Having now traded for Jean Segura, Bryce Harper appears a better fit than Manny Machado for the Phillies as they pursue big free agents this offseason.
The Phillies entered this offseason with the 20th highest payroll in baseball, with the expectation being that they would use all of that extra money they have lying around to pursue big name free agents. They have been expected to make runs at players like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Patrick Corbin.
They had that payroll space while Carlos Santana’s $20 million per year was on the books, but after trading him to Seattle in the Jean Segura trade, it has been replaced by Segura’s $14.25 million per year contract. While the final trade details are yet to be announced, and Anthony Swarzak may still be coming back to Philadelphia, that money is now being used more productively.
So what does this mean for the Phillies. Segura will likely assume the shortstop role, pushing Scott Kingery over to second base in a competition with Cesar Hernandez. Over the last three years, Segura has maintained an OBP over .340 and batting average over .300 so he should be a mainstay in the lineup. This means that should the Phillies sign Manny Machado, he would have to play third base. However, Maikel Franco currently occupies the hot corner in Philadelphia, and he posted a solid .328 wOBA last season.
However, with Carlos Santana gone, the Phillies can shift Rhys Hoskins back from left field to play first base. Over the course of his career, he has a -11.9 UZR/150 in left field and 5.4 UZR/150 at first base. This shows that he is a negative defender in left field and slightly above average at first base, where he belongs.
Sliding Hoskins in leaves a void in the Phillies outfield. That is where Bryce Harper fits in. If the Phillies were to sign Bryce Harper, he could assume his natural role in right field, while Nick Williams slides over to left, somewhere he played at times for the Phillies last year.
Bryce Harper in the Phillies lineup will just make so much sense. Jean Segura, and Kingery/Hernandez/Odubel Herrera can act as table setters in the 1 and 2 spots in the lineup. Follow that up with Harper batting third from the left side of the plate and Hoskins fourth from the right side. There will always be runners on base for the two big bats which should lead to plenty of runs scored.
The last thing that makes Harper in Philadelphia a beautiful ideal is Harper being able to hit in Citizens Bank Park. Right field is not very deep so Harper would be able to take advantage of the short porch and get some cheap home runs. It’s something that Ryan Howard was able to take advantage of during his time as a Philadelphia. Harper’s career numbers in the ballpark show that he is ready to capitalize on the dimensions. His 179 at bats in Citizens Bank Park have produced a 162 game rate of 45 home runs, 103 RBIs, and a .930 OPS. That feels completely realistic for the former MVP.
So, despite the Phillies still thinking about an infield with Machado and Segura, they should realize that Bryce Harper is the best fit for their team. Pursuit of Harper should be aggressive so as to beat out his other suitors, and get the star this team needs to be put over the top.