MLB winter meetings

What's next for Phillies — could it be lefty Andrew Miller? — as winter meetings end

What's next for Phillies — could it be lefty Andrew Miller? — as winter meetings end

LAS VEGAS — Three days of winter meetings frenzy ended with the Rule 5 draft and a massive exodus of what seemed like the entire baseball industry to the airport on Thursday.

The glitzy focal point of the offseason is now over but the wheeling and dealing is far from complete.

Let's look at where the Phillies stand as they head home from the winter meetings:

WHAT THEY'VE DONE

• Improved offensively and defensively at shortstop with the addition of Jean Segura in a trade with Seattle. In the same deal, they offloaded Carlos Santana to open first base for Rhys Hoskins and added two relievers, lefty James Pazos and righty Juan Nicasio.

• Signed outfielder Andrew McCutchen to a three-year, $50 million deal. He projects to play a corner spot. At 32, he is not the budding superstar that he was in his prime, but he's still a good, productive player and a definite upgrade. McCutchen should give the Phils 30-plus doubles, 20-plus homers and a high on-base percentage. He is also durable and plays with a passion that Philadelphia fans should like.

WHAT THEY FAILED TO DO

• Stopped at five years and watched lefty Patrick Corbin, the top free-agent starting pitcher, sign a six-year deal with division rival Washington.

• Did not sign lefty J.A. Happ. The Phillies would have had to go three years to get him away from the Yankees, who are a legitimate World Series contender, and they did not want to do that for a 36-year-old pitcher who is viewed as only a modest upgrade on what they have.

WHAT THEY STILL MUST DO

• The biggest Phillies storyline of the winter is also the industry's biggest storyline. Will the Phillies land one of the two megastars on the free-agent market? They met with the agents for both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper at the winter meetings and are expected to host Machado in Philadelphia for a recruiting visit next week. The Machado and Harper camps are in a staredown to see who can land the biggest free-agent deal ever — more than $300 million.

The Phillies have the revenues to land one of these guys. They seem to favor Machado at this point because, in addition to having huge offensive impact, he would have huge defensive impact at third base, more than Harper would in right field. The Phils face big competition for Machado. He has long wanted to be a Yankee and they are interested him. The Yanks could even offer Machado the chance to play shortstop, at least initially, as Didi Gregorius recovers from elbow surgery. Though they seem to favor Machado, the Phils remain engaged with Harper and pursuit of him could intensify if they don't get Machado. And if the Phils don't get Machado to play third base, they could trade Maikel Franco and make a play for free agent Mike Moustakas.

• Improve the pitching. We use the broad term "pitching" because the Phils could do this in a variety of ways. They could make a play for a starter such as Arizona’s Robbie Ray or they could land a free-agent reliever like Andrew Miller. There were indications on Wednesday night and again on Thursday that the Phillies had become increasingly aggressive in their pursuit of Miller. One of the Phils’ offseason goals was to add a high-profile lefty to the bullpen and Miller, who can close or get high-leverage outs at other points late in the game, certainly fits that bill. The Phils have also had interest in lefty reliever Zach Britton, but Miller now appears to be the focus. He’d be an excellent pickup.

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Phillies will meet with agents for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, but won’t wait forever

Phillies will meet with agents for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, but won’t wait forever

LAS VEGAS — The Phillies will have face-to-face meetings this week with the representatives for Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, the two megastars of this winter’s free-agent class.

The Phillies would like to sign Machado and play him at third base, according to sources.

They seem lukewarm on Harper but haven’t completely ruled him out.

Machado and Harper are both angling for the largest payday in baseball history — more than $325 million — and contracts like those take time to come together.

But the Phillies won’t wait forever.

“We’re not going to sit around and be held hostage by one or two players,” general manager Matt Klentak said on Day 1 of the winter meetings Monday. “If there are moves to make in the short term that make sense for us, we’re going to do that. If it works out that there are players that fit for us down the road and it makes sense, then great. But we’re not going to sit around and wait.”

It would not be surprising to see the Phillies move on a free-agent starting pitcher and an outfielder before Machado and Harper sign.

The Phils would like to add a lefty to their rotation and J.A. Happ is very much in their sights.

The Phils seem committed to upgrading in the outfield and there are indications that they could get a deal done with leftfielder Michael Brantley.

Happ is 36 and Brantley turns 32 in May. Neither would require anything close to the length of deal that a Machado or Harper would. Machado and Harper are both 26 and could command deals of up to 10 years. Two years and an option might get Happ done. Three years and an option might get Brantley.

“Ten years is sort of an arbitrary number, but I don’t like to ever rule us out of anything,” Klentak said. “I think in the history of the game, the mega contracts don’t tend to end very well and that’s not a secret. You really have to take it case by case whether you’re in the rebuild stage or the stage we’re in now. I think you have to stay open-minded and make sure you’re properly balancing the present and the future implications.”

The Phillies have the payroll flexibility where they could actually sign Happ and Brantley and still sign Machado.

“It's still very viable that we can and will add an additional outfielder,” Klentak said. “The guys that we have there right now have demonstrated with their talent or their production that every one of them is probably a candidate for regular reps in certain circumstances. But I do think outfield is an area where we could add.”

Could the Phillies make a move this week?

"I think there's a chance," Klentak said.

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Phillies officials arrive at MLB winter meetings expecting an 'exhausting week'

Phillies officials arrive at MLB winter meetings expecting an 'exhausting week'

LAS VEGAS — Phillies general manager Matt Klentak and his top lieutenants arrived at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino for baseball’s winter meetings Sunday afternoon.

Klentak acquired shortstop Jean Segura in a trade with Seattle last week. The move, which sent Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford to the Mariners, improved the Phillies’ offense (greatly) and defense at the position and cleared a path for Rhys Hoskins to move back to first base.

Klentak is looking to turn an 80-win team into a playoff club and there is much work left to do this offseason. He will spend the next few days in Las Vegas looking for more improvements to the offense as well as the pitching staff.

“We need to get into that 90-plus win area and there are a lot of ways we can do that,” Klentak said before leaving Philadelphia.

“We’re open-minded to a lot of different things. We’re going to look in a lot of different directions. It could be in the form of a big-ticket free agent. It could be in the form of trades or other areas. The name of the game is trying to get better and that’s what we’re trying to do. I’m expecting an exhausting week.”

The Phillies’ search for more offense still seems to hinge on Manny Machado. The Phils have long liked him and have an interest in signing him to play third base, where he grades out as an elite defender. Phillies officials have been in contact with Machado’s representative, Dan Lozano, and they will surely speak again at the meetings. The question remains: Will Machado back off his desire to play shortstop — some believe he would for the right money — and his desire to play for the New York Yankees, who do have interest in him? Time will tell.

Free agent Bryce Harper will cast a large shadow over the meetings. The slugging outfielder hails from Las Vegas and there will surely be speculation that he could sign in his hometown. That seems unlikely, however, because Harper is seeking the richest contract ever — more than Giancarlo Stanton's $325 million — and a deal like that will take some time. Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, is always patient and willing to go deep into the winter to get his price.

The Phillies remain interested in Harper — who wouldn’t be? — and will surely meet with Boras this week. But at the moment, Harper appears to rank below Machado on the Phillies’ wish list. Of course, things can change in a hurry at this time of the year.

Michael Brantley is another free agent in the Phillies’ focus. The 31-year-old leftfielder, a three-time All-Star, hit .309 with an .832 OPS for Cleveland last season. It would not be surprising at all to see the Phillies end up with Brantley.

“I like the guys we have in the outfield,” Klentak said of Odubel Herrera, Roman Quinn, Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr. “We can mix and match with what we have. Having said that, we’re always looking for the areas on the roster where we can upgrade and make an improvement and I do think the outfield lends itself to that.”

As for pitching, the Phils would still like to add a lefty starter to balance out a righty-dominant rotation. The team is interested in free agent J.A. Happ and Arizona trade candidate Robbie Ray. The Phils would also like to add a lefty like Zach Britton or Andrew Miller to the bullpen. Both are free agents.

Klentak and his aides headed right off to the Phillies’ hotel suite (war room) upon arriving at the winter meetings Sunday afternoon. No wasting time. There’s a lot of work to do looking for those 10 more wins that could make the Phils a contender.

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