The presumption when the Phillies opened spring training in Clearwater last month was that highly-touted top prospect Scott Kingery would not be on the team’s Opening Day roster. After hitting .392 over 51 spring at-bats in which he’s posted an absurd 1.141 OPS, the plan has changed:
Scott Kingery has made the Opening Day roster, according to a source.
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) March 25, 2018
But wait. There’s more! The Phillies have signed Kingery to a six-year contract worth $24 million that will run through his arbitration eligible years:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 25, 2018
Matt Gelb reports there’s also a team-option built into the deal:
Scott Kingery has signed a six-year contract. There are club options for his first three free-agent years —2024, 2025 and 2026.
— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) March 25, 2018
I imagine Kingery learned of his promotion in unique fashion. I picture Matt Klentak, Odubel Herrera, Jake Arrieta and Gabe Kapler forming a Conga Line to the Vengaboys “We Like to Party,” slowly moving around the clubhouse before scooping up an unknowing Kingery. Kapler then whispers softly in the rookie’s ear, “Congratulations, Scott.”
That’s when he knew.
Anyway, the move is almost unprecedented, as Kingery becomes only the second player to sign such a deal prior to making his big league debut.
Control and service time? Screw it. Best player plays. Perform. Get rewarded. But this move is about more than doing right by Kingery. It’s yet another culture-shifting statement by the Phillies that they are going to do what it takes to put the best product on the field, conventional wisdom be damned. It’s also a statement that puts the rest of baseball on notice. The Phillies are about to bust out their collective unit and windmill it about.
In the past 15 days, Matt Klentak’s front office has injected pure adrenaline into a season that not so long ago had a bizarre dearth of anticipation ahead of it. Now? Personally, I’m all in.
I say this free of hyperbole. After a six-year hiatus from relevance in this city’s sports scene, baseball is back.
And about that aforementioned conventional wisdom? It suggested we would not see Kingery at the start of the season on the big club, because, you know, the system is what it is. But maybe we should have known this was coming all along. Gabe Kapler talked about doing things in a different way and it was abundantly clear from the jump that there’s nothing conventional about what this team wants to do moving forward.
While there is not, at least at the moment, an obvious position open for Kingery, it seems like a safe bet that he will bounce around the diamond and get at least three or four starts per week.
You don’t do this deal and bring him up to use him in a traditional bench role. Many assume the bulk of those starts will come at third base. Ironically, Maikel Franco just launched his sixth homer of the spring as I write this article. Stay tuned on that front.