LAS VEGAS - The Phillies came into the offseason promising to spend money to add pitching, defense and a power bat for the lineup.
On Tuesday, the second day of baseball’s Winter Meetings at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the Phillies agreed to terms with outfielder Andrew McCutchen on a three-year, $50 million deal, pending a physical.
But even with that kind of spending, reports are that the Phillies are could sign either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado.
Phillies ownership has a target on its back after saying that it would spend “stupidly’’ this offseason.
The Phillies have a new shortstop, Jean Segura, so in their negotiations with Machado, they’d like to ask him to return to third base, his best defensive position. Maybe enough money would do that.
With McCutchen, 32, the Phillies already have a glut of outfielders. Adding Harper would add to the overflow.
McCutchen hit .255 with 20 home runs and 65 RBIs with a .792 OPS last season for the Giants and Yankees.
He isn’t the hitter he was when he played for Pittsburgh and finished in the top five in the National League MVP voting in a four-year span. He won the MVP in 2014, finished third twice and fifth once.
The Phillies aren’t sure if McCutchen will play left or right field with Odúbel Herrera in center. The Phillies moved their left fielder, Rhys Hoskins, to first base when they traded Carlos Santana to the Mariners.
The roster has Roman Quinn, Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr and Herrera in the outfield. Any one of those outfielders could be traded for another starting pitcher.
The match that’s being talked about at the Winter Meetings could be Cleveland, a team that is shopping starting pitchers Trevor Bauer and Cory Kluber and the Indians need outfielders.
Even though the Phillies have money to spend, they couldn’t come up with enough dollars to get lefty starter Patrick Corbin, 29, who signed with the Nationals.
On the free agent market, they’re looking more at J.A. Happ, 36. They are reportedly not high on another free-agent lefty, Dallas Keuchel.
The Phillies were a surprise team in the first half of 2018, but they fell a part after the All-Star break.
They finished 13th in runs (266) and 13th in team ERA (4.50) in the National League after the break.
Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola, who finished third in the NL Cy Young voting, lead the rotation.
The three others in the rotation didn’t offer support. Vince Velasquez had a 5.68 ERA in the final two months, while Zach Eflin was at 5.76 and Nick Pivetta at 5.05.
The Phillies’ analytics say that the pitching will improve if the defense tightens. The defense is better with McCutchen, Segura and Hoskins’ move to first.
The Phillies are also in the mix for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto on the trade market and former Orioles closer Zach Britton for the bullpen.
And there’s a case to be made for the Phillies signing Machado. It checks all the boxes. They have the money and can overpay for to play third. He would help their defense and their lineup.
Plus, how are impatient Phillies fans going to react if ownership, after some heady promises to spend, comes away without a glitzy signing?