Spring training is finally right around the corner. Most of the moves the Phillies were going to make have been made and barring a surprise trade, the roster that is headed to Clearwater looks more or less finalized. So, that means it’s time to guess who will end up coming back north with the team as the ones that will make that long march from center field to the dugout on Opening Day. Here is what we’re thinking is the 26 man roster that Joe Girardi will go to work with.
J.T. Realmuto, Andrew Knapp
These are pretty easy to guess. Whether or not Girardi decides to go with three catchers thanks to the added roster spot is something to watch out for. You’d like to think that he wouldn’t do that because if he does, assuming it’s Deivy Grullon, the guy would just never play. Managing Realmuto’s workload should be a priority to begin the season, so Knapp will have to produce if he wants to stay in the majors.
Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Scott Kingery, Josh Harrison, Neil Walker
The starting infield is pretty easy to guess as well. These will be the regulars that you would expect to play 140-150 games unless a player is brought in from outside of the organization or if a prospect like Alec Bohm forces the issue by mid- to late-May. Harrison’s flexibility is something that he has going for him as he can move all around the infield in a pinch or can be used as a pinch hitter. Of course, he hasn’t done much in the past few years, so this spring will be big for him to prove that he is worthy of the roster spot. Walker is the guy that can go either way. He can really only play first base or second base defensively, and neither of them will be that good. He’s probably your best pinch hitting option off of the bench, something he was quite good at last season (.304/.429/.652 as a PH in 2019).
Bryce Harper, Adam Haseley, Andrew McCutchen, Roman Quinn, Jay Bruce
Again, pretty easy to figure who is going. Quinn, of course, just needs to make it through the spring all in one piece. If he can’t, it would not be surprising if the team just gives up on him at some point early in the year. If McCutchen needs to start the year on the IL, for whatever reason, then Nick Martini is a name to watch. On a minor league deal, he could start the year with the team and could be jettisoned rather easily.
Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez
We all know the top two are set in stone. How Arrieta and Eflin are trotted out doesn’t really matter much, but they’ll both be in the rotation to start. It’s the fifth starter that will be the battle of the spring. Both Velasquez and Nick Pivetta will be vying for the final rotation spot. The loser will head to Lehigh Valley to begin the year unless the team decides that a bullpen spot is of better usage. Here, we have Velasquez winning the battle for a few reasons. He has in the past shown that he better as a starter than as a reliever. He is quite vocal about his desire to remain a starter since he prefers the routine of a starter over being unsure of when he’ll be needed again as a reliever. Both pitchers have minor league options left, so it’s probably unlikely that Pivetta will be in the bullpen to start. The team would likely want him to be stretched out already in case of injury.
Hector Neris, Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarez, Adam Morgan, Victor Arano, Ranger Suarez, Francisco Liriano, Robert Stock
This offseason, the team did an admirable job of adding depth in case of injury. It looked last year like they got caught with their pants down whenever an injury occurred, something they paid dearly for later in the season when the losses mounted and they saw a playoff spot slip away. The only two I’m kind of unsure about is Liriano and Stock. Liriano would give the team a fourth left hander, something that seems like a rather unnecessary luxury, especially in the era of the three batter minimum rule. If anything, this spring seems like the perfect time to have all of the team’s left handers throw more often against right handed batters to see who is most effective. Whoever ends up being the most effective will end up in the bullpen to start the year.
Stock is also someone that could be bumped. The team acquired Drew Storen, Bud Norris and Deolis Guerra this offseason to help with the depth. Guerra is a waiver pickup and is out of options, while Storen and Norris were minor league signings. If any of those three shows something during spring, it’s easy to think Stock and his two remaining minor league options could end up in Lehigh Valley. For now, we’re going with him and his upside over the possibility that minor league signings have anything left.