Upon being hired by the Phillies in December, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski instantly became the catalyst for hope and change in a Phillies organization that was sputtering. In what was trending towards an offseason to forget, one where the Phillies hinted towards taking a step backward, Dombrowski seemingly sold himself to owner John Middleton.
It was a REMARKABLE turn of events.
The Phillies went on to spend the 2 nd most amount of money on free agents in all of baseball. Their offseason transactions included the retention of the best catcher in baseball, J.T. Realmuto, and middle of the order slugger Didi Gregorius, as well as the addition of an impressive quantity of solid depth pieces.
Bryce Harper, a true student of the sport, understands the implications of Dombrowski’s arrival and expressed his excitement about the Phillies’ offseason to Matt Gelb of The Athletic and others on Tuesday afternoon:
"I love that we were able to bring in some veteran players and mix it with some young guys. For [the front office] to be able to do what they did, I was really excited. I was really pumped about it. And I was, quite frankly, a little shocked that they were able to do what they did."
Those remarks alone should get any Phillies fan fired up about what Dombrowski can do, even with restricted payroll flexibility.
In addition, having depth is important in any season, but we currently live in a COVID world. Guys will inevitably miss time (if they are exposed to the virus), and players are more susceptible to injury than ever following shortened workloads in 2020.
Dombrowski acquired a surplus of arms on both major and minor league deals, headed by Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, Matt Moore, Chase Anderson, Brandon Kintzler and Tony Watson. In an unprecedented year, it certainly instills confidence knowing that the Phillies suddenly have more depth, and more quality depth, than most teams around the league.
Lastly, I think that last year’s mini collapse late in the season under new manager Joe Girardi put a longstanding argument to rest: The re-occurring, late-season shortcomings were not a result of poor managing but a reflection of poor roster construction by former general manager Matt Klentak. For this reason, Phillies fans should be delighted to know a collapse is less likely with a new figure at the helm.
Unlike Klentak, Dombrowski is uber-aggressive when he smells playoff potential.
With the Detroit Tigers, he traded for Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and David Price at the trade deadline in 2011, 2012, and 2014, respectively. The Tigers won the AL Central in each of those years.
Then with the Boston Red Sox, he traded for Chris Sale in the 2016-2017 offseason and Nathan Eovaldi at the trade deadline in 2018. Both were key cogs in the Red Sox 2018 World Series Championship.
There are several teams likely to be dealing starting pitchers at the trade deadline, so Dombrowski will have plenty of options to explore. Notable potential targets include Dodgers lefty David Price, Rockies stud German Marquez, Pirates pitcher Chad Kuhl, the Tigers' Matt Boyd, and possibly even top-end starters Sonny Gray or Luis Castillo of the Reds. Some of these trade possibilities are more realistic than others.
Nevertheless, if the Phillies are in position to make a playoff push come late July, anticipate a substantial trade because it is almost inevitable. For once, the trade deadline will be an event that Phillies fans should be anxiously awaiting! Overall, Dombrowski brings fans much-needed hope and anticipation for the Phillies in their most important season since 2011.