CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies opened camp Wednesday and manager Joe Girardi said he liked what he saw from ace Aaron Nola and Nick Pivetta, who is competing with Vince Velasquez and others for a job in the rotation.
It was just one bullpen session so it means nothing, but there is no question the Phils need their rotation to be better to win in 2020. It is too early to predict who will win that final job in the rotation, but there are other Spring Training predictions to be made. Come back on Opening Day and tell me how wrong I was:
1. Realmuto will sign a contract extension with the Phils
The Phillies need to make this happen, don’t they? They traded Sixto Sanchez, Jorge Alfaro and Will Stewart to the Marlins for J.T. Realmuto in February 2019. They got him because they believe he can be part of their core for years to come. At the very least, it needs to happen before the end of the season, but it would be better for everybody if it happens before Opening Day.
“I try not to operate with hard deadlines or operate in absolutes,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday. “So yes, it would be nice to have some resolution prior to Opening Day just so it's not a distraction -- mostly the player, but even to us during the season. I still feel very strongly that I would like to do that. … Once we have a resolution to the [2020 salary arbitration hearing], we'll come to the table and see if we can find common ground on a long-term deal. I hope that we can, and if we can't, we could always continue those talks during the season or even into free agency if we can.”
2. Philadelphia will not land Bryant, Arenado
The Phillies continue to be linked to Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant and even Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado because the Phils are a large-market team that could use a superstar third baseman. MLB.com wrote last month about the reasons why a Bryant deal is unlikely. Those reasons still hold true today. Klentak confirmed as much Thursday.
“In general, trades, once you get into Spring Training, are less common,” he said. “That’s more broadly speaking than specific to the Phillies. I mean, look, a year ago at this time, I think we were sitting here at this very table introducing J.T., another few weeks before we signed [Bryce] Harper. So it’s not impossible, but right now I’m comfortable with the group we have and expect that this group of 71, which is a rather large camp to begin with, will be our group.”
If the Phils land Bryant or Arenado or another superstar-type player, here is the most likely way it could happen: they play really well the first three months of the season, they are one or two players away from making a legitimate World Series push and ownership tells Klentak to go for it.
3. Segura will be the Phillies' starting second baseman
A lot of people in the organization love the idea of Scott Kingery and Didi Gregorius playing up the middle in the infield, but it seems like the Phillies are leaning toward Jean Segura to play second base instead. Segura, who is moving off shortstop for Gregorius, slashed .280/.323/.420 with a 90 OPS+ last season. He had the best season of his career at second base with the D-backs in 2016, when he slashed .319/.368/.499 with a 122 OPS+. Segura has never played third.
Girardi has said they will consider the sum of all parts, not just the personal preference of one player. But it still sounds like Segura will end up at second.
“I think when you talk about someone like Jean Segura, he’s played second before, so obviously he’s going to have more comfort level at second than he is at third base,” Girardi said. “But that doesn't mean we’re not going to talk about it and take a look at him over there. But he’s played second, so we know going in that he’s going to be more comfortable there. And a lot of time, a shortstop on a shift will go over there, so they are more comfortable over there because they’ve been there.”