It does not sound like the Phillies, or many other teams for that matter will be major players in free agency this winter amid hundreds of millions of dollars of losses. At least not quickly, and not the way they'd have been in a typical year.
But pandemic or no pandemic, the Phillies need to fill out their 2021 pitching staff. They have one of baseball's better 1-2-3s with Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin but few others positioned to help in an integral role right away next season.
There are 13 pitchers on the Phillies' 40-man roster who appeared in a game this season:
- Aaron Nola
- Zack Wheeler
- Zach Eflin
- Spencer Howard
- Connor Brogdon
- LHP JoJo Romero
- LHP Ranger Suarez
- Ramon Rosso
- Adonis Medina
- LHP Garrett Cleavinger
- LHP Cole Irvin
- Mauricio Llovera
- Johan Quezada
They also have 23-year-old lefty flamethrower Cristopher Sanchez on the 40-man. He has promise but has made just one appearance above Single A.
In the group above, the Phillies have four starting pitchers and, maybe, three relievers they can count on in 2021.
Brogdon, if he pitches as he did in September, looks like a late-inning reliever with an awesome fastball-changeup combination.
The lefty Romero should stick in the 'pen.
It was a lost summer for Suarez (three appearances), who provided value for the Phillies by going 6-1 with a 3.47 ERA in 37 games the year before.
The rest range from organizational depth to question marks. And aside from Brogdon, none of them is a potential short-term solution toward the end of games.
The Phillies still have the rights to Seranthony Dominguez and Victor Arano, but Dominguez will miss most/all of 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery at the end of July, and Arano has appeared in three games the last two seasons, none in 2020.
The Phillies can go to arbitration with Hector Neris, Vince Velasquez and David Hale. Velasquez could also be non-tendered because his salary should rise to the $4.5 million range and he's just not worth that, especially in a depressed market. Hale is a long man.
Neris, though, seems like a good bet to be back, whether it's a one-year deal through arbitration or a multi-year deal he and the Phillies work out before a hearing. He's been a staple in this 'pen for six years, has a 3.38 career ERA, and can be a useful piece of a good team's relief corps, just not the best pitcher among the group.
Assuming Neris is back and the Phillies carry Brogdon, Romero, Suarez and Rosso in their bullpen next year, that still leaves 3-5 bullpen spots to fill (more, given the need for depth), a fifth starter and a couple more starting pitching options in case of injury.
The Phillies don't really have a choice. They need to add pitching this winter, and if they choose to go as cheap in the bullpen as they did last offseason with all minor-league deals aside from Tommy Hunter, they will almost certainly suffer the consequences again in 2021.
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