In reigning National League MVP Bryce Harper – a two-time winner of the award – the Phillies have a solid base for putting together a top-shelf outfield. Of course, they still need two more bodies (or more) to help Mr. Harper patrol the grass, and the list of available names is about to start dwindling quickly. Already, in fact, they’re dealing with a depleted free-agent pool.
But it’s not barren, and there’s time yet for the Phillies to construct a competent trio in the outfield of Citizens Bank Park. By all accounts, they’re on the hunt for Harper’s next running mates. Nick Castellanos is the top pure outfielder remaining, and the Phillies have indeed checked in on him, per Jon Morosi of MLB Network (via Twitter). Morosi notes that Phillies president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski ran the show in Detroit when Castellanos was drafted, so there’s certainly some history there.
Castellanos – a first-time All-Star with the Reds last season – would certainly bring much-needed thunder to a lineup that ranked 13th in MLB by the measure of runs scored in 2021. The former Tiger, Cub, and Red hit .309/.362/.576 with 34 home runs and a clean 100 RBIs last year, good for a robust 140 wRC+.
Of course, defense was a bit of a bugaboo for Joe Girardi’s club, and Castellanos isn’t traditionally known for his merits in that department. The DH would be an option, though Rhys Hoskins is already a candidate for that role. Furthermore, Girardo will almost certainly want to earmark some of those ABs as a means for keeping Harper and J.T. Realmuto fresh.
In addition, the Phillies have been in recent contact with their on-again-off-again centerfielder Odubel Herrera, per Jim Salisbury of NBCSPhilly (via Twitter). Herrera posted 1.8 rWAR/1.1 fWAR last year as a regular in center, logging 492 trips to the dish across 124 games.
Herrera doesn’t walk a ton (5.9 percent walk rate), and his power clocks in below-average (.156 ISO), but he put the ball in play at a career-best rate last year, striking out in just 15.7 percent of his plate appearances. All in all, his bat was seven percent below average, which is absolutely palatable for a decent gloveman in center – and Herrera was that in 2021.
The Fielding Bible credited him with 2 total runs saved, while he rated decently in other systems as well (2 DRS, -1.2 UZR). Even if Herrera just holds the line in center, that might be enough for the Phils to seek a reunion. There are very few options on the free-agent market, and leaguewide, centerfield has become one of the more difficult positions to fill.
Without Herrera and Castellanos (or other additions), the Phillies have just unproven youngsters like Mickey Moniak and Adam Haseley on the roster. Roman Quinn has departed, while other members of Philly’s 2021 offense Andrew McCutchen and Brad Miller are still free agents. Utility players Johan Camargo and Luke Williams are internal options, but not realistically for regular playing time.
Elsewhere in the organization, 25-year-old Matt Vierling might be a game-by-game option in the grass, while the top prospective minor leaguers on the depth chart are non-roster invitee Justin Williams and 23-year-old prospect Simon Muzziotti, who has just 50 plate appearances above High-A.