Can Phillies get Daryl Morey-like immediate impact? A checklist for next president of baseball operations

Sean Kane
·6 min read

Can Phils get Morey-like immediate impact? A checklist for next president of baseball ops originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Look no further than last Wednesday to see what kind of impact a new executive can have on an organization. 

Just two weeks after taking the job, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey got to work remodeling the roster on NBA draft day. 

Morey shipped Al Horford and his bloated contract to the Thunder and got a quality shooter in Danny Green in return. He sent the miscast Josh Richardson and a second-round pick to Dallas in exchange for one of the best shooters in the league, Seth Curry. Morey also drafted three promising prospects in Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe and Paul Reed. 

Morey's motives were clear — surround All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons with pieces that complement them, specifically shooters. Suddenly the 76ers have a plan for how they will move forward, something that couldn't be said a few weeks ago. 

They have Morey to thank for that.

Might we see the same thing happen with the Phillies? At the moment, the Phillies are searching for someone to head up their baseball operations department. 

Our Jim Salisbury reported the team has gathered information on candidates and is moving into the interview stage of the search. 

There's always a chance Ned Rice could continue serving as the interim GM for the duration of this offseason under team president Andy MacPhail. But things seem to be trending toward the team hiring a president of baseball operations in the coming weeks. 

How can the new hire make the same type of immediate impact that Morey made with the 76ers? It won't be easy. The Phillies are coming off a disappointing 2020 season, finishing 28-32 and failing to qualify for an expanded postseason field.    

Here are a few suggestions on how a new president of baseball operations could get the Phillies back on track. 

Be disciplined with J.T.

This is the obvious first order of business for whoever the Phillies hire. It will be important to stay disciplined with this decision and not be swayed by public perception. 

The fans want free agent J.T. Realmuto back regardless of the price tag. More importantly, franchise cornerstone Bryce Harper wants Realmuto back. It's easy to understand why — Realmuto, who turns 30 in March, is the best catcher in baseball and one of the unquestioned leaders in the Phillies' clubhouse. 

But that doesn't mean you should throw a blank check at him. There will likely be several teams with deep pockets bidding for his services. If you can re-sign Realmuto to a reasonable deal, do it. But if the price gets driven up north of five years and $125 million, have the discipline to walk away. 

The Phillies finished last season with the 10th-best record in the NL. They have a lot of holes to fill. 

Forking over a $130 million contract to one player probably isn't the best approach. Particularly with the economic uncertainty that the Phillies are dealing with right now. 

Bring back Didi

Realmuto isn't the only key Phillies player from last season exploring free agency. Shortstop Didi Gregorius is on the market after hitting .284 with 10 HRs and a team-leading 40 RBIs last season. 

Unlike Realmuto, it won't take a nine-figure contract to keep Gregorius in a Phillies uniform. Make him an offer in the neighborhood of three years and $45-50 million. 

Gregorius will be 31 years old next season. He still has good years ahead of him. In addition to his production at the plate, he plays a solid shortstop and is a steadying presence in the clubhouse.  

Address the 'pen

This should be obvious to anyone who watched the Phillies last season. There's no need to rehash the numbers. The bullpen was historically bad and cost the Phillies a trip to the postseason. 

First things first, identify anyone from last year's bullpen worth keeping around. There are a few guys who fall into that category — Connor Brogdon, Jojo Romero, Jose Alvarez and Hector Neris. Say goodbye to everyone else.  

Then hit the free agent market in search of difference makers. The Phillies haven't had much luck bringing in veteran relievers in recent years. But there are several enticing names available — Liam Hendricks, Brad Hand, Trevor May and Shane Greene headline the list of free agent bullpen options.

Fortify the rotation

The bullpen isn't the only area of the Phillies' pitching staff that needs to be addressed. There are plenty of questions concerning the starting rotation as well. 

It's fair to expect Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin will be productive starters in 2021. After that, it's anyone's guess. Jake Arrieta is a free agent and won't be back. Spencer Howard's season was cut short by a shoulder injury and he was ineffective when he was on the mound. 

It's probably time to end the Vince Velasquez experiment after five inconsistent seasons.  

So who can the Phillies turn to? 

Adonis Medina is an in-house option. Then there's the free agent market, where the Phillies figure to go shopping for some mid-tier starters. Guys like James Paxton and Mike Minor could make sense on a one-year contract.

Find some outfielders

The Phillies are really thin in the outfield. Other than Bryce Harper, there aren't any outfielders on the roster who you can count on to produce over the course of a 162-game season. 

Andrew McCutchen wasn't anywhere near 100 percent last season after tearing his ACL in June 2019. McCutchen is 34 years old and entering the final year of a three-year, $50 million contract. He still has solid on-base skills and a good amount of pop in his bat. But there's no denying that he's on the downside of his career.

Neither Roman Quinn nor Adam Haseley proved they can be counted on as the centerfielder of the future. Both could get another opportunity to do so in 2021, particularly Haseley, who the club has a lot invested in as the eighth pick of the 2017 draft. 

Scott Kingery's future is likely at second base. Mickey Moniak isn't ready for the big leagues. 

Who can help? Again, an answer could be found on the free agent market. Joc Pederson, Brett Gardner and Jurickson Profar all could be on the Phillies' radar. 

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