We’ve already sorted through the rest of the NL East (Braves, Nationals, Mets, Marlins) when looking at how the likely addition of a universal DH might impact the teams within. How might the Phillies react to the change? The Phils have a reasonably experienced lineup, with only presumptive center fielder Adam Haseley checking in at under a year of big league service time. The group was a middle-of-the-pack unit in the NL last year, ranking eighth in runs scored (774), tenth in wRC+ (91) and 11th in home runs (215).
Among in-house veterans, Jay Bruce leads the pack of DH candidates. Acquired last year shortly before Andrew McCutchen tore his ACL, Bruce continued to show off huge power but posted bottom-of-the-barrel OBP numbers: a .261 OBP and a career-low 5.7 percent walk rate. If his days an even passable OBP threat are behind him, perhaps he’s no longer suited for this role, but he’ll probably get some opportunities to bounce back. He’ll likely need a right-handed platoon partner. The Phils have no shortage of non-roster veterans who could factor into the mix, including Logan Forsythe, Josh Harrison and Neil Walker (although Walker is a much better left-handed hitter than he is right-handed).
The bigger question in Philly, though, is whether the advent of the NL DH and the likely expansion of rosters will push top prospect Alec Bohm to the big league level. Bohm hasn’t appeared above Double-A yet, but the former No. 3 overall draft pick clobbered High-A and Double-A pitching last year, hitting at a combined .305/.378/.518 clip in 540 plate appearances. Bohm walked in 10.6 percent of his plate appearances against a mere 13.5 percent strikeout rate. There’s no guarantee that any minor league games will be played in 2020, and he was widely expected to debut at some point in 2020 anyhow. Given Bohm’s status as a consensus top 60 prospect, the Phillies can’t be keen on him missing a year’s worth of games.
If Bohm holds his own in the Majors, the benefits to the Phillies are substantial. Jean Segura could move from third base to second base, freeing Scott Kingery up to embrace a super-utility role or simply allowing him to supplant Haseley as the everyday center fielder. Kingery rated well at virtually every position he played in 2019, and his bat is an upgrade over that of Haseley. With a DH spot added, there’s room for each of Bohm, Segura and Kingery to regularly factor into the lineup.
It’s true that Haseley’s glove graded out excellently last year, so perhaps the Phils would prefer to keep him in there as often as possible — particularly against righties. In that case, both Haseley and Kingery could log outfield reps on days when McCutchen is the DH, allowing his surgically repaired knee the occasional rest. Bohm could play third base on those days with Segura at second. At the very least, a productive debut from Bohm would give incoming skipper Joe Girardi the “good” types of problems/questions that every manager hopes to have.
There could be other options in the organization. Expanded rosters surely give Nick Williams a greater chance of making the club, though he’s rather buried on the outfield depth chart. The right-handed-hitting Kyle Garlick could see some increased opportunities, and while Nick Martini isn’t on the 40-man roster at present, he’s an OBP machine who would make for a nice bench bat or occasional DH versus righties. With Matt Szczur, Ronald Torreyes, Phil Gosselin, Mikie Mahtook and T.J. Rivera all in camp on minor league deals as well, the Phillies aren’t short on recognizable names. It’s doubtful any of that bunch would factor prominently into DH duties, but they give the Phillies plenty of options for a deepened bench.