Phillies baseball is back! Pitchers and catchers have reported to Clearwater, and the Phillies are preparing for a new season. And so we open up the mailbag once again. Each week we take your questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill every Tuesday during the Phillies season. Send your questions anytime on Twitter to @FrankKlose or send a text to the text board at 609-403-0973.
Will Scott Kingery be at mostly one position this year? ~John
Earlier this offseason, Phillies manager Joe Girardi made it very clear: he thinks Scott Kingery will be better off sticking at one position this year. The very versatile Kingery found his way to the major leagues without a position, which was helpful as he took up space at shortstop, second base, center field, and third base.
What position that will be is up in the air.
The signing of stellar shortstop Didi Gregorius made it clear that he would occupy shortstop. But that means that a combination of Kingery and Jean Segura need to occupy the second base and third base. For what it’s worth, Segura played third base during the first infield drills of the year.
Gregorius is signed for just one season. That means that Segura could return to shortstop next season. Would keeping Segura on the left side of the infield be better if the long-term plan is to put Kingery at second base? That may be the case.
But Kingery should move around a lot less this season.
Will the Phillies going to arbitration with J.T. Realmuto hinder their ability to sign him? ~Eric
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto is flying to Arizona to have his arbitration case heard tomorrow. He has asked for $12.4 million, while the Phillies have put their number at $10 million. An independent arbitrator will determine which number is closer to being the right number and award that amount.
Right now, Realmuto is not taking this personally. The explanation we have heard from Realmuto right now is that catchers as a whole have been undervalued by the industry. The reason to go to arbitration, Realmuto argues, is for all catchers.
The industry argument against higher salaries for catchers is often that they do not play every single day. Realmuto caught 133 games for the Phillies last season. Only Yasmani Grandal caught more with 137, and that was because Realmuto shut down his season when the Phillies were clearly out of contention.
Grandal signed a one-year, $18.25 million deal last season with the Milwaukee Brewers and signed on for four years at $18.25 million per year with the Chicago White Sox this season. With two years of arbitration left, the Phillies can argue that they are not at the point where Realmuto would earn that amount just yet.
But the Phillies will not be the one making the case. They have hired an independent representative to argue their case for them. Unlike traditional cases where the club picks apart the player’s abilities, this one probably will revolve around precedent.
As of now, both sides hope for a long-term deal. That probably will not change after tomorrow’s hearing, whether he earns $10 million or $12.4 million in 2020.
Who is the better acquisition, Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant? ~Jack
This is a very complicated question. I am sure you are asking as you would like to see the Phillies pursue either Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado. But the Phillies acquiring either player is very complicated. Both are well-paid, and both would require the Phillies surrender prospects. I can see the Phillies giving money, but not the prospect haul required.
Essentially, both players would be traded for two years of playing time. That type of deal would require at least Alec Bohm in the deal, and perhaps another top prospect, if not even more. The Phillies probably call up Bohm mid-season and will have him for six seasons beyond that. That’s hard to give up.
Bryant plays for the Chicago Cubs, and they hope to be able to compete in 2020. Would they give up Bryant at this point, without an immediate impact player to replace him? They might simply hold on to him. And why not? Bryant’s salary is manageable in 2020.
As for Arenado, he is signed to a massive deal through 2026 at a high dollar amount. He would require a large prospect haul, because the Colorado Rockies do not necessarily want to trade him. Giving up big dollars and prospects is a big ask, almost prohibitively so.
But the best way to look at this: had the Phillies really wished to add a high-dollar, high-impact third baseman this offseason, they would have been seriously in on Anthony Rendon. Why would they put out similar money for Arenado along with prospects when they could have had Rendon without the prospects?
The Phillies might have been players on Bryant had Gregorius not signed his one-year deal with the Phillies, as he would not have cost too much more money. But Bryant’s grievance that attempted to get him to free agency after this season held up the Cubs and any team that might have acquired him until it was too late.
So, the Phillies will go with Gregorius at short, Segura or Kingery at third, and wait for Bohm, who may be a high-impact bat there.