While trades may occur to tweak the roster here and there, the Phillies' biggest roster change would occur via free agency. Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and a left-handed starting pitcher are believed to be the club's top three offseason targets, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
The Phillies have only used a left-handed starting pitcher only a handful of times over the past few seasons, with prospect Ranger Suarez being the most recent. While Cole Irvin looms in the minor leagues, the Phillies may want a more experienced pitcher to complement Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta heading into the 2019 season.
Patrick Corbin, Jaime Garcia, Gio Gonzalez, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Derek Holland, Dallas Keuchel, Francisco Liriano, Wade Miley, Drew Pomeranz, Hyun-Jin Ryu and CC Sabathia are among the impending free agent southpaws likely to hit the open market.
While the list is extensive and impressive, the Phillies already have expressed interest in another southpaw, who just happens to play overseas — the Japan Pacific League's Yusei Kikuchi, according to Fancred's Jon Heyman.
Kikuchi, 27, is expected to join Major League Baseball in 2019 and "should draw extensive interest," per Heyman. The Phillies are among four mentioned, interested teams — the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres and Kansas City Royals, among others.
According to one scout, while Kikuchi's pitches were elevated, the left-hander "throws at 92-93 mph with a cutter, a slider and good straight change."
That scout sounded hopeful his team could win the bidding. But there is expected to be plenty of competition for him from teams across the majors. He may not bring quite the hype or promise of Shohei Ohtani, but then again, no one besides perhaps Daisuke Matsuzaka has before, either.
Kikucki is said to be "admired for his ability to pitch with above average velocity for a lefty," and is a "solid third starter."
Over eight professional seasons, 162 games and 1,028 1/3 innings, Kikuchi has gone 73-48 with 15 complete games, seven shutouts, 919 strikeouts and a 1.176 WHIP. The Morioka, Japan, native posted a 1.97 ERA in 26 starts and 187 2/3 innings in 2017 with the Saitama Seibu Lions.