The Philadelphia Phillies finished last season at a whopping 66-96, finishing under the .500 mark for the fifth straight year. With a new manager, coaching staff, promising young talent in the majors, a deep farm system, and a whole lot of money to spend, next season could be a nice glimpse into the future of this franchise.
An glimpse into next year’s Opening Day roster could look something like this: Aaron Nola on the mound, Jorge Alfaro behind the plate, Rhys Hoskins at first, Cesar Hernandez at second, Freddy Galvis at shortstop, Maikel Franco at third base, Aaron Altherr in left field, Odubel Herrera in center field, and Nick Williams in right field. JP Crawford could easily be the third baseman in this scenario, as well, given how spring training plays out.
That’s not a bad looking lineup, but it can be better. The purpose of this series of articles I’m about to undertake is to play general manager and create a situation where the Phillies can improve their roster. In today’s wishlist, I look to find the Phillies more starting pitching to surround Aaron Nola.
As it stands, the options for a starting rotation for next season will be: Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin, Nick Pivetta, and Mark Leiter Jr. Once that narrows down to five starters, it really doesn’t look like starting pitching is a particular strength for the Phils. Between the deep farm system, cash considerations, and the middle-of-the-pack pitching prospects, the Phillies should be able to make a move for a top-tier pitcher.
My ideal candidate for the Phillies to target is Marcus Stroman of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Blue Jays finished last season at 76-86, good for fourth in their division behind the Red Sox, Yankees, and Rays. With the Red Sox being a perennial powerhouse and the Yankees making a surprising run at the ALCS, the Blue Jays could be in the market to begin a rebuild. Enter the Phillies.
Stroman is the perfect option for the Phillies. He is only 26 years old, had a 3.09 ERA last season, 164 strikeouts, and has a ton of heart, something fans here would eat up. In 33 starts last season, he went 13-9 with two complete games.
If I was running the Phillies, I would absolutely make the call to Toronto to see what it would take for them to cut ties with Stroman. That’s not to say Matt Klentak didn’t already do that, but I would trade any pitcher not named Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco, and two of Dylan Cozens, Roman Quinn, Adam Haseley, Carlos Tocci, or Cornelius Randolph. I would like to keep Mickey Moniak and Sixto Sanchez moving forward.
If the Phillies could land Stroman in a trade, that would be huge for this team and be the catalyst this rebuild needs. A one-two punch of Stroman and Nola at the top of the rotation would be tough to face and some of the best starting pitching we’ve had since Hamels and Halladay (RIP) led this team.
Of course this would leave the bottom half of the rotation a bit bare, but Eickhoff, Pivetta, Eflin, Thompson, Leiter, Lively, and Velasquez have shown they have potential, just not on a consistent basis.
Landing a top-tier starting pitcher to pair with Nola would expedite the process of this rebuild. Due to the situation up in Toronto and the nature of their division, they might just decide to go the Sam Hinkie route and gut the team and start over. Here’s hoping they do and the Phillies take advantage of the fictional fire-sale and land one of the best, young pitchers in the league.