On Twitter the other day, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Corey Seidman raised the intriguing possibility of the Phils’ signing two second-tier free-agents starters rather than one top-tier starter.
He had no inside knowledge that this would be the Phillies’ strategy, but he made the argument that it could improve the rotation more than a single, big splash signing, getting the club closer to the goal of getting back to the postseason.
Seidman posted a poll seeking feedback. The four choices: Sign Gerrit Cole for $250-$300 million; sign Stephen Strasburg for $160-$175 million; sign Zack Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner for a combined $160 million; and other. No. 3, the combo, received the most votes, at 42 percent.
That’s how I voted, and it’s not because I don’t want Cole or Strasburg. They’d both be great. But the Phillies need at least two free-agent starting pitchers, so quantity is important here, too, as well as quality.
After Aaron Nola, the starters are a mess. Maybe Zach Eflin can serve as the fifth guy, but the two, three and four spots in the rotation are a question mark. (Who knows that the Phils will have in Jake Arrieta next season, and Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are not even mediocre starting pitchers at this point.)
This isn’t like when the Nationals signed Patrick Corbin and slotted him in behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, or the Astros traded in-season for Zack Greinke and made him their third starter after Cole and Justin Verlander. The Phils have way more holes than these World Series finalists.
I also would be happy if they brought back Cole Hamels on a shorter-term deal, even if he didn’t enjoy a 2019 season up to his standards. I think he still can pitch well. Perhaps the team can sign both Hamels and Wheeler, or better yet, Hamels and Cole or Strasburg.
How about Wheeler, Bumgarner and Hamels? Well, at least a fan can dream.
Paula Wolf works in the Opinion section at LNP. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. She also tweets at @PaulaWolfLNP.