Offseason additions of Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen have left the Phillies with an overcrowded outfield mix that will likely lead to some roster shuffling. As The Athletic’s Meghan Montemurro examines at length (subscription required), the Phils now have five outfielders — Odubel Herrera, Roman Quinn, Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr and Dylan Cozens — all on the 40-man roster beyond their two big-name pickups. Both Herrera and Quinn are currently nursing minor injuries, but they’re also the two most logical options for center field. Williams, meanwhile, isn’t viewed as an option in center, per manager Gabe Kapler, which severely clouds his future with the team. Williams does have minor league options remaining, but he could also hold appeal as a trade asset marketed to other clubs in search of outfield help. (The same could be true of Herrera, but he’s owed $24.5MM through 2021 and had a down season in 2018.) Of the Phillies’ current outfielders, both Altherr and Quinn are out of minor league options, which only enhances the likelihood of some roster moves in the next couple of weeks.
Elsewhere in the division…
- Because of the numerous off-days baked into the early-season schedule, the Mets are likelier to open the season with seven relievers than they are with eight, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo are locks to hold down five of those spots, and Puma adds that non-roster lefties Luis Avilan and Hector Santiago are strong candidates to claim the other two slots. Both veterans signed minor league contracts with invites to Spring Training, and both have thrown quite well to open camp. That’d give manager Mickey Callaway three lefties to utilize out of the ’pen early in the season, although it wouldn’t leave the team with too much in the way of roster flexibility. With so many veteran relievers on board, the only three pitchers of that bunch who could technically be optioned to the minors would be Lugo, Gsellman and Diaz — none of whom would figure to be sent down to the minors at any point. If the Mets do eventually shift to carrying eight relievers, they’d be able to use that final ’pen slot to shuffle some fresh arms back and forth between the Majors and Triple-A Syracuse.
- Left-hander Sammy Solis was caught “completely off guard” by the Nationals’ decision to release him, the pitcher tells Richard Justice of MLB.com. Solid seemingly took the abrupt and unexpected news in good stride, thanking the organization and expressing some disappointment over having to say goodbye to longtime teammates. As manager Dave Martinez explains, the move was made with an eye toward giving Solis a chance to find another organization before the season begins. “For me, it was more about giving Sammy an opportunity to latch on with another team and get a chance to have that Spring Training elsewhere,” said Martinez. The Nats also shed $713K in salary with the move, which surely played a factor as well. The 30-year-old Solid has had a pair of unsightly seasons over the past two years, including a 2017 campaign that was shortened by elbow troubles. He maintains that he’s healthy now, though, and one would imagine that a lefty who averaged nearly 94 mph on his fastball to go along with a 12.9 percent swinging-strike rate in 2018 will garner interest — even if only on a minor league contract.
- Right-hander Pablo Lopez is making a strong case to open the season in the Marlins’ rotation, but manager Don Mattingly said this weekend that no decisions have been made as to who’ll round out the rotation behind Jose Urena and Dan Straily, per Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. Lopez tossed four perfect innings and picked up four punchouts in his most recent outing against a Nationals lineup featuring many regulars. He’s now allowed just one run on three hits and a walk with eight strikeouts in nine spring frames. Wei-Yin Chen’s contract — he’s owed $42MM over the next two seasons — makes him a likely candidate to get a long look, while other rotation hopefuls include Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Richards and southpaw Caleb Smith.