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4 Phillies Scenarios for 2021’s Roster


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

While the Philadelphia Phillies compete for hole-plugging talent in the lineup, rotation and bullpen, their main signing won’t affect their current direction. In fact, their strategy goes back to at least October, and they haven’t wavered even after the addition of Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations.    


Plans A, B, C and D:

Although some Phillies faithful assumed the holdup on JT Realmuto was management’s ploy to enhance their bottom line, agents, players and the market were also determining factors. Financially, though, these four options have a $13 million max differential from high to low.                            


“We're still in this position where we haven't made a lot of decisions yet.” - Dave Dombrowski (not a Phillies-related quote)

Four potential --potential-- scenarios for ‘21 are in play monetarily with stars who are in the dollar range the Fightins are comfortable with. Realistically, the A to Z also includes contract length based on the pipeline delivering a long-term shortstop, which can be tricky when the minor leaguer faces adversity.      

Another wrinkle is a new decision-maker like Dombrowski bringing his competitive perspective from the American League East. Yes, the longtime rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees reveals a different take on MLB personnel matters. Translation: off the field.                             

Fans can misinterpret silence as inaction: doing nothing, not trying to win, and/or having no strategy. However, it only means they don’t reveal their thinking due to competitors, even though it also leaves the locals in the dark. And some were even panicking in November.   

Plan A:

Barring another unexpected acquisition of good fortune like Archie Bradley, plan A is continuing the preferred course after re-signing Realmuto. Now, Didi Gregorius is the main target as the left-handed bat with power. And the reasoning is to enhance the lineup’s pop from the left side along with Bryce Harper.    

While the Phils favor Gregorius, they are not enthusiastic about *$39 million for three summers because it could block shortstop Bryson Stott, who has played 48 MiLB games and reached Low-A ball in 2019. So, the execs likely prefer $10-12 million per 162 for two seasons max due to financial and advancement considerations.   

 * Gregorius re-signed for $28 million for two years on Saturday.


Phillies AAV for 2021 and a $210 million CBT:



$156.95  million

17 players, MiLB 14 on 40-man roster and benefits

$0.6 million

SP Spencer Howard

$1.2 million

2 RPs from  Suarez, Romero, Brogdon and others

$2.0 million

2 reserves  

$23.1 million

JT Realmuto

$183.85 million

TOTAL for 23 slots

$26.15 million

Balance available for a regular, starter and reliever

Phillies Potential Spending:

  • SS Didi Gregorius, almost 31: $10-13 million each for 2-3 years.
  • CF Jackie Bradley Jr., 30.5: $8 million each for 2 years.
  • CF Odubel Herrera, 29: Contract included in the $183.85 million total.
  • SP Taijuan Walker, 28.5: $8 million each for 2 years.
  • SP Jake Odorizzi, almost 31: $13 million each for 3 years.
  • SP Masahiro Tanaka, 32: $15 million for 1 year.

Four Strategies:  







$26.15 million

$26.15 million

$26.15 million

$26.15 million



Bradley Jr.

Bradley Jr.



$13 million

$8 million

$8 million



$13.15 million

$18.15 million

$18.15 million

$26.15 million







$8 million

$15 million

$13 million

$15 million


$5.15 million

$3.15 million

$5.15 milion

$11.15 million

Based on $13 million AAV (average annual value) for Gregorius, the red pinstripes would have $13.15 million AAV for a starter and a reliever if they commit to the $210 million AAV: the first CBT (competitive-balance threshold). Therefore, a $13 million hurler wouldn’t be realistic.

With that in mind, Taijuan Walker --only as an example-- at $8 million AAV would be a better monetary fit. However, no reports have surfaced indicating the Fightins are one of the franchises in contact with his representation, but rarely does the front office tip its hand. Phillies sign Bradley!       

Phillies Potential Target:

RH Taijuan Walker, 28: 

  • 2020: 11 Gms., 53 ⅓ Inn., 4-3, a 2.70 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and a 0.6 fWAR.

As for a relief pitcher also, $5.15 million AAV would still be available only if managing partner John Middleton commits to the $210 million AAV. However, since a slight decrease was his stated thinking, he may not approve one more signing at that figure. 

Plan B:

If Gregorius doesn’t re-sign, the Phils could ink Jackie Bradley Jr. to man center field. He provides solid up-the-middle defense and 20-homer power from the left side to balance the batting order with Harper, while Realmuto and Rhys Hoskins are the right-handed pop.     

Phillies Potential Targets:

Jackie Bradley Jr., 30.5:

  • 2019: 147 Gms., 567 PA, a .225 Avg., 21 HR, 62 RBI and a 1.4 fWAR.
  • 2020: 55 Gms., 217 PA, a .283 Avg., 7 HR, 22 RBI and a 1.5 fWAR.
  • 2020 Projection: 21 HR and 66 RBI.

Masahiro Tanaka, 32: 

  • 2019: 32 Gms. (1 in relief), 182 Inn., 11-9, a 3.56 ERA, a 1.17 WHIP and a 3.3 fWAR. 
  • 2020: 10 Gms., 48 Inn., 3-3, a 4.45 ERA, a 2.13 WHIP and a 0.8 fWAR.

By signing Bradley Jr., management would have $18.15 million AAV for pitching, and they could have interest in Masahiro Tanaka with his $15 million asking price for one campaign. *Rumorwise, though, the veteran may shortly receive a career-finishing offer from Japan. 

*He signed with the Rakuten Eagles in Japan.

Plan C:

The difference between plan B and C is Jake Odorizzi at $13 million AAV for three years instead of Tanaka at $15 million for 2021. In this strategy, however, the Fightins would have $5.15 million AAV like plan A instead of $3.15 million AAV with plan B to hit the $210 million threshold. 

Phillies Potential Target:

  • RH Jake Odorizzi, 30.5: 
  • 2019: 30 Gms., 159 Inn., 15-7, a 3.51 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and a 4.3 fWAR. 
  • 2020: 4 Gms., 13 ⅔  Inn., 0-1, a 6.59 ERA, a 1.39 WHIP and a 0.0 fWAR.

Plan D:

Since this controversial strategy involves Odubel Herrera, Dombrowski must consider it even if it's a one-percent possibility. But many will disagree for a smorgasbord of reasons: He can’t hit, run, or field; plus he’s a bat-flipping hot dog and a head case. Don’t misunderstand: This is not my defense, promotion or analysis of Herrera.        

In the AL East, Dombrowski competed with the Yankees, who had no objections --rosterwise-- with the domestic violence of Aroldis Chapman and starter Domingo Germán. Chapman returned after his completed suspension, and Germán will rejoin the five-man staff without an issue from New Yorkers and Bostonians.    

As a plus, Dombrowski would have the entire $26.15 million AAV for pitching and have a left-side bat with 20-homer power. Also, Herrera is under contract for ‘21, so the Phils have him as a final backup plan: He’d probably be a model citizen for a second opportunity.                      

Odubel Herrera, 29:

  • 2015: 147 Gms., 537 PA, a .297 Avg., a .344 OBP, 8 HR, 41 RBI and a 3.8 fWAR.
  • 2016: 159 Gms., 656 PA, a .286 Avg., a .361 OBP, 15 HR, 49 RBI and a 3.7 fWAR.
  • 2017: 138 Gms., 563 PA, a .281 Avg., a .325 OBP, 14 HR, 56 RBI and a 2.9 fWAR.
  • 2018: 148 Gms., 597 PA, a .255 Avg., a .310 OBP, 22 HR, 71 RBI and a 0.9 fWAR.

As a 2015 rookie, Herrera had hit .297, but he began drawing walks and popped 15 home runs in 2016. But he dropped to .255 with 22 long balls under 2018’s one-size-fits-all launch angle and analytics. However, 2019’s hitting coach expected pitches per at-bat, and Herrera was a casualty.        

While plans A, B and C are the most likely outcomes, many readers might object to Herrera’s chances because of his domestic incident and/or stats in ‘19. But remember before only zeroing in on him, what is he in the above paragraphs? Plan D!   



Rotation Options among 2021’s Free Agents




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