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June 09, 2024

How, why the Phillies must upgrade their outfield this summer

Will the Phillies add an outfielder via trade this summer?

Phillies MLB
0470_09132023_Phillies_Braves_Nick-Castellanos.jpg Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 13: A photo from the Philadelphia Phillies game against the Atlanta Braves on September 13, 2023 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. (Photo by Kate Frese/PhillyVoice)

It's hard to find a weak spot on the Phillies roster. But there is one.

With the team still holding the best record in the National League and running away with the NL East, the Phillies probably have the best chance they've had to win a World Series since 2011 — the four-aces squad that shockingly fell in the first round of the playoffs that October.

The front office certainly intends to avoid that fate this season, as 100 or more wins is on the table, as is a bye to the second round of the postseason.

The MLB's trade deadline is not for over a month and a half — July 30 — but it's fairly obvious where this team should be spending its resources on an upgrade. And that's in the corner outfield.

Here's a look at how the Phillies rank in each positional group via WAR:

PositionWARMLB Rank
Pinch hitters0.31st

As you can see in the table above, based on data from baseball reference, the Phillies have a top 10 WAR at every position except for centerfield (Johan Rojas) and right field (Nick Castellanos).

The team is sort of stuck with Castellanos and his $100 million deal that will pay him $20 million in 2025 and in 2026. And they seem committed to letting Rojas and his light bat serve them well in center. 

But it's hard to imagine they wouldn't do something to give them another option in the outfield, as Whit Merrifield (London home run not withstanding) has not given them much either. 

Some have called for Edmundo Sosa to learn to play in the outfield, allowing him to stay on the field when Trea Turner returns. Could that solve the problem?

There are probably not going to be any superstars available to slot in next to Rojas, nor will there be some magical taker for Castellanos' monster contract. But there are a few teams with players who could be had at a decent price that would give the team an upgrade in the outfield. The following eight outfielders are each currently on a team that is likely out of contention for a playoff spot. They are also all right-handed hitters — as four of the Phillies regulars and half of their bench are currently lefties.

Tommy Pham, White Sox

Pham is 36 and currently in the IL — but prior to a minor injury he was hitting .280 while playing every outfield position. He could be a versatile OF addition at a cheap prospect price point.

Kevin Pillar, Angels

What a remarkable story Pillar has been. After being designated for assignment by the White Sox after hitting an ugly .160 in 17 games, the 35-year-old signed with the Angels, and filling in for injured Mike Trout he's hit .375 with six homers in 24 games. 

Brent Rooker, Athletics

Rooker isn't a grizzled veteran looking for one last push in the majors. He's 29, is under contract via arbitration until 2027, and might be a more expensive option on the trade market. However, the Athletics are certainly looking to rebuild, and perhaps a Brandon Marsh type deal could land the Phils his services. In 53 games the former All-Star is hitting .272 with a .375 on base rate, 12 homers and 39 RBI. 

Lane Thomas, Nationals

Thomas has been linked to the Phillies before, and the lowly Nationals might be looking to shed him for cheap on a down season — following a good one in 2023. He's a change of scenery candidate as he's struggled in Washington.

Starling Marte, Harrison Bader, Mets

Both of these outfielders are hitting well for the Mets — as for whether the team would trade them to the Phillies is an unknown. Marte is hitting .280 and has another year on his deal, while Bader is hitting. 267 and comes off the books next offseason. Both are Gold Glove winners.

Bryan De La Cruz, Marlins

Like Rooker, De La Cruz is younger — 27 — and is in team control until 2027. He has 11 homers, 28 RBI and has a good power bat.

Brenton Doyle, Rockies

Doyle is the youngest of the bunch at 26, and won't be eligible for free agency until 2030. Would the Rockies part with him? He won a Gold Glove as a rookie and is currently hitting .269 with 17 stolen bases.

And here's a bonus one for ya — Jake McCarthy, Diamondbacks

According to USA Todays' Bob Nightengale, the left-handed hitting outfielder is already actually on the Phillies' radar, the team is "keeping an eye on" the Scranton native, who was a first round pick in 2018. The 26-year-old plays all three outfield spots and is hitting .268.

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