'd rather see teams like the Cubs and Rockies do nothing. More interesting is the Phillies move. Most people think the Phillies are (at least) a year away from relevance but they made plays to shore up the pen. Is this for the future?

The Phillies didn't hit or pitch well last year but they are young.  It's possible their oldest starter will be just 28 next year, so there can fairly be an expectation of improvement. And with a star bat in their line-up, which is what Rhys Hoskins was to end last year, the lineup is... ok. They have a handful of pretty good bats and while they have holes their next set up of bats JP Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, and Scott Kingery slide right into these holes. If these guys are any good they will be a tough out.

The pitching though is where things fall apart right now. While they have a super young staff, they only have one legit starter in Aaron Nola. The other four (currently Velasquez, Lively, Eickhoff, and Pivetta) are fighting over who can fill in spots 2-5 but seem to have 4/5 talent. There isn't anyone on the immediate horizon any better, Sixto Sanchez being no earlier than a 2019 talent.

So these relief moves do look like moves for the future. 2018 will be about finding out which of the young players are real and which ones aren't as a lot get extended second chances. 2019 FA will be about filling up by spending money.At least that's what I think. So the Nats don't have to worry... this year.


Anonymous said...

Well, knowing post-Ozuna trade that the Marlins are clearly not sneaking up on anyone outside of High A ball, perhaps now is the time to seriously pursue a trade for J.T. Realmuto before other contenders take advantage of the fire sale?

Josh Higham said...

Yeah, I think before the fire sale started in earnest it was worth kicking the tires on Realmuto, but at this point with the way catchers age and the impending talent exodus the Marlins might not be good until his knees are shot, so who cares about sending him to a division rival? I think Rizzo will probably make a pretty good effort to snag that guy.