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ARLINGTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 20: Jordan Montgomery #52 of the Texas Rangers throws a pitch against the Houston Astros during the fifth inning in Game Five of the American League Championship Series at Globe Life Field on October 20, 2023 in Arlington, Texas.

Someone needs to relight the Phillies’ pilot light. Because thus far their hot stove has been as cold as it gets. They re-signed Aaron Nola, and it has been all quiet from Citizens Bank Park since. They have seen the Dodgers and Braves make several moves. But at least so far, the Phillies have yet to land any notable free agents.

With that said, there is still time. And they are not the only team that has been this quiet. It is one of the slowest MLB off-seasons in recent memory. There were some huge splashes early on, like Ohtani and Yamamoto both hoping to LA, and Juan Soto going to the Yankees. And it has started to pick up recently with a lot of the big-name bullpen arms flying off the board. And recently the Orioles made a big splash by trading for Corbin Burnes. A move the Phillies probably should have been in on.

But there are still top Free Agents out there. And Bob Nightengale even recently reported that the Phillies could be in on a couple of them. The Phillies need to do something. Even before the Dodgers signed everyone, it was already clear this roster as it stands was not good enough. You don’t fall apart like they did in two straight seasons and stand pat. Whether it is a new bat or a new arm, they need to shake things up a bit.

So what is the best way for them to do that? What remaining free agents could maybe push them over the top, or at least help a little bit?

Here are 5 remaining free agents who the Phillies could still target:

  • Jordan Montgomery

     Jordan Montgomery #52 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game Two of the World Series at Globe Life Field

    The key to the Phillies’ deep playoff runs the last two years has not been their lineup.  They certainly helped, but what really separated them was how great their starting pitching was. Very few other teams can field 3 playoff-worthy starters like they can. But now that has changed with how busy the Dodgers have been. Even without Ohtani pitching, they have at least 3, and maybe 4 playoff-worthy starters. And now it falls on the Phillies to catch up.

    Enter Jordan Montgomery. Is he an Ace? Not necessarily. But he has been as dependable as they come and sports a playoff ERA of 2.70 in his career. It also helps that he is a lefty. So the Phillies could then throw two righties, Wheeler and Nola, and two lefties, Suarez and Montgomery, at teams come playoff time. He was one of the names Bob Nightengale reported the Phillies could be in on. And adding him would easily give the Phillies one of the 3 best pitching rotations in baseball.

  • Cody Bellinger

    Cody Bellinger #24 of the Chicago Cubs makes a catch during the third inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field

    The other name Nightengale attached to the Phillies is former MVP Cody Bellinger. Phillies fans wanted the Phillies to get him at the trade deadline last year. But the Cubs heated up, and wound up holding onto him to make a playoff push. Now he is a free agent and all he would cost the Phillies is money.

    Bellinger bounced back big time last season. Not quite to his MVP form. But after hitting about .210 in the past 3 seasons, he got his average over .300 and slugged 26 HRs with 20 steals. Signing him would mean there is no room for Johan Rojas. Because Bellinger would likely play Center with Brandon Marsh in Left. But adding another premier bat to the lineup may be worth it. And while he is not as good as Rojas with the glove, few are, he is still an above-average fielder.

    One drawback is he is another free swinger. And that trait is what got the Phillies into trouble last year. He is not nearly as bad at chasing balls out of the strike zone as Trea Turner (35.3%) or Nick Castellanos (41%) are. Both of those guys are in the bottom 20% of major leagues. But his 31% chase rate is still in the bottom half of the league. And if what you want is a better approach at the plate, he may not exactly be the answer. With that said, if you get the production he gave the Cubs last year, you will put up with him swinging at a few bad pitches.

  • Blake Snell

    Blake Snell #4 of the San Diego Padres reacts as he walks to the dugout after throwing seven hitless innings a game against the Colorado Rockies at PETCO Park

    The same logic we used for Montgomery could also lend to Snell being a fit here. He is a lefty and a two-time Cy Young winner. All of that makes for a very convincing case to sign him. So why is he still out there?

    It comes down to his lack of innings. He has only reached 180 innings twice in his career. Granted both times he won the Cy Young. He has never pitched 200 innings. Some of that is injuries. But a lot of it is just him rarely pitching past 5 innings. Even last year when he was healthy he averaged 5.6 innings per start. Nola and Wheeler were both over 6. Montgomery averaged 5.9, and that rose to 6.1 with the Rangers. Snell will put some strain on the bullpen. However when you have workhorses like Nola and Wheeler, maybe you can stomach that more.

    Snell was connected to the Phillies before they re-signed Nola. And him being old friends with Bryce Harper, along with the Phillies’ history of acquiring all of Harper’s friends, made the connection make sense. But since the Nola deal, we have not heard much about Snell to Philly. But it could still make sense. And if the Phillies are in on one starter, Montgomery, they may be willing to sign Snell too.

  • Ryne Stanek

    Ryne Stanek #45 of the Houston Astros celebrates after getting the third out in the third inning against the Texas Rangers during Game Four of the Championship Series at Globe Life Field

    The Phillies could use some bullpen help. They still have Jose Alvarado and Jeff Hoffman, and Seranthony Dominguez could be in line for a bounce-back year. And Orion Kerkering is expected to play a big role out of their pen. But if we learned anything from the past two seasons, it’s that you can never have enough arms in the playoffs. And Stanek is a guy who is proven in the playoffs, with a 2.70 career ERA in October and November.

    He is coming off of a down year, at least by his standards. But that is probably a good thing. There are a handful of relievers who are good every year. The rest, seem to rotate between bad and good. And if he gets back to his 2022 form, where his ERA was 1.15, the Phillies would take it.

    And even in a down year, there were still things to like about him last year. His fastball still sat at 98. And his splitter and slider both generated whiff rates of over 40%. The best thing you can do in the bullpen is collect high-powered arms and hope it works out. And Stanek fits the bill of a high-powered arm.

  • Enrique Hernandez

    DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 26: Enrique Hernandez #8 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a RBI sacrifice fly against the Colorado Rockies in the fifth inning during Game Two of a Doubleheader at Coors Field on September 26, 2023 in Denver, Colorado.

    The Phillies need to improve their bench. Last year they didn’t have a single scary bat coming off the bench, apart from Edmundo Sosa. Jake Cave had a month of good at-bats and was a nonfactor the rest of the year. They can’t come back with the same group of guys. even in this era where the DH has made pinch-hitting far less prevalent, they need a better bench. And Enrique Hernandez is one of the best bench bats out there.

    Hernandez has a history of coming off the bench and getting it done. Not only in the regular season but the playoffs too. His career Slugging % in the playoffs is .542. And he can play pretty much anywhere. Harper needs a day off at 1st base? Stick Hernandez there. He got experience at first with the Dodgers last season. Want to sit Marsh against a tough lefty? Well, Hernandez is a righty and can play the outfield. He can even play in the middle infield.

    Whether it is Hernandez, to someone else, the Phillies need to improve their bench. He is just the best option out there.

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