March 21, 2022
Last year, we did four roster projections during what was a normal offseason. These past few months have been anything but.
After a 99-day work stoppage and then a furious free agency period that saw the Phillies spend more than $200 million, spring training games are underway and opening day is within sight.
So who will construct Dave Dombrowski 26-man roster when camp breaks in Clearwater? Three months ago, we took our first stab at predicting what the lineup would look like. We missed on a few things — mainly Kris Bryant — but we did nail that the team would ink Kyle Schwarber, and bring in a second outfielder (Nick Castellanos instead of Kevin Kiermaier).
How many total OF will the team carry? What will their bullpen look like? Here's our second guess at what the team will look like in three weeks time:
The first thing we need to say about the 2022 roster is that there is a ton of flexibility. There will likely be no majority designated hitter for the team, which is likely to dole out the lineup spot based on matchups, who has the hot hand, or who needs a break in the field for an afternoon. We do believe that Schwarber will serve as the DH most regularly, as his lack of a sleek outfield glove and and the Phillies other options there will relegate him to hitting duties more often than not. He also is a candidate to lead off.
No surprise here, after the Phillies brought back their All-Star catcher on the first year of his monster four-year deal.
Hoskins could split time between first and DH depending on how things go during the season, and how Alec Bohm performs defensively at third base. With a lineup stocked with a murderer's row of sluggers, Hoskins' slow, deliberate approach at the plate should help tire out opposing pitchers.
He is 32 and still can do all the things he did in his prime, though perhaps a little less so across the board. He is adequate in the field and can hit for average. It's worth noting that as his deal includes a club option in 2023, he is an expiring contract that the Phillies could dangle in front of a trade suitor in order to bring in a veteran at another position or an infusion of prospects. He likely won't be back in 2023 regardless of the option.
Hear us out. Gregorius' contract isn't particularly tradable (he is slated to make more than $15 million, though it does expire) and the Phillies appear like they will find themselves stuck with him. However, this projection is for who starts the year for the Phillies, not who finishes it. With a good spring training, former first-round pick Bryson Stott could find himself playing everyday in South Philly sometime later this spring or, and we predict he'll take over Gregorius' job before June. Gregorius will eventually be a serviceable bat off the bench and DH — or be traded.
Bohm was inconsistent at third base last season but did show a little improvement. The Phillies hope he can handle the hot corner regularly in 2022. If he struggles, the team doesn't have a ton of options, and Castellanos is probably even worse at third than Bohm. Hopefully his offense will make up for his average glove.
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 platoon situation between the left-hand hitting veteran Odubel Herrera and righty recent prospect Vierling. With the Athletics opening day starter still up in the air as the team is shopping its top pitchers right now, we'll go with Vierling for now.
It seems as though left field is Castellanos' right now, though he may get some reps at designated hitter. 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 is the Cy Young runner up. He's battled with the flu leading into spring training and is a little behind but he seems like he'll be able to prepare for an opening day start.
• 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 was decent in his first spring start.
• Gibson is a middle-of-the-rotation guy they 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 reportedly dazzled in his first chances to pitch in Clearwater
• Hans Crouse is an in-house name to watch out for for the fifth spot too, and could be on the 26-man roster with an injury or with a starter unable to get ready in time. He is the most big ready starter they'll have in Triple-A.
• The Phillies signed three veteran bullpen arms who will likely be in contention for a late inning role in Knebel, Familia, and Hand.
• Dominguez, if healthy, will be back for another year and also contend for late innings.
• Returning players Alvarado and Coonrod each pitched decently enough to retain roster spots.
• Final two spots will likely go to one of their middle-of-the-road prospects like Bradley Falter, who projects as a decent longman after some impressive minor league dealing in recent seasons, or JoJo Romero, who is a lefty with some potential. Connor Brogdon is also a young homegrown guy with upside.
Isn't this an exciting group?
• Kingery was a total bust but remains in the farm system and the thinking here is he'll fight for a utility role on the big-league roster. (He is making $6 million either way, so why not give him a chance?) His main competitor will be Ronald Torreyes who is also looking to earn the same role he had last year. Maton had an up-and-down year, but someone in that mold could break camp with the Phillies, giving them flexibility at all positions. Johan Carmago is another bat in the mix for the final slot. Two of four three could be on the roster as utility men but one will lose a spot to Stott eventually.
• With Andrew Knapp gone, Marchan will finally get to be Realmuto's backup.
• Herrera will platoon in center to start the year. There is a chance Mickey Moniak or Adam Haseley emerge and grab an outfield job, but if you include Schwarber as an outfielder it would be hard to expect them to have more than five (Schwarber, Harper, Herrera, Vierling, Castellanos) on the 26-man.
• One last note on Stott, who could be the everyday shortstop sooner than later — the thinking here is that he breaks camp with Triple-A and plays there for a few weeks to keep his reps up. It would be silly for the Phillies to have him sitting on the bench splitting time with Gregorius before they decide to make the full time change.
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