Even after a week where they signed Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter and Carlos Santana, in addition to trading Freddy Galvis to the San Diego Padres, the Philadelphia Phillies don't appear to be done making moves.
According to the duo of Matt Gelb and Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Matt Klentak and the Phillies have checked in on a trio of controllable starting pitchers, including Toronto Blue Jays star RHP Marcus Stroman:
Three major-league sources said the Phillies have inquired on just about every young starter that could be traded this winter. That includes Kansas City’s Danny Duffy, Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer and Toronto’s Marcus Stroman.
While this is the first report that indicates that the Phillies did reach out and place a call on Stroman, it's far from the first time that the Phillies and Stroman have been discussed. I wrote in September that it would behoove the Phillies to at least make a call on the fiery 26-year-old righthander. Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media also vouched for the idea.
Stroman is under team control through the 2020 season, has a career ERA of 3.67, though advanced metrics like FIP and xFIP suggest that he's been even better than that. The idea of him at the top of the rotation at the end of this decade with Nola and top prospect Sixto Sanchez - who a scout compared to Pedro Martinez - is scary.
It's unclear if the Blue Jays are willing to consider moving Stroman, though if they wanted to without going through a full-blown rebuild, the Phillies have some pieces that could be of interest to them. Odubel Herrera, who is signed through 2023 at a team-friendly rate, could make sense as a piece for the Blue Jays to start building with. The same could be said for Cesar Hernandez, an extremely productive second baseman that can't become a free-agent until after 2020. Those two wouldn't headline a deal for Stroman, as the Phillies would probably have to mix in at least one of Adonis Medina, Franklyn Kilome, Ranger Suarez and JoJo Romero in a deal.
Even then, the Blue Jays may insist on Sanchez if they are to move Stroman. That's not going to happen.
Duffy, who will turn 29 next week, could be a nice backup option if the Blue Jays aren't willing to move Stroman, though he's a clear step down from Stroman. In 146.1 innings in 2017, Duffy posted a 3.81 ERA, a 3.46 FIP, a 4.39 xFIP and a 3.4 fWAR. The most attractive part about Duffy is that he's owed just $60 million through 2021. However, that likely means the Royals would place a high price-tag on him.
Archer had a much better 2017 season, according to his peripherals, than his 4.07 ERA may lead you to believe. The 29-year-old has thrown over 200 innings in three consecutive seasons and is under team control through 2021. The Tampa Bay Rays righty continues to make sense for the Phillies if they aren't able to make a push for an option like Stroman or Michael Fulmer of the Detroit Tigers.
What this week has shown is the Phillies are trying to position themselves as a landing spot for one of Bryce Harper or Manny Machado next offseason. The Phillies have more financial flexibility of any big-market team in the league. They are now trying to make their team attractive, and they've begun the process of doing that by adding Neshek, Hunter and Santana. The production of young talents like Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, J.P. Crawford and Aaron Nola should speak for itself in 2018. Adding another front-line starter, such as the trio of names mentioned in this piece, wouldn't hurt.