A Contract Fit for a King
While veterans who have proven themselves to be serviceable still wait for contracts, the Phillies signed a player who doesn’t yet have a major-league row on his FanGraphs page. Scott Kingery has had an outstanding spring, but it is unlikely that’s where the Phillies’ faith is based. Kingery, FanGraphs’ No. 25 prospect, has a Future Value of 55 and now an (almost) unprecedented contract given the timing and amount. His six-year, $24 million guarantee looks like another piece the Phillies are using to open their competitive window and a bet that the 24-year-old’s newly discovered pop, established speed, and exceptional defense will be transferable to the majors.
A start in the minors seemed likely for Kingery, but his team’s new investment in him put him on the Opening Day roster. Manager Gabe Kapler says Kingery will be able to play six different positions. The idea will keep the Phillies’ 2017 second baseman Cesar Hernandez on the field instead of pushing him further into potential trade-piece territory. Having both Kingery and Hernandez on the field should be good for Philadelphia. Hernandez has two consecutive three-plus-win seasons, even if only fans project him to have another in 2018. His on-base percentage during those seasons also put him among elite second basemen. Kingery found believable power in 2018, with 26 home runs to add to his skillset, and like Kingery, Hernandez has seen improvement with each season.
The Phillies have done more than most clubs to improve this offseason. They added Carlos Santana early on, and just as Craig Edwards wondered why they weren’t scooping up players with their considerable payroll space, Philadelphia added Jake Arrieta. By doing so, they’ve shown belief in the roster they’ve constructed -- perhaps a bit ahead of schedule.
The Kingery move is another from a team that wants to contend now. The Phillies might have a shot a Wild Card this year, but they can smell blood in a weak NL East, too, even if they can’t yet see it.