- 2B Cesar Hernandez
- LF Howie Kendrick
- CF Odubel Herrera
- 3B Maikel Franco
- RF Michael Saunders
- 1B Tommy Joseph
- SS Freddy Galvis
- C Cameron Rupp
- RHP Jeremy Hellickson
- RHP Jerad Eickhoff
- RHP Clay Buchholz
- RHP Vince Velasquez
- RHP Aaron Nola
The Phillies will surprise everyone and finish in third place, but they're more like a wrapped present under the tree. Fans will just have to sit and stare at it for eight months, wondering what the next contending Phillies team will look like. They’ll have the payroll and the direction, and they'll be the bullies of next offseason. They might even win the offseason, just like the White Sox, Marlins, Padres, and Blue Jays of years past, and you know just how much that means.
Until then, they’ll have to figure out which of these hitters they’re bringing along with them. Odubel Herrera and Maikel Franco seem like keepers, and Cesar Hernandez and Tommy Joseph are young and talented enough to contribute to the next good Phillies team. J.P. Crawford will fill their most glaring lineup hole with aplomb, and they’ll have a few months to sift through the spoils of the Cole Hamels trade.
And while they’re doing all this, they won’t be losing too many 7-0 games. The pitching is too good, too promising. This is a team that’s a freaky breakout season or two away from being relevant in September. It’s hard to have that much imagination right now, but there’s enough latent talent on the 40-man roster to give them a chance with an above-average rotation, so it’s possible.
Just not likely. It’ll be another year, but isn’t it refreshing to have the barge pointed in the right direction?— Grant Brisbee
The Phillies convinced the Red Sox to give them Clay Buchholz back in December, and while no one will like him because that's basically Buchholz's brand, he could still end up being a super useful piece in the rotation. Once his mechanics were straightened out in 2016, he was a valuable starter for the Red Sox once again, posting a 3.17 ERA over his last 48 innings. Now he doesn't have to face the DH or the AL East all the time, and if the Phils can keep him going, he might be someone they can deal at the deadline and get more back for than they gave up.
All additions: Clay Buchholz, Howie Kendrick, Joaquin Benoit, Pat Neshek, Pat Venditte
Ryan Howard was no longer the player who helped bring the Phillies to two World Series and a World Series championship, but he was still that person, so watching his descent was still a struggle. The extension that Ruben Amaro signed him to what seems like forever ago is over, though, and with Howard gone, the Phillies can truly start fresh.
All departures: Ryan Howard, Charlie Morton, Darin Ruf, Darnell Sweeney,
The Phillies have the whole young pitching thing figured out already, and in 2017, the hitting comes around, too. Bringing Michael Saunders in helps, as does not having to find at-bats for Ryan Howard anymore, but Maikel Franco taking that next step and joining Odubel Herrera as a young player who looks like they'll be a key piece of the Phillies going forward would help, and getting top prospect J.P. Crawford into the lineup in place of Freddy Galvis will, too. If the young pitching is there and the young hitting joins it, it won't matter if the Phillies finish well under .500 in 2017: we'll see in real-time that their future is getting brighter and the rebuild is working.
The Phillies are relying heavily on the health and success of young starting pitchers while waiting for their young hitters to catch up. It's both necessary and risky given where they are, and could go wrong in a number of ways! Like, for example, the pitchers not being healthy or successful and the hitting continuing to lag far behind. At least, even in a darker timeline, the Phillies still have a ton of money to spend on free agents and trades following 2017.