March 31, 2022
We are just about a week away from baseball returning to South Philly when the Phillies will host the Athletics next Friday afternoon. However, there are almost more roster questions now than there were the last time we tried to project the Opening Day roster 10 days ago.
Who on earth will be the starting third baseman? What will the Phillies do with the bullpen, an area in which they are in a tough spot at due to a lack of player options? Who will round out the bench spots?
The roster is going to start at 28 before the team is forced to cut two players and get to 26. This presents a unique problem for the team, as we mentioned, because they will risk exposing those players to waivers and all 29 other MLB teams if a demoted player has no remaining options.
That makes things complicated. But we will do our best to weed through all the confusion and give you our final attempt at predicting who makes the initial team.
It seems pretty clear based on spring training lineups that Schwarber and Nick Castellanos will be interchangeable between the DH and left field. For the purposes of our exercise here, we'll call it Schwarber's position to open the year.
No surprise here, as Realmuto is in his prime, highly paid and has been called the best catcher in baseball by MLB.com.
Hoskins could also spend a little time at DH depending on how things go during the season. With a lineup stocked with a murderer's row of sluggers, Hoskins' slow, deliberate approach at the plate should help tire out opposing pitchers.
Segura, 32, still can do all the things he did in his prime, though perhaps a little less so across the board. He's adequate in the field and can hit for average. It's worth noting that as his deal includes a club option in 2023. The Phillies could dangle his expiring contract in front of a trade suitor in order to bring back a veteran at another position or an infusion of prospects. He likely won't be back in 2023 regardless of the option.
A lot has changed this spring. Heading into Clearwater, it looked like Gregorius was on the chopping block with top prospect Bryson Stott breathing down his neck at shortstop. But the Phillies front office desperately wanted Gregorius to recover to make good on his $15.25 million salary this year and he has been doing just that, solidifying his role as the team's starting shortstop. However. Stott has basically hit .500 this spring and he is not going to be denied a roster spot. Which is why...
Stott has been getting reps at third base in recent days. Despite being out of his natural position, Stott's defense will be better there than that of Alec Bohm. Bohm, 25, has struggled this spring and was less than stellar last season as the everyday third baseman. The expectation here is that Bohm will start the year in Triple-A to get his bat right, and will be available if needed for an injury to anyone who plays DH, first or third base.
We'll get the easy part of the outfield out of the way first. Harper won the 2021 MVP award and single-handedly kept the Phillies in playoff contention. Here's hoping he has some help come this September.
It seems fairly apparent that centerfield will be a little in flux with left-handed hitting veteran Odubel Herrera currently hurt and Vierling falling backwards into a starting role. Will he play every day or will he platoon with Herrera or whichever other outfielder they carry on the roster?
It seems as though left field is Castellanos' right now, though he may get some reps at DH. Fresh off his best season as a pro, Castellanos will take a spot somewhere in the heart of the Phillies order. He'll be in the lineup close to every day as he's been an extremely versatile and healthy player so far into his career.
• Wheeler was the Cy Young runner up. He battled with the flu heading into spring training and is a little behind, but it seems like he'll be able to prepare for a start at the end of the rotation in mid-April.
• Nola will be here for at least one more year as the Phils hope for a bounce back from one of their only homegrown players. He will be the Opening Day starter.
• Gibson is a middle-of-the-rotation guy the Phillies traded for last summer.
• Suarez had a spectacular end to the 2021 season and should have a rotation spot locked up. He was a late starter in spring training as well due to visa issues.
• With Zach Eflin under team control for one more year and working back from an injury, he has been looking strong this spring and will be a key arm in the rotation.
• The Phillies signed three veteran bullpen arms who will likely be in contention for a late-inning role in Knebel, Familia and Hand.
• Dominguez has been spectacular this spring and also will contend for late innings. Alvarado has options to be sent to the minors, but he's also a veteran of the Phillies pen and could be a smart pick to return to the majors.
• James Norwood has a cannon for an arm but lacks great control. However, he was acquired recently in a trade and has no options.
• Next we have some spring training darlings in Nelson, Falter, Sanchez and Sherriff. Each has been fairly impressive in Clearwater and, as we mentioned, all would be exposed to waivers and potentially snatched by another team if they were left off the big league roster. They will need to shave this list by a player or two to get to 26, and Alvarado could be a casualty with his minor league options remaining.
• With Scott Kingery sent down, there are three utility men competing for basically two spots. Our picks are Maton and Carmago, with last year's do-it-all Ronald Torreyes being the odd man out. Maton does have a pair of minor league options remaining, so it is possible the Phils elect to go Torreyes over Maton.
• With Andrew Knapp gone, and prospect Rafael Marchan sent to the minors, the newly-acquired Stubbs will begin the year backing up Realmuto.
• The Phillies did sign Herrera as a left-handed centerfield option to platoon alongside Vierling, but he will begin the year on the IL. The team traded former first round pick Adam Haseley earlier this week. Those two factors basically guarantee Moniak will begin the year as Philly's fifth outfielder. Whether he will be able to keep his job or take meaningful at bats from Vierling is anyone's guess, but this could be the last chance the former No. 1 overall pick has to punch his MLB ticket.
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