LAS VEGAS -- The perception remains that eventually the Phillies will get crazy and drop a mountain of cash onto a superstar's doorstep this winter.
Internally, however, that idea might not compute.
There is a chance the Phillies enter Spring Training with Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura and Zach Britton or Andrew Miller as their most notable offseason acquisitions. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper? Machado is scheduled to visit the Phillies in Philadelphia next week. They love the idea of him playing third base. But the Phillies wrapped up the Winter Meetings on Thursday morning in Harper's hometown. They had not met with Harper as of Wednesday afternoon, which is curious considering MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported earlier this week that Harper had met with a few teams and planned to meet with more.
The Phillies are wrestling with the idea of giving Machado or Harper what they want, which are record-breaking contracts that could exceed 10 years and $300 million. That seems particularly true with Harper, whom Scott Boras is pitching as not only a super-talented hitter, but also as somebody who will raise the value of a franchise.
Maybe Machado ends up with the Yankees. Maybe Harper goes to the Dodgers.
It could happen, folks.
But it does not mean it will happen. The Phillies once swore up and down that they would never trade for Roy Halladay or sign Cliff Lee, but they did. Still, the Phillies badly wanted both of those players. It is unclear if the Phillies are pursuing Machado and Harper with the same vigor.
BIGGEST REMAINING NEEDS
1. Big bat: The Phillies upgraded offensively with McCutchen and Segura, but wouldn't Machado or Harper look good hitting third? Of course. But if the Phillies balk at their price tags, they could run out there and still sign somebody like free-agent outfielder Michael Brantley to boost the offense.
2. Relief pitcher: The Phillies remain engaged with Britton and Miller to fortify the back end of their bullpen. They love Seranthony Dominguez pitching in the late innings. They believe Hector Neris turned a corner once he returned from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. But Britton or Miller would give the Phillies more certainty entering next season. They have more than enough money to sign one of these two, especially if they don't nab Machado or Harper.
3. Starting pitcher:Patrick Corbin signed with the Nationals. J.A. Happ will remain with the Yankees. The Phillies wanted both pitchers. But while the Phillies believe they could upgrade their rotation, they might stick with what they have. Dallas Keuchel might not be their type of guy. Corey Kluber might cost too much. But again, one phone call can change that.
RULE 5 DRAFT
The Phillies lost nobody in the Rule 5 Draft. They selected infielder Drew Jackson from the Dodgers in the first round, but immediately traded him to the Orioles for international slot money. It was not a surprise. The Phillies have 38 players on their 40-man roster and many are without options. They had no interest in adding another player like that, because they essentially would have to keep him on the roster the entire season.
The Phillies selected right-hander Gilmael Troya from the Yankees in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft. The 21-year-old posted a 1.63 ERA in 15 appearances in Rookie ball last season. He struck out 55 and walked 18 in 38 2/3 innings.
GM'S BOTTOM LINE
"I don't know what the markets are going to turn out to be for the top free agents," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said. "If it makes sense for this franchise, we'll pursue it. If it doesn't, we have to have a walkaway point, because to not have that is bad business. It all comes down to properly balancing the present and the future, the short term and the long term. Do we want to do everything we can to compete for the playoffs in 2019? Of course we do. Are we going to mortgage our future to do that? Probably not. We have to balance the two."