The Philadelphia Phillies turned some serious heads when they first inked outfielder Kyle Schwarber to a four-year, $79 million contract a few days ago. It was a big-time addition to a lineup that already boasted Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, and Rhys Hoskins. It felt like Schwarber’s elite on-base ability could be the missing piece in Philly.
Then, all hell broke loose.
No more than two days later, rumors began emerging that the Phillies were still interested in adding. They inked All-Star outfielder Nick Castellanos to a five-year, $100 million deal late Friday night, adding the final touches to a lineup that now projects to be one of the best in the National League.
Here’s a look at why this late spurge of aggressive from Dave Dombrowski was the perfect offseason move.
Bryce Harper finally has lineup protection
For most of his Phillies career, Bryce Harper has been asked to do some seriously heavy lifting. There have been times where Realmuto or Hoskins heat up, taking the pressure off Harper. However, as we saw down the stretch in 2021, there were far too many instances of Harper being the only threat in the lineup.
Too often did opposing pitchers simply pitch around or intentionally walk Harper, eliminating his potential for production.
Adding an elite leadoff hitter to the lineup in Schwarber was an excellent first step toward fixing this problem. However, the addition of Castellanos really hammers it home. Castellanos will likely bat cleanup for the Phillies — directly behind Harper.
Seeing as Castellanos is coming off a 2021 campaign where he slashed .309/.362/.576, it’s hard to imagine opposing pitchers working around Harper to face Castellanos. He’s simply too big of a threat, which will result in a significant increase in pitches in the zone for Harper.
The Phillies’ defense may have got better?
The Phillies defense is going to be a problem in 2022. There’s no way around that reality. The Phillies had one of the worst defenses in baseball last year, and now they have two extra designated hitters in the lineup.
With that said, Castellanos is a slight defensive upgrade compared to Schwarber, who was likely to be the Phillies’ primary left fielder before Friday night’s signing.
Castellanos is by no means a good (or even average) defender. However, he’s more athletic than Schwarber and has the positional flexibility to bounce down to third base in a pinch. It’s a very, very minor upgrade to the team’s defensive makeup, but an upgrade nevertheless. Schwarber being allowed to spend most of his time at first base or in the DH spot is good news.
Nick Castellanos brings some much-needed fire to the Phillies’ clubhouse
Castellanos’ elite bat is why the Phillies handed him $100 million. However, it’s worth noting that Castellanos’ personality is arguably just as big of an addition.
He’s a highly fiery individual who can frequently be found bat-flipping, chirping the opposition, and hyping up his teammates. The Phillies’ organization has sorely missed this type of attitude over the past few years. They’ve desperately needed someone to yell and scream during those slow afternoon games in late July and early August.
Castellanos feels like the perfect man for the job.
No matter how you slice it, this is a homerun type of move (pun intended) for Dombrowski and the Phillies. Castellanos checks off all the boxes, and the Phils landed him for a reasonable price.
All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference.