Minor League free agents signings are not something that most casual fans track, and for even the most hardcore of those of us who like minor league minutia they are little beyond preparations for the inevitable surprise at seeing a player on a spring training roster. For the most part minor league free agents compete for major league bench or bullpen jobs before becoming depth in AAA for the long season.
Here is who the Phillies signed in 2015 (excluding re-signings):
November: Frank Hermann, Emmanuel Burris, Ryan Jackson, James Russell, Angelys Nina, Greg Burke
December: Ernesto Frieri, J.P. Arencibia, Gregory Infante, Andrew Bailey, Edward Mujica, Christian Marrero
This was in addition to claiming Peter Bourjos, Dan Otero, A.J. Achter, and Michael Mariot off of waivers.
Here are the Phillies transactions in 2016:
With no waiver claims.
So we all know about the full 40 man roster and that the Phillies want to let their prospects earn time, we also know there is time for the Phillies to sign players to make up for all of this, only problem is do free agents want to come to Philly? There are roles in the bullpen up for grabs (maybe 1-2 spots) and there is 1-2 bench spots, but there is no room for growth (starting spot). But what may be more damning is that there is no playing time in the minors for free agents to build their value. Here are some quick no thought rosters for AA/AAA.
Maybe those aren’t the rosters exactly, but there is not a lot of room if you are career minor leaguer looking for a big break. This is not a negative thing for the Phillies because those spots are filled by actual prospects. It is just an interesting quirk of where the organization is. I do expect them to sign some minor league deals for relievers to at least have spring training depth, but I would not expect much to happen.