Three-years, $60 million range.
That's reportedly what slugger Kyle Schwarber is asking for in free agency, and once the lockout ends, that should be the Phillies' first move.
As Inside the Phillies has previously discussed at length, Schwarber to Philadelphia makes a lot of sense. First, he has ties to the organization through hitting coach Kevin Long, who mentored him during his tenure with the Washington Nationals, and the 28-year-old can also bat leadoff.
MLB Insider Robert Murray addressed this on The Baseball Insiders podcast, "A point that I want to mention too with Schwarber is, he's a perfect fit in Philadelphia," he said. "He can be a leadoff hitter, which is something they desperately need. . . But their hitting coach is Kevin Long, who is the one who unlocked everything with him with the Washington Nationals and basically changed his career. Those guys are extremely close."
Murray claimed he even had a Schwarber to Philadelphia tweet ready in his Twitter drafts, but the deal was unable to be reached before the lockout. "And I believe the interest there was very mutual, but it just, a deal did not happen," he said. "As I said earlier, it always comes down to finances, and that's why a deal was not reached, but one that is firmly on my radar when the CBA is eventually agreed to."
So, Schwarber donning red pinstripes in 2022 sounds promising, but is acquiring the 2021 All-Star and reliever Corey Knebel enough?
Not even close.
Sure, if they sign Schwarber, the Phillies could check left field off of their wish list, and with Knebel, they seem to have closer figured out. But if the Phillies truly wish to be contenders next season, they must go all in.
With the Atlanta Braves fresh off of a World Series championship and Ronald Acuña Jr. coming back (although Freddie Freeman is still un-signed), the New York Mets picking up Starling Marte, Mark Canha, Eduardo Escobar, and Max Scherzer in free agency, and the Miami Marlins adding Avisail Garcia and Joey Wendle, the National League East is sure to be more competitive than it was last season.
They still need a center fielder, preferably one that could satisfy the "middle-of-the-order" bat that president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski listed as a need for the team in the beginning of the offseason. However, if the potential center fielder could make up for average offense with above average defense, it could be worthwhile. Poor defense has arguably plagued the Phillies for as long as their bullpen has, and securing a great defensive outfielder would be huge for the team. Two names the Phillies could look into trading for are Kevin Kiermaier or Ramón Laureano.
They still need to fill out their bullpen. With bullpen staple Héctor Neris gone, and Archie Bradley and Ian Kennedy being free agents, Philadelphia must assess who they still wish to keep or add to their cohort of relievers. The bullpen has been one of the Phillies' weaknesses for years now, and they'd like to avoid another catastrophic 34 blown saves next season.
Pitching was a fairly hot commodity on the market prior to the lockout, meaning if the Phillies wish to acquire decent arms, they might have to spend a bit more then they'd like to. Luckily for Philadelphia, there are still quality arms available to them in free agency once the lockout ends.
They still need to nail down shortstop, but this isn't likely to happen anytime soon. In fact, we probably won't find out what the Phillies' plan is at shortstop until after spring training, whenever that may be. The organization seems to be high on prospect Bryson Stott, especially after an impressive showing across the minors and Arizona Fall League in 2021, but will he be their Opening Day shortstop?
Even if the organization chooses to give Stott more time before awarding him the everyday spot, it wouldn't make a ton of sense to spend big on a top shortstop in free agency. They have greater needs at center field and in the bullpen.
Above all, Dombrowski and the Philadelphia front office must set their sights on ending the decade-long playoff drought for the Phillies. With a top-10 payroll in MLB, and the reigning NL MVP and NL Cy Young runner-up on the roster, missing the postseason is simply unacceptable. The team must go all in after the lockout to avoid wasting the majority of their roster's primes.
More From SI's Inside The Phillies:
- With Knebel, Have the Phillies Found Their Closer?
- Four Fringe Players Phillies Could Sign to Fill the Gaps
- How Did Baseball Wind Up Here? Everything to Know About the Lockout