What's next for Phillies after busy Winter Meetings?

December 7th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- If you wondered how the Phillies would respond to their 2022 National League championship season, they answered with a flurry of moves this week at the Winter Meetings.

First, Trea Turner agreed to an 11-year, $300 million deal Monday.

Second, Taijuan Walker agreed to a four-year, $72 million deal Tuesday.

Third, Matt Strahm moved toward a two-year, $15 million deal.

Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski saw holes on his roster, and he wasted no time trying to fill them. Turner will fit nicely atop the Phils’ lineup, presumably as their No. 1 or 2 hitter. Walker will be Philadelphia’s No. 4 starter behind Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suárez.

Strahm will be the Phillies’ second left-hander in the ’pen behind José Alvarado.

A shortstop, a starter and relievers were the big items on Dombrowski’s offseason to-do list.

So what’s left for him? Not much, really.

Biggest remaining needs

1. Bullpen help
You can never have enough pitching, and in this case, the Phillies could use another reliever or two. The bullpen includes Seranthony Domínguez, Alvarado, Strahm, Connor Brogdon, Andrew Bellatti and Nick Nelson. Sam Coonrod will get a good look in the spring, too. But at least one more late-inning reliever would make a lot of sense because of the way manager Rob Thomson mixes and matches his relievers without a set closer.

2. Depth
Dombrowski said Monday that the Phillies are finished in the position-player market, meaning they are not actively looking to trade anybody or add bench pieces because they like what they already have. He also said they are unlikely to find another veteran starter because they plan to have Bailey Falter, Cristopher Sánchez, Andrew Painter and others fill the No. 5 spot in the rotation. But the Phils will continue to keep their eyes and ears open. A smart move here and there, even if it seems minor at the time, could help in a major way down the road. Remember last offseason? Nobody knew Bellatti, but he became a valuable piece in Philadelphia's pen.

Rule 5 Draft
The Phillies made an interesting selection in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, taking right-hander Noah Song, a 2019 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Drafted in the fourth round that year, Song pitched for Class A Short-Season Lowell that summer, posting a 1.06 ERA over 17 innings, allowing only 10 hits, with 19 strikeouts and five walks. He then started his service with the Navy and has not pitched since.

“I knew him at the time [when he was drafted by the Red Sox],” Dombrowski said. “We loved him. We thought he was a No. 1 Draft choice. We thought he might be the best starting pitcher in the country. We took a gamble at that point because we thought maybe he wouldn’t have to serve, but he ended up having to do that. Being available like this, we really had nothing to lose. We like his talent a lot. We get to put him on the military list right off the bat, so he’s not on our 40-man roster. We figured we’d take a chance and just see what ends up happening.”

During his four-year collegiate career with the Naval Academy, he went 32-13 with a 2.37 ERA in 58 games (54 starts) while recording 428 strikeouts in 334 1/3 innings. As a senior, he went 11-1 with a 1.44 ERA and had 161 strikeouts in 94 innings over 14 starts while limiting opponents to a .171 batting average. That year, he led all qualifying NCAA Division I pitchers in strikeouts per 9.0 innings pitched (15.41).

President of baseball ops' bottom line
Dombrowski loves his star players, which is why the Phils went out and got Turner. He explained why Monday.

“I really philosophically believe that you win with star players,” he said. “Now, you can’t win with star players alone, but you can build around star players. I’ve really always had that belief. As I’ve observed, it’s been successful for the clubs that win. I had somebody tell me … 'Philosophically from an ownership perspective, we disagree with you. We don’t believe in star players. We believe in [well-rounded players].' I said, 'Well, that’s your belief, but usually I have found, wherever I’ve been … it’s been good star players that have won.'”