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Big deals done, Phils can look ahead to spring

@ToddZolecki
December 16, 2019

SAN DIEGO -- The Phillies' past two offseasons dragged into the past two Spring Trainings, when they signed Jake Arrieta in March 2018 and traded for J.T. Realmuto and signed Bryce Harper in February 2019. This spring should be different. This spring should be about baseball. The Phillies announced Monday

SAN DIEGO -- The Phillies' past two offseasons dragged into the past two Spring Trainings, when they signed Jake Arrieta in March 2018 and traded for J.T. Realmuto and signed Bryce Harper in February 2019.

This spring should be different. This spring should be about baseball.

The Phillies announced Monday that they signed right-hander Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract. They agreed Tuesday to a one-year, $14 million contract with shortstop Didi Gregorius. The Phils have only a few million dollars remaining before they cross the $208 million luxury tax threshold, so they essentially are finished making any major moves until the July 31 Trade Deadline, unless ownership gives general manager Matt Klentak the OK to pass the mark.

But the Phillies still have holes to fill. Here is where they stand following this week's Winter Meetings:

BIGGEST REMAINING NEEDS

1. Bullpen: The Phillies routinely cited the decimation of their bullpen to injuries as a significant reason why they finished 81-81 last season. They have not yet addressed the bullpen. They essentially are betting big on the health of relievers Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Adam Morgan, who finished last season on the injured list with left elbow problems. The Phils could use a veteran reliever or two to provide more depth.

"That's one of the ways we could go as we look to round out the team," Klentak said. "We could look in the area of adding some bullpen depth. Is that one player? Is that two players? Is that through a free agent signing or a waiver claim or a trade? I don't know."

2. Rotation: If the season started today, Aaron Nola, Wheeler, Arrieta and Zach Eflin would be expected to take the first four spots in the rotation. Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Cole Irvin and possibly Ranger Suarez might compete for the No. 5 job. (Top pitching prospect Spencer Howard could earn a call this summer.) It is possible that the Phillies could sign another veteran on a low-risk, short-term deal. Think along the lines of somebody like left-hander Drew Smyly.

3. Bench: The roster has expanded to 26 players, which means an extra bench player for the Phillies. Klentak indicated that this will be an area of focus in the weeks leading up to Spring Training.

A source confirmed Thursday morning that the Phillies re-signed West Chester, Pa., native and utility player Phil Gosselin to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He joins Josh Harrison and others as another candidate for a bench job. Gosselin hit .262 with a .602 OPS in 68 plate appearances last season with the Phils. He had a .901 OPS in 353 plate appearances with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

RULE 5 DRAFT

The Phillies selected infielder Vimael Machin on Thursday morning in the Rule 5 Draft. They traded him to the A's for cash considerations. The Phils lost nobody in the Major League or Triple-A phases of the Draft.

GM'S BOTTOM LINE

"There are going to be some years like last year and maybe even this year where we're making some more high-profile acquisitions through free agency, but the hope is that we're not doing that every year," Klentak said. "To do that, you're somewhat by definition paying full retail. Over time, you don't want to do that every year. It's important that we maintain balance to our payroll, have money rolling off every year so that we do have the opportunity to add every offseason, whether it's in the form of free agency or trades. We are constantly looking at both the present and the future and making decisions accordingly."

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