The Phillies’ inactive offseason slogged to another milepost Friday when they offered contracts to their five arbitration-eligible players, although it is likely some of them will not be Phillies in 2018.
Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco, Cameron Rupp, and Luis Garcia will all receive sizable raises for next season. But both Galvis and Hernandez could be traded as the Phillies attempt to piece together their future infield that might include emerging talents J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery.
The task, now, is to reach a middle ground with Galvis and Hernandez on their contracts. Teams typically do not want to trade for an arbitration-eligible player before his situation is rectified; front offices spend a considerable amount of time on arbitration preparation and would not welcome an unknown. Once that is settled, the Phillies could see a spike in interest. Or not.
Galvis, who will be a free agent after the 2018 season, made $4.35 million last season. The 28-year-old shortstop could see a bump in his salary to $7 million. Hernandez, 27, could double his $2.55 million salary from 2017. The Phillies have shopped both players to other teams this winter.
Franco, Rupp, and Garcia are first-time arbitration players. The Phillies are committed to riding Franco, 25, for another season before deciding on his future. Franco qualified for Super Two status, which means he will have four years of salary arbitration rather than the standard three. Franco could make $3 million in 2018.
Garcia, signed in 2013 out of independent ball, enjoyed his best season in the majors. The 30-year-old reliever had a 2.65 ERA and reduced walk rate in 71 1/3 innings. He floundered, at times, in higher-leverage situations. He’ll make more than $1 million in 2018.
Rupp was uncertain to be retained. The 29-year-old catcher started just eight of the team’s final 29 games. Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp are younger with a higher upside. But Rupp is a catcher and he has a minor-league option remaining.
That dynamic could create a competition in the spring between Knapp and Rupp for the backup job, with the loser bound for triple A. Rupp has not played in the minors since 2014.
“We can’t allow ourselves to fall into the trap of ‘the roster on Opening Day is the roster for the whole year,’ ” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said last month. “More than likely, we’re going to need more than two catchers. We’ve been very fortunate for the last two years to have health behind the plate. But that doesn’t always happen.
“Carrying three young catchers on the 40-man roster — if that’s what we end up doing — is really no trouble. Two of those players, Rupp and Knapp, have options. Alfaro is the only one who does not. It’s not ideal to option young players who we think are major-leaguers. But, the flexibility is there.”
The Phillies are not blessed with catching depth in the upper minors, which factored into the Rupp equation. They re-signed Logan Moore to a minor-league deal and will insert him at triple-A Lehigh Valley. They lost Chace Numata, who was the catcher at double-A Reading, to the Yankees on a minor-league deal. Another, Nick Rickles, is a minor-league free agent.
That is a trivial problem for a rebuilding club like the Phillies, who have many roster holes but will adopt a conservative approach to this winter’s dealings.