Philadelphia fans are historically known to be impatient, but now is not the time for the Phillies to break the bank because of it
Free agency in baseball can be one of the most hectic times of the year. Unlike football where only a certain number of teams are in play due to scheme fits, anyone can virtually go anywhere in baseball.
The Phillies have a history of going all-out for the top free agents. Jim Thome, Cliff Lee, and Pete Rose are just some of the all-star players brought into town that have made major impacts.
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In many ways this current Phillies era is similar to when Thome was brought in prior to the opening of Citizens Bank Park in the early 2000’s. The team was young with several big-name prospects on the way and needed to “put buts in seats.”
Unlike 2002, there was no new ballpark that needed to be filled every night. The team had veterans such as Bobby Abreu, Mike Lieberthal, Todd Pratt, and Doug Glanville leading the way.
Yes, the Phillies need to sign a veteran bat to set an example for the youthful Phillies and provide a threat in the line-up. But unlike 2002, they should not be looking towards superstars such as Jose Bautista or Mark Trumbo.
While Bautista and Trumbo would dominate in a hitter-friendly ballpark down in South Philly, it is hard to imagine them coming to Philadelphia at this stage of their careers. Both played in the playoffs and are in their 30’s chasing their first championship.
Both of the sluggers will require multi-year deals, something Philadelphia is unlikely to provide. Matt Klentak won’t overpay for players despite the Phillies having an abundance of cash thanks to a new TV deal and a limited number of veterans.
Sep 30, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; Baltimore Orioles right fielder Mark Trumbo (45) hits a 2-run home run during the fifth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
If you were to sign a superstar like Bautista or Trumbo, they would most-likely desire some form of a no-trade clause. Practically everyone is for sale on the Phillies roster, making trade deadline deals even more difficult to make.
There is one similarity to 2002 when the Phillies signed Thome and the modern-day club. The veteran would be blocking the path for a prospect to start. Thome was doing it to Ryan Howard, and either one of the afore-mentioned players could block Nick Williams or Dylan Cozens from making their debut.
Having a high-priced free agent may be fun for the fans and result in an increased sale of tickets and merchandise. But in the long-term it does not make sense for either side.
Klentak would better fit to chase second-tier free agents such as Brandon Moss, Josh Riddick, or Austin Jackson.
It may not be the most popular decision, but it is the smart one. Ruben Amaro Jr. would have made the popular decision, but Klentak and Andy MacPhail have a plan they will not deviate from for some not-so-cheap thrills.