CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Everybody wants to talk to Phillies general manager Matt Klentak this offseason.Yes, everybody."We're not having any problems getting meetings," he said this week at the GM Meetings.The Phillies are the perceived favorite to land superstar outfielder Bryce Harper, who could sign a record-setting contract before Spring Training.
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- Everybody wants to talk to Phillies general manager Matt Klentak this offseason.
"We're not having any problems getting meetings," he said this week at the GM Meetings.
The Phillies are the perceived favorite to land superstar outfielder Bryce Harper, who could sign a record-setting contract before Spring Training. If not Harper, the Phillies could sign Manny Machado, who is the other "generational player" available. (And no, the Phillies have not been completely scared off by Machado's postseason antics). Then there are pitchers like left-hander Patrick Corbin and closer Craig Kimbrel. The Phillies have expressed interest in them and pretty much every other formidable talent on the open market.
The Phillies have holes to fill and money to spend.
"I am not worried at all about players' desire or willingness to come to Philadelphia," Klentak said. "The agents, the players, the fans -- everybody knows what our city is like in good times. We had a great five-year run where some players were taking less money to come to Philadelphia because it was such a good baseball environment. If the conditions are right, the terms are right, the dollars are right, I'm pretty confident we'll be able to attract free agents."
Harper and Machado have been discussed extensively this week, but the Phillies have more options to pursue than them. Here is a look at the other items on the agenda:
The Phillies could use a left-hander to balance the rotation. They have been connected to pretty much every competent lefty on the market, either via free agency or trade. That means Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, J.A. Happ and Japanese hurler Yusei Kikuchi in free agency. That also means Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray and James Paxton in the trade market.
"In a perfect world, we would like to have a balanced rotation," Klentak said. "Now, what we're not going to do is swap out a good righty for a [worse] lefty. We're not going to do it just to create balance. But if we can keep the rotation as good as it is or make it better and also add balance to our pitching staff, I think that's something worth exploring. I don't know if we'll actually do that, but I know that we will explore it."
The Phillies used a number of closers last season, but MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported that the Phillies have expressed interest in Kimbrel. Anyone who watched the postseason knows the importance of a strong bullpen, so it is no surprise the Phillies are looking at ways to fortify their own. Someone like Kimbrel or Zach Britton would help. And, yes, if they got a talent like Kimbrel, they would use him as a closer.
"We're going to talk to impact relievers this offseason," Klentak said. "I don't know if we'll sign one, but we're going to explore that, because that might be a fit that makes sense for us."
Rhys Hoskins would like to return to first base, except that is Carlos Santana's best position. The Phillies are listening to offers for Santana, but they are not going to give him away. If they keep both, it likely means Hoskins will play left field and Santana will play first base when a ground-ball pitcher is on the mound, while Hoskins will play first and Santana will play third with a fly-ball pitcher.
"I think right now we would probably be looking at Rhys playing some left and some first and Carlos playing some third and some first, as opposed to this year where it was close to 100 percent of the time Rhys in left and Carlos at first," Klentak said.
If the Phillies do not sign Machado, Scott Kingery or J.P. Crawford (or both) are likely to man shortstop in 2019.
"Everybody believes that if we ask Scott Kingery to be our shortstop next year, that he can be a ... good one," Klentak said. "We also think he can be a ... good second baseman, and we know that he can play a variety of positions and can be valuable in that super-utility role. Having a player like Scott Kingery on the roster opens up all kinds of possibilities for us, and that's why he's so valuable.
"J.P. had an uneven year largely driven by two DL stints. After the first month of the season, in which he struggled at the plate, he was a pretty ... good offensive player when he was on the field. He's really grown into his power. We know that he has a discerning eye and will take his walks. He just needs to stay on the field and get his legs under him."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.