Let’s take a look at a few spring roster battles out of the NL East to round out the evening …
- Like most organizations, the Phillies have several opt-out dates approaching — particularly in their relief corps. As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes, the Phils face potential decisions on Edward Mujica (Saturday) and Ernesto Frieri (next Thursday) in short order, with Andrew Bailey (May 1) and James Russell (June 1) to follow. Mujica seems destined for a big league job, says Zolecki, while it’s not clear that Frieri will make it onto the active roster after rough results thus far.
- Members of Braves brass like Jeff Francoeur as a right-handed bench bat, which means the club could elect to give him its last outfield spot over Nick Swisher and Emilio Bonifacio, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Braves brought Swisher to camp with the hope that he’d show well enough to entice another team to trade for him. While Swisher has hit .294/.429/.382 in 34 at-bats, a deal hasn’t come along. Thus, the Braves could ultimately eat the 12-year veteran’s entire $15MM salary in order to get rid of him. Bonifacio, who’s due a much more palatable $1.25MM this year, is potentially movable. If not, the Braves will have an easier time eating his contract than Swisher’s.
- Elsewhere, Mike Foltynewicz is favored to beat out Williams Perez and Manny Banuelos for the Braves’ fifth starter spot, per O’Brien. Regardless, the Braves won’t need a fifth starter until April 12, so they might start the season with an eight-man bullpen. That would ostensibly bode well, at least temporarily, for the out-of-options Jose Ramirez and Rule 5 pick Dan Winkler.
- MLB.com’s Mark Bowman agrees that Foltynewicz is making a strong case for a rotation slot with the Braves. He has recovered quicker than expected from a scary bout with a blood clot. Meanwhile, John Gant has remained in the running longer than might have been expected. Per Bowman, the 23-year-old, who came over in last year’s Juan Uribe/Kelly Johnson swap with the division-rival Mets, may be in line behind Foltynewicz and Jhoulys Chacin.
- Meanwhile, the Braves will be looking around for southpaw relievers as players begin to shake loose from other organizations, Bowman suggests. Ian Krol has underwhelmed and doesn’t seem likely to take a roster spot, leaving Alex Torres as perhaps the only southpaw currently in camp who’ll be on the Opening Day roster. One internal option that could re-enter the picture, he adds, is Hunter Cervenka, who has already been shipped down to minor league camp.
Connor Byrne contributed to this post.