The Philadelphia Phillies made a lot of moves for 2019 and only had a .500 record to show for it. Will their big spending work this time in 2020?
Last offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies went all-in for 2019 after rebuilding for a few years. They brought in J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutcheon, among others, and for the grand finale they signed Bryce Harper to a 13-year contract. It didn’t work, as the team finished just 81-81, costing manager Gabe Kapler his job.
It looks again like the Phillies are going to spend big this offseason in order to help new skipper Joe Girardi finally guide the team into contention. They’ve already signed starting pitcher Zack Wheeler to a big five-year, $118 million contract. Now, USA Today is reporting that they are planning to “strongly pursue” the biggest position player name on the free agent market, third baseman Anthony Rendon, even though it would put them over the luxury tax.
From a purely baseball standpoint, Rendon makes a lot of sense for the Phillies since they need a third baseman, especially after they decided to non-tender the disappointing Maikel Franco. The 29-year-old Rendon would be a great addition to any lineup, coming off a season in which he posted an OPS of 1.010 while leading the league both with 44 doubles and 126 RBI. In addition to all this, signing Rendon away from the NL East rival Washington Nationals would make the signing extra sweet for Philadelphia.
It’s widely believed that Rendon will get a contract that has an annual value of at least $30 million this offseason, and as the above article reports, that would put the Phillies above the $208 million luxury tax. It’s hard not to see the aggressive pursuit of Rendon as a sign of desperation for a franchise that has sat out of the postseason for the last seven straight years.
On top of that, the Phillies likely wouldn’t be done shopping, as they could use more pitching help. This is where top prospect Alec Bohm would come in. The 23-year-old third baseman could be ready to contribute in the majors in 2020, and if the Phillies were to have Rendon at third, that would put them in a position to trade Bohm in a package for a quality starting pitcher. While Bohm could be a star, it looks like the Phillies are done being patient enough to wait him out.
Signing Rendon won’t be easy, with several other teams in on him, including the team he’s spent his entire career with, the Nationals. Yet with the team so aggressively pursuing him, it looks like the Phillies are again going all-in for 2020. Will it work this time? All we can say right now is that adding Rendon to that lineup would put the Phillies among the National League favorites next season.