As Phillies fans wait out another October without playoff baseball, there are still reasons to watch. Both National League Divisional Series have been exciting and will go to winner-take-all Game Fives.
There are several players Phillies fans should keep a close eye on throughout the playoffs, soon-to-be free agents who could make a big impact or play a role.
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RHP Stephen Strasburg (WSH)
Strasburg can opt out this offseason of the final three years of his contract.
Why wouldn't he? Because he's owed $45 million in the last year, 2023.
Why would he? Because he's owed only $15 million in the other two years, totaling $75 million over three years. If Strasburg hit the open market, he would absolutely earn more than $75 million over three years.
Strasburg had a tremendous 2019 season. He went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA and led the NL with 209 innings. He struck out 251 batters and allowed just 24 home runs, a low rate in the year of the juiced ball.
Strasburg has also continued to dominate in the playoffs. In 28 postseason innings, he has allowed two runs (0.64 ERA) and struck out 38.
He could be an intriguing alternative to Gerrit Cole in free agency. Strasburg is two years and two months older than Cole and will cost less.
Strasburg is, like Cole and Anthony Rendon, a Scott Boras client.
RHP Gerrit Cole (HOU)
Cole's price tag continues to soar. After going 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and striking out 326 batters in 212⅓ innings, he dazzled while the entire baseball world was watching in Game 2 of the ALDS. Cole struck out 15 Rays over 7⅔ scoreless innings.
Cole's payday should exceed the $217 million Boston committed to David Price before the 2016 season. He is a more accomplished pitcher and is a year younger than Price was at that time.
If forced to guess right now, I'd say eight years, $240 million for Cole.
3B Anthony Rendon (WSH)
Another player whose contract this offseason could approach $300 million. Nolan Arenado's extension in February cost the Rockies $260 million over eight years. Rendon's offense and defense is just as good and his baserunning is better.
Arenado is known as a dynamic defender and still makes flashy plays, but the various defensive metrics peg Rendon as a similar gloveman the last couple years.
3B Josh Donaldson (ATL)
Donaldson signed a one-year, $23 million prove-it deal with the Braves and then he proved it.
The Bringer of Rain went deep 37 times and drove in 94 runs, coming close to his peak from 2015-17. He walked 100 times and provided solid protection for Freddie Freeman.
Donaldson turns 34 in December. He will likely be looking for three years but might not get that many. The Phillies should explore a two-year deal with a high AAV. Even with Alec Bohm almost ready to go, adding Donaldson could be a bridge-gapping move or one that potentially makes Rhys Hoskins expendable in a trade for starting pitching.
LHP Wade Miley (HOU)
Miley was the latest pitcher to find his groove in Houston. He went 14-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 33 starts for the Astros, and that ERA is deceiving because Miley allowed 21 earned runs in 11⅓ innings in September when Houston had a comfortable lead for home-field advantage.
Miley, though, is not as effective as most of his 2019 indicates. He doesn't go deep into games, struggles the third time through an order and needs a bit of luck with men in scoring position. The Phillies should let another team grab him this winter. They don't need another pitcher with low velocity who doesn't miss many bats.
LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD)
Ryu will be a free agent after spending his first six seasons with the Dodgers. Ryu is comfortable in L.A. and it is difficult to envision the Dodgers not bringing him back.
RHP Daniel Hudson (WSH)
A 32-year-old right-handed reliever who was brilliant in 25 post-trade-deadline innings with the Nationals, posting a 1.44 ERA. Washington will likely try to bring him back.
LHP Aroldis Chapman (NYY)
He can opt out of the remaining two years and $30 million of his contract but only if he feels he can get a better deal, which would be too rich for the Phils given their other needs.
OF Brett Gardner (NYY)
Would be an interesting veteran and extra man to add for a Phillies team that faces uncertainty in center field.
Utilityman Eric Sogard (TB)
Solid bench piece coming off his best year (.290 BA, .810 OPS). Can play second, third, short and both outfield corners.