3 questions facing Phillies this offseason

3 questions facing Phillies this offseason

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies spent nearly the entire month of October searching for a new manager.

But now vacation time is over. With the Fall Classic finished, the offseason has begun. While free agents cannot sign with other teams until Monday at 5 p.m. ET, they can start to talk to other teams at 9 a.m. ET on Thursday.

The Phillies could be making a few calls. They need pitching help, and there are some intriguing names available. Still, the Phils are also not expected to shoot for top-tier free-agent pitchers like Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta. They still have their sights on the deeply talented free-agent market following the 2018 season, which could include Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

They would rather empty their bank account then.

"Ultimately, they're OK with it with one proviso: that if an opportunity presents itself, we do not exclude it," said Phillies president Andy MacPhail, when asked if the Phils' ownership is fine with a relatively low payroll in 2018. "They understand the program. They've been making the right investments over time and they will be rewarded. I can't tell you when or the date it's all going to click in, nobody can. But they are invested in the program."

Free agents: Infielder Andres Blanco, righty Clay Buchholz, outfielders Hyun Soo Kim and Daniel Nava.

Arbitration-eligible players: Third baseman Maikel Franco, shortstop Freddy Galvis, righty Luis Garcia, second baseman Cesar Hernandez and catcher Cameron Rupp.

How much pitching do they get?
Aaron Nola is the only true lock to make next season's rotation, because other starters on the 40-man roster either will be coming back from injuries or have not proven themselves enough to seal a job. That group includes Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Ben Lively, Jake Thompson and Mark Leiter Jr.

Free-agent starters like Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and Jhoulys Chacin make sense. But would the Phillies settle for just one veteran starter or try for two? You can never have too much pitching. So the idea of bringing in two established starters to join Nola, while allowing the rest of the group compete in Spring Training for the final two jobs, would be fun.

Will they trade any of their infielders?
The Phils have a nice problem on their hands. They have infielders Galvis, Hernandez, Franco, Rhys Hoskins, Tommy Joseph and J.P. Crawford on the 40-man roster. Triple-A prospect Scott Kingery could be on the 40-man early next season. That is too many infielders, but Philadelphia could use some of them to help acquire pitching. Keep an eye on that.

Hoskins' two-run dinger

Any surprises?
The Phillies are getting to the point where they could bundle some of their top young talent to make a run at a more upper-tier pitcher or position player. While those trades are difficult to pull off, it would not be surprising if it happened.

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.