The Phillies starting five is becoming thinner as Spring Training goes on. With little over two weeks remaining until opening day, the Phillies may need to make one more pivotal move. Helping to take the newly reinforced Phillies team into the 2019 season. Therefore, bringing the Phillies to the possible pursuit of Gio Gonzalez.
Starting pitcher depth
Opening day starter Aaron Nola will lead the Phillies as the ace. Nine-year veteran Jake Arrieta will follow Nola as the number two in the rotation. Posting a record of 10-11 with a 3.96 era in 2018. As a result, Arrieta will look to return more towards his career average era of 3.62.
To fill out the rotation the Phillies have a lot of youth, talent, and what’s been more obvious inconsistency. Nick Pivetta (26), Zach Eflin (24), and Vince Velasquez (26) are the next three in order on the Phillies depth chart. After pitching in 33 games in 2018, Pivetta has had a strong spring training coming into his third Major League season. Furthermore, after his first two starts, this Spring Training Pivetta has an impressive 2.84 era in a bid to lock up the number three spot in the rotation.
Eflin is the only pitcher out of the three who posted a winning record in 2018 at 11-8. Along with Pivetta, Eflin also has posted solid numbers in his first two starts this spring with a 1.59 era. Unfortunately, Velasquez is again trending in the wrong direction. The super athletic pitcher got his second start of the spring on March 11th inflating his era to 18.00.
After Velasquez, the Phillies have extremely young and inexperienced pitchers at the Major League level. Jerad Eickhoff in four seasons has pitched in only 68 total games. Injuries have plagued him and his pursuit to pitch in the rotation. Following Eickhoff, you have minor leaguers Enyel De Los Santos and Ranger Suarez.
Phillies financial situation
In a league that has no salary cap, the luxury cap becomes a big part for the Phillies front office and management. Hence as of now, the Phillies are estimated to be $17 million below the $206 million luxury tax threshold. To stay below doesn’t give the Phillies much flexibility for high market free agents.
The Phillies are in win-now mode after a huge offseason. Furthermore, as a win-now team, they will want to keep some flexibility to make a move at the deadline for any opportunity to fill a void. If the Phillies go over the luxury tax for the first time they pay 20%. The second time is 30% and for the third time and after they pay a crippling 50% with an extra 12% added on at any point if they’re 20 million over. The effects of the luxury tax are very costly and as a result, deter teams from exceeding the threshold.
Gonzalez over Dallas Keuchel
The chatter among fans for Keuchel remains strong. For the Phillies management Keuchel is in search of a large multiyear contract for possibly a minimum of $15 million plus per year. Consequently, If the Phillies were to sign him for the $15 million per deal that would put the Phillies on the doorstep of luxury tax making it an unlikely match.
At this point in Gonzalez’s career, he is a middle to end of the rotation guy. A pursuit of the former National would immediately help balance out the Phillies starting five with being the only left-hander. At the age of 33 years old, he brings a career 3.69 era with him. Furthermore, he has averaged 32 starts over his past four seasons helping with stability. Very importantly Gonzalez’s contract demands would be a lot more favorable for the Phillies.
Gonzalez gives the Phillies what they need at this point to help erase another question mark on the roster. He has the right qualities for the middle of this rotation and in addition, the veteran leadership to also help the young Phillies pitchers further develop. This match would also give Gonzalez a familiar role he had success within the National League East where he spent seven years of his career. This may not be the sexy choice but if the Phillies decide they must add a free agent pitcher now the pursuit of Gonzalez makes a lot of sense.
Feature Image by Heidi via Flickr
Stats via Baseball-Reference.com
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