The Philadelphia Phillies can’t be sentimental with offseason decisions

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 02: Rhys Hoskins #17 and Jean Segura #2 of the Philadelphia Phillies speak during the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in Game Four of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 02, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 02: Rhys Hoskins #17 and Jean Segura #2 of the Philadelphia Phillies speak during the fourth inning against the Houston Astros in Game Four of the 2022 World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 02, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

A National League pennant only goes so far. As fun as this ride was for the Philadelphia Phillies and their fans, substantial changes will be necessary if they hope to be back in this position next year.

Other teams in the league, and especially in their own division, who failed to make the World Series in 2022 won’t be resting on their laurels and thinking that things might be different this time. Competitive, smart clubs can now address their deficiencies in an effort to unseat the Phils after their surprise triumphs in the postseason.

It would be foolish for Dave Dombrowski or anyone else in the Philadelphia Phillies organization to think that they can repeat this feat simply by “running it back” with just another player or two added into the mix.

Despite their success, the Philadelphia Phillies have to be judicious and aggressive with some decisions this offseason.

One player we can wave goodbye to is Zach Eflin after he declined his mutual option. While we can’t totally discount a reunion between the team and player, there is no longer a good match here. Eflin wants to resume starting games, and the Phillies simply can’t take that risk, given his injury history. Best of luck to him in getting a contract elsewhere with a team willing to take that gamble, but the Phillies would be better served to allot his $10M+ elsewhere.

As for the offense, the Phillies could theoretically retain the same group with just a minor tweak here or there. But this would be folly. Yes, the team got to the World Series, but this offense only managed to bang out 31 hits over the course of six games. Something has to give.

Jean Segura is what he is, a solid contributor for this team, but exercising his $17M club option just wasn’t in the cards. This should set the stage for the Phillies to make a run at a primo free agent such as Trea Turner or Xander Bogaerts to join Bryson Stott in the middle of the infield. There’s your first upgrade.

And then there’s Rhys Hoskins, who is eligible for salary arbitration but simply needs to go.

Yes, he hit several big home runs for this team in the playoffs, but the Phillies are settling for mediocrity at the plate (streaky mediocrity at that) by continuing to trot Hoskins out there at a position where more is needed. He absolutely crushed this team in the World Series. Throw in his costly defense, and there really is no justification for giving him a raise to clog up first base for any longer than he already has.

It has been suggested to move Alec Bohm over to first base, a move that I’d support, even though Bohm deserves credit for improving himself as a fielder at third base. Still, this move was a long time coming, with Bohm shifting over. Failing this, you could bring in a better first baseman (Jose Abreu? Anthony Rizzo?) on a shorter deal with an eye toward moving Bohm there in a year or two. Anything but another season of Hoskins at first.

Jettisoning Hoskins via trade would probably rankle some of the teammates who have gone to battle with him, but they’d frankly need to just get over it. As a decent player and proverbial “good clubhouse dude,” Hoskins can probably go help a young team as their 1B/DH. He’s just not what this club needs anymore. So, either get a better first baseman or move Bohm across the diamond and then solve the third base opening. Alternatively, I suppose you could decide to bring Segura back, sign a shortstop, and move Stott to third, pushing the problem for at least a year. Again, anything is preferable to a continuation of Hoskins’ tenure.

Finally, a look at the rest of the Philadelphia Phillies’ unrestricted free agents (all pitchers, incidentally), which reads like a list that should be titled “Guys Who Don’t Need to Come Back”:

  • Chris Devenski; who I honestly forgot pitched a few games at the end of the regular season, is a footnote and can be completely disregarded.
  • Corey Knebel; whose injury history disqualifies him from any consideration.
  • Kyle Gibson; who served the exact purpose that the Phillies acquired him for last year but is now clearly not a major league pitcher.
  • Brad Hand; who was fine, but as a largely situational reliever now in his 30s, should be fairly replaceable by a younger and cheaper arm from within the organization.
  • David Robertson; who is older still, and who is not likely to be able to hold up to the rigors of a full season any longer.
  • Noah Syndergaard; who could probably persuade a pitching-desperate team into giving him starter’s money as he looks for one final big payday. After all, the man they call Thor is still “only” 30 years old, and some folks might fool themselves into thinking that he can regain some of his old form in his second year back from Tommy John surgery after middling results this season. Maybe that happens to some degree, but the Phillies shouldn’t be the team to find out.

The money saved by these pitchers coming off the books needs to be weaponized on key free agents (impact bat, middle-of-the-rotation starter, etc.) as the Phillies fill other gaps, especially in the bullpen, from within via young players working their way up the organizational ranks. Maybe this also means another kick at the can for the likes of Mark Appel and Hans Crouse. The point is that the Phillies tried to shore up their bullpen last offseason with veterans such as Knebel, Hand, and Jeurys Familia. When things went wrong, they had to pivot, and it largely worked. Let’s hope this front office has it in them once again if needed.

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It really should be obvious that the Philadelphia Phillies can’t merely be “the same team” and hope to get back here again next year, no matter what Bryce Harper says. Because even though they ultimately fell just two wins shy of a World Series victory, the way they were outplayed at the end has left a bitter taste that should be remembered. You’ve got to be continually improving yourself to compete, even if it means saying goodbye to some familiar faces who got you this far. It will be interesting to see just how different this team looks when it reports to Clearwater in just over three months.