Dombrowski discusses free agents, Harper

Phillies' president of baseball operations entering exciting offseason

November 10th, 2022

Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is spending his time this week at the GM Meetings laying groundwork for one of the organization’s most anticipated offseasons in years.

This is no longer a franchise trying to snap a postseason drought.

This is a franchise trying to take the final step and win a World Series.

Dombrowski met with reporters Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Phillies’ offseason. A few highlights:

Trea Turner anybody?
The moment the Phillies declined Jean Segura’s $17 million club option for 2023, taking a $1 million buyout instead, everybody connected the dots between free-agent shortstop Trea Turner and the Phillies.

Turner would be an incredible addition to the Phillies’ lineup, and there is buzz that he would love to return to the East Coast. But Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson are free-agent shortstops, too. If the Phillies land one of the four, they would move Bryson Stott from shortstop to second base.

“We have complete flexibility to do whatever we like,” Dombrowski said. “So that’s how I would answer that question. We’ll just see what happens.

“Jean did a nice job for us. We thought the option price was high. … It really gives us complete flexibility in what we want to do in the middle infield. We have a young player in Stott that we really like a lot. He can play short or second. We also have a young player in [Edmundo] Sosa that we like a lot. We feel that even if we didn’t sign Jean back and we didn’t do anything else, internally we have some answers ourselves. But it also gives us, as the winter progresses, complete flexibility to make additions as we want.”

Dombrowski said they could re-sign Segura, but a reunion seems unlikely. Dombrowski almost certainly knows it behooves the Phillies to make changes to the offense. The Phils ranked seventh in baseball in scoring (747 runs) and eighth in OPS (.739) this season, but they also set a World Series record with 71 strikeouts and had only nine hits in the final three games, which were all losses.

“There are four really good shortstops out there, right?” Dombrowski said. “I wouldn’t get into any specifics on which ones we like, but we like all of them, as I think probably every club in baseball. That’s not a revelation. We like them all.”

What about the financials?
The Phillies had a franchise-record payroll in 2022, exceeding the Competitive Balance Tax for the first time in franchise history. To sign somebody like Turner and fill other holes on the roster, plus raises expected in salary arbitration, they might have to exceed the CBT again.

It almost seems inevitable.

“I would just say, I don’t think we’re looking to cut our salaries back,” Dombrowski said. “But I’m not really going to make a specific declaration. … We have our budget in place. We by all means have the freedom to … we had a lot of money that came off. Our owners want us to do well. They’re very aggressive in that regard.”

What’s up with Bryce?
Bryce Harper will have the torn UCL in his right elbow evaluated on Monday by noted orthopedist Neal ElAttrache. The next step could be anything from no surgery, which seems unlikely, to Tommy John surgery to something in between, like the elbow surgery Rhys Hoskins had to his non-throwing elbow following the 2020 season.

Don’t let Tommy John freak you out. It doesn’t mean Harper would miss 2023. Shohei Ohtani had Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1, 2018. He returned to DH for the Angels on May 7, 2019.

“Of course, they all have different ramifications for us, but we can’t do anything until we find out,” Dombrowski said.

Is everybody else healthy?
“We don’t have anything of major consequence,” Dombrowski said. Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler said after the World Series that he is healthy. There had been concerns after he missed a month late in the season because of tendinitis in his right forearm, then struggled in Game 2 of the Series, before bouncing back in Game 6.

On the rotation ...
Dombrowski said the Phillies "don’t have a lot of particular needs,” because everybody except Segura is expected to return in the lineup and Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suárez will be the top three starters in the rotation.

Dombrowski said they would like to create one spot in the rotation for one of the team’s young starters, which includes left-handers Bailey Falter and Cristopher Sánchez and top pitching prospect Andrew Painter. Pitching prospects Mick Abel and Griff McGarry also will get a look in the spring.

“We have some young pitchers that we like a lot,” Dombrowski said. “I’m hopeful that one of those [gets a job].”