Saturday, October 29, 2016

Predicting the Phillies Offseason

While the Philadelphia Phillies only managed to win 71 games during the 2016 season, fans have to be encouraged by the team's performance. The team maintained a .500 winning percentage for most of the season before a poor second half derailed their season. This decline can be attributed to injuries and young players getting tired after a long season. The Phillies still have to be happy with the way most of their young players progressed during the 2016 season. Since the team is filled with so many youngsters, it is pretty easy to breakdown what to expect from the team during free agency this offseason.

The biggest name on the team that has the potential to be a free-agent this offseason is first baseman Ryan Howard. While the Phillies have the option to resign Howard for one more season, they have already expressed their desires to cut ties with him. Howard was one of the hitters in baseball when he signed a five-year contract worth $125 million in 2012.Howard's performance immediately started to decline as soon as he signed that big contract. While he has hit at least 23 home runs the last three seasons, Howard does not make enough contact to get consistent playing time with the Phillies.

The most productive Phillies player hitting the free agent market this off-season is starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson. The Phillies will provide a qualifying offer worth $17.2 million to Hellickson, but he will be looking for a long-term contract after his impressive 2016 season. The Phillies most likely will not be willing to provide big money to him for more than one year because of the young pitching depth in the organization. If Hellickson signs with another team, the Phillies will be awarded a first-round pick in the 2017 draft.

Backup catcher A.J Ellis is also likely to leave the team this offseason. While Ellis would be a great fit for the team, he seems to be only interested in playing for the Dodgers next year. If Ellis does not get to return as Clayton Kershaw's personal catcher in Los Angeles, then he will likely retire.

The free agent that appears most likely to resign with the Phillies is Andres Blanco. The utility infielder has been a solid performer during his three years with the team. Since he is unlikely to get much interest from other teams, the Phillies should be able to get Blanco fairly cheap. The veteran infielder will continue to serve as a mentor to the young stars of the Phillies as his career comes to end in a few years.

Outfielder Peter Bourjos and reliever David Hernandez are the final two Phillies entering free agency this offseason. Philadelphia will likely show moderate interest in both players. The team will seek to upgrade each position, but will have no problem bringing back either player if their other options do not pan out. Since he will get less interest from other teams, Bourjos seems more likely to return than David Hernandez.

*Guest Post by Will Kay