The Phillies need starting pitching. Could Cole Hamels return at some point?
-- Jack C., Malvern, Pa.
Hamels could be a free agent following the 2018 season, unless the Rangers exercise a $20 million club option for 2019. Hamels, who will be 34 next season, has said he would never close the door on a reunion with the Phillies. Hamels loves the organization. He still lives in the area. Maybe the Phillies find themselves in need of a veteran starter in a year or two and sign him to a short-term deal. But so much can happen between now and the time Hamels ultimately becomes a free agent. He will need to stay healthy and productive, and the Phillies will need an opening in the rotation. Who knows how their rotation will look following next season?
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I think the Phillies should go hard after Tampa Bay's Chris Archer and Cincinnati's Raisel Iglesias. What are your thoughts?
-- Joe S., Philadelphia
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I suspect Philadelphia will inquire or listen about anybody that might be available and under team control beyond 2018. Archer and Iglesias fit the profile of controllable pitching. So, yes, I can see them engaging with the Rays and Reds should those pitchers become available. But everything depends on the asking price. Like I have said many times before, this is not fantasy baseball. It is not a matter of the Phillies throwing six marginal players and prospects at the Rays and having them accept the deal.
Is there any thought to bringing back Carlos Ruiz either as a veteran backup catcher or a catching coach?
-- Alicia T., East Greenville, Pa.
Ruiz loves the Phillies, and I think it makes sense for him to continue his post-playing career with the Phillies, if he's interested. Few players in the Phillies' clubhouse have been more popular than Chooch. Few have cared more about the organization. I can see him connecting with the team's prospects at the Minor League level -- catchers, pitchers or otherwise.
Should the Phillies resign Clay Buchholz? Everyone noticed what Charlie Morton accomplished this season in Houston. Isn't the data in favor of a comeback for Clay?
-- Reuben S., Hong Kong
I cannot see Buchholz returning, unless he returns on a Minor League deal. But I suspect a pitcher like Buchholz will take the best deal possible (i.e. guaranteed money is better than no guaranteed money), hope to establish himself in 2018 and hit the market again next season. I see the Phillies going in a different direction, preferring to acquire a veteran starter or two this offseason and giving the rest of the jobs to the team's crop of young pitchers.