Phillies Make Surprising but Possibly Brilliant Roster Moves

It was announced on Saturday that the Phillies were demoting David Buchanan to AAA and calling up LHP Elvis Araujo.  My initial reaction was of outrage that Severino Gonzalez would remain up on the major league roster despite showing in his last start that he was not major league ready.  However, the Phillies might actually be doing what Amaro said they would do at the beginning of the year, which was maximizing the 40 man roster and minor league options.

First just to touch on minor league options.  Once an option is used it is good for the full year, so all you are doing is giving the player you call up major league service time.  This means for a player like Araujo, all it costs the Phillies is service time while he is up.

So here is what has happened and what will happen.

  • 4/22 – Sean O’Sullivan place on 15 day DL (eligible for return 5/6)
  • 4/28 – Hector Neris optioned to minors (eligible to return on 5/7)
  • 5/2 – David Buchanan optioned to minors (eligible to return on 5/12)
  • 5/2 – Elvis Araujo called up to majors
  • 5/3 – Severino Gonzalez scheduled to start vs Marlins
  • 5/5 – Chad Billingsley activated from 15 Day DL

First lets start with Araujo, since Neris was ineligible to return it leaves Araujo and Nefi Ogando as the only healthy relievers on the 40 man roster.  Since Jake Diekman is the only LHP in the bullpen, Araujo makes the most sense.  So this means that on 5/5 the Phillies will need to option a player to the minors, but before that they can use 4 SPs and 8 RPs.  They can do this though on 5/5 and going forward.

  • 5/5 – Severino Gonzalez optioned to minors (eligible to return 5/15)
  • 5/7 – Sean O’Sullivan makes rehab start
  • 5/7 – Hamels and rotation moved up a day due to off day on May 6
  • 5/12 – Elvis Araujo optioned to minors (eligible to return 5/22)
  • 5/12 – Sean O’Sullivan activated from 15 day DL

The Phillies couldn’t have optioned Severino immediately because they need a starter on Sunday.  But by staggering the options and DL activations they can carry Elvis Araujo as an 8th bullpen are from 5/2 to 5/12 while carrying only 4 starters.

At the end of all of this they have a major league rotation of Hamels/Harang/Billingsley/Williams/O’Sullivan, which is far from good, but is not unservicable for now.  That then means in AAA they have Severino/Buchanan/Morgan/Rodriguez/(1 of Aumont/Clemens).  This allows them to give developmental time to Severino and Buchanan while still getting enough major league innings to not overstress the bullpen.

This continues to be part of a concerted strategy by the Phillies to keep the development of their young pitchers as the top priority while also fielding a major league roster.  At any point if any of these pitchers proves they are ready for the majors, the actual major league rotation can be torn apart to make room.

EDIT: The Phillies announced O’Sullivan will make a rehab appearance on May 7, but due to off day on May 6, logic still works and above has bee modified to reflect change.

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. Romus

    Wow… missed your calling….you should be working in the Phillies administrative FOs.
    You lost me around May 3rd.
    I assume with it all….the Phillies will not touch any of the premier guns in the Reading starting rotation, letting them develop as is
    And hope for maybe a nugget or trade chip ruby from Sev Gonzalez, Morgan, Rodriguez, Aumont or Billingsley….and down the road when healthy MAG.
    Why not…this season, I would hope, is all about the June 2016 draft positioning and accumulation of young candidates when the vets (Hamels, Paps, harang, Utley, Ruiz, Brown, Revere) start getting moved..

  2. phillysf

    Good stuff Matt
    outraged about Sev ?, your passion runs deep my friend !
    this year is pretty much a total loss in my book I would just throw anything at the wall and see what sticks and then take a page out of the sixers book and tank , not that they have to tank because the talent isnt there no matter how you look at it,

  3. Geez, over-react much? Sev seems to have allowed his nerves to get the better of him in his first MLB start. That’s not an uncommon thing at all, and for a guy like Severino, who needs his command to be effective, it doesn’t take much nerves for the cart to lose its wheels. He more than held his own in his second start — not great, but not the performance of a guy you write off as not-major-league-ready with such passion that you were incensed he was given a second start. Far better for his development and the Phillies that he was given that chance. He is now safely returned to the minors so, worry not.