The Philadelphia Phillies were this season’s Cinderella team if you will. After starting the season 21-29, they went on a tear, completely turning things around and making the postseason.
In October, they continued to win. They defeated the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS before taking out the star-studded San Diego Padres in the NLCS. It was their first World Series appearance since 2008.
However, it just wasn’t meant to be. Philadelphia ran into the juggernaut Houston Astros in the Fall Classic. And when the dust settled, the Astros celebrated their second World Series championship.
This offseason represents an opportunity for the Phillies to gear up for another crack at a ring. But the 2023 season will be a bit challenging. Superstar Bryce Harper is having surgery on his elbow this offseason and could miss time next season.
Furthermore, three of Philadelphia’s starting pitchers are currently free agents. There is also a bit of turnover in the bullpen and in the infield.
Who can the Phillies target to plug the holes in their lineup? Who can help the team push for another World Series birth? Here are three under-the-radar options for Philadelphia to consider.
3 sneaky MLB free agents the Phillies must target
3) Shortstop Jose Iglesias
The Phillies will need a shortstop this offseason. Jean Segura is hitting the open market and seems unlikely to return. Meanwhile, backup Bryson Scott is likely making a move to second base, where he profiles better defensively.
Enter Jose Iglesias, an MLB veteran who spent last season with the Colorado Rockies. He hit .292 last season while driving in 47 runs in 118 games.
The veteran shortstop actually hit better away from Coors Field last season. He hit .315 on the road compared to a .264 clip at home.
Of course, the Phillies likely have their eyes on one of the big ticket free agent shortstops. Trea Turner, in particular, is a popular name connected to Philadelphia so far.
However, if they miss out on one of the top guys, Iglesias is not a bad fallback option. He is a very solid defensive shortstop and has the ability to hit for average while knocking in around 50 runs a season.
2) Pitcher Zack Britton
The Phillies also need some reinforcements in the bullpen. David Robertson is a free agent, and the 37-year-old will have no shortage of suitors. Brad Hand, Corey Knebel, and Chris Devinski have also hit the open market.
For a time, there was no more dominant pitcher in the game of baseball than Zack Britton. I will even include starting pitchers in that conversation. When Britton entered the game, it was over. That was it.
From 2014 to 2020, Britton pitched to a simply unbelievable 1.84 ERA. He was even fourth in American League Cy Young voting in 2016 after pitching to an unhittable 0.54 ERA.
However, injuries have since plagued the soon-to-be 35-year-old. He has pitched just 38 innings since the shortened 2020 season. Britton made three appearances last season for the New York Yankees, but was shut down due to shoulder fatigue.
There is no guarantee he regains the Cy Young contending form he had back in the mid-2010s. Despite that, it’s worth taking a chance to see if there is still something left for the old veteran to give.
If Britton pitches even half as well as he once did, it would be a major bargain for the Phillies.
1) Pitcher Taijuan Walker
The Phillies currently have Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, and Zack Wheeler slated to start games in the majors this year. One of the remaining two spots may go to a pitcher already in the organization. Perhaps Mick Abel, one of their top pitching prospects, makes the team.
The other spot is likely to be filled outside the organization. Taijuan Walker is an interesting option for the Phillies, who hit the open market after two seasons with the New York Mets.
Walker has long been seen as someone with potential. In 2022, he showed why. He pitched to a 12-5 record with a 3.49 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.
Health was a major concern for Walker in recent years. However, he made 58 starts for the Mets after signing before the 2021 season. The 30-year-old made an All-Star appearance in 2021 as well.
Walker is not one of the sexier options on the market. The concerns about his health may never go away. And he has shown some inconsistencies in the past.
However, the veteran is a solid pitcher who can fortify the middle or even back end of the rotation. When healthy, Walker provides a steady and reliable presence and can win the games you need him to.