Dombrowski discusses free agents, Harper

Dombrowski discusses free agents, Harper

Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski is spending his time this week at GM meetings laying the groundwork for one of the organization’s most anticipated offseasons in years.

It’s no longer a franchise trying to break a playoff drought.

This is about a franchise trying to take the final step and win a World Series.

Dombrowski met with reporters Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Phillies’ offseason. Some highlights:

Turner would be an incredible addition to the Phillies’ roster, and there’s rumors he’d like to return to the East Coast. But Carlos Correa, Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson are also free agents. If the Phillies land one of the four, they would move Bryson Stott from shortstop to second base.

“We have complete flexibility to do whatever we want,” Dombrowski said. “That’s how I would answer that question. We’ll see what happens.

“Jean did a good job for us. We thought the option price was high. … It really gives us complete flexibility in what we want to do in the middle field. We have a young player in Stott who we really like. He can play short or second. We also have a young player in [Edmundo] Sosa that we like very much. We believe that even though we haven’t signed Jean and done nothing else, internally, we have some answers ourselves. But it also gives us, as the winter progresses, complete flexibility to make additions as we see fit.

Dombrowski said they could re-sign Segura, but a reunion seems unlikely. Dombrowski almost certainly knows it’s up to the Phillies to make offensive changes. The Phils ranked seventh in baseball in scoring (747 points) and eighth in OPS (.739) this season, but they also set a World Series record with 71 strikeouts and had just nine hits in the last three games, all of which were losses.

“There are four very good shortstops there, right?” Dombrowski said. “I wouldn’t go into detail about which ones we like, but we all like them, as I think probably all baseball clubs. It’s not a revelation. We all like them.

What about finances?
The Phillies had a record franchise payroll in 2022, topping the competitive payroll tax for the first time in franchise history. To sign someone like Turner and fill other holes on the roster, as well as expected increases in salary arbitration, they may have to get past CBT again.

It seems almost inevitable.

“I would just say that I don’t think we’re looking to cut our wages,” Dombrowski said. “But I’m not really going to make any specific statement. … We have our budget in place. We certainly have the freedom to…we’ve had a lot of money come out. Our owners want us to do well. They are very aggressive in this regard.

What’s up with Bryce?
Bryce Harper will have the UCL torn right elbow assessed by renowned orthopedic surgeon Neal ElAttrache on Monday. The next step could be anything from no surgery, which seems unlikely, to Tommy John surgery to something in between, like the elbow surgery that Rhys Hoskins had for his elbow no pitcher after the 2020 season.

Don’t let Tommy John scare you. That doesn’t mean Harper would miss 2023. Shohei Ohtani had Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1, 2018. He returned to DH for the Angels on May 7, 2019.

“Of course they all have different ramifications for us, but there’s nothing we can do until we find out,” Dombrowski said.

Is everyone healthy?
“We have nothing serious,” Dombrowski said. Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler said after the World Series he was in good health. There had been concerns after he missed a month late in the season with tendonitis in his right forearm, then struggled in Game 2 of the series, before bouncing back in Game 6.

On rotation…
Dombrowski said the Phillies “don’t have a lot of special needs” because everyone but Segura is expected to return to the lineup and Wheeler, Aaron Nola and Ranger Suárez will be the top three starters in the rotation.

Dombrowski said he’d like to create a spot in the rotation for one of the team’s young starters, which includes lefties Bailey Falter and Cristopher Sánchez and top pitcher Andrew Painter. Casting hopefuls Mick Abel and Griff McGarry will also get a preview in the spring.

“We have young pitchers that we really like,” Dombrowski said. “I hope one of them [gets a job].”

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