Plenty of starting pitchers for Phils to pursue

Hitting coach still vacant as Davis remains with Mets

November 14th, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies need to acquire at least one top-shelf starting pitcher this offseason. They probably need two.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak knows it, but he did not say it publicly this week at the General Managers Meetings at Scottsdale, Ariz. In fact, he said Wednesday that he still believes in the starting pitchers currently in the organization because of their performance in 2018. But the truth is the Phillies need to find somebody to accompany Aaron Nola atop the rotation if they expect to catch the Nationals, Braves and Mets in the National League East next season.

The Phillies have money and options. A deep free-agent starting pitching class includes , , , , , , and .

The Phillies’ good friend Scott Boras represents Cole, Strasburg, Ryu and Keuchel. Cole and Strasburg are the top two prizes on the market. Boras said he had lunch recently with Angels owner Arte Moreno, who likely is interested in Cole.

Has Boras had any lunches recently with Phillies managing partner John Middleton?

“Well, I’ll let John tell you about that,” Boras said.

Regarding the Phillies, Boras said, “I don’t see any stop sign in John’s pursuit of his goal, and that’s a world championship. He’s an owner that’s been very straightforward about his path and his commitment. He’s very, very involved in the franchise.

“It’s really good to see owners really be that committed to their team. When people are that involved, I think, they’re going to be as competitive as they feel they need to be to create the winning product they want.”

Cole is from California, and many believe that he prefers to play on the West Coast. Of course, money trumps geography almost every time. If the Phillies are aggressive, they can be in legitimate contention for him.

“I don’t think geography matters to any of these guys,” Boras said. “What matters is the continuance of winning and being able to achieve their goal of getting that rare win. I think in Gerrit’s case, when you’re that close, that you’re really looking at this process as, ‘I’ve got a box to check and I want to put together the best effort to put me in position to do that.’”

Boras’ clients typically take a long time to sign. Hamels, represented by John Boggs, is available and should not take nearly as long. He told last week that he would like to return to Philadelphia, but the Phillies’ interest in him remains to be seen. But Hamels’ return to Philadelphia seems like an obvious, easy upgrade to the rotation. And because Hamels might sign only a one-year contract to make it happen, it makes financial sense, too.

“We are going to be on the lookout for starting pitching,” Klentak said. “Cole is obviously … this is his first time going through free agency, and he has a chance to pick and choose where he’d like to pitch. Obviously, there are a lot of people in our organization who know him very well. He’s one of a number of players that we’ll talk to and we’ll see if we can line up. At this stage, I wouldn’t read into that any further than that for any sort of pecking order.”

Chili stays in New York

The Phillies expressed interested in Mets hitting coach Chili Davis, who was without a contract while the Mets hired a new manager. But the Mets are bringing back Davis, which means the only known candidates to interview for the Phillies’ hitting coach vacancy are Nationals assistant hitting coach Joe Dillon and former Phillies hitting coach Matt Stairs.

Could Kapler take coaches to SF?

The Giants introduced Gabe Kapler as their new manager on Wednesday. Is there a chance that he could take some of his Phillies coaches with him? Sure, it is possible.

“We’ll handle that if the time comes, but right now I’m not expecting to lose anybody,” Klentak said.