Phils OK 'exploring' market without making big splash

December 5th, 2023

NASHVILLE -- Dave Dombrowski sat in the Phillies’ suite Monday afternoon at the Opryland Hotel, talking about the things they are doing at the Winter Meetings.

Philly doesn’t expect to leave town on Wednesday as the talk of baseball.

“Right now, I would say we're exploring,” Dombrowski said. “We came in here trying to be open-minded to anything that takes place to get our ballclub better, more around the edges … so that's how we're out there pursuing anything. We'll keep open minds toward anybody.”

It does not mean Juan Soto or Josh Hader are in the works, according to sources. The Phillies believe they already have enough star power to win a World Series, so the idea that they will empty the farm system for a one-year rental or blow past the luxury tax for a closer (or do something similarly big) is unlikely, although never say never with Dombrowski running the show.

“I would anticipate that we're going to sign a bullpen guy,” Dombrowski said. “I would think somewhere in the winter, we have a chance to do that. Or a trade. It's probably going to come after more of them come off the list. They're in a position where they're willing to say, 'OK, we'll take a one-year deal for X amount of dollars.' So that's what we're doing at this point. We're just talking to people. You just never know when you're together in a group like this. Not only from a club perspective but from an agent perspective. We have not been in here in a situation where we're putting our heads together yet and saying, 'Hey what about this trade? What do you think about this? What do you think about that?' I didn't anticipate that we would the first day. We'll see what happens the next couple of days.”

The Phils might try to find a back-end reliever to replace Craig Kimbrel. Or they might try to find the right-handed version of Matt Strahm, somebody who can pitch multiple innings. Perhaps they decide someone internal like Connor Brogdon can be that guy.

The Phillies are considering more outfield depth with uncertainty surrounding Johan Rojas in center field and Brandon Marsh having not yet established himself as an everyday player. Again, that does not mean Soto. Think more along the lines of Adam Duvall, Kiké Hernández, Michael A. Taylor or Whit Merrifield, among others.

“We're content there, but does something we see makes us better right now?” Dombrowski said. “OK, boom. We just go ahead and we jump on that.”

But those pieces typically fall later, after the big players start coming off the board. And right now Shohei Ohtani, Soto and the rest are still out there.