The Phillies have not made a splash yet in free agency, but are at least taking steps to keep their players in the red pinstripes.
The Phillies tendered offers to Vince Velazquez and Rhys Hoskins, preventing them from being free agents. They also officially agreed to deals with right-handers Seranthony Dominguez ($727,500), Zach Eflin ($4.45 million), David Hale ($850,000), and Héctor Neris ($5 million) and catcher Andrew Knapp ($1.1 million). Thanks to these deals, none of these players will go to arbitration.
The Phillies were always going to bring back Rhys Hoskins, but their tendering of Vinny Velo comes as a bit of a surprise. The key returning piece in former GM Matt Kentak’s opening six-player trade as GM, Velazquez has had more lows than highs in his Phillies career. Velasquez started well, with a 4.16 ERA, a 3.96 FIP and a 101 ERA+ in 24 starts with the Phillies in 2016, but his promise faltered and his output has been a 19-28 record with a 4.99 ERA, a 4.60 FIP, and a 86 ERA+ from 2017-20.
With a new pitching coach in Caleb Cotham, Velasquez needs some guidance as to how best to continue his career. With young arms like Adonis Medina, Spencer Howard, Damon Jones, Ranger Suarez, and Cole Irvin eager to fill the rotation’s back end, and the top 3 of Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler, and Eflin safely entrenched, Velasquez will need to be the talented pitcher we’ve seen, and be him consistently.
Eflin coming back at $4.45 million is a very nice number for a guy who is a still improving #3 starter. Neris and Dominguez will likely be the back end of the bullpen. Dominguez is the big question mark though after his incredibly delayed Tommy John surgery means he won’t pitch until 2022. David Hale is an extra arm and made six appearances with the Phillies last season after being acquired from the Yankees. Knapp is a serviceable backup catcher and a well-liked member of the team. Having him back at just over a million is a fair deal and probably does more for the Phillies than the numbers suggest.
Since free agency opened on November 1st the Phillies have made no significant moves, and still do not have a full-time general manager. We have not heard from a Phillies official since October. J.T Realmuto remains unsigned. It appears the era of “stupid money” is over. Hopefully the era of “thrifty losing” is not beginning.