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March 03, 2019

Phillies projected 25-man roster for 2019 season, version 3.0 (Bryce Harper edition)

The Phillies 25-man roster is starting to come clearly into view as the team has found its every day right fielder in some dude they signed in free agency last week.

With Bryce Harper now clearly in their short and longterm plans, the Phils can now focus on getting ready for the upcoming season and attempting to live up to the ever increasing hype.

A few spots on the bench and a bunch in the bullpen remain up for grabs as the preseason continues on.

Here's our third crack at projecting what the 25-man roster will look like on March 28, when the Phillies open their season against the Braves:

Catcher: J.T. Realmuto

The Phillies swapped Jorge Alfaro, 25 and on the rise, for Marlins' star Realmuto, 27 — along with two top prospects. This was a clear upgrade at the position for the Phillies both offensively and defensively:

  Realmuto Alfaro
Career games 540 143
 Batting average.279.270
Extra base hits18939
 WAR 13.0 1.7

Realmuto has pop and will bat all over the middle of the line up. He's turned a position that may clubs are weak at into an area of strength for the Phillies. 

For what it's worth, Realmuto is slaying this spring. He had a singe double, triple and home run through his first 10 at bats as a Phillie.

First base: Rhys Hoskins

Hoskins' natural position is first base. With Carlos Santana at first last year Hoskins played a lot of left field, but according to manager Gabe Kapler, the slugger could raise his offensive game even more being back at the first base bag.

"Rhys moving back to his natural position probably makes him a more comfortable player at the plate," Kapler said earlier this offseason. "I think theres a good chance we seen an uptick in his offensive performance."

At 25, Hoskins led the Phils with 38 homers and 96 RBI last season. If he can repeat those numbers, while being a bit more disciplined at the plate, he can be an All-Star in 2019.

"Comfort is a good thing, I have had a lot more repetition playing there in the minor leagues," Hoskins said of his return to first. "I think just being back in the rhythm of the game, handling the ball a lot more whether it's pick offs or fielding ground balls, being in the rhythm of the game will be a lot better over the course of the year and I'm excited about that."

Second base: Cesar Hernandez

Hernandez had a down season in 2018, with his worst offensive numbers since 2014. The Phillies will need him to bounce back in 2019, and if he doesn't he may find himself being replaced more and more by high-priced utility man Scott Kingery.

He claimed to have played much of 2018 with a broken foot, so a healthy Hernandez surely will be more productive. He just has to get healthy first.

Hernandez is battling a Grade 1 strain to his hip flexor, which is luckily a mild injury. For now, however, we project Hernandez to try and rebound with a much improved lineup around him on 2019. 

Shortstop: Jean Segura

Perhaps in Matt Klentak's most savvy move as Phillies GM to date, the Phils swapped Carlos Santana and J.P. Crawford for Segura and a pair of pitchers. Segura, prior to any Machado or Harper signing, is the centerpiece of the Phils lineup and would likely bat third if the lineup stayed as constructed. 

On his fourth team now, Segura is coming off an impressive 2018 where he hit .304 and slugged seven triples.

Third base: Maikel Franco

Franco has homered and has six RBI in limited action this spring and has the inside track to start at third at another position where the Phillies struggled last year. With Manny Machado in San Diego, Franco no longer has the possibility of being replaced on his shoulders, and can continue to focus on improving himself.

He had his second best season offensively last year, hitting .270 with 22 homers and 68 RBI. Philly would be happy to take that again next year.

Right field: Bryce Harper

There is no doubt about this spot — $330 million dollars will assure Harper the start in right field for at least the next decade. As for what his production or batting position will look like, that's up in the air. He brings a valuable left-handed bat to the line up and will likely hit somewhere in the 2-to-5 range.

He had a down year last year but has 14 home runs at Citizen's Bank Park — his most anywhere aside from D.C. He should strive in the friendly confines of South Philly's ballpark.

Center field: Odubel Herrera

Herrera will start in center when healthy, and hopefully he will be by the start of the regular season. He's currently out with a hamstring injury. The Phillies have some depth at outfield behind Herrera, so if he starts the season on the DL one of the bench players we'll mention later could start in center.

The speedy 27-year-old had his worst offensive year as a pro in 2018. A return to the production of his previous three seasons would be a nice contribution to the Phils line up. 

Left field: Andrew McCutchen

Signed to a three-year, $50 million deal way back when free agency was just starting, McCutchen is a veteran at 32. He is being brought in as much for his experience and clubhouse presence as he is for his skills in the outfield. He has a gold glove, an NL MVP and five All-Star appearances. And he hit 20 home runs last season. He's a perfect fit for what Kapler and Klentak are trying to do. He also could play some center, should Herrera remain injured.

Bench: Nick Willams (OF), Scott Kingery (IF), Dylan Cozens (OF), Andrew Knapp (C)

There will be some very hard choices made regarding the Phillies' bench, which could evolve and change over the course of the season. As mentioned, the Phils are deeper at outfield than infield and will probably carry 5 outfielders.

Williams and Cozens have had extremely good starts to their springs, and we will give them the nod over the struggling Aaron Altherr and injured Roman Quinn for the time being, but those two could work their way into the mix by the end of March.

Kingery, a jack of all trades, will be the fifth infielder, while Knapp will be the back up back stop.

Starters: Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Vincent Velasquez

Rumors continue to swirl about the Phillies possible interest in Dallas Keuchel, who remains a free agent, but aside from an unlikely short-term deal to sign he or Gio Gonzalez, the Phils will go with five right-handed starters for the second straight year.

Jerad Eickhoff will be in the mix again too in addition to the five listed above, and also keep an eye on camp arms and prospects Enyel De Los Santos (who made a spot start last year) and Adonis Medina (who was 10-4 last year with 123 strikeouts in 111.1 innings in Single-A).

Bullpen: Pick your favorite 7

David Robertson, Edubray Ramos, James Pazos, Juan Nicasio, Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarez, Hector Neris, Adam Morgan, Austin Davis, Yacksel Rios, Victor Arano and others

The Phillies have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to relievers with very few locks among them. Newly signed David Robertson, one of the best in the game, is a sure thing but after that there are a lot of arms fighting for what will be either six or seven slots.

In addressing their pen via trade and free agency (Pazos, Nicasio and Alvares were all acquired in trades), the Phillies gave themselves a lot of depth at a former weakness. They also have an outside chance of adding Craig Kimbrel before the spring is all said and done. Here are the key candidates for what will be six or seven spots:

Pitcher Age, Hand2018 Career 
 David Robertson 33, right8-3, 3.23 ERA2.88 ERA, 137 saves 
Edubray Ramos 26, right2-1, 2.32 ERA3.53 ERA in 153 games 
 James Pazos27, left4-1, 2.88 ERA3.54 ERA in 137 games
Juan Nicasio 32, right1-6, 6.00 ERA4.64 ERA in 315 games 
 Pat Neshek38, right 3.2, 2.59 ERA2.74 ERA in 524 games 
 Tommy Hunter32, right5-4, 3.80 ERA4.10 ERA in 443 games 
Seranthony Dominguez24, right2-5, 2.95 ERA 16 saves as rookie 
Jose Alvarez 29, left 6-4, 2.71 ERA3.69 ERA in 284 games
Hector Neris  29, right1-3, 5.10 ERA 3.39 ERA in 239 games 
 Adam Morgan28, left0-2, 3.83 ERA 4.89 ERA in 301.2 IP 
Austin Davis  25, left1-2, 4.15 ERA32 games as rookie 
Yacksel Rios25, right 3-2. 6.75 ERA 49 career games 
Victor Arano 23, right 1-2, 2.73 ERA 3 saves as rookie 

It's a wide open competition. Robertson and Dominguez seem to be locks while the other half dozen or so spots are up for grabs. For the fun of it, we'll pick Robertson, Ramos, Dominguez, Rios, Neshak, Alvarez and Morgan to make it to the show — at least to start.

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