Thanksgiving has come and gone, the winter meetings are two weeks away, but still no big splash from the team many believe is most poised for one.
Despite the lack of surface activity, the Phillies remain in stealthy pursuit of a number of difference-making free agents, from top position players such as Manny Machado and Bryce Harper to lefty starter Patrick Corbin, according to sources.
General manager Matt Klentak has kept his offseason plans close to the vest, though he has generally acknowledged an interest in Machado — the Phils did try to trade for him in July — Harper and Corbin.
In recent days, some more of Klentak’s plan has begun to come into light. Reporter Jon Morosi of the MLB Network mentioned the Phillies as having interest in lefty reliever Andrew Miller, a free agent. This jibes with a well-placed source telling NBC Sports Philadelphia that part of the Phillies’ offseason plan involves landing a high-end lefty for the bullpen.
Miller, 33, has been one of the game’s top lefty relievers the last half-dozen seasons, though he missed time with Cleveland in 2018 because of hamstring, knee and shoulder issues.
It’s quite possible that Zach Britton remains the Phillies’ top left-handed relief target. The Phillies tried to acquire him from Baltimore in a package with Machado in July. Britton ended up with the Yankees and is now a free agent.
Britton, who turns 31 in December, is a two-time All-Star who racked up 120 saves for the Orioles from 2014-2016. He led the American League with 47 saves in 2016 and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting that season. He saved 15 games in 2017 but was limited to 38 appearances because of a forearm injury.
Last offseason, Britton suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. He returned to action in mid-June and pitched in 41 games for the Orioles and Yankees. He had a 2.88 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 25 innings with the Yankees.
The Phillies are very right-handed at the back end of the bullpen with Hector Neris, Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter. They would like to add another lefty to go along with Adam Morgan, who led the team with 67 appearances last season.
Is this the winter they cash in on their longstanding interest in Britton? Or will it be Miller? Stay tuned.
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