Inbox: Should Phillies sign free-agent starter?

Inbox: Should Phillies sign free-agent starter?

I don't understand why the Phillies aren't going to spend money this offseason. What are they waiting for?
-- Milt K., Beloit, Wis.

I understand the desire to sign a big free agent. It's exciting. It's fun. It sells jerseys. But it really makes no sense right now, particularly when it comes to starting pitchers like Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, etc.

Phillies fans just watched Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt go from National League Cy Young Award-caliber pitchers to ineffective, injury-prone pitchers in the blink of an eye. Why go through that again, knowing the Phillies might not contend until 2019 at the earliest? For example, if they sign one of these free-agent pitchers to a five-year, $100 million contract, it is safe to assume the pitcher's best seasons will come early in the deal when the Phillies are not serious World Series contenders.

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It also is safe to assume that the pitcher, who has logged a ton of innings in the past, is a good candidate to break down or suffer a decline in performance later in the deal, when the Phillies hope to be contenders. So now they've spent a bunch of money on a pitcher's best years when they don't really need him and likely are stuck with his worst years (and his massive contract) when they do need a quality arm in the roation. What's the point in that? It's just not a smart use of money.

The suggestion that the Phillies must strike while these pitchers are available is mistaken. Pitchers are always available, and the Phils have the talent in their farm system to acquire them down the road. They should strike then when they are most likely to get a pitcher's best years when they are legitimate contenders.

The same can be said for the eight position players. Does it make some sense to take a run at first baseman Eric Hosmer and move Rhys Hoskins to left field? Sure, it makes some sense. But it also is not necessary. I prefer to keep some position and payroll flexibility. I prefer to see Hoskins at first base next season and get another look at Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams in the outfield.

I'd also rather get a look at some combination of Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis, Maikel Franco, J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery in the infield than sign somebody like third baseman Mike Moustakas (especially with Manny Machado becoming a free agent following next season).

What is going on with Dylan Cozens? Why wasn't he called up in September?
-- Darrin K., Buffalo, N.Y.

Cozens hit .210 with 27 homers, 75 RBIs and a .710 OPS in 542 plate appearances. He struck out 194 times and walked 58 times. Simply put, if it didn't make sense to promote Williams in Sept. 2016, it didn't make sense to promote Cozens this September. It also didn't make sense to take away playing time from Herrera, Altherr and Williams in the final month of the season. They had earned the playing time.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said early last month: "Dylan Cozens still possesses power that you can't teach. He can hit the ball further than just about anybody in the Minor Leagues. He has struggled more in Triple-A than he did in Double-A. To be perfectly honest, some of that is to be expected with the style of play he possesses. The way the Major League game is shifting now, strikeouts by themselves are not a terrible thing. When accompanied by power and walks, there are plenty of productive big leaguers that strike out a lot.

"Dylan will seek to improve upon that and continue try to increase his walks. He's not a finished product. The good news on that front is that we have two more years of options on him. We have time with Dylan Cozens and we'll use as much of it as we need to get him where he needs to be, but he is still enormously talented."

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.