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5 Storylines heading into the MLB Winter Meetings

On December 10th the baseball world will converge on Orlando, Florida for the start of the 2017 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings. The hot stove will be heating up as a great number of decisions will be made that affect a team’s structure for the 2018 season. The Phillies will be hoping to gauge the market and make deals to continue building their young roster. Here are a few storylines going into next weeks meetings involving the Phillies and players that could potentially affect the moves made across Major League baseball.

What will be the ripple effect caused by Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton be?

The two biggest storylines of this offseason have centered around International Free Agent Shohei Ohtani and the Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Our articles covering these players and their potential impact with the Phillies can be found here (Ohtani and Stanton). 

However, as time has passed it appears the Phillies are not on Ohtani’s list of narrowed down teams, and the Marlins have deals in place with the Giants and Cardinals for Stanton. Since the Phillies were long shots for both of these players to begin with, this should not really affect their overall game plan, but other free agents and trades could hinge on where these two players land. 

Phillies Avoiding Arbitration and Possible Contract Extensions for Current Players

Last week it was reported by and NBC Sports Philly that the Phillies have made contract offers to five players who are arbitration eligible this winter: Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis, Luis Garcia, Cesar Hernandez, and Cameron Rupp.

Galvis and Hernandez are in the middle of their arbitration years and are hoping to find a mutually acceptable deal with the Phillies. Franco, Garcia, and Rupp are all in their first year of arbitration eligibility and are in line for a substantial raise from their previous year’s salary. The Phillies have time to work out the details of these players’ contracts. Worst case is they go to an arbiter in February to decide a fair wage for the player this upcoming season.

The team could look to sign other players to long-term contracts as they did with Odubel Herrera. Candidates that come to mind include Aaron Altherr and Aaron Nola. Both are young and could be rewarded after having solid numbers in 2017.

Trade Rumors Swirling Around Middle Infielders

As reported by a number of media outlets earlier this week, there are trade offers sent into the Phillies for Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis. The Angles and Padres are the most reported teams according to MLBTR. Hernandez to the Angels has been floated around quite a bit in the past few months.

As one of the top leadoff hitters in Major League Baseball last year, Hernandez could sure up the middle of the infield for the Angels. Galvis, who has been an average hitter but a stellar fielder, fits the Padres and their rebuilding effort as they could look to use him in transition to top prospects. Hernandez seems more likely to be traded given his age, hitting ability from the leadoff spot, and his remaining years of arbitration eligibility. It is more likely that the Phillies hold on to Galvis for most of the season and reevaluate his value at the trade deadline.

Hernandez seems more expendable and could provide a decent haul from a number of prospective teams. This would open a path for Scott Kingery to come to the majors sometime in 2018. The option also remains for the Phillies to hold on to both players if they do not agree with the package(s) being offered.

Addressing the Pitching Woes

The top off-season priority for the Phillies should be improving the starting rotation. Nola aside, the Phil’s rotation had numerous issues throughout the course of this past year. Whether it was injuries, inconsistency, or not meeting expectations, the starters did not produce quality outings. Internal options are there with Velasquez, Eickhoff, Lively, Eflin, Leiter, Pivetta and Thompson; but outside options need to be a top priority as none of the starters behind Nola last year are locks to make the rotation.

Free agent ace’s such as Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish will probably not be considered. The Phillies could look to target players like  Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb instead. The team could also look for potential high upside pitchers like recently non-tendered free agent Drew Smyly or absorb large expiring veteran contracts from teams like the Dodgers or Rangers. Expect the Phillies to be one of the most active teams in the starting pitcher market as they could be adding one or more potential starters.

Potential Big Splashes

The Phillies have been rumored to be a dark horse spender this off-season. This is contrary to the statements of the team, who look to be focused on their progressive rebuild strategy and keeping the payroll low for a star-studded 2018 free agent class. However, it would not be surprising if the Phillies made some key additions to make themselves a more attractive free agent destination in 2018.

Previous reports of the team being interested in Carlos Santana would be a splash that would cause a ripple effect with current players on the roster. If the team is aggressive they could be contenders to submit trade offers for starters like Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole. Big-name pitchers could be on the move during the Winter Meetings and the Phillies will certainly be in on any number of them.

The Baseball Winter Meetings are an exciting and fast-paced time for the baseball industry. A who’s who of baseball personnel will be making decisions that could alter the direction of their respected franchise. While there are plenty of storylines to follow, be sure to keep up with all the news by following us on social media.

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