Investigating the Phillies’s Bench Options

With just over a week until Opening Day, the Philadelphia bench group is starting to come into the picture. As discussed by The Athletic’s Matt Gelb, the Phillies watch each of the backup catcher Garrett Stubbsand utilities Edmund Sosa And Josh Harrison as locks to make the selection. Of Bryce Harper scheduled to start the season on the injured list while he rehabs from Tommy John surgery, the Phillies have no regular, daily DH, effectively giving them five seats on the bench. With three locked up, two spots remain 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 MarshAnd Nick Castellanosbut there are plenty of internal candidates who may also be able to land one of the bank’s remaining jobs: utilities Scott Kingerie, Dalton GuthrieAnd Kodi Clemens are joined by an 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 safe places in the organization heading into the season: Guthrie, Clemens, Cave and Hall are all on the 40-man roster with minor league options remaining, while Kingery is not on the 40-man roster state but is set to remain in the organization during the final year of his ill-fated $24 million six-year extension, he signed with the Phillies ahead of the 2018 season, before winning a big league at bat. Without fear of losing any of these players by not assigning them a spot on the Opening Day roster, the Phillies have a lot of flexibility in making their final decisions about which players to select.

Looking at outside options, chances are the best right-hander fourth outfield option will go unsigned Albert Almora. Almora played in 64 games for the Reds in 2022 with solid defense in each of the three outfield spots, but struggled at home plate as he batted just .223/.282/.349 in 235 at bats for just a 71 wRC+. That seems about in line with what a club can expect from Almora if they sign him for this season, as his career 80 wRC+ drops to 71 when looking at his performance since the start of the 2018 season.

While profits are currently small in the free agent market, it remains possible that a player who has been squeezed out of their current club’s roster could be made available through trades or by opting out of their current minor-league squad. pact and return to the free agent market. . Jake Marinick, Mont HarrisonAnd Michael Hermosillo are among many players in the league for whom that is an opportunity as Spring Training comes to a close.

If the Philies can’t find anyone outside the organization to their liking, both Kingery and Guthrie are right-handed hitters with experience in all three outfield spots. Kingery has had a better spring so far than Guthrie as the former has raked to a .394/.459/.515 line this spring that far surpasses Guthrie’s .250/.273/.375 line. With that being said, Guthrie has its own perks. As mentioned earlier, he already has a spot on the 40-man roster, while Kingery would need a corresponding move to the roster. In addition, Guthrie entered big league action for the first time last season, posting a whopping 184 wRC+ in his 14-game cup of coffee, earning him a spot on the postseason roster during Philadelphia’s NL championship.

It’s also worth noting that Kingery has largely struggled with his major league odds so far in his career, with his already mediocre 73 wRC+ in 325 career games largely buoyed by a 2019 season where he was league average at the plate (100 wRC+) in 500 at bats. Since then, Kingery has posted a brutal wRC+ of just 21, indicating he is 79% worse than the league average at the plate in 52 big league games since the start of the 2020 season. Given his protracted struggle, it would be understandable if the Phillies were hesitant to trust his torrid spring.

Assuming the Phillies want another left-handed bat on the bench in addition to Stubbs, the spot that doesn’t go to one of Kingery, Guthrie, or an outside fourth outfielder would probably go to one of Hall, Clemens, or Cave. All three have made their way into the Grapefruit League, but one dividing line could be that Clemens has by far the most positional flexibility of the three. Cave is limited to the outfield, while Hall is limited to first base and the DH slot, while Clemens has experience on the four corners and second base, though Gelb indicates the Phillies don’t see Clemens as a factor at the cornerstone .

That said, Cave has the benefit of a long list of major league experience, with 335 major league games to his name and a career wRC+ of 92, though he only posted 81 in 54 games last year with the Twins. . While the most limited of the three options defensively, Hall is the most interesting of the three, as he posted a 119 wRC+ in 101 Triple-A games last year before taking that success to the big leagues, where he hit .250 / hit. 282/.550 with a wRC+ of 120. For a team going into the season without Harper, Hall’s left power may be too appealing 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 outside addition or injury could certainly change that over the next week, not to mention the reality that all five internal options look certain to get major league opportunities at some point this year as the roster squirms through the regular season.

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