Dallas Keuchel Houston Astros
Dallas Keuchel #60 of the Houston Astros pitcher in the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Minute Maid Park on August 24, 2017 in Houston, Texas. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Now that Manny Machado is off the market, the Philadelphia Phillies are zeroing in on Bryce Harper. Whether or not the organization lands MLB’s top free agent, they could still add one of the best pitchers available before the start of the 2019 season.

There have been rumors for much of the offseason that starter Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel are options for Philadelphia. According to Fancred’s Jon Heyman, that remains the case, and at least one of them could join the Phillies once Harper is signed.

Keuchel might make the most sense for Philadelphia. The team has upgraded the bullpen by signing David Robertson, but they haven’t signed a starting pitcher. The Washington Nationals outbid the Phillies for Patrick Corbin by giving the No.1 starter in free agency $140 million. J.A. Happ decided to re-sign with the New York Yankees instead of joining Philadelphia.

The Phillies could certainly use more help in the bullpen, even after acquiring Robertson. Philadelphia ranked 11th in the National League with a 4.19 ERA from their bullpen in the 2018 season.

Maybe if the Phillies fail to sign Harper they will look to acquire both pitchers. An argument can be made that Philadelphia would be better off signing Keuchel and Kimbrel instead of Harper for the 2019 season. The Phillies have already made several upgrades to the lineup by trading for All-Star hitters Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto, in addition to signing veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen.

Both Keuchel and Kimbrel have likely been hoping to sign nine-figure contracts, but that possibility is looking slim as they remain unsigned with spring training already underway.

Keuchel had a 3.74 ERA last season after being an All-Star in 2017 and 2015. Kimbrel has been selected to seven of the last eight All-Star Games, though he pitched poorly in the second half of last year.

Philadelphia is projected to have the 13th-highest payroll for the upcoming season. Giving Harper $30 million a year would put the Phillies at ninth on the list.

Harper is expected to sign for no less than the $300 million contract Machado was given by the San Diego Padres.