Are the Phillies about to sign an elite shortstop?

December 5th, 2022

This story was excerpted from Todd Zolecki's Phillies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Jacob deGrom did the Phillies a couple of favors Friday night.

First, he agreed to a five-year, $185 million contract with the Rangers, striking a blow to the Mets’ rotation (although, Mets owner Steve Cohen responded in a major way with a Justin Verlander deal). Second, he kickstarted a sleepy Hot Stove season, just two days before the Winter Meetings open Sunday in San Diego. The offseason has been way too quiet for Phillies fans, who are impatiently waiting to order their Trea Turner jerseys.

Internally and externally, the Phillies are expected to reach an agreement with one of baseball’s four elite free-agent shortstops (Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson or Turner) as early as this week. The Athletic reported around dinnertime Friday that the Phillies are meeting this weekend with Bogaerts and Correa.

They might have already met with Turner and Swanson.

Clearly, as they should, the Phillies are keeping their options open.

The Phillies absolutely want to make something happen before they leave San Diego on Wednesday. Because once they land a shortstop, they will know how much money they can spend on the rotation and bullpen.

Here is a look at the Phillies’ offseason wish list before things get going:

  1. Shortstop: Turner is believed to be the Phillies’ top choice, although they will not be caught flatfooted. A quick primer on the four free-agent shortstops:

Trea Turner
bWAR: 29.7
fWAR: 31.6
Career:.302/.355/.487 (122 OPS+), 124 HR in 849 games
2022: .298/.343/.466 (121 OPS+), 21 HR in 160 games

Carlos Correa
fWAR: 31.3
Career: .279/.357/.479 (129 OPS+), 155 HR in 888 games
2022: .291/.366/.467 (140 OPS+), 22 HR in 136 games

Xander Bogaerts
fWAR: 34.2
Career: .292/.356/.458 (117 OPS+), 156 HR in 1,264 games
2022: .307/.377/.456 (131 OPS+), 15 HR in 150 games

Dansby Swanson
fWAR: 16.2
Career: .255/.321/.417 (95 OPS+), 102 HR in 827 games
2022: .277/.329/.447 (115 OPS+), 25 HR in 162 games

  1. Rotation: The Phillies began the offseason with three free-agent starters: Zach Eflin, Kyle Gibson and Noah Syndergaard. They threw a combined 288 1/3 innings in the rotation, which is a big number to replace. Don’t expect the Phillies to pursue a top free-agent starters like Carlos Rodón.

Why? They like what they have atop the rotation with Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suárez. The fourth rotation spot will go to Bailey Falter, Cristopher Sánchez or a top prospect like Andrew Painter. The fifth job will go to somebody else. The Phillies are looking at the next tier of starters that includes Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Heaney, José Quintana, Ross Stripling, Jameson Taillon, Michael Wacha and Taijuan Walker. Or perhaps Syndergaard re-signs on a club-friendly deal. You never know.

  1. Bullpen: Phillies manager Rob Thomson mixed and matched his bullpen to near perfection in the postseason. Besides Seranthony Domínguez and José Alvarado, he had David Robertson, Brad Hand and Eflin to pitch in the eighth and ninth innings. Eflin is gone now. Robertson and Hand are free agents. So while Connor Brogdon and Andrew Bellatti could see elevated roles next season, it behooves the Phillies to find at least a couple of quality late-inning relievers.