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UPDATED: Phillies release Chris Coghlan as roster comes into focus

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The Phils’ bench is starting to take shape.

Philadelphia Phillies v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

This one is a bit of an upset.

The Phillies have announced the release of outfielder/infielder Chris Coghlan, a non-roster invitee whose positional flexibility and experience made him a leading candidate for one of the team’s bench jobs in 2017.

The soon-to-be 32-year-old journeyman did not have a good spring with the club, with a slash line of .231/.319/.282 in 39 at-bats. He played 99 games last season with the Oakland A’s and Chicago Cubs, and hit .188/.290/.318 with a wRC+ of 66 and an fWAR of -0.5.

Coghlan batted .146/.215/.272 in 172 plate appearances with Oakland, but performed better with Chicago, slashing .252/.391/.388 in 128 PAs. His OPS+ of 111 with the Cubs was far better than the 35 he put up with the Athletics. However, the team has decided to go in another direction.

And with his release, a potential 25-man roster begins to take shape.

While it hasn’t been announced officially, it appears as if Andrew Knapp has won the back-up catcher’s job. He is already on the 40-man roster. Aaron Altherr has the fourth outfielder job locked up, and Andres Blanco is the primary utility man in the infield.

That leaves three players in Phils’ camp for two remaining bench spots, assuming the Phillies go with a traditional 7-man bullpen (and that’s no guarantee). Perhaps the biggest beneficiary from the Coghlan release is first baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi.

The 27-year-old, who is not on the 40-man roster, has had a tremendous spring, slugging 5 HRs with 15 RBIs and a slash line of .320/.370/.680, good for an OPS of 1.050. Only Rhys Hoskins had a higher OPS in Clearwater. Of course, in order for Stassi to make the team, the Phils would have to DFA someone from the existing 40-man roster to make room.

The other two contenders for those two bench spots are outfielder Daniel Nava and second baseman Jesmuel Valentin, both of whom have been great in camp.

In 36 at bats, Nava is batting .361/.465/.444 for an OPS of .910, with 6 walks and just 1 strikeout. Valentin has had 37 ABs and is batting a robust .378/.439/.541 with 6 doubles, 6 strikeouts and 4 walks. Valentin is mostly just a second baseman and Nava is strictly a corner outfielder. Neither offered the positional flexibility that Coghlan provided.

The advantage Valentin has over Nava is that Valentin is already on the 40-man roster, while Nava is a non-roster invitee. If they decide to go with Nava, the Phillies would have to jettison someone off the 40-man roster.

There is also the possibility the Phillies could look to add someone from outside the organization. The San Francisco Giants recently released 35-year-old outfielder Angel Pagan. He notched a career high in home runs last season, with 12 in 543 PAs. He batted .277/.331/.418 with an fWAR of 2.1 and a wRC+ of 105. He adds a little speed on the bases as well, with 15 stolen bases and 71 runs scored last year.

Among the players on the 40-man roster that are seemingly vulnerable at this point are relief pitcher Luis Garcia, outfielder Tyler Goeddel, and starting pitchers Alec Asher and Adam Morgan. Decisions on the make-up of the bullpen could go a long way to determining how the Phils’ bench shakes out.

More roster moves are coming, so stay tuned for further updates.

***UPDATE***

Asher’s departure opens up a spot on the 40-man roster.