So it is still December, and the Phillies didn’t really change their core, but over the last week things got a bit crazy. So let’s just take a step back and figure out where we stand and who is still actually on the team, and could break camp on opening day.
Hitters: Carlos Ruiz, Cameron Rupp, Andres Blanco, Maikel Franco, Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, Tyler Goeddel, Aaron Altherr, Peter Bourjos, Odubel Herrera
Pitchers: Jerad Eichoff, Jeremy Helickson, David Hernandez, Charlie Morton, Aaron Nola
I moved Cesar Hernandez into the lock group, he is pre-arb and the Phillies have shown zero indication they are looking to upgrade him at this time. Same with the catchers, unless someone magically becomes obsessed with Ruiz or Rupp it feels like both are here to hold down opening jobs. They seem happy in the outfield and feels like Goeddel would need to really mess up to not at least break camp.
On the pitching side, the Phillies turned 3 maybes and two second year players into a 4 man lock for the position after acquiring Hellickson and Morton for almost nothing. David Hernandez looks to be the closer on opening day with Giles in Houston.
Hitters: Ryan Howard, Darin Ruf
Pitchers: Brett Oberholtzer, Luis Garcia
I don’t think either first baseman is going anywhere, but it is one of the few remaining spots that Klentak and the FO have to make some changes to the roster. If any team wants either player, I am sure they could be had. Oberholtzer is out of minor league options and they traded for him, so it seems they are at least interested in him. I think he has the inside track at the #5 starter job, but it seems at minimum he would be a reliever for this team.
So that is 18 spots out of 25, here is how that breaks out.
Bench: Ruiz, Blanco, Goeddel, Ruf
Starting Pitcher: Nola, Eickhoff, Morton, Hellickson
Relief Pitcher: Hernandez
That leaves room for 6 pitchers (likely relievers) and a bench bat.
Cody Asche, Darnell Sweeney, MiLB FAs
So the leader right now is probably Cody Asche, but I wouldn’t bet on him being in Philly given their other moves. If the Phillies want a more versatile defender, then Darnell Sweeney could make the team, but they may want him getting everyday reps in the minors. So far the minor league free agent hitter pool is underwhelming, but it is still early in the offseason.
RH: Jimmy Cordero, Alec Asher, Jeanmar Gomez, Dalier Hinojosa, Michael Mariot, Colton Murray, Hector Neris, Edubray Ramos, Ernest Frieri, Reinier Roibal, David Buchanan, Luis Garcia
LH: Daniel Stumpf, Elvis Araujo, Mario Hollands, James Russell
I am going to operate in a world where Adam Morgan, Mark Appel, Vincent Velasquez, Jake Thompson, and Zach Eflin are all in AAA as starting pitchers, so they are out for now at least. Given that, it seems that Asher and Buchanan would be in the competition for the bullpen.
Let’s start on the left handed side. Hollands and Araujo both ended the year injured, Hollands might be ready for opening day and Araujo is healthy, but struggling in winter ball. I think Stumpf could break camp if he can throw strikes because they like him vs righties and lefties. They made Russell a priority, so I could see a scenario where Araujo and Hollands go to AAA since they have options and it leaves the Phillies more flexible into the season.
From the right side, it is really difficult to see Ramos or Cordero making this team, even if their spring is stellar. That leaves 4 right handed spots up for grabs. Luis Garcia has good stuff, but he couldn’t find the strikezone. Hector Neris was really good except for a high home run rate for the Phillies last year. Mariot has solid stuff and didn’t get a chance in Kansas City last year, but he doesn’t have good enough stuff that he can survive being off. Asher and Buchanan join Gomez and Hinojosa in a battle for the long man spot. Ernesto Frieri has been very much not good for a while, but was once good. Colton Murray is a reliever and Roibal is depth. It really is anyone’s competition and the Phillies are almost certainly going to add more non-roster invite minor league free agents to the competition.
Prediction: Stumpf, Araujo, Gomez, Neris, Garcia, Mariot
I think given the depth, Stumpf makes it and I like Araujo with his stuff over Russell who was bad last year, but I feel zero confidence about it. Gomez isn’t great, but he is serviceable and Neris has solid potential. I don’t know if the new regime will like Luis Garcia, but he throws 98 and has pitched in the majors which counts for something here. Mariot has solid enough stuff to make it, but I think his spot goes to someone not yet on the roster.
So that is a long way of saying that the Phillies are mostly done on the hitting and starting pitching side after this week. The bullpen is still wide open and I would expect Matt Klentak to continue to churn through the waiver wire and free agency to bring in more guys who throw the ball hard.
Now this is just the opening day roster, there will be a lot of turnover as we get into the season, so I will leave you with some players expected based on this model to be in AAA:
J.P. Crawford, Andrew Knapp, Darnell Sweeney, Jake Thompson, Mark Appel, Vincent Velasquez, Zach Eflin, Adam Morgan, Edubray Ramos, Nick Williams, Jimmy Cordero, Colton Murray, Alec Asher, Mario Hollands, Tom Windle, Cameron Perkins