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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