The 2023 offseason has begun earlier than the Philadelphia Phillies wanted it to. Aaron Nola is anticipating free agency this winter instead of looking forward to a chance to solidify his Philadelphia legacy with a memorable performance in the World Series.
Dave Dombrowski faces key decisions to patch up a roster that came up small in the biggest moments against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He needs to address a crossroad at the top of the starting rotation, a shuffle between power hitters on the current roster, and weaknesses in the bullpen and on the bench.
The Bryce Harper Effect
Bryce Harper began the 2022 season recovering from offseason Tommy John surgery. He not only returned surprisingly earlier than his original timeline suggested, but he also began playing a new position.
The $330 million man showed his natural athleticism and competitive spirit with an excellent transition to 1st base. Will he return to right field? How will his decision affect the future of Rhys Hoskins and Nick Castellanos?
The plans of the organization will hinge on Harper, their superstar and offensive centerpiece.
Bench, Bullpen, Secondary Decisions
All contending teams look to make changes to improve their bullpen and bench. The Phillies brought in Gregory Soto and Craig Kimbel last offseason. They made tweaks to their bench during Spring Training and after the start of the 2023 regular season.
Another starting pitcher threw an additional curveball into the situation after the NLCS. Taijuan Walker didn’t appear in a postseason game. He still made his presence known with an unnecessarily strong social media stance against Rob Thomson. Now, Aaron Nola in free agency isn’t the only question among the starters.
The Phillies no longer have the aftermath of positively that resulted from a miracle run to the World Series in 2022.
They now face the pressure of a stunning playoff exit and a closing window of opportunity to deliver a championship to Philadelphia. How will they handle it?