Phillies: Foundation for 2022 and Beyond


By Tal Venada, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

For the Philadelphia Phillies faithful, this winter will be one of some major holes plugged, some risks taken, and a few demands unfinished in some locals’ eyes. Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations, has already made some roster decisions heading into November some won’t like. 


The Exec’s Thinking:

Listening to some fans, I’ve heard the Phillies need a center fielder, a left fielder, a shortstop, a third baseman, a starting pitcher, a closer and two setup men. Of those eight, three will be on Dombrowski’s acquisition checklist. Realistically, some in-house remedies are necessary and cost-prohibitive. 


“Building a baseball team is like building a house. You look for the best architects, the best builders — and then you let them do their jobs.” – Pat Gillick

Exceeding the CBT (competitive-balance threshold) by $20 million AAV (average annual value) is doable, but surpassing the second and third boundaries by an additional $20 million AAV and $40 million AAV respectively ain’t happening. That’s the definition of ain’t!                       

In a recent 40-minute interview with Dombrowski, he stated the names for the five-man staff, the relief corps and position players. His vocalized order is precise, which reveals some roster-assembly plans, and it makes perfect sense. Yes, some roles are obvious.

Your 2022 Phillies:

  • Rotation: Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Kyle Gibson and Zach Eflin.
  • Closerless Bullpen: Hector Neris, Jose Alvarado, Conner Brogdon, Sam Coonrod and Seranthony Dominguez.
  • Regulars: RF Bryce Harper, C JT Realmuto, 2B Jean Segura and 1B Rhys Hoskins.
  • Probable Regulars: 3B Alec Bohm and Odubel Herrera (not CF).
  • Possible Regular: Didi Gregorius.
  • Club Option Review: Andrew McCutchen.
  • Rookies to watch: Bryson Stott and Johan Rojas.

The rotation’s front three are Wheeler, Nola and Suarez because Dombrowski isn’t quite ready to count on Suarez based on 12 starts (four had pitch counts to build up arm strength). Ergo, Dombrowski wants a half season (16 outings) to be sure, and he isn’t giving up on Nola because other numbers were similar to his past 162s.            

The higher-up, next, mentioned Gibson in the four slot because Eflin is recovering from knee surgery, and he will probably be 2-4 weeks behind the others. However, results are difficult to judge because going from 60 games to a regular schedule gassed players, but ‘22 will yield truer stats.      

The exec then covered the pen, and the first two names were Neris, a free agent, and Alvarado. Moreover, they are setup roles, so Dombrowski wants to re-sign Neris. And he did say the Fightins currently have no closers, but the free-agent market does.  

Following those two, he named Brogdon, Coonrod and Dominguez. Basically, they will handle middle relief, but Dominguez could move to a setup role when he’s ready. Plus Brogdon and Coonrod could field some seventh-inning opportunities leading to higher-leverage frames. 

Phillies Offseason Wish List:    

During the presser, Dombrowski noted his top priorities: a leadoff hitter, a center fielder, a right-handed bat for the heart of the order, and a closer. But how much money does he have available to plug those holes if he isn’t lucky with some surprising in-house candidates? Probably, $36 million tops!                               

At $12 million AAV each, the Phils can ink a closer, a leadoff-hitting center fielder, and a big DH bat. Unfortunately, a new CBA (collective bargaining agreement) could affect all teams’ plans this winter because they must settle on a new CBT. But some will sign before a new CBA, while others will wait for the new rules.         

Early Phillies AAV Forecast:



$142.9 million

7 stars and 14 MILB players on the 40-man roster and benefits.

$19.1 million 

*Early arbitration projection for 7 stars. 

$4.6 million

**Early pre-arbitration projection for 7 youngsters.

$7 million

Early free-agent projection for Neris.

$7 million

Declining Herrera’s club option for arbitration deal.

$180.7 million

TOTAL for 23 slots 

$31.3 million

Balance to spend for a projected $212 million AAV.

* Eflin, Hoskins, Alvarado, Andrew Knapp, Ronald Torreyes, Dominguez and Roman Quinn (out of options).

** Suarez, Bohm, Brogdon, an outfielder, an infielder and two relievers.


Yes, closers will be available and Dombrowski could sign one early. Remember, he already stated the organization currently doesn’t have one among the five relievers he named. And some interesting possibilities are Raisel Iglesias, Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen, Mychal Givens and Kendall Graveman.           

While McCutchen probably won’t return on a $15 million club option, he will instead receive a $3 million buyout. And Herrera can slide over to left field, bat lower in the lineup, have his team option declined, and deal with arbitration negotiations due to his suspension and minor league demotion.             

For center field, Dombrowski will either ink a solid defender and/or trade for a potential leadoff man. But if he signs a glove-only center fielder, he may wait for shortstop Stott in the one hole even if he won’t be ready until early June. Regardless, Gregarious must now earn his playing time.        

The universal DH will probably be in the new CBA because both sides want it. Translation: It’s 15 more MLB jobs, and it protects management’s pitching investments. But ownership wants something in return, or the DH would have been in force for 2021.   

Every year, first sackers with power are plentiful, which is why the red pinstripes couldn’t move Ryan Howard, and his right-handed peers are even more available. Without Hoskins, though, the Phillies couldn’t completely capitalize on Harper’s production. So, Dombrowski will ink a DH power threat for the meat of the order.        

As for the bench, Gregorius could be the left-side bat, so the Fightins would need a right-handed hitter if Torreyes and/or Matt Vierling are only secondary considerations. But the offseason is just beginning, and a franchise may find bargains before the new CBA because some players can receive income during extended talks.       

Because his drop-off was surprising, did Gregorius have fielding and hitting problems due to his elbow? Yes, it will be one less question mark for April if that was the issue. Plus Bohm and 18 players will return, but will that be a solid foundation? Enough to build on? 



More-than-bargained-for 2021




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