HomeOther Philly SportsPhillies Nation Speculates Club Unlikely to Make Big Move for Reliever

Phillies Nation Speculates Club Unlikely to Make Big Move for Reliever

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Josh Hader is a free agent. (Don Ott/Phillies Nation)

One of the main focuses for the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason, now that Aaron Nola is back in red pinstripes, will likely be the bullpen.

As with the rest of the roster, though, don’t expect a huge splash. According to a report from Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dave Dombrowski expects the Phillies to be more passive than aggressive suitors in the reliever market this offseason.

“If we’re going to sign a bullpen guy … it’s probably going to come after more of them come off the list,” Dombrowski said at this week’s Winter Meetings, per Lauber. “Maybe they’re in a position to say, ‘OK, we’ll take a one-year deal for X-amount dollars, and [right now] they want a four-year deal for Y-amount of dollars.’”

That would seem to take the Phillies out of the pool of potential landing spots for Josh Hader, the big fish in this year’s free-agent reliever market. It’s consistent with reports around the time of Nola’s agreement that the Phillies won’t splurge on a reliever, and it’s understandable why. The Phillies are returning, among others, José Alvarado, Seranthony Domínguez and Gregory Soto, and the team likes their electric stuff in the back end of the bullpen. Jeff Hoffman emerged as an extension candidate with a breakout 2023, and there’s a reason the Phillies put Orion Kerkering on their postseason roster despite starting the season at Low-A.

It’s hard to ever have enough bullpen depth. The Phillies had a mostly solid group last season, but by the end of their postseason run, the trust tree had lost a few branches. Still, though, additions like Alvarado and Hoffman and Soto and Kerkering and even Kimbrel offer reasons to think the Phillies can improve the group without paying top dollar, either in money or in trade capital. It seems they’ll bank on that approach again for 2024.

The recently-promoted Matt Klentak reportedly played a central role in a Milwaukee Brewers contract that calls back to his Phillies tenure.

Klentak, according to Brewers GM Matt Arnold via Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer, was “the team’s point man” in the negotiations surrounding Jackson Chourio’s contract extension. Chourio, MLB Pipeline‘s No. 2 overall prospect, signed an eight-year, $82 million deal with Milwaukee — first reported on Thursday and officially inked Monday.

The interesting aspect of Chourio’s deal: He’s never played in Major League Baseball. He’s the sixth player in MLB history to sign an extension before playing a game in the Majors, and his is the richest such deal.

Scott Kingery once signed a massive deal with the Phillies before making his MLB debut. (Cheryl Pursell)

That title once belonged to Scott Kingery. His six-year, $24 million extension in 2018 was just the second of its type. That deal, of course, came with the Phillies — led by none other than general manager Matt Klentak.

The risk of such a deal is obvious, and Kingery turned out to be a prime example. At the time, Kingery was a top prospect in the Phillies’ farm system, and had he lived up to that billing, it would’ve been a bargain for the Phillies. Instead, whether or not club mismanagement played a role, Kingery never found his footing, and it left the Phillies with nothing but dead contract weight and an eventual declined 2024 option. Klentak and the Brewers will hope Chourio’s deal winds up more like that of Luis Robert, whose six-year, $50 million 2020 deal signed before he played an MLB game is working out quite well for the Chicago White Sox.

Time will tell toward which of those two poles Chourio’s deal leans. But by now, it’s evident Klentak sees it as a risk worth taking on the right player, and his previous miss in Philadelphia hasn’t scared him otherwise.

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