Based on high hopes of the young core during the 2018 Phillies season, their shortcomings could be blamed on youth and inexperience.
The 2019 season was plagued by injuries and the lack of making a big splash at the trade deadline.

The Phillies are betting on adding marginal depth and staying healthy in 2020, while the soft luxury tax appears to be John Middleton’s threshold on how much money he is willing to spend on the Phillies.

Zack Wheeler’s 5-year/$118 million contract looks like a steal compared to Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg’s monster deals. If Zack Wheeler can pitch consistently at the level of his second half of 2018 and 2019, he will be a great addition to the top of the Phillies rotation next to Aaron Nola.

In the second half of 2018, Wheeler went 9-1 with a 1.68 ERA over 75.0 IP. In the second half of 2019, he went 5-2 with a 2.83 ERA over 76.1 IP. Wheeler’s fastball velocity is in the 94th percentile in all of baseball and he tends to end his seasons on a high note. Neither of these are things any Phillies pitcher has done well the last two seasons.

Didi Gregorious was a great addition to the Phillies infield. Even though he had a small sample size during the 2019 season, he should easily flourish under previous manager Joe Girardi.

Didi has relevant playoff experience, especially under Girardi, which should be able to set a great clubhouse culture. Didi’s one-year contract allows for long term flexibility for the Phillies to figure out what they want to do with Alec Bohm. The one-year deal allows Didi to create more value going back into free agency in 2020, probably seeking a multi-year deal. 

The 2020 Phillies success may hinge on John Middleton giving Matt Klentak the ability to spend more of his money and go over the luxury tax.
If the Phillies want to compete with the Braves, Nationals, and Mets, this year might depend on if they go over the luxury tax or not. Taking a small penalty is what might make the difference down the road for the Phillies to come the end of the season.

Featured Image: Taiwan News
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