With the 2023 season officially in the rearview, the Phillies made waves early on in the offseason by re-signing Aaron Nola to a seven-year, $172 million contract, solidifying the top of their rotation for years to come. Otherwise, Philadelphia’s free agency has been relatively quiet by their own standards.
With Shohei Ohtani signing a 10-year, $700 million megadeal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the MLB free agency market is now in full swing and many dominoes are expected to fall within the coming weeks. Here is a look at five potential targets for the Philadelphia Phillies from this year’s free agency pool.
Philadelphia Phillies Potential Free Agent Targets
While not a flashy choice for the Phillies bullpen, Derek Law would provide much-needed depth and consistency for a team that is expected to contend in 2024. Law had a solid 2023 season with the Cincinnati Reds, pitching to a 3.60 ERA in 54 games of action. Walks were an issue for Law, as he averaged 4.3 walks per nine innings, but if he can manage to keep his hits and home runs down again in 2024, he could be a valuable piece to the Phillies bullpen and take some of the burden off of Jose Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez in the late innings.
Another option for the Phillies to plug in the outfield is Kevin Pillar. With the Phillies over the luxury tax, they aren’t going to break the bank on outside free agents. Pillar provides the team with another bench bat with decent pop. Pillar has five career seasons of 10+ home runs, and last year hit ninth for the Atlanta Braves in just 81 games (18 over a full 162-game season). At 34 years of age, Pillar could be a mentor for Johan Rojas, and Cristian Pache, and give the Phillies a late-inning outfield bat with Bryce Harper moving to first base full-time and Kyle Schwarber to DH.
The Phillies could look to improve their outfield depth by signing a familiar face in the NL East: Michael Taylor (No, not that Michael Taylor). Taylor spent seven seasons in the division with the Washington Nationals, hitting 53 home runs while stealing 77 stolen bases in 574 games. He had a power surge in 2023 with 21 home runs for the Minnesota Twins and has shown an ability to play above-average defense (Gold Glove winner in 2021). With Johan Rojas struggling from the plate in the postseason, the Phillies could bite on Taylor’s 2023 offensive production and create a nice platoon in Centerfield with two above-average defenders who can cover space and make plays both with their glove and with their arm.
Hector Neris is a familiar face in Philadelphia, as he spent the first eight years of his career in red pinstripes. Though his Phillies tenure had a lot of ups and downs, Neris ranks eighth in team history with 84 saves and compiled a respectable 3.42 ERA in 407.2 innings of work. He is coming off the best season of his career in 2023 when he was 6-3 with a 1.71 ERA and 77 strikeouts over 68.1 innings.
At 34 years old, Neris will look to cash in on his success with a nice short-term deal with a contender. A reunion with the Phillies is certainly a possibility as the Phillies will look to replace the production of Craig Kimbrel in the back end of the bullpen. With a market value of $7.6 million (Spotrac), Neris would be pricey but his familiarity combined with his recent success would make this a smart move for both sides to consider.
This would be a controversial move for some Phillies with the off-the-field issues that surround Trevor Bauer. With that being said, the issues seem to be in the past and there is legitimate reason to believe that Bauer will play baseball in 2024.
A Cy Young Award Winner in Cincinnati in 2020, Bauer was playing the best baseball of his career at the time of his suspension. He followed this up with a solid showing in Japan in 2023 where he won 10 games and struck out 130 batters in 19 games of action, en route to an All-Star appearance.
If the Phillies are willing to risk the baggage and attention that would come with the signing, Trevor Bauer would be a huge addition to the pitching staff as he would fill the hole left by Andrew Painter’s injury and Michael Lorenzen’s impending departure. This would also allow the Phillies to use Cristopher Sanchez in the bullpen as a long reliever where he will eat innings along with Matt Strahm. The Phillies took a chance in welcoming Odubel Herrera back, and you have to believe that they will kick the tires on Trevor Bauer now that the legal troubles are presumably out of the picture.
With the Phillies close to the luxury tax and the roster core in place, don’t expect the team to make any splashy, pricey moves the rest of the way. With that being said, John Middleton and the company will certainly scan the market and fill the team’s holes as they look to maximize their contending window.
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