The Phillies 2021 Roster version 1.0
After a grueling three month stretch of the Phillies’ offseason, January has finally started to answer some long-awaited questions about the team’s future heading into the 2021 season. We are now just two weeks away from Spring Training in Clearwater, Florida and the Phillies roster is beginning to take shape.
Dave Dombrowski hopped on the JT Realmuto press conference yesterday and stated there are still a lot of free agents available and that the team’s focus is to continue to add value in free agency. He also mentioned that there were a few pending moves that he currently couldn’t speak about. There’s no doubt that the Phillies still need help pitching. There’s a chance that they could also look to add even more competition to land the starting job in what is now a platoon centerfield situation.
The Phillies have made the biggest moves that they needed to make already. Now it comes down to filling the last chunk of roster spots. Filling these positions and years past have never boated well for the Phillies. It was great to hear both Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fuld identify this issue and acknowledge that there is still work to be done. Let’s dive in to how the current roster is shaping up for Opening Day.
JT Realmuto and Andrew Knapp
In what seemed like a nightmare situation, up until last week, the Phillies depth chart at catcher was Andrew Knapp and Rafael Marchán. Knapp was quoted stating that “he wouldn’t look like Realmuto immediately” as the Phillies starting catcher in 2021 and sent all Phillies fans into a deep, dark depression.
Luckily as we all know, that’s just not the case anymore. Knapp will be slotted as the back-up behind the best catcher in baseball, which is something that the Phillies should be very happy about. Last year, Knapp had 72 plate appearances and slashed .278/.404/.849 with two home runs and 15 RBI. Knapp could be a key piece to the Phillies success if there is a condensed schedule again this year or if the MLB decides to move forward with a National League DH.
Speaking of Marchán, it’s likely he will find a spot on the 40-man roster but it will be very tough for him to see time in the majors this year assuming the Phillies have a healthy Realmuto and Knapp.
Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Alec Bohm, Scott Kingery, Nick Maton
The Phillies are one utility man away in the infield. There’s definitely a piece missing in the current construction. The team needs a player that can mold into the roster behind Bohm at third, Hoskins at first, and possibly the outfield.
Nick Maton is definitely an interesting name from the minor leagues. In 2019, Maton slashed .266/.349/.376 with seven home runs and 51 RBI. Free Agents Marwin Gonzalez and the bamboo man Brad Miller are also names to keep an eye on heading into Spring Training.
Gonzales is a shortstop, first baseman, and left fielder which would be an absolute perfect fit for the Phillies. In 2020, he slashed .211/.286/.320 with five home runs and 22 RBI in 52 games. In 2019, he slashed .264/.322/.414 with 15 home runs and 55 RBI.
Brad Miller was a Phillies clubhouse favorite in 2019, slashing .263/.331/.610 with 12 home runs and 21 RBI. Last year, the Phillies let Miller walk to St. Louis where he slashed .232/.357/.451 with seven home runs and 25 RBI.
Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Scott Kingery, Adam Haseley, and Roman Quinn
There are absolutely zero issues in right field as Bryce Harper is expected to put up MVP numbers this season. Centerfield is certainly an area of concern for the Phillies. Right now, it looks like it will be a competition between Adam Haseley and Scott Kingery for the starting position.
During his rookie season, Adam Haseley slashed .266/.324/.396 with five home runs and 26 RBI in 67 games. Last year, Haseley slashed .278/.348/.342 zero home runs and 13 RBI. 2021 will be a make-or-break season for Kingery. I am very high on a bounce-back year for Kingery and still like him at his natural second base position but there’s a growing chance for him to be the Phillies’ every day centerfielder.
Free agent Jackie Bradley Jr would be a great fit for the Phillies if they decide to bring in another outfielder. In 55 games last season, the 31-year old JBJ slashed .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and 22 RBI. JBJ has a connection with the Phillies already thanks to Dave Dombrowski. In his career, he has been a league-average hitter with a .239 batting average and a .732 OPS. JBJ can provide some left handed power in the Phillies’ batting order and has hit 58 home runs over the last four seasons.
Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin, Spencer Howard, Vince Velasquez, Matt Moore?
It’s safe to say that the Phillies top three pitchers are set in stone. Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin could turn out to be the best 1-2-3 punch in Major League Baseball if Eflin pitchers like he did during the second half of last season. From there, the four and five spots in the rotation are essentially up for grabs. Yes, we have top prospect Spencer Howard, who struggled last year in a shortened season with no preparation. He ultimately ended the year on the injury list. Even if Howard is slotted in the pitching rotation, there’s a good chance his innings are still managed as he works on maintaining his velocity deeper into ball games.
Vincent Velasquez, much like every other year, is a pitcher that you really can’t trust at the back of the rotation. He struggles to pitch deep into ball games and has been extremely unreliable to date. That’s where you can hopefully slide Matt Moore into the rotation.
Moore previously played in the MLB for the Tampa Bay Rays, San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers, and Detroit Tigers. Most recently, Moore has pitched in Japan for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks and performed well. Most notably, On November 24, 2020 in Game 3 of the 2020 Japan Series, Moore pitched seven no-hit innings with five strikeouts. He ended the season with a 2.65 ERA.
In his Major League Baseball experience, Moore was an All-Star in 2013, a season in which he went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA over 27 starts and 150 1/3 innings. Moore last pitched in the MLB in 2019 with the Tigers, but suffered season-ending knee surgery early on in the season.
The Phillies also have Ramón Rosso, Adonis Medina, Damon Jones, Bailey Falter, Cristopher Sánchez, and Francisco Morales who will all be competing to break into the starting rotation during Spring Training.
Hector Neris, Archie Bradley, Jose Alvarado, Connor Brogdon, Sam Coonrod, JoJo Romero, Ranger Suarez, David Hale
The Phillies made a great move by signing Archie Bradley this offseason. They also traded for Jose Alvarado who you hope can bounce back this year after a rough going last year. In 2018, Alvarado finished with a 2.39 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 80 strikeouts in 64 innings pitched. He also had 8 saves. When Jose Alvarado is healthy and focused, he’s dominant and throws hard.
That’s not enough to fix this bullpen. There are still some major depth concerns even with the players we have now. Connor Brogdon pitched well late last season and JoJo Romero showed signs of potential. Ranger Suarez and David Hale would fall in the “promising” category as well and we’ve all taken rides on the Hector Neris rollercoaster and should know that he’s everything but reliable as a closer.
The Phillies desperately need to make a free agent bullpen signing or two. Here are three names atop of my list:
- Shane Green: All-Star with Detroit in 2019. Braves in 2020: 2.16 ERA in 28 appearances.
- Alex Colome: Colome .81 ERA in 21 appearances with the White Sox.
- Kirby Yates: Season ending elbow injury. Coming off an injury. Could be cheap.
All things considered, the Phillies’ roster has taken much better shape than what anyone expected it to be entering 2021. There are still some spots that need some help. A centerfielder, utility man, and additional bullpen help could really make this team a playoff contender entering this season. Hopefully Dombrowski has a few extra moves up his sleeve with “pending” things still in the works.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY