Doing Some 40 Man Math

On Sunday I got into a large rant about why the Phillies should not keep Alec Asher because of the 40 man roster math. It feels like has been easier to make up a 40 man roster that works as a 40 man roster in terms of protecting players from the Rule 5 draft. So let’s do some basic roster math and actually look at what is available.

To start I made some basic assumptions:

  • No free agents were retained
  • No free agents were signed (this won’t be true but for now we need the spots)
  • Matt Harrison will not be retained for his money

To start I divided the existing roster up into Keep, Cut/FA, and Limbo. Here is the first rough pass.

Cut/FA (16): Elvis Araujo, David Buchanan, Matt Harrison, Jeremy Hellickson, David Hernandez, Frank Herrmann, Dalier Hinojosa, Charlie Morton, Patrick Schuster, A.J. Ellis, Emmanuel Burris, Andres Blanco, Ryan Howard, Darin Ruf, Peter Bourjos, Jimmy Paredes

Limbo (10): Alec Asher, Luis Garcia, Severino Gonzalez, Phil Klein, Colton Murray, Adam Morgan,  Cody Asche, Joely Rodriguez, Jimmy Cordero, Michael Mariot

Keep (18): Zach Eflin, Jerad Eickhoff, Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Neris, Aaron Nola, Edubray Ramos, Jake Thompson, Vince Velasquez, Jorge Alfaro, Cameron Rupp, Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Tommy Joseph, Aaron Altherr, Tyler Goeddel, Odubel Herrera, Roman Quinn

I stayed fairly conservative and threw people in the Limbo bucket if I had any doubt. I am now going to put the Rule 5 eligible players into the Lock and Under Consideration groups. Again being conservative and for now only adding the locks.

Locks (7): Andrew Knapp, Dylan Cozens, Ben Lively, Elniery Garcia, Ricardo Pinto, Nick Williams, Nick Pivetta

Under Consideration (10): Jesmuel Valentin, Malquin Canelo, Andrew Pullin, Drew Anderson, Seranthony Dominguez, Mark Appel, Carlos Tocci, Alberto Tirado, Cameron Perkins, Miguel Nunez

We are off to a good start, that is 25 locks and 20 Limbo and Under Consideration. That is only 5 cuts, right? Before just making some cuts, let’s build a team with this group of players putting all the locks either in the majors or minors. Reminder we are not building to win yet, we are building to utilize roster spots.

Majors: (17)

C: Rupp/Knapp
IF: Joseph/Hernandez/Galvis/Franco
OF: Herrera/Altherr/Quinn
SP: Nola/Velasquez/Eflin/Thompson/Eickhoff
RP: Neris/Gomez/Ramos

Minors: (8)

Hitters: Goeddel/Alfaro/Cozens/Williams
Pitchers: Lively/Garcia/Pinto/Pivetta

A couple things immediately are apparent. We are short 4 bench spots and 4 relief spots. The rotation really could use a veteran arm over say someone like Eflin that bumps everyone down a peg and gives resilience if Nola is not ready. To makes this work one of Alfaro or Knapp needed to be in the majors. The offense is about what the Phillies are running out now, and that just isn’t going to work. We also don’t have 4 bench players in player pool. But let’s start with bullpen. If the Phillies go with their current available resources this is how it plays out for me:

  • Joely Rodriguez – Even if he is not the guy in the end, they need lefty so he is at minimum our placeholder
  • Michael Mariot – Mariot gave up 6 runs to the Mets on August 27, since then 10 G 8 IP 5 H 1 ER 5 BB 11 K. He isn’t particularly good, but the slider is more interesting to me than anyone else.
  • Severino Gonzalez – He is young, he throws hard-ish, this was his first year in relief. He is also bad. Either way this is a righty take up his spot.
  • Phil Klein/Alec Asher/Adam Morgan – What do you want your long man to look like?

For now let’s keep the long men around and cut Colton Murray and Luis Garcia, then send Jimmy Cordero to the minors. The only reason I can see the Phillies not keeping Cordero is if his injury is worse than we think. That brings our total pool down to 43 and our minors at 9 (this is important because our minors are capped at 15). We can now safely say that Cody Asche or Cody Asche’s replacement is going to go the majors. That leaves 3 bench spots to the majors taking our count up to 46 because we don’t have those bats in our pool. This could be an outfield bat that bumps someone like Altherr to the bench.

So without trades or rule 5 picks here are your candidates for 6 remaining 40 man roster spots all of which would be in the minors (I put Adam Morgan in the majors but you can swap him for Klein or Asher):

  • Veteran FA Starting Pitcher (bumps Eflin to minors)
  • Alec Asher
  • Phil Klein
  • Jesmuel Valentin
  • Malquin Canelo
  • Andrew Pullin
  • Drew Anderson
  • Seranthony Dominguez
  • Mark Appel
  • Carlos Tocci
  • Alberto Tirado
  • Cameron Perkins
  • Miguel Nunez
  • Anyone I cut earlier to make room

This fits most of the team, but it leaves them with no bullpen depth in any way and a young starting rotation.

Photo of Carlos Tocci by Baseball Betsy

Author: Matt Winkelman

Matt Winkelman

Matt is originally from Mt. Holly, NJ, but after a 4 year side track to Cleveland for college he now resides in Madison, WI. His work has appeared on Phuture Phillies, The Good Phight, and TheDynastyGuru.


  1. Brad

    Alberto Tirado is definitely someone they will protect. Why keep Asche rather give Cameron Perkins a bench spot.

  2. Ken

    I didn’t see Crawford’s name anywhere on these lists.

    • Matt Winkelman

      He is not Rule 5 eligible and at this point is highly unlikely to be on the team on opening day. If he wins a job in Spring somehow he would then displace someone on the roster bumping one of the middle infielders to the bench.

  3. David

    Matt, 2 question:

    1) Which six players that you show as on the bubble would you keep?

    2) Any suggestions on how roster construction and management could have been handled differently earlier in the season? That is, if you understood that the ’16 team wouldn’t be competitive and if your primary objective was protecting legitimate prospects and/or trade chips from being lost in the upcoming Rule 5 draft (with the obvious benefit of hindsight), what might the Phils have done differently?

  4. Really good post! I have been thinking about this question for a while and you did a great job summarizing the situation.

    I would think they will be highly active in FA and trade market.

    Tirado has to be the first name you keep. Then probably Appel/Asher. But I wouldn’t be surprised if none of this list actually is in the system.

  5. Nick M

    I like Asher out of the bullpen. I think he can be a better version of Chad Durbin (remember how valuable he was) Severino Gonzolez stinks and do you have Colton Murry still around. I can’t stand him either.

  6. I keep Asher. One thing they have working in their favor is that several of the players on the bubble are going to be hard for anyone to keep on their 25 man roster.

    Pullin and Perkins are pretty limited defensively, and I don’t see Appel as a guy you can stash at the 12th pitcher in the bullpen; ISTM he needs to be pitching to work all his stuff out.

    Canelo might be keepable, but I’d expose him, too; unless something goes wrong his path will be blocked by Crawford by midseason anyway.

    • Murray

      I think my 6 would be Tirado, Asher, Anderson, Appel, a free agent pitcher, and Pullin or Canelo