How could qualifying offer and draft picks affect Phillies' free agency plans?

How could qualifying offer and draft picks affect Phillies' free agency plans?

At the much-discussed press conference earlier this month with the Phillies' top three decision-makers, Andy MacPhail referenced lost draft picks when the topic of drafting/player development failures came up.

He pointed out that in the 2018 draft, the Phillies did not have a second- or third-round pick because of the signings of Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta the prior offseason. They lost their second-rounder in 2019 with the Bryce Harper signing.

The Phillies lost these picks because all three players were extended qualifying offers by their previous teams.

Here's a refresher on the qualifying offer process, which directly affects free agency every year.

• The qualifying offer is the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball. This year, for the first time, it decreased. It was $17.9 million last offseason and $17.8 million this time.

• A team extends a qualifying offer to a player it would either like to keep or look to obtain draft pick compensation from losing. The Nationals know that Anthony Rendon will reject the qualifying offer, thus it's a no-brainer for them to extend it to ensure they receive a high draft pick if they lose Rendon.

• Sometimes, it doesn't work out. The Phillies gave Jeremy Hellickson a qualifying offer and he accepted it in November 2016 for one year and $17.2 million when it became clear a better market for him wouldn't develop. A similar situation could apply this winter to a free agent like Didi Gregorius, who may be good enough to warrant a qualifying offer but may also prefer to take the big one-year salary to prove his worth for future free agency.

• Teams do not lose their first pick when signing any free agent. The highest pick a team can lose is its second pick. If a team signs two players who were given qualiying offers, it loses its next-highest pick. This is why the Phillies lost a second and a third to sign Santana and Arrieta. The second-rounder was forfeited to sign Santana; the next-highest pick (third) was forfeited for Arrieta.

A team with a relatively weak farm system like the Phillies should want to keep every pick, especially with a new scouting director coming in. But it's not always realistic. There are top-notch, win-now free agents available this offseason. You know all the names: Rendon, Gerrit Cole, Josh Donaldson, Zack Wheeler, Marcell Ozuna, potentially J.D. Martinez and Stephen Strasburg. 

Some players cannot be extended a qualifying offer. This applies to players who have already received one and players who were traded within the previous season. Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal are ineligible for the QO because they already played under it. Nicholas Castellanos and Yasiel Puig are ineligible because they were traded during their walk years.

The Phillies shouldn't and probably won't let the qualifying offer affect their decision-making with Rendon, Cole or Strasburg. Where it gets interesting is with a player like Donaldson, who is very good but whose production can also be found elsewhere via trade or the right free-agent signing. Donaldson is better than Moustakas, but is he better enough to also justify losing a high pick? The answer may still be yes but it's something the Phillies will surely weigh throughout the offseason (if Moustakas opts out of his remaining $11 million with Milwaukee).

The top of the market should develop slowly this offseason. Strasburg, if he opts out, would benefit from waiting until Cole signs. Someone like Donaldson may want to wait until the market clears up for Rendon because his leverage would then shoot up. The Phillies struck quickly two offseasons in a row with the signings of Santana and Andrew McCutchen. This time around, the earliest developments could come in the relief and older starting pitcher markets. 

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Best pranks in Philly sports history

Best pranks in Philly sports history

You know what we miss about live sports? The games. The competition. The unknown outcomes. Absolutely all of that. But also all of the shenanigans that go on before and after the games.

Our favorite goofy players having a gag with each other is just fun. We miss it. So in honor of today being April 1, we put together a fun video featuring some of the greatest pranks in Philly sports history.

One of the more elaborate pranks in recent memory is when the Phillies players convinced pitcher Kyle Kendrick he had been traded to Japan. You all likely remember that.

But do you remember when Charles Barkley and Rick Mahorn messed with Manute Bol or when John Kruk and Ed Wade got Chase Utley after the rookie got his first big league it?

Throw in a little Fletcher Cox / Chris Long Twitter trolling for good measure and you've got yourself some of the best pranks in Philly sports history. What were your favorite Philly sports related pranks?


Still in awe of this crazy Jimmy Rollins accomplishment over a decade later

Still in awe of this crazy Jimmy Rollins accomplishment over a decade later

Our classic Phillies game re-airs continue tonight with the final regular-season game of the 2007 season, a 6-1 Phillies win over the Nationals that wrestled the NL East crown away from the Mets, who had famously held a 7-game lead in the division with 17 to play.

The Phillies were abruptly swept in the NLDS by the Rockies but prior to that, they were on fire. From Sept. 13 through the end of the regular season, the Phils went 13-4 and the Mets went 5-12.

Jimmy Rollins, who began that season by calling the Phillies "the team to beat" in the NL East despite their 14-year playoff drought, finished it by winning NL MVP. Rollins had a storybook season with his bat, with his glove, with his legs and with his mouth.

One of the most unique accomplishments in Phillies history was achieved by Rollins late in that 6-1 win we're re-airing Wednesday night. Jimmy always had a flair for the dramatic, as these memorable moments illustrate.

Sitting on 777 plate appearances for the season, Rollins stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth inning. The Phillies were winning, there might be no bottom of the ninth and you figured it was likely going to be his final trip to the dish. Rollins needed one more triple to become only the fourth player in baseball history with at least 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases in the same season.

As Rollins reached the batter's box for that 778th plate appearance — still a big-league record — the only thing on the minds of Phillies fans watching was the hope that Jimmy would finish the job and hit that triple.

If you watch baseball, you understand that a player can't go to the plate trying to hit a triple. Triples are about solid contact, fortunate placement, speed and aggressiveness. Last season, for example, players hit a triple in just one of every 250 plate appearances. There were about 11 times more doubles and nine times as many home runs.

Ridiculously, impossibly, Rollins hit that 20th triple in his last plate appearance of the season.

In the history of baseball, the only players to achieve this feat were Rollins and Curtis Granderson in 2007, Willie Mays in 1957 and Frank Schulte in 1911. It's so random that it happened twice in the same season after occurring just once in the previous 94 years and not at all since.

The Phillies, who won the division by one game in '07, needed absolutely everything Rollins gave them that season. None of these were empty-calorie stats. 

Many Phils fans will remember the fateful four-game home series against the Mets Aug. 27-30 that summer, a four-game sweep for the Phillies that made a division crown actually feel realistic. Beginning with that series, Rollins hit .335 over his final 34 games with 6 doubles, 5 triples, 8 homers, 22 RBI, 31 runs scored and 16 stolen bases in 17 attempts. The Phillies went 23-11.

"The triple — I was stuck on 19 for a while," Rollins said years ago. "Milt Thompson (the hitting coach) was saying, 'You'll get it on your last at-bat, a little drama.' I was like, 'Of all guys, (Luis) Ayala,' because I never hit him. 

"The count was 3-and-2 and I said to myself, 'Don't be dumb. He's going to throw a slider, sit on it.' He threw it. I knew Austin Kearns was in right field and he could throw but I went for it. I remember going hard into [Ryan] Zimmerman. If I didn't go for it, I would have been upset. The crowd was just incredible that day."

Rollins was just incredible that season. He narrowly beat out Matt Holliday for NL MVP in one of the closest votes ever. Rollins received 79% of voting points to Holliday's 75%. Holliday had better offensive numbers (he hit .376 at Coors Field that year) but Rollins had the better story and the better all-around season.

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