Inside Phillies’ offseason: Key dates, roster moves, free agency and more
Follow the Phillies' offseason here, from free agency to trades all the way to spring training.
From 2007 to 2011, it was harder to find a cooler place in Philly than Citizens Bank Park during October. There were rally towels and seas of red, as a football town became a baseball town once a month for half of a decade, celebrating postseason action and even a World Series win.
But this year marked the 10th straight October without a playoff game in South Philly. A decade after it rocked, Citizens Bank Park sat quiet again.
The offseason officially started Nov. 3 after rival Atlanta clinched its first World Series title since 1995. Since the last October rally towel was waved in Philly, the Braves and Nationals have won world titles, the Mets have won the pennant, and the Marlins have reached the postseason.
Once the class of the National League, the Phillies have been passed by their rivals. And it’s imperative for them to bring October celebrations back to South Philly. A strong offseason could do that.
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Here’s a look at what has happened this offseason and what awaits:
One day after the World Series ended, the Phillies declined two club options: Andrew McCutchen ($15 million option, $3 million buyout) and Odúbel Herrera ($11.5 million option, $2.5 million buyout). McCutchen became a free agent, while Herrera remained eligible for salary arbitration.
The Phillies cleared space on the 40-man roster by outrighting a half-dozen players: Herrera, catcher Andrew Knapp, infielder Ronald Torreyes, outfielder Travis Jankowski, and right-handed pitchers J.D. Hammer and Ramon Rosso. All six became free agents.
The Phillies made their first offseason acquisition, claiming left-handed reliever Ryan Sherriff off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Deadline for teams to extend qualifying offers to free agents. The Phillies did not extend any this year.
J.T. Realmuto and Zack Wheeler were finalists for the Gold Glove, but lost out to the Pirates’ Jacob Stallings and the Braves’ Max Fried, respectively.
Players who became free agents after the World Series can sign with a new team. Cam Bedrosian, Archie Bradley, Freddy Galvis, Ian Kennedy, Brad Miller, Matt Moore, and Héctor Neris officially hit the market.
Neris, the franchise’s all-time strikeout leader among relief pitchers after eight seasons with the Phillies, agreed to a two-year, $17 million deal with the Astros on Nov. 27.
The GM meetings opened in Carlsbad, Calif., bringing together all of the game’s decision makers along with player agents. Among the news made by Phillies president Dave Dombrowski:
The Phillies will give top prospect Bryson Stott a chance to begin the season as their starting shortstop. “There’s no promises attached to him. But I want to make sure he comes in with the right mindset to go about it,” Dombrowski said.
The Phillies’ top priority is finding a closer, and the White Sox’s Craig Kimbrel could be a trade option.
The designated hitter appears destined for the National League. How would the Phillies use the extra bat in the lineup? Expect a committee approach.
Dombrowski said left field and center field are “complete necessities,” but he doesn’t expect former first-round picks Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley to be solutions.
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Bryce Harper won his second career Silver Slugger, becoming the first Phillies outfielder to claim the award since Bobby Abreu in 2004. Realmuto was also a finalist for the award that is presented annually to the best hitters at each position as voted by managers and coaches.
Former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler wins the National League’s Manager of the Year, two seasons after John Middleton overruled Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail to fire Kapler after another September collapse. Kapler’s Giants won 107 games this season and the Phillies have gone 25-33 in the last two Septembers without him.
Wheeler lost the National League Cy Young Award by the thinnest of margins as he finished just 10 points behind Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes. Wheeler led the majors in innings (213⅓) and the NL in strikeouts (247) while finishing with the fifth-best ERA (2.78) in the NL.
Harper put together one of the best offensive seasons in Phillies history and it culminated with him winning the National League’s MVP Award. It was his second time winning the award, which is voted on by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Harper finished with 348 total points, ahead of Washington’s Juan Soto (274) and San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. (244). Harper led the majors in slugging percentage (.615) and OPS (1.044.) His batting average (.309) ranked third in the NL and his 35 homers were the sixth most. A second MVP only bolstered his already strong case for Cooperstown and makes that $330 million contract look like money well spent, writes Marcus Hayes. It also cements Harper’s status as one of the best players of his generation.
Harper’s peers also awarded him in October with the NL’s Outstanding Player Award.
The deadline to add minor-leaguers to the 40-man roster and protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies added infielder Luis García, pitcher James McArthur, and outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz.
The Phillies claimed off waivers reliever Kent Emanuel, a 29-year-old left-hander who had elbow surgery in May after serving an 80-game suspension for a performance-enhancing drug he denied taking. Emanuel made 10 relief appearances as a rookie last season with Houston before undergoing season-ending elbow surgery. He avoided a second Tommy John surgery, which he had in 2015, and should be ready for spring training.
The Phillies acquired relief pitcher Nick Nelson from the Yankees. Nelson, who turns 26 in December, has a 6.43 ERA over the last two seasons in 22 appearances. He racked up 22 strikeouts last season in 14⅓ innings but also walked 16 batters. He leans heavily on his fastball, which tops out near 99 mph, and uses a changeup as his preferred secondary pitch.
The Phillies also acquired minor-league catcher Donny Sands and sent the Yankees left-hander Joel Valdez and first baseman T.J. Rumfield. Valdez, 21, pitched last season in the Dominican Summer League and Rumfield, 21, was drafted last summer in the 12th round.
The Phils acquired 28-year-old catcher Garrett Stubbs from Houston for outfielder Logan Cerny, a 22-year-old who was drafted in last summer’s 10th round. Stubbs has played 51 major-league games over the last three seasons with a .485 career OPS in 87 plate appearances. He hit .265 last season with a .781 OPS in 146 plate appearances at triple A.
Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. Rollins has a strong Hall case, but it will be an uphill climb for him to reach Cooperstown on his first try. Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens are on the ballot for the 10th and final time.
David Murphy looks at the cases for and against Rollins and Howard in their bid for Cooperstown.
The Phillies continued to stock up on left-handed pitchers by claiming Scott Moss off waivers from Cleveland. Moss, 27, made 11 starts for Cleveland’s triple-A affiliate this year. He was acquired in 2019 from Cincinnati as part of the Trevor Bauer trade.
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This is the deadline for the Phillies to tender contracts to players not yet eligible for free agency. José Alvarado, Seranthony Domínguez, Zach Eflin, and Rhys Hoskins were eligible for arbitration. Roman Quinn was a candidate to be non-tendered, but the Phillies designated him for assignment on Nov. 29. A non-tendered player becomes a free agent.
The Phillies announced the signing of Domínguez to a one-year deal that will be worth $727,500, according to a source.
Alvarado, Eflin, and Hoskins were tendered 2022 contracts, as expected. Players and teams may negotiate until and after exchanging salary figures in January, with hearings scheduled in February for cases that haven’t been settled. A lockout could impact those timelines.
The Collective Bargaining agreement expired at midnight and MLB soon announced it was imposing a lockout. MLB negotiated in Texas with the players’ union, but the talks proved fruitless. The lockout started minutes after the CBA expired and hours after a brief final negotiation between the two parties. “We are taking this step now because it accelerates the urgency for an agreement with as much runway as possible to avoid doing damage to the 2022 season,” Manfred said in a statement.
The re-construction of the Phillies bullpen received its first addition just before the expiration of the CBA when they signed right-hander Corey Knebel, who recorded key postseason outs in October for the Dodgers and could be the new closer.
In the waning minutes of Dec. 1, before the lockout froze transactions for an undetermined length of time, the Phillies’ 40-man roster churned once more. They signed infielder Johan Camargo to a one-year, $1.4 million contract and designated pitcher Adonis Medina for assignment.
Dick Allen will have a shot to finally make the Hall of Fame when the Golden Days Committee meets. The results will be announced that evening on MLB Network. Allen, who died in December of 2020, needs 12 votes from the 16-person committee. He fell a vote shy in 2014 when the committee last met. Allen was baseball’s best hitter over the first decade of his career, as his 165 OPS+ from 1964-73 led the majors, better than all-time greats such as Hank Aaron, Harmon Killebrew, and Willie McCovey.
The winter meetings were scheduled to open in Orlando, but the major league portions were canceled just after midnight on Dec. 2 when the lockout was announced. This four-day gathering of almost everyone who works in the game is usually a busy place for player movement.
The minor league portion of the winter meetings wrap up with the Rule 5 draft, which allows a team to select an unprotected player from another team and keep them as long as they carry them on their major-league roster all season. The Phillies drafted shortstop Kyle Holder last year from the Yankees before trading him a month later to the Reds for cash considerations.
» READ MORE: Who stays, who goes? Forecasting the 2022 outlook for every Phillies player.
This is the deadline for teams and players to exchange salary arbitration figures before their arbitration trials begin. The Phillies usually settle with their players before trial, but they did go in front of an arbitrator in 2020 to settle Realmuto’s contract.
The Hall of Fame class for 2022 will be announced. A player needs 75% of the votes to be elected and 5% to remain on the ballot. It will be interesting to see how close Rollins comes and if Howard can garner enough votes to remain on the ballot. Scott Rolen received 52.9% of the votes last year in his fourth year on the ballot, a 17.6% jump from the previous year. His candidacy is worth watching.
Middle of February
Assuming a new CBA is finalized, the Phillies will report to Clearwater, Fla. for spring training. They begin Grapefruit League play on Feb. 26 against the Yankees in Tampa. Five weeks later, it’s Opening Day in Houston on March 31 against the American League champion Astros.