Well, the new year has started and what better thing to do than to look at what the 2021 Phillies will look like. Granted, there is still a lot that could happen between now and the beginning of spring training. Just one look at the catching position should tell you that. But there still are a great many holes that need to be filled either with a free agent signing, a trade or a spring training invite.
Still, it’s always fun to see what wonder who will be in the Opening Day lineup. So, here is our first crack at what the initial 26 (?) man roster will look like.
Andrew Knapp, Rafael Marchan
Boy oh boy, does this spot need an upgrade.
Listen, you aren’t stupid. You know the obvious fix here. Signing J.T. Realmuto would fix a lot of problems that exist right now. Not only would Knapp and Marchan be among the worst catching tandems in the game offensively, they would represent a huge downgrade defensively. Neither of them would be in the proper role if they started the season like this right now, but put Knapp into a backup position and Marchan in the minor leagues with more seasoning and the team is in a much better spot.
Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery, Jean Segura, Alec Bohm, Kyle Holder, Ronald Torreyes
The starting quartet is set in stone. Barring a major deal, the first four names you see are going to be opening the season as the starters. Again, there is still room for improvement here that could be made by simply re-signing Didi Gregorius or someone else as the shortstop, then shifting Segura to second base, but with all that has been said about the financial shortfall the team faces this year, that seems unlikely.
Kingery might be the most important player offensively for the Phillies in 2021. We wrote earlier about how his 2020 season can almost be excused when you consider the COVID-19 diagnosis he had, if he can bounce back and show some kind of improvement, this offense works a lot better.
The bench of Holder and Torreyes could use some upgrading, though Holder being a Rule 5 pick means he’s probably here for the season.
Andrew McCutchen, Adam Haseley, Bryce Harper, Roman Quinn, Kyle Garlick
Again, no real surprises here. The centerfield situation needs to be settled this year with the team needing to choose between either Haseley or Quinn. While one seems to be in the Girardi doghouse, the other is made of glass and can’t be counted on as a full-time starter. There could be a heavy dose of Kingery in centerfield as well, especially if the team upgrades in the infield. Garlick and Quinn show you just how much this team needs to upgrade their bench still.
Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, Spencer Howard
Seeing the team tender a contract to Vince Velasquez wasn’t exactly the most exciting thing this offseason, but with them not having much money, it’s unlikely they could find something better at the price he is going to be. Yes, yes, we’re all sick of the 95 pitch, 4 inning outings, but maybe Caleb Cotham can work with him? I don’t know, don’t listen to me.
Hector Neris, Jose Alvarado, Conner Brogdon, Ranger Suarez, Jojo Romero, David Hale, Ian Hamilton, Victor Arano, Ramon Rosso
The bullpen was a mess.
The bullpen is still a mess.
Getting Alvarado was a big boost to this squad since they don’t really have someone of his caliber on the team right now, someone that can throw with that much octane on a regular basis.
But come on, this isn’t a playoff worthy bullpen. This is one a team trots out as a last resort, hoping a few names pop and become something more.
Adding a few free agents to this team would do wonders. They don’t have to be any of the big ones outside of Realmuto, just some smart additions that could help add with the flexibility of the bench or the depth of the bullpen. Not that he would be the one to add, but a player like Enrique Hernandez would do well since his ability to play multiple positions and be productive at those positions could help out so many issues (bench boost, substitute for Kingery, etc.)
Yet doing these types of projections really hammers home how much the team needs to sign Realmuto. With James McCann going to New York, the catching market is bare outside of JTR. It would help set what currently is not a playoff worthy roster on a better path to having a chance.