Phillies offseason outlook: Top priorities for the winter

Chris Mekosh, Contributing Writer

     With the 2017 MLB regular season officially in the books, the Philadelphia Phillies have seen a few bright spots shine on the active roster. The debuts of top prospects Rhys Hoskins, J.P. Crawford, and Jorge Alfaro have left the Philly faithful with some hope for the future after a few dismal seasons. With all of the high expectations for the future of this team there are a few things that General Manager Matt Klentak and the rest of the front office need to address in the 2017 offseason before the Phillies can become contenders again.

     First, the Phillies are going to need some help with the starting rotation. Aaron Nola is a lock for the 2018 rotation, but filling in the pieces around him will need to be a focal point during the offseason. Young starters Vince Velasquez and Jered Eickhoff have had disappointing, injury-plagued seasons, but they have also shown potential to back up Nola in the rotation. Looking inside the organization for answers to the pitching conundrum, the Phillies recently called up prospects of Nick Pivetta and Ben Lively. Each player has shown flashes of talent, but they have also shown that they can be really bad. With a batch of fairly good starters hitting the open market this November, the Phillies could be looking towards signing a Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, or a Yu Darvish to help fill in the rest of the rotation.

     In addition to addressing the need for a stronger rotation, Philadelphia will also need to search for a new manager. With the recent transition of Pete Mackanin to a front office role, the Phillies will possibly need to fill some holes along the coaching staff. Former Detroit Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus could possibly be an option. Ausmus and Klentak both have ties to Dartmouth College and both have a heavy focus on analytics. There could also be the internal option of Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ manager Dusty Wathan. Wathan has seen success at both the AA and AAA level and his accomplishments have not gone unnoticed within the organization. Wathan also has great relationships with all of the Phillies new call-ups, as they have all gone through the farm system together. The search for a new manager will definitely be the story of the offseason for the Phillies.

     The Phillies will also need to keep developing their young talent. Rhys Hoskins’ incredible stretch during the last two months of the season have finally given fans something to talk about. Nick Williams has also been consistent this season. He can play every facet of the game well. The recent call-ups J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro have each shown that they can be every day starters for the Phillies. The team is young and the future is bright, but in order for the Phillies to be successful, they need to build off of the highs and learn from the lows that they experienced during the 2017 season.