Busy Phillies looking to improve at Meetings

Philadelphia will continue to address holes after early offseason additions

November 27th, 2016

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have been relatively busy in the early weeks of the 2016-17 offseason. So much so that they could be quiet at next week's Winter Meetings in Washington.

They already acquired left fielder and relief pitcher in trades with the Dodgers and Astros, respectively. Right-hander accepted a one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer, meaning the Phillies have all the personnel they can accommodate for the rotation. The team pushed the 40-man roster to capacity by adding 11 prospects to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.

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MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8 at 9 a.m. ET.

"We still have the ability and go out and make acquisitions to improve our 2017 club," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said recently. "Obviously the complication now is with our roster at 40, each addition is going to require a corresponding reduction on the roster. It makes some of the future moves a little trickier. But we still feel like we have some areas on the Major League club that we can improve for next year, and we're committed to exploring those options."

The Phillies are not afraid to make room. They have removed 17 players that held spots on the 40-man at the end of the 2016 season. The group includes , , , , , , , and .

The Phillies have four players eligible for salary arbitration: outfielder , shortstop , right-hander and second baseman . Philadelphia has until 11:50 p.m. ET Friday to tender them contracts, but all four could be in uniform come Spring Training.

But say the Phillies jettison a player or two from the 40-man roster. Where would they look for help?

They certainly could use another bat to help MLB's worst offense. It could come in the form of an extra outfielder or infielder. , whom Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has called the best utility player he has ever seen, remains a free agent. The Phillies could use another veteran reliever, too. They had one of the worst bullpens in baseball last season, and with far less roster flexibility in 2017, another reliable arm could serve them well.

Mackanin said he liked the idea of having a veteran backup catcher, but at the moment the Phillies have three catchers on the 40-man roster: , and No. 11-ranked prospect Andrew Knapp. Alfaro or Knapp could be Rupp's backup at this point.

But a big splash is unlikely, unless the Phillies find a deal they cannot refuse. Remember, the Phillies and Rangers engaged in serious discussions in July for right-hander . Perhaps the teams rekindle those talks or perhaps somebody else comes calling about another up-and-comer in the Phillies' organization.

Maybe then things get a little more interesting next week.

But the Phillies' offseason goals always centered around finding short-term help in specific areas as they give their young players another year to prove themselves and develop. Looking at things as they stand, the roster they have have right now might be the one they roll out when pitchers and catchers hold their first workout on Feb. 14 in Clearwater, Fla.