The 2017 Major League Baseball Winter Meetings have come and gone with most of the big movement happening days prior to the meetings and the day after they ended. This year’s meetings were fairly uneventful compared to prior years. There was more smoke than fire in terms of moves being made but, the Phillies were able to make a few key transactions to bolster the roster for the upcoming season.
During the meetings, the Phillies, like most other active teams in free agency, focused on adding relievers to their bullpen. They resigned Pat Neshak who was flipped at last season’s trade deadline to the Rockies for three prospects and also signed Tommy Hunter from the Rays. Neshak was the lone Phillies All-Star representative last season, pitching 62 1/3 innings with a stellar 1.59 ERA for the team. Neshak also had a great stretch last season in June where he did not give up a single earned run during the entire month.
Hunter, who is a converted starter had a great year for Tampa Bay posting a 3-5 record with a 2.61 ERA. He developed a plus cutter to his arsenal last season making him one of the more dominant middle relief pitchers in the game. His pitch development helped him become the 2017 American League leader in holds with 25, which ranked near the top for relief pitchers in that category. This led the Phillies to sign Hunter to a two-year $18 million deal.
Throughout the week of the meetings and leading up to it, there were numerous rumors surrounding potential trades of the Phillies veteran middle infielders Cesar Hernandez and Freddy Galvis. The Angels were heavily rumored to be interested in Hernandez but, ultimately decided to pursue another avenue and traded for Ian Kinsler. So as Hernandez remains a viable trade chip on the team going forward, the Phillies pulled the trigger on Friday following the meetings to trade Galvis to San Diego.
Trading Galvis to San Diego all but certainly makes J.P. Crawford the opening day starter at shortstop for the Phils. The trade is a validation that the organization is going to be relying heavily on young prospects at key positions to develop into quality major league starters this season. The return for Galvis was surprisingly good; the Phillies received the Padres 13th ranked prospect RHP Enyel De Los Santos. Following the trade, De Los Santos now moved to the 9th ranked prospect in the Phillies farm system according to MLB.com’s prospect rankings.
Finally, the Phillies made the largest free agent splash so far this offseason, as they reportedly signed Carlos Santana to a 3-year $60 million deal. This is the largest free agent signing for the Phillies since 2010 when they signed Cliff Lee to a 5-year $120 million deal. The contract details and official signing has yet to be announced by the team, however, the deal makes a ton of sense for the team long term. Santana’s benefit can be found here but, his signing is crucial going forward for the team as they look to sign other big name free agents in the next few years.
Overall, the Phillies have made key moves to bolster their bullpen and balance their lineup. They also acquired an additional $500,000 in international free agent signing pool money by trading their Rule 5 draft pick Nick Burdi to the Pirates. This move can help them gain additional prospects to their farm system this season.
Look for Matt Klentak and the Phillies front office to remain active this winter in finding starting pitching either on the free agent market or via trade. Michael Fulmer remains the most ideal player to trade for, however, his asking price is extremely high and multiple teams are interested in him. The Phillies could be looking to add another bench piece to the roster before the start of spring training. Manny Machado seems like he may be pulled off the trade block if offers do not increase.
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