A few weeks ago I wrote a piece on what would be the perfect start to the Phillies offseason. Today, I look to build on that.
With a core of young, talented pitchers the Phillies could find themselves in need of a veteran catcher to lead them through the long season. The three catchers on the roster: Cameron Rupp, Andrew Knapp, and Jorge Alfaro don’t quite fit that mold. To be honest, I don’t think Rupp will be here for the 2018 campaign leaving two second-year players with less than 100 games between them. I believe that Knapp and Alfaro are more than capable catchers, they’re pretty green when it comes to calling games, they could use a veteran voice in the locker room.
The catcher I would target is two-time all-star Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy is a free agent and beings Philadelphia has almost no money on the books for the foreseeable future, could be a good landing spot for the veteran catcher. Lucroy slashed .265/.345/.371/.716 with six homeruns and 40 RBIs. What he doesn’t bring to the plate on offense he sure brings behind it on defense. He was a Gold Glove finalist back in his 2014 all-star season.
In addition to his defensive prowess, Lucroy brings some post season experience to the table. Last season he was a part of the (albeit short) Rockies’ post season last year, a member of the Rangers’ run the year before, and the 2011 run made by the Brewers. That experience is incredibly valuable and could benefit our young pitching staff.
Assuming the Phillies go ahead and sign Jonathan Lucroy this creates a logjam behind the plate. There’s almost no way the Phillies keep three catchers on the 25-man roster. There’s no way the Phillies would try move one of the guys to a different position to get them reps. That said, I would turn around shop Knapp or Alfaro.
I know, it’s ridiculous to shop Alfaro. He was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Cole Hamels to Texas. He shows a lot of potential behind then plate which is why I think it would be wise to use him as a trade chip.
Bear with me, but what position is arguably the weakest on the roster right now? Third base, right? Maikel Franco hasn’t quite panned out over the past couple of years. Wouldn’t it be great to see the Phillies land a top-tier third baseman? How does Manny Machado sound? You’re in luck, Phillies fans, the Orioles are entertaining offers for their all-star third baseman. You can find out more at the link here.
Machado is only under contract for one more season no in theory if they can’t land him right now they will have a shot at the end of next season. I would rather do what it takes to get him now, that way there’s no bidding war between teams once his contract is up.
Here’s where it all comes full circle: it is going to take a lot to land Machado. In addition to Alfaro it would take a handful of other prospects and maybe even a starter on the current roster. I would package Alfaro, Aaron Altherr (or Odubel Herrera), any two prospects (not Sixto Sanchez), and cash if need-be.
If obtaining Manny Machado isn’t enough to make it okay to trade Jorge Alfaro, then this news should put you over the top. The Phillies managed to snag a top-level international prospect from the Braves. A catcher named Abrahan Gutierrez. He is only 18 years old and could use a few seasons in the minors to help polish his game. Here is the quote from the article:
“Originally signed by the Braves for $3,540,000, Abrahan (not Abraham) Gutierrez is a Venezuelan catcher who made his pro debut in 2017, hitting .264/.319/.367 in 129 games for the Gulf Coast League Braves. The 6-2, 215 pound right-handed hitter knocked just one homer in his debut but is physically quite strong and should show more power as he refines his swing. While his receiving needs some polish he threw out 37% of runners and has the tools to stick behind the plate.”
Assuming the Phillies sign Lucroy to a three or four year deal, this would give ample time for Gutierrez to develop his game in the minors while Knapp continues to grow at the Major League level.
To sum it up: the Phillies should make a move to sign Jonathan Lucroy. The Lucroy signing causes a logjam behind the plate. The Phillies take advantage of their logjam (unlike the Sixers two seasons ago) and send a package including Jorge Alfaro two hours down I95 to Baltimore for Manny Machado.
The Phillies opening day roster, if this were to happen would look like this:
Aaron Nola (P)
Jonathan Lucroy (C)
Rhys Hoskins (1B)
Cesar Hernandez or Freddy Galvis (2B)
JP Crawford or Freddy Galvis (SS)
Manny Machado (3B)
Nick Williams (RF)
Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera, or Roman Quinn (CF)
One of the remaining two from CF above (LF)
Whichever outfielder is left will be packaged with Alfaro to send to Baltimore.
The Phillies have themselves in a power position and could make a splash moving forward. Make sure to follow Philly Influencer for updates.