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Inbox: What draws Harper, Machado to Philly?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers questions from fans
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

I get that the Phillies want Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but what would inspire them to want to come to Philly?
- Elijah C., Dover, Del.

Hundreds of millions of dollars would inspire almost anybody to move pretty much anywhere for a few years.

I get that the Phillies want Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but what would inspire them to want to come to Philly?
- Elijah C., Dover, Del.

Hundreds of millions of dollars would inspire almost anybody to move pretty much anywhere for a few years.

I mean, I know I'm not the only person that would be inspired by $300 million, right?

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The idea that the Phillies are an undesirable organization is crazy. First, while the Phillies collapsed at the end of the season, they still showed enough improvement to make a free agent think that they could make the postseason as early as next season. Second, while there are concerns locally about manager Gabe Kapler, it is difficult to imagine a player not signing somewhere, if the money is right, because of a manager. Trust me, 99 percent of the time it comes down to money. No matter what a fan thinks about its team or its direction, players know they only have a limited time to maximize their earnings. They are going to take the best offer they can find and enthusiastically sign that contract.

How are the Phillies planning on fixing their primary problem of getting runners on base? Taking the most pitches per at-bat does not mean anything until they cut down on their strikeouts.
-- Stanley G., Winter Springs, Fla.

There is no question that the Phillies need to make more contact. They ranked fourth in baseball in walk rate (9.5 percent) -- Carlos Santana, Rhys Hoskins and Cesar Hernandez boosted those numbers -- and second in pitches per plate appearance (4.01), but 19th in on-base percentage (.314), 23rd in slugging percentage (.393) and 21st in runs (677). They ranked third in strikeout rate (24.8 percent) and second in whiff rate (27.4 percent). They simply did not make enough contact. Signing somebody like Machado or Harper will help, but other moves and the expectation that the team's youngest hitters will continue to develop will dictate how effective the offense will be.

Could the Phillies try to bring back Freddy Galvis? I've always liked him. Although he's never been a great hitter, everyone knows he's a defensive wizard, and this team sorely missed his glove this year.
- Brett L., Broomall, Pa.

It is an interesting idea, but I have a difficult time imagining the Phillies' front office bringing back Galvis. It is not its style to look backward. But here is one offseason scenario: The Phillies sign Harper over Machado. In subsequent moves, they trade Hernandez, which allows Scott Kingery to return to second base, and sign Josh Donaldson or Mike Moustakas to play third base. In that situation, the Phillies have upgraded offensively in right field, third base and perhaps even second base, if Kingery takes a step forward in his sophomore season. Perhaps the Phillies then look at shortstop in a different light. Perhaps they go for the best available defender to help groundball pitchers like Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta. Galvis would fit the bill, but somebody like Jose Iglesias could work, too.

Video: ARI@SD: Galvis makes difficult over-the-shoulder grab

Of course, there is also J.P. Crawford. He hit .255 with three home runs, 12 RBIs and an .848 OPS in his final 113 plate appearances this season, although those times at the plate were spread out from April through September because of injuries and time in Triple-A. But Crawford struggled defensively when he played shortstop; he committed eight errors in only 229 2/3 innings. His .931 fielding percentage (yes, we know fielding percentage is an old-school stat) ranked last among 45 shortstops with 220 or more innings there. But the Phillies at least have options, and it is not a stretch to think that the Phillies could have an entirely new infield on Opening Day 2019 than they had in 2018.

How can the organization improve a dreadful defensive unit?
-- Matt E., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

It will take multiple moves, which is why it is so difficult to predict what will happen this offseason. Sign Harper and the dominoes fall one way. Sign Machado and they fall another. Sign neither and they fall in an entirely different direction. Does Hoskins return to first base, which is his preference? If so, can the Phillies really move forward with Santana at third base? There are countless considerations, but one thing is clear: The Phillies have to do something to improve their defense in 2019.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Philadelphia Phillies, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado