“I would be surprised if we did nothing else,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak told MLB.com yesterday at the winter meetings. “My expectation is that we will have another move before we go to Spring Training.”
By Sam Bush
The Boy Wonder GM is partial to bland pronouncements, expressed to friendly media outlets like MLB.com, and we shoiuld get used to them.
Klentak added that the Phillies feel no pressure to find a starter in free agency or by a trade. The Phillies have contacted the Royals, who have made Danny Duffy (owed $60 million through 2021) and Jason Hammel ($12 million mutual option in 2019 or a $2 million buyout) available, as well as other clubs.
“I couldn’t handicap the way it’ll happen or even if it’ll happen,” Klentak said. “I think we’re continuing to stay engaged with some agents. There’s a few teams we’ve talked to about trades, some short-term options, some more controllable options. I just don’t know.
“We’ve said as an industry, we’ve thought this, the Phillies have talked about this for a long time: It’s so important to be able to develop your own starting pitchers, because to acquire them in a trade is incredibly expensive in terms of player capital and to acquire them in free agency is incredibly expensive in terms of total dollars. Maybe never in our history has it been more important to develop starting pitchers.”
Aaron Nola (3.54 ERA in 168 innings) is the only safe bet to make next season’s rotation. Jerad Eickhoff (4.71 ERA in 128 innings),Vince Velasquez (5.13 ERA in 72 innings) and Zach Eflin (6.16 ERA in 64 1/3 innings) finished last season on the disabled list, but Klentak expects them to be ready to compete for jobs in Spring Training.
The rest of the group includes Nick Pivetta (6.02 ERA in 133 innings), Ben Lively (4.26 ERA in 88 2/3 innings), Jake Thompson (3.38 ERA in 46 1/3 innings), Mark Leiter Jr. (4.96 ERA in 90 2/3 innings) and prospect Thomas Eshelman.
“If we’re carrying an eight-man bullpen and it’s eight quality guys, when Vince Velasquez has his five [innings] and 100 [pitches], we may not feel the same pressure to put him out there to start that inning because we’ve got an extra guy in the bullpen and we’re not worried about what the drop off is in the sixth inning,” Klentak said.