Free agency is heating up in Major League Baseball, but the Phillies are yet to make any substantial moves. So far, their only signings have been Jeurys Familia, a re-signing of Odubel Herrera, and Brad Hand. Two aging relief pitchers and an average at best center fielder are not exactly what the doctor ordered to end the Phils 10 year playoff drought, but free agency is far from over. As is tradition in baseball, the larger free agents wait for some ancillary pieces to set the market, and then zone in on the best possible deal. For Philadelphia, the 3 big fish in an ever-shrinking pond of potential additions are Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Nick Castellanos. With reports out that Dave Dombrowski has been told to not exceed the luxury tax, signing all 3 of them is obviously not possible. Signing two of the three is potentially an option, but is rather unlikely. So, then, the question is this: will the Phillies land ANY of their big 3 targets before they get scooped up by other teams?
The short answer, in my mind, is yes. I firmly believe that one of those 3 will be rocking the red pinstripes at The Bank this summer. Here’s why I think that. The moves that the Phils have made so far have clearly been fringe moves; back end bullpen guys and re-signing a guy nobody wanted here (Herrera) to a very cheap deal. I find it very hard to believe that the Phillies’ brass looks at a roster that already has the reigning NL MVP in Bryce Harper and the NL Cy Young Runner Up in Zack Wheeler and think that they can placate this fan base with some small tweaking. Philadelphia is a ravenous sports town, baseball included, and you better believe that this organization is feeling the pressure of a decade-long streak of no postseason. It would be outside the realm of reality to take in the Phillies’ current situation and not add another star to this roster. They absolutely have the money; they saved $20mil in cap just with the removal of Andrew McCutchen. “Some teams have the money, but are cheap though!” Yes, of course, but not the Phillies. They’ve had a top 10 payroll in baseball each of the past 3 years, and they will firmly be in that range again. All of this points to a big shoe still to drop in free agency, and one of these 3 guys absolutely should be a Phillie on opening day 2022.
Now, the question is who will it be? I’ve already told you it won’t be all 3, and is very unlikely to be 2 of the 3. Who is the most likely to end up in Philadelphia and why? We’ll answer by way of elimination. Let’s start with Kris Bryant. Bryant had a solid season in 2021, and the former MVP is now set to get a big pay day. He’s a versatile fielder, which could very well be his best asset to a Phillies’ team that struggled defensively last year and has a lot of holes to feel. He would be a great fit, but rumor is that he is not all that interested in coming to Philadelphia. Part of the issue is probably his chance to sign a monster deal and looking at a team that already has thrown the bag at Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler. One of his other top potential landing areas, Colorado, has less than $100mil committed to their roster so far, which ranks 19th among MLB teams. If I had to guess, one of the biggest factors here is that Bryant feels the biggest pay day of his career would be restricted by the stars already here in Philly. I’d say he’s the least likely of the 3 to end up here.
Next would be Nick Castellanos. Castellanos was the NL All-Star starter in RF this past year, beating out MVP winner Bryce Harper. He’s a super talented player that fills an outfield need for the Phillies, and could easily slot into LF opposite of Harper. He also batted .309 last year with 34 homers and 100 RBIS, proving his prowess at the plate. He’s my personal favorite choice for the Phillies to add, but he could certainly be the most expensive of the big 3. He’s the highest profile outfielder available, which means the Phillies would have to outbid everyone else for his services in 2022. Do they have the ability to? Yes. Do they actually want to? Reports point towards no. It’s not a sure thing that Castellanos is out for the Phillies obviously, any of these 3 are still in play, but to me, it feels unlikely that the Phils decide to outbid the rest of the league once again like they did with Harper.
So, that leaves one man. I think that Kyle Schwarber is the most likely to end up with the Phillies, mainly because he would be the lowest profile of the 3. Schwarber would be a great addition for the Phils because of the addition of the NL DH, and he could also fill a corner outfield role. He’s not as talented of a player as Bryant or Castellanos, but he is a bona fide MLB power hitter. Adding that to a lineup that already has Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, JT Realmuto, and Jean Segura would make the top 5 in the order incredibly dangerous. He’s not as reliable of a fielder, but in a ballpark like Citizens Bank Park, it’s less ground to cover and power hitters are an x factor. But none of that is the biggest reason why I think Schwarber is the most likely. He would also be the cheapest. Last year he made $10mil compared to Bryant’s $19.5mil and Castellanos’ $14mil. Even though he will make more than that $10mil number this year, he is the most affordable of the option, which has been the Phillies’ forte in the past. He’s not the flashiest, but he would be a significant update over *checks notes* nobody in LF currently. Either way, I still firmly believe that one of these 3 ends up donning a Phillies uniform come April.