Philadelphia Baseball Review Mailbag: Harper, Trout, and expectations in 2019

Philadelphia baseball mailbag featuring Bryce Harper and Mike Trout
The Phillies have dominated the baseball world over the past week with the addition of Bryce Harper on a 13-year deal worth $330-million. It's a move that signifies a new look for an organization that's looking to clinch a divisional title and a National League pennant.

Here are three questions that came my way over the past week.

Now with Bryce Harper in the fold, are the Phillies a favorite to at least reach the World Series? Chris M.

For me, it comes down to two things - will the starting pitching hold up, and can manager Gabe Kapler stay out of the way. Looking at the rotation, you know what you're going to get with Aaron Nola, but beyond him, there are some question marks. Will Jake Arrieta improve on last year's performance? Can Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez finally make the jump to consistent middle-of-the-rotation arms? Up and down the roster, the rotation to me is the biggest question.

As for Kapler, he now has a starting lineup full of former All-Stars and veterans. He has to let them do their thing and not over analyze or micro-manage. If Kapler's name is in the headlines in late-April, it'll probably be a sign that things aren't going well.

General manager Matt Klentak did his job this past offseason bringing in the talent, so if things go south what'll happen to him? Matt Y.

For the foreseeable future, Klentak is safe. He pulled off an outstanding offseason and brought Philadelphia one of the greatest generational talents to play on a baseball diamond in Harper. He may not dominate every category on the leaderboard, but he'll make every night in South Philadelphia entertaining when he's on the field. That said, the pressure now is squarely on Kapler. He has the ensemble to do more than compete, and he has a year of managing in Philadelphia under his belt. His leash will be trimmed considerably if the Phillies get off to a lackluster start.

Mike Trout has to want to come to Philadelphia, right? Michelle P.

This question - or a variation - came my way over two dozen times in the span of the last three days. It's safe to assume Trout would have a sincere interest in coming to Philadelphia when his current contract ends in two years, however, I'm not willing to definitively say he'll be roaming the outfield with Harper come April 2021. First, it's possible (though seemingly unlikely) that the Angels come through with a ridiculous offer - likely to be the largest contract offer ever - in an attempt to keep him in Anaheim. It's also possible if the Angels realize Trout isn't overly interested in staying that the organization trades him away and receives a haul of prospects in return.

Of course, the Phillies would be interested in bringing Trout to Philadelphia, but in my estimation right now the farm-system doesn't have the blue-chip talent the Angels will want in a deal involving Trout. If he hits the open market as a free-agent, chaos will ensue and it's likely the Phillies would be one of several suitors throwing crazy money his way.

I think the Phillies are positioned nicely to make a legitimate run at Trout when he hits free agency, but I think it's far too presumptuous to assume Philadelphia as a favorite without knowing the statuses of other interested clubs.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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