With just over a week until Opening Day, the bench group in Philadelphia is beginning to come into focus. As discussed by The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, the Phillies view each of backup catcher Garrett Stubbs, and utilitymen Edmundo Sosa and Josh Harrison as locks to make the roster. With Bryce Harper slated to begin the season on the injured list as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery, the Phillies have no set, everyday DH, leaving them with effectively five seats on the bench. With three locked in, two spots remain available for the Phillies to fill.
Gelb notes that the Phillies are interested in acquiring a right-handed fourth outfielder to complement the starting outfield trio of Kyle Schwarber, Brandon Marsh, and Nick Castellanos, but there are plenty of internal candidates also capable of securing one of the remaining bench jobs: utilitymen Scott Kingery, Dalton Guthrie, and Kody Clemens are joined by outfielder Jake Cave and first baseman Darick Hall in the hunt for a spot on the Philadelphia bench to open the season.
All five players have relatively secure spots in the organization headed into the season: Guthrie, Clemens, Cave, and Hall all are on the 40-man roster with minor league options remaining, while Kingery is not on the 40-man roster but is set to remain in the organization during the final year of his ill-fated six-year, $24MM extension he signed with the Phillies ahead of the 2018 season, before he had taken a big league at-bat. Without fear of losing any of these players by not dedicating an Opening Day roster spot to them, the Phillies have plenty of flexibility in making their final decisions about which players to roster.
Looking at external options, the best right-handed fourth outfield option remaining unsigned is likely Albert Almora. Almora played in 64 games for the Reds in 2022 with solid defense at each of the three outfield spots, but struggled at the plate as he slashed just .223/.282/.349 in 235 plate appearances, good for just a 71 wRC+. That seems to be about in line with what a club should expect from Almora should they sign him for this season, given his career 80 wRC+ drops to 71 when looking at his performance since the start of the 2018 season.
While the pickings are currently slim on the free agent market, it remains possible that a player squeezed off their current club’s roster could be made available either by trade or by opting-out of their current minor-league pact and returning to the free agent market. Jake Marisnick, Monte Harrison, and Michael Hermosillo are among the numerous players around the league for whom that is a possibility as Spring Training draws toward a conclusion.
If the Philies are unable to find anyone outside of the organization to their liking, both Kingery and Guthrie are right-handed hitters with experience at all three outfield spots. Kingery has had a better spring to this point that Guthrie, as the former has raked to a .394/.459/.515 line this spring that far outshines Guthrie’s .250/.273/.375 line. With that being said, Guthrie has advantages of his own. As previously mentioned, he already has a 40-man roster spot, while Kingery would require a corresponding move to roster. Additionally, Guthrie raked in his first taste of big league action last season, posting a whopping 184 wRC+ in his fourteen-game cup of coffee that earned him a spot on the postseason roster during Philadelphia’s NL championship run.
It’s also worth noting that Kingery has largely struggled in his major league opportunities to this point in his career, with his already mediocre 73 wRC+ in 325 career games mostly buoyed by a 2019 season where he was league average at the plate (100 wRC+) in 500 plate appearances. Since then, Kingery has posted a brutal wRC+ of just 21, indicating he’s been 79% worse than league average at the plate in 52 big league games since the start of the 2020 season. Given his long-lasting struggles, it would be understandable if the Phillies were hesitant to trust his torrid spring.
Assuming the Phillies would like another left-handed bat on the bench in addition to Stubbs, the spot that doesn’t go to one of Kingery, Guthrie, or an external fourth outfielder would likely go to one of Hall, Clemens, or Cave. All three have raked in Grapefruit League play, but one separator could be that Clemens has by far the most positional flexibility of the three. Cave is confined to the outfield while Hall is limited to first base and the DH slot while Clemens has experience in the four corner spots and at second base, though Gelb indicates that the Phillies don’t see Clemens as a factor at the keystone.
That being said, Cave has the advantage of a long track record of major league experience, with 335 big league games under his belt to this point and a career wRC+ of 92, though he posted just an 81 in 54 games with the Twins last year. While the most defensively limited of the three options, Hall is the most interesting bat of the three, as he posted a 119 wRC+ in 101 Triple-A games last year before carrying that success into the big leagues, where he slashed .250/.282/.550 with a wRC+ of 120. For a team set to start the season without Harper, it’s possible that Hall’s lefty power might be too attractive to pass up, even with his defensive limitations.
While pairing Hall with one of Guthrie or Kingery certainly seems like an attractive option for the Phillies right now, an external addition or injury could certainly change that over the course of the next week or so, to say nothing of the reality that all five internal options seem sure to get major league opportunities at some point this year as the roster churns through the regular season.
Hoskins for Margot
Phillies need a platoon hitter for Darrick Hall while Harper is out, not to create another hole in the lineup
I think it’s too late to have interest for a right-handed outfielder now because almost all of the players have already signed. They can still acquire an outfield by trade but its most likely that most of the teams are not willing to trade an outfielder when the season is going to start very soon. I did like that the Phillies acquired Gregory Soto, but I didn’t want them to trade Vierling.
I think they’ll likely run with the internal options here. Lots of guys having a nice ST.
Yeah, no thanks.
I know that they feel the need to maximize the lineup presence in the interim before Bryce gets back, but give Guthrie or Scottie the shot at it. I loved Scottie in the minors until Klentak messed him up, and the shoulder derailed his restoration and still think that he could be a very good major league hitter.
Motor City Beach Bum
Clemens is not the answer. You should have hung onto Vierling and Maton. Soto will blow up at some point too. Tigers will end up winning that trade handily.
Clemens is not it and Maton+Vierling will be good. However Soto will be too. He doesn’t need to be the guy in this bullpen and should thrive with Cotham’s guidance.
Darkside nailed it.
Motor City Beach Bum
Cobham is good. I’ll give you that one. Gotta take the good with the bad with Soto though.
Beach Bum, we both watched Soto look like the most dominant reliever in the league and then 24 hours later, look like someone who wouldn’t make a high school JV team
@MCBB – I think that the Tigers did really well in the Soto trade. I like Maton more than most, and can see him as a potential starting 2B if he continues to develop. Love his swing. Vierling has developed already into more than I thought that he would, and probably floors as a solid 4th OF / platoon bat. And Sands still has some upside with an interesting bat potential behind the plate.
But yeah – Cotham could smooth out that delivery of Soto and the Phils might have lightning lefty arms at the back of the pen for a few years. Good trades hurt, and DD gave up more than I wanted, but frankly they have other options in the pipeline as well.
Buuba ho tep
Wish I could give 2 thumbs up for this valuable post.
Buuba ho tep
Motor City Beach Bum
He’s overdoing the patented kidhoff Wow!
IKF is taking reps in the OF these days. Perfect fit!
IKF would actually be a good fit here.
dave frost nhlpa
And take hicks as well.
deGrom Texas Ranger
The Phillies need an automatic out in their lineup?
But Hicks will improve the team’s golf handicap better than anyone else available.
If the Phillies look for outside help, don’t look at the Cardinals. We don’t need Mo getting fleeced by Dombrowski a second time. You guys don’t have anymore clubhouse attendants named JoJo you’re trying to pass off as lefthanded pitchers, do you?
Brandon Dixon about to be expendable by San Diego.
Better yet Philly can have switch hitting OFer Aaron Hicks. He’s equally awful from both sides of the plate. In return the Yankees would like 3 Philly cheese steaks and a Lenny Dykstra throwback jersey.
With today’s inflation, there’s no way you’re getting that for Hicks.
Lol I was just gonna say that Dykstra jersey might be too steep of an ask!
I don’t know…as big of an idiot as Dykstra is, the jersey might have a negative value itself at this point. Unless it comes paired with his prison jumpsuit and mugshot, of course.
You probably couldn’t get Ron Jones or Jim Lindeman at their current ages for Hicks…
Jeff Stone might be the deal breaker….
The Yankees may have to include a prospect
Take Miguel Andujar from the Pirates
IKF and Hicks from the Yankees for an injured minor league pitcher.
Does he even have to be breathing?
You can have switch hitting Dylan Carlson for a bag of nuts
Such a dumb comment.
This one belongs to the Reds
I think we know where the bag of nuts are.
Harper will go on the 60-day IL when the season starts, opening a roster spot — at least for the time Harper is on the IL. That may give Kingery an opening since they can mix and match any of the 40-man guys with options (Kingery, Cave, Guthrie, Clemens, Hall). Marsh also has options but I don’t expect him to be sent down. They have three other Rule 5 protected outfielders on the 40-man: Johan Rojas, Jhailyn Ortiz and Simon Muzziotti. Muzziotti and Rojas already look pretty good defensively, including CF so that’s some depth but neither has hit very well. Ortiz was supposed to be the hitter of the three but he’s only shown spurts. Although he has hit well the past 2 weeks of spring ball. Kingery makes sense because he’s played all over and is a RH CF bat to partner with Marsh and if he has to be DFA’ed/outrighted again due to failing again at the MLB level he’ll clear waivers with that guaranteed salary he has.
If Kingery’s swing is even semi-legit, he makes the most sense.
A lot of Philly fans are done w/ Kingery., but he had a long run of things happen to him -the worst of which were the swing change and long covid. All he has to do is replicate his 2019 season and be league average… It is not like he’s being counted on for 3-4 starts a week? Just have some good pa’s, play some D, a little pinch running….
Since the majority of the roster (including Hall as the DH) has been set since Harrison was signed, Kingery is really going for the 13th spot…
Prince Fielder's Barrelman
Yelich? Phillies don’t care about money as much as the Brewers. Brewers now have money for SP extensions.
(Don’t know how to post without replying to another conversation)
Lol. No no. They’re looking for bench depth and most likely going with an internal option. People are overreacting to the headline a bit.
Almora has not been the same at the plate since the foul ball in Houston that severely injured the little girl. Hit well in three previous seasons then completely turned terrible after this incident. Would be surprised if he would ever play regularly in MLB again.
This one belongs to the Reds
From seeing him play both with the Cubs and Reds, I agree with this.
Kevin Pillar would probably be a nice fit if he doesn’t make the Braves
I think Randal Grichuk makes sense now that the Rockies have signed Profar.
Grichuk is average-ish in the corners, not very good in center. His bat only plays against LHP.
I am not saying he will contend for MVP or anything. But he fits the bill for a right handed hitting outfielder that the article says the Phils are looking for.
I’m not disagreeing. Just my take having watched him when he was with the Jays.
I think once he got his vision corrected midway through last season, I think his defense improved a bit. I mean, no one is going to mistake him for a Gold Glove outfielder or anything, but his route running is better now that he wears glasses.
Wanted: Right-handed hitter. Ability to field not necessary.
thats it fort pitt
Pirates would give them Andujar if they took his contract and Choi’s.
Trayce Thompson is a cheap salary rh batter and not necessarily an everyday starter
Call the orioles. They’ve got too many major league outfielders