Hope is a Wonderful Thing: The 2017 Phillies

Ruben Amaro and Pat Gillick continue to point to 2017 as the time the Phillies can start to compete again.  There has been a lot of chatter that this is unrealistic, so let’s put the theory to the test.  What could the 2017 Phillies look like?  We are going to start with the homegrown and move through a bunch of scenarios of how a roster could shape out.

Homegrown Roster:

The first thing to do is to create a 25 man roster using just the players who realistically would be in the majors to start 2017.  I have excluded likely trade candidates, but we will loop back to the later.

CCameron Rupp
1B – Brock Stassi
2BFreddy Galvis
SSJ.P. Crawford
3BMaikel Franco
LFKelly Dugan
CFRoman Quinn
RFAaron Altherr
BenchGabriel Lino, Cesar Hernandez, Cody Asche, Cameron Perkins, KC Serna
SPAaron Nola, Zach Eflin, Jesse Biddle, David Buchanan, Ben Lively
RPKen Giles, Nefi Ogando, Edubray Ramos, Elvis Araujo, Joely Rodriguez, Tom Windle, Luis Garcia

There really isn’t much here to make you too optimistic about the  ability to compete.  The lineup is really only optimistic at SS, 3B, and CF and the rotation probably only has 2 starters that really give you nice warm feelings.  Fortunately for the Phillies this is not all they have to work with.

Tradeable Assets:

The Phillies are going to get prospects back for Cole Hamels, Aaron Harang, and Jonathan Papelbon, and could get something for Ben Revere or Carlos Ruiz.  No one but Hamels is likely to get you a player that will give you the “security” of Franco, Quinn, Nola, Eflin, or Crawford.  However, there is a good chance that through all those trades you get a different kind of tradeable asset.

The Phillies will also have the ability to cash in some players from the next waves of prospects to fill holes in that lineup above.  Additionally this list comprises a group of players that could see a couple of players make the jump to being a part of the 2017 lineup:

Player (Expected Level): 2015 1st Round Pick (?), 2016 1st Round Pick (?), Franklyn Kilome (A+), Deivi Grullon (AA), Carlos Tocci (AA), Victor Arano (AAA), Matt Imhof (AAA), Aaron Brown (AAA), Malquin Canelo (AA), Andrew Knapp (AAA), Luis Encarnacion (A+), Jose Pujols (A+), Arquímedes Gamboa (A-), Ricardo Pinto (AA), Rhys Hoskins (AA), Yoel Mecias (AAA), Jhailyn Ortiz? (SS)

That list may have you scratching your head a little bit, but someone like Franklyn Kilome if he continues his path he will be one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.  A player like Carlos Tocci with plus defense is incredibly valuable if he is in AA and not low-A.  This list is also excluding other players with big ceilings who could make a jump.  Some of these players will obviously step back as well, but there is plenty of room to cash in for a starting piece.

Money:

The lineup listed at the top of this piece would cost the Phillies somewhere on the order of $30M with the expenses above minimum salary being Ryan Howard‘s buy out, Ken Giles Arb, Garcia’s Arb, and Cody Asche’s arb.  Conservatively the Phillies can handle a payroll of around $160M without getting close to the luxury tax, with a ceiling probably a good $20-$30 million above that threshold.  That gives the Phillies somewhere between $130 million and $160 million to spend on free agents or trade acquisitions to fill out this roster.

What Could This Really Look Like:

Let’s start with Hamels.  The Phillies are likely to target a player either at catcher, corner outfield, or elite starting pitcher in return for Cole Hamels.  Barring that they are likely to pile on a couple of big time prospects to have in the trade war chest.  If we say that there are 13 positions the Phillies need filled and we are at 5 of 13 right now, a Hamels trade gets us to 6 of 13 with probably another piece in the trade category.  The alternative if they don’t trade Hamels the Phillies will just front the 2017 rotation with him.

The draft is harder to predict, but the Phillies appear to be in on a college player with the 2017 timeline, likely this player would be one of Kevin Newman (SS, but move to 2B), Ian Happ (2B/OF), or Walker Buehler (SP).  None of these players would really be a star, but could get to an average regular and maybe get the Phillies to 7/13.

Now we move on to Free Agency.  Let’s start at first base where the Phillies are very unlikely to have an internal option.  However, in the 2016-2017 offseason the following first baseman will be available in free agency: Pedro Alvarez, James Loney, Logan Morrison, Mark Trumbo.  None should command huge contracts, but all could be solid, at minimum platoon options to hold down first base.

As for starting pitching, the big haul of starting pitchers is this year, with only Stephen Strasburg and Andrew Cashner as the big names in the 2016-2017 class, so the Phillies may need to weigh in to the FA marketplace this offseason.  The Phillies will have the money to get the pitcher they want in either case.

The next place the eye goes is the outfield, unfortunately the young big names hit the market this offseason in Justin Upton and Jason Heyward, so the Phillies will need to make the move right now to fill that hole.  Upton will be 28 and Heyward will be 26 so both could be long term options as well.  In the 2016-2017 market the big names are Josh Reddick and Carlos Gomez, both of who will be 30 or over.

A Realistic 2017 Team:

I am going to do this without trading away any prospect, but keep that in mind as a way to fill any place that you feel is still too weak to make the team at least competitive.  I am also going to make the following assumptions (which could have wide variance):

  • Draft Cincinnati 2B/OF Ian Happ in 2015 Draft
  • Hamels to Yankees for Aaron Judge centered deal
  • Sign Andrew Cashner
  • Sign Pedro Alvarez

Giving this as a 2017 Roster:

C – Cameron Rupp
1B – Pedro Alvarez
2B – Ian Happ
SS – J.P. Crawford
3B – Maikel Franco
LF – Kelly Dugan/Aaron Altherr (platoon)
CF – Roman Quinn
RF – Aaron Judge
Bench – Dugan/Altherr, Gabriel Lino, Freddy Galvis, Cameron Perkins, Cody Asche
SP – Andrew Cashner, Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin, Jesse Biddle, David Buchanan
RP – Ken Giles, Nefi Ogando, Edubray Ramos, Joely Rodriguez, Tom Windle, Ben Lively, Elvis Araujo

It is not a World Series favorite, but that is a team that can hang around for a wild card with the ability to make a trade to fill a hole if needed while still having a good farm system and monetary flexibility to really go for it in 2018.  You can play around with this by adjusting your draft and FA choices as well as trading for targets to fill the remaining holes on the team, but the assets mostly move around the open spots rather than changing the overall outcome.

Now there are a lot of assumptions made here.  The key takeaways here are:

  1. There will be some cheap major league pieces on the roster.
  2. The Phillies will have more money to spend than they really know what to do with.
  3. Don’t forget trade acquisitions and draft picks in the 2017 calculation.
  4. The Phillies could have a very good farm system heading into the 2017 season and should be able to use it either the major league level or for trades.

It may not look great right now, but 2017 is a blank canvas on which to project your own hopes for the Phillies.

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman
Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.

24 comments

  1. Romus

    If projecting can be an issue of accuracy, then this is about accurate I would think that you can get.
    One position that could see some fluctuation is catching.
    Rupp should be on the roster…not sure about his starting.
    I would hope Lino, and maybe Knapp are pushing for the job, with Grullon hanging in AA waiting to get his chance.
    But then again a trade may get the catcher that will fill that role.
    If Swihart becomes entrenched in Boston, then maybe a healthy Christian Vasquez could be obtained via a trade.

  2. Really good post, Matt. Like Romus–and as much as I like Cam–I see Rupp as the weakness in that lineup. Then again, Tuffy Gosewisch is starting for Arizona, so what do I know?

    • Matt Winkelman

      When I started sketching out a lineup a month ago that was Tommy Joseph’s spot, then Lino moved into the backup role, then I penciled in Knapp, but it seemed aggressive. There are not really any good FAs out there either. Ruiz has a $4.5M option, best hope at impact by 2017 is probably Lino or trade, but had to put in a name.

      • Oh, yeah, I get it. Believe me, the dearth of catching depth at the top of the system is not a problem with the writing or choices you made, but with the system/construction–along with the unfortunate injury history and questionable performance of Tommy Joseph. It’s no wonder the Phillies have been interested in Blake Swihart–and as you rightly pointed out, trades and free-agency are available to try to fill these holes. Perhaps a patchwork of defensive/veterans until the arrival of Grullon in, what, 2020?

        • Romus

          Concerning Tommy Joseph…..heard Ruben say yesterday that outlook does not look good for him…at catcher. He was genuinely disappointed and felt bad for Tom personally.
          And then he brought up Lino’s name as someone who may be the one in a few years.
          I can see them doing the meticulous and projected ‘Chooch-model’ approach for Lino.

        • Yeah, Romus, I don’t get into the whole “player evaluation” stuff as much as some others, and part of that is that I have trouble separating the personal side: I can’t be objective. Tommy is one of the nicest guys I’ve had the privilege to meet and interview, and I can’t help but feel for the guy. I saw him at the bar after the game the other night–he looked fine–but didn’t want to bother him with the “how ya feelin'” questions. I guess if they’re gonna make him a first baseman, he’ll be a career minor leaguer, but it could still be a good career if that’s what he wants to do. Hopefully our worries are unfounded.

          I haven’t watched as closely as Matt has, but I worry about Lino’s ability to receive the ball properly and cleanly. Perhaps it’s just adjusting to the pitchers in Reading–we’ll cross our fingers there as well.

  3. bob smith

    That still is going to be a sub .500 team in ’17 but they will have a ton of payroll flexibility and what should be two more draft classes including a very high pick next year.

    Teams as bad and in the current state of the Phils just don’t get turned around in 2 years. New GM next year deserves at least until ’18 to improve the empty cupboard Amaro has left him.

    • Ian

      Yeah, those hoping for deep playoff runs by 2017 will be disappointed. But for guys like us, that will be a very fun team to watch. Lots of young rising talent. Chance to compete.

  4. Eric D

    I really think they should go hard at both Upton AND Heyward to speed up the rebuild. What do you think it would take in years and money for them to both sign? Also if you signed them and didn’t trade Hamels at the Deadline does that mean it would be best to keep him w those 2 now on board? Or do you still try and move him for younger guys?

    2017 1-5

    1. Roman Quinn CF
    2. JP Crawford SS
    3. Justin Upton LF
    4. Miakel Franco 3B
    5. Jay Bruce 1B
    6. Jason Heyward RF

    *Could even go after Jay Bruce and move him to first in the 2016 off season.

    Bruce might be a little much but the 1-5 of Quinn/Crawford/Upton/Franco/Heyward could be a start to a nice group.

  5. Kurdt Kobeyn

    IMO, the phillies will be more aggressive in the FA (local and international) to shorten the rebuilding process after the $$ went of the books. I can see the Phils signing high $$ for a power bat (either RF or 1B) and a couple of top of the rotation pitchers. By 2017, here’s what I think the line up will look like — Quinn (CF), Crawford (SS), FA – power bat (1B or RF), Franco (3B), Dugan (LF/RF), Pullin (LF – if the power bat is 1B or Stassi if the power bat is RF), Knapp (C – he will go up quickly due to his age) and Galvis (2B). SPs – $$ FA, Nola, $$ FA, Eflin, Biddle. RPs – Araujo, Windle, Ogando, Ramos, deFratus, Giles and Mecias (who can slide as SP as well). Bench – Stassi (of Perkins if the power bat is 1B), Lino, Asche, Serna and Altherr.

  6. Kurdt Kobeyn

    If Dugan is a disaster by 2016, I can see the Phils signing another $$ FA as OF by 2017. Rodriguez, Buchanan, Diekman, Garcia,and (possibly) Gonzalez, Morgan and Lively will be traded sometime in 2016-17. Imhoff, Arano, Leibrandt, Arano, Anderson and Garcia will be the top arms in the farm (Kilome will be the best prospect but will not be called up until 2019)

    • phillysf

      If Dugan is a disaster thats hilarious !, He has some game the problem is it that game is taped together with dental floss, glass chips and balsa wood, I dont think he ever gets to platoon to with anybody in the MLB because he is always hurt and that is the sad situation unfortunately

  7. Eric D

    Who are the power bats that you are talking about tho? There really isn’t anything that great in the FA pool for 2016. This years pool offers the best options in terms of skill set and age.

    • Romus

      I think Matt is correct in the assumption that maybe Cole’s return should come from the Yankees and the bat in the package deal should be Aaron Judge. He seems to be the one who could be the next power bat in the majors.

  8. Matt — why limit the FAs to the 2017 class?

    With Hamels, Papelbon, etc. off the roster, they will have money to spend sooner rather than later, and Chris Davis and David Price sound better to me than Alvarez and Cashner.

    • Matt Winkelman

      It was just the guys I used in this scenario it could go in so many ways with the money they have (which is my real point here)

  9. allentown1

    I don’t see Ian Happ as this year’s draft pick. Galvis at 2B. Herrera still with the team as an IF reserve. College OF or pitcher with this year’s #1 pick? We should be spending on a Cuban or two as well as FAs. A young FA or Cuban over the coming off-season wouldn’t be bad at all. We may well need a FA catcher, unless we get a starter in a Hamels trade.

    • Romus

      I hope MAG’s lack of success does not sour the Phillies on future Cuban acquisitions.
      I know the logical man would not look at it that way, but sometimes I have to wonder about the rational in Ruben’s reasoning at times.

  10. phillysf

    @Matt W

    Hey you forgot to mention _ Eddy Julio Martinez_ he will be around the age of 22 in 2017 should slide nicely into the outfield instead of Dugan /Altherr platoon , Altherr is a good bench player multiple outfield spots and has some pop.

    • Kurdt Kobeyn

      if the rumor is true that martinez is signing after july 2, i hope the phillies will go hard after him and some other international prospects. i’m actually hoping that the phils will sign most of top top july 2 prospects and go way beyond their limit. phils has been very good in looking talents <$300k

      • Most of the July 2 signings have been done deals for months now, and Ortiz is the only big name tied to the Phillies.

        At this point, if you’re going to go big over, the smarter play is to do it next year. NYY, BoSox, Cubs and Dodgers and several others will be out of it, and next year’s July 2 group is more highly regarded.

        • phillysf

          Really wait till next year , and then wait till the following year because other teams will go big and then wait till next year because all the teams you mentioned will be back to spending big………. repeat , repeat, stall , wait till they make a draft and then the Phillies can say oh darn we were going to spend big next year but now there is draft so we will just have to follow the rules and do what MLB says.

          I see what your saying about next years class but Im really just tired of watching other teams scoop up a ton of young talent and then having the phillies sign like one guy

  11. Brian

    Dom Brown doesn’t even get a mention.

    • Dom Brown being a bust has set us back big time. That line-up would look much better if Brown turned out to be the stud everyone projected him to be when he was the top prospect in baseball.