Wilson Ramos

Seidman's 5-point Phillies offseason plan: Bryce Harper, Zach Britton and a trade

Seidman's 5-point Phillies offseason plan: Bryce Harper, Zach Britton and a trade

It would take more than Bryce Harper for the Phillies to make up the gap between 80 wins and playoff contention in 2019. Harper alone would add a handful of wins, but if he does come aboard, the Phils will still have work to do before or after that signing.

Here's my (realistically) ideal offseason:

Sign Bryce Harper for 9 years, $360 million

It's $40 million a year. It's more total money than Giancarlo Stanton got and it's $15 million more per year.

For the Phillies, this would accomplish the goal of giving Harper and Scott Boras what they're seeking, while also avoiding a 14-year contract. 

If the Phillies were to get Harper on a nine-year deal, they'd avoid paying him $40 million or so after the age of 35.

Sign Zach Britton

Boom, there's your late-inning lefty to pair with Seranthony Dominguez and an experienced closer should Dominguez falter in that role at any point.

Britton would offer a unique look, as a lefty with a power sinker. Going from Pat Neshek to Dominguez to Britton would offer the opponent three completely different styles and repertoires in innings 7-9. The Phillies would lock down plenty of leads.

Sign J.A. Happ

I'm not big on paying Patrick Corbin more than $100 million. Nor do I love the idea of trading good young players for the injury-prone James Paxton or Robbie Ray. There's no doubt that all three southpaws have a ton of talent and legit swing-and-miss stuff, but it's a risk. 

Paxton's career high is 160 innings. Ray walked 70 batters in 123⅔ innings in 2018, with an ERA a full run higher than the previous year.

If it's me, I'd rather give Happ a two-year, $30 million deal with a third-year vesting option. He's not as good as Paxton or Ray at their best, but Happ is more reliable, will cost less, and his last three years have been the best of his career. Since 2016, Happ is 47-21 with a 3.44 ERA in 88 starts, with 8.7 strikeouts per nine and 2.7 walks.

He'd fit well in this Phillies rotation.

Trade Maikel Franco to Padres for Craig Stammen, Robbie Erlin and a prospect

The Padres are interested in Franco, according to teammate Jim Salisbury. But it's hard for me to see San Diego parting with Kirby Yates, who had a 2.14 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 63 innings as a setup man and closer last season. Yates is also cost-controlled for a low price. From a Phillies perspective, Yates seems like an overly optimistic return.

Stammen and Erlin could both help the Phillies' pitching staff, though. Stammen, who you probably remember from his seven seasons with the Nationals, is coming off his best year. He had a 2.73 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 73 appearances, striking out 88 in 79 innings and allowing just three home runs.

Erlin, a lefty, made 39 appearances, 12 starts, and exhibited tremendous control, walking just 12 batters in 109 innings. He'd be an upgrade over Adam Morgan.

The Padres will also want to rid themselves of underperforming Wil Myers' contract, but there's no reason for the Phillies to assume his remaining $70 million unless it also gets them a valuable asset like Yates.

Sign Wilson Ramos

If Harper comes aboard, it would likely mean Rhys Hoskins moves back to first base and Carlos Santana plays more third base than anyone expected. 

If a Santana trade cannot be worked out, then the Phillies' outfield and infield would both be set. Where else is there to improve? Behind the plate.

Ramos and Yasmani Grandal are the top two catchers on the free-agent market. Both are coming off very good offensive years and both have question marks. For Ramos, it's health. For Grandal, it's the lasting impression of his defensive struggles in the playoffs.

But both players will get decent offers because offense behind the plate is at a premium. There just are not many catchers around the league who can hit. 

Ramos was awesome for the Phillies ... when he was able to play. The Phillies acquired him with 55 games left and he played 33, hitting .337/.396/.483 with 10 extra-base hits and 10 walks in 101 plate appearances.

The Phillies, as his most recent team, should know more about Ramos' health than any other club. If they feel comfortable he can reach 400-plus plate appearances again in 2019, they should bring him back. They can enjoy Jorge Alfaro's pitch-framing all they want, but Alfaro does not and will never offer the offensive consistency of Ramos, who at 31 should still have at least two more good years in him.

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Phillies 5, Mets 2: Aaron Nola zeroing in on history

Phillies 5, Mets 2: Aaron Nola zeroing in on history

BOX SCORE

After five futile innings against left-hander Steven Matz, the Phillies finally broke out for five runs in the sixth inning Tuesday against the Mets' bullpen.

Using extra men paid off for Gabe Kapler in the 5-2 win. A pinch-hit RBI single from Wilson Ramos and a pinch-hit RBI double from Justin Bour preceded Jorge Alfaro's three-run home run.

The moves resulted in J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery leaving midway through the game, but the Phillies are desperate for runs and wins. Kapler will continue to employ "every marginal advantage," as he puts it.

Some fans sneer at what they consider over-managing, but there's not much of a debate that Ramos is a better hitter than Crawford and Bour is a better hitter than Kingery. If Crawford and Kingery would have made outs to end that inning, many would be asking, "Why not go to Ramos or Bour there?"

Aaron Nola started but did not get a decision. He was pulled with two outs in the sixth as his pitch count rose above triple-digits.

Carlos Santana reached base all four times with two singles and two walks. He's up to .234/.358/.426 on the season.

The Phillies are 77-73. With the Braves' 8-1 loss to the Cardinals, the Phillies are 5½ games back in the NL East.

Nola chasing history

The month of September has reminded us that Nola is, indeed, human.

For the third time in four starts this month, Nola couldn't make it out of the sixth inning. He didn't pitch poorly but wasn't at his best, allowing two runs to the Mets over 5⅔ innings with nine strikeouts.

The Phils are 5-1 against the Mets this season when Nola starts and 2-10 when anyone else does.

Nola is up to 199⅓ innings on the season. His opponents are hitting .201. No Phillies pitcher in more than 100 years has pitched at least 200 innings in a season and held his opponents under .200.

"It speaks to durability," Kapler said. "Look, if you're the best option for your team, more times than not, the manager is going to give you the opportunity to take down an additional inning.

"Almost always, Nola feels like the best option to get the next three hitters out. Piling up 200 innings is a huge accomplishment."

Nola's next start, No. 32, will be this Sunday in Atlanta. He'll face the Braves in both of his remaining starts.

Hurt by his counterpart

Nola was taken deep by opposing pitcher Steven Matz, who homered for the second consecutive start.

It was the first home run Nola has allowed to a pitcher since his MLB debut back on July 21, 2015 against Tampa Bay's Nate Karns.

The homer came after Nola had retired seven of the first eight hitters, five via the punchout. It was the eighth homer Nola has allowed in his last four starts after giving up just eight in his previous 27 starts.

Matz walked five but shut the Phillies out over five innings.

Up next

The last Phillies-Mets game of 2018 is Wednesday evening at 6:05.

Zach Eflin (10-7, 4.26) opposes Noah Syndergaard (12-3, 3.26).

The Phillies have hit .348 vs. Syndergaard in three games this season. He has a 5.51 ERA against them.

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Stick a fork in 'em: Phillies' doubleheader ends in catastrophe

Stick a fork in 'em: Phillies' doubleheader ends in catastrophe

BOX SCORE

This felt like the end.

The Phillies, up three in the ninth inning Tuesday night, blew a three-run lead and lost in extras, 7-6 to the Nationals. The Phils' five-run fifth inning — their biggest inning in nearly two months — was wasted.

Earlier in the day, they were shut down by a pitcher with a 7.08 career ERA.

The Phillies were swept in Tuesday's doubleheader and ended their night a season-worst 6½ games back in the NL East after the Braves recorded a 4-1 win.

"Look, I'm not gonna sugarcoat it, we are not playing good baseball right now," Gabe Kapler said. "It is our job to stay the course, to stay unemotional, to not panic, specifically my job."

In one day, the Phillies lost another series. It will be 34 straight games without a series win for a team that is now just four games over .500 at 74-70. Will they even finish with a winning record?

"As long as we are still in the race, as long as we still have games left with Atlanta, and as long as we can mathematically catch them, I will believe in this club," Kapler said. "That will not waver."

Aaron Nola (16-4, 2.29) opposes Stephen Strasburg (7-7, 4.04) in Wednesday night's series finale. 

Dominguez implodes

Seranthony Dominguez looked great in the eighth inning but couldn't protect a three-run lead in the ninth. After allowing two runs and loading the bases, Dominguez was pulled for Luis Garcia. 

Garcia promptly walked Trea Turner with the bases loaded to tie the game.

In the 10th, Yacksel Rios was taken deep by Juan Soto, who also homered and doubled earlier off Jake Arrieta.

“Urgency is kind of a ridiculous thing to say, honestly," Arrieta said. "Urgency, it’s accountability and responsibility. Take care of your end of the bargain, pick up your teammates. We've needed to be urgent for a long time and that just means win ballgames. We haven't done that."

2-3 punch

Rhys Hoskins and Wilson Ramos made it a tough night on Tanner Roark. Hoskins doubled twice against him and Ramos singled twice, driving in two runs. Both ended up with three-hit games.

For Hoskins, they were doubles No. 31 and 32. He is one of only five players in the National League with at least 30 doubles and 30 homers. The others are Paul Goldschmidt, Javier Baez, Trevor Story and Matt Carpenter.

As for Ramos, the guy has done nothing but hit when healthy for the Phils. In 18 games, he's batted .404 with a 1.060 OPS, nine extra-base hits and 13 RBI.

The Phils should absolutely make a push to re-sign Ramos, even if it might cost something like $45 million over three years. You can count on one hand the number of difference-making offensive catchers. He's one of them.

Earlier in the day ...

The Phillies lost 3-1 in Game 1. They mustered nothing against Erick Fedde, who entered with a 7.08 ERA in 10 career starts.

Here's a look at how often this season the Phillies have been shut down by a mediocre young pitcher (see story).

Scary moment

Attempting to catch a ball in foul territory to start the eighth inning, Maikel Franco fell upside-down into the Nationals' dugout near the camera well (see video). After a delay of about 90 seconds, Franco hobbled off the field and was replaced by Asdrubal Cabrera.

Franco, who couldn't really remember what happened, has a shoulder contusion and neck tightness. He told Kapler in the clubhouse that he'll be fine, but it's a virtual certainty that Franco will sit Wednesday with the off-day Thursday.

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