Inbox: Is adding a lefty on Phillies’ horizon?

Are the Phillies serious about getting a left-handed starter for 2019? If not, why not? Do they think they can contend without one?
— William B., Dublin, Pa.

The Phillies hoped to sign left-handers Patrick Corbin or J.A. Happ, but fell short each time. Corbin wanted too many years. Happ wanted more money than the Phillies wanted to spend. The Phillies could use a solid left-hander to provide more balance and consistency to the rotation. Dallas Keuchel remains available. He would help, but he reportedly has been seeking a five-year contract. I do not see the Phillies traveling down that road, unless he lingers on the market like Jake Arrieta last spring, or if the Phillies fall short in their pursuit of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

Are the Phillies serious about getting a left-handed starter for 2019? If not, why not? Do they think they can contend without one?
— William B., Dublin, Pa.

The Phillies hoped to sign left-handers Patrick Corbin or J.A. Happ, but fell short each time. Corbin wanted too many years. Happ wanted more money than the Phillies wanted to spend. The Phillies could use a solid left-hander to provide more balance and consistency to the rotation. Dallas Keuchel remains available. He would help, but he reportedly has been seeking a five-year contract. I do not see the Phillies traveling down that road, unless he lingers on the market like Jake Arrieta last spring, or if the Phillies fall short in their pursuit of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

:: Submit a question to the Phillies Inbox ::

I have said this before, but the Phillies believe in their rotation. It pitched pretty well the first four months of last season before stumbling badly the final two. But the Phillies believe in the predictive powers of FIP, combined with another year of experience and an improved defense. They believe pitchers like Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez will be better in 2019.

Still, the Phillies know they have left themselves open for criticism if those pitchers do not pitch as expected. It is a risk they seem willing to take.

I don’t understand all the Harper/Machado hoopla. The Nats couldn’t get it done while they had Harper for [seven] years. I like what the Phillies have done in the offseason so far, at least on paper, and I believe the new and improved lineup gives them a realistic chance at the postseason. But to go beyond that, it requires a bit of luck. Personally, a first-class pitcher in the rotation is what they really need given the new roster. What are your thoughts?
— Chris L., Harrisburg, Pa.

The Nats didn’t win a World Series with Harper and the Orioles didn’t win much with Machado, but it doesn’t mean those two players aren’t two of the best in baseball. The Angels haven’t made the playoffs with Mike Trout since 2014, so does that mean that the Phillies shouldn’t pursue him if he became available? Of course they should, he’s one of the best players in the game.

Superstars in baseball cannot carry a team like superstars in other sports, but it does not mean that they should not be pursued. The Phillies made the right moves from 2009-11, acquiring Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. They were the best team in baseball in 2011. They just did not win the World Series.

The Phillies would be a much better team with Harper or Machado. If they can get one of them, they should.

If the Phillies unload “stupid” money on either Harper or Machado, will there be anything left to continue the rebuild, such as bringing in Trout in the future?
— Pete M., Allentown, Pa.

That’s a very real consideration. If the Phillies fall short with Harper or Machado, they will hope and pray that Trout hits free agency after the 2020 season. But there would be a tremendous risk in pulling back on Harper and Machado this offseason because they think Trout might be available in a couple of years. What if he’s not available? What if he signs an extension with the Angels or signs someplace else? Just because Trout is from South Jersey and has Eagles season tickets doesn’t mean he’s automatically coming to Philly if he becomes a free agent.

If you sign Harper or Machado now, you know you have one of the best players in baseball (and a potential Hall of Famer) for the foreseeable future. If you don’t sign one of them, there are no guarantees they get Trout, Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon or any of the other big-time players set to become free agents in the next couple years.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

from PHI Homepage News https://atmlb.com/2RJM1Bb
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