Many Phillies fans have been so focused on Manny Machado and Bryce Harper for so long that no other acquisition this winter will be a worthy consolation.
The Phillies, though, have prepared for the reality of an offseason that doesn't net them either huge star. If that does unfortunately happen, they'll have to pivot quickly to other offensive upgrades, provided quality options are still available.
Before getting to one immediately logical free-agent upgrade, just remember that Harper and Machado are not the final two stars who will ever come available. Unless the Rockies make an insane extension offer, Nolan Arenado will be a free agent this time next year at age 28. (I personally would rather build a team around Arenado than Machado, but anywho.)
For the Phillies this offseason, Mike Moustakas would make a lot of sense if Machado doesn't happen. He's a definite upgrade over Maikel Franco, offensively and defensively, and would give this Phils lineup better left-handed balance.
The need for lefty power
As of this moment, the best part of the Phillies' batting order will feature three right-handers among four spots in Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen and Rhys Hoskins. You can split it up a bit by going Segura one, McCutchen two, Odubel Herrera/Nick Williams three and Hoskins four, but it would be helpful to have some consistent power from the left side.
Moustakas offers that. He's homered 51 times off of right-handed pitchers the last two seasons, the exact same total as both Machado and Harper. (No, not a comparison, just an interesting fact.)
Moustakas' OPS against righties over that span is a few points higher than Anthony Rizzo's.
Phillies' interest in Moustakas
The Phillies were interested in Moustakas in July, before the Royals traded him to the Brewers, and have expressed interest in him again this offseason. Moustakas, like Harper and Zach Britton, is a Scott Boras client.
A definite upgrade over Franco
When the Phillies were connected to Moustakas this past summer, some questioned whether he was even an upgrade over Franco. Around that time, Franco had been hot, flashing the kind of multi-week hot streak the Phillies had been waiting a long time for.
But at the plate, in the field, on paper or in front of your eyes, Moustakas is just a better player than Franco and has been throughout Franco's big-league career.
Since 2015, Moustakas has hit .267/.324/.484. Franco has hit .255/.306/.442.
Moustakas has averaged 33 homers and 34 doubles per 162 games. Franco has averaged 27 homers and 29 doubles.
Moustakas' .808 OPS over that four-year span is 15 percent higher than the league average. Franco's .748 OPS is 60 points lower, and two percent below the league average.
Defensively, Moustakas has been average, but there is value in average. He has -1 defensive run saved over the past four years. Franco has -30, by far the worst mark in the National League.
What about the contracts?
Franco is projected to make $5 million through the arbitration process this winter. He is under club control through the end of the 2021 season. If he remains an everyday player throughout his arbitration years, he could realistically get $8 million in 2020 and $10 million in 2021. So for all intents and purposes, Franco would be about a three-year, $23 million player for the Phils.
Moustakas is a free agent. Things did not go so well for him last offseason, when he was a free agent but lingered on the market as possible landing spots like the Angels, Giants, Yankees, Mets and Braves were filled.
Eventually, Moustakas went back to the Royals for one year and $5.5 million with incentives and a $1 million buyout. It wasn't what he or Boras expected.
Boras said last offseason that no major-league team offered Moustakas a multi-year deal. The weird thing was that Moustakas had just turned 29 and was coming off a 38-homer season, by far his best as a pro. He's now coming off a season that was about 70 percent as productive.
Moustakas, now 30, is a candidate for a two-year deal this winter, or a one-year pact with a vesting option. Boras likes to extract every last dollar, but two years in the $20-26 million range seems fair.
That kind of contract would give the Phillies a better third baseman in 2019 (if they don't land Machado), and also give them the flexibility to pursue Arenado at the 2019 trade deadline or in free agency.
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