Martin's Phillies Hot Stove # 7 - LF & RF & DH - Where the buffalos roam

These positions are bound together by the assumption of Harper, Schwarber ... and Castellanos

Considering the first two - they ain't goin' no where. Harper & Schwarber are the heart and soul of the team - Schwarber has perhaps become more the team leader than Harper. Two time MVP & NL Home run leader. And both are locked up - Harper the next 10 years - Schwarber the next three and both of their contracts are beginning to look like bargains considering how contracts keep spiraling up. So I'm going to assume no controversy around two of these three positions. There is no reason for me to post their stats again - maybe you have them memorized.

That brings us to Nick Castellanos 30yo RHB $20MM/AAV - UFA in 2027

career / 162 PA: 667 HR: 24 .276/.326/.475 OPS:.801

2021 Season: PA: 585 HR: 34 .309/.362/.576 OPS:.939

2022 season: PA: 558 HR: 13 .263/.305/.389 OPS .694

2022 post-season PA: 68 HR: 0 .185/.232/.246 OPS .478

2023 forecast PA: 602 HR: 20 .257/.308/.429 OPS:.737

2022 by Month OPS

Mar/Apr .849 May .688 June .562 July .625 Aug .833 Sept/Oct .498

On May 5th he was HBP and though he didn't go on the IL - he began to tank. On Sept 2nd he got an oblique strain that sent him to the IL and he was reinstated for the playoffs but never recovered. Or maybe he wasn't injured in that HBP on May 5th and it was just a slump of epic proportions. The two months where he was healthy or not slumped: March & August 196 PAs - he didn't hit like 2021 - but exceeded his career average. I remember him as the best hitter on the Phillies in April.

Castellanos has always been a free-swinger who connects a lot with fast balls and can still hit for average and has good power (mid 20s homers). He's been durable (averaging 667 PAs). His splits are not dramatic - he has better SLG against righties and better OPB vs. lefties. His defense was consistently questioned - but his glove works when his bat is working or in the playoffs evidently - he played some fine defense in the post-season.

Can he get back to 20+ HRs and .8+ OPS? Can he ever lay off a breaking ball low and outside? Is he fragile? Was 2022 just bad luck?

I think it's a mistake to sell Castellanos low after this one bad year (which still had bright spots). Maybe with some rest in the offseason we can see an early season in 2023 like we saw in 2022 and he can avoid season-spoiling injuries or grand mal slump or whatever it was.

So if we have Harper, Schwarber and Castellanos - and we have three positions to fill: RF, LF, & DH. We can talk all day about who fits where but the Phils don't need to be spending for an outfielder or DH. We can look at what's out there - but unless we are willing to sell low on Castellanos or move Schwarber to first base (maybe we should in 2024) we have what we have. If we have another injury or Castellanos continues to disappoint maybe Dombrowski can pull a trade deadline deal, I'd rather get armed with pitching than be paying $10+MM for another slugger only.

That leaves two issues remaining:

Who is the bridge to Harper's return? #1 on that list could be Darick Hall - who was a big help when Harper was out last year. The games in April and May and early June matter - they wind up on the count that get you into the playoffs or not just like the ones in September. But everyone is settling in, and sometimes pitchers haven't found their groove and it's a good time to experiment with young players. In 2022 Spring training we would have been saying Mickey Moniak. So I'm not sure we know beyond Hall who will be the bat to fill in for Harper - but I don't think we need to go out and get an expensive veteran slugger just to do it. It's going to be a journey

If Harper returns to RF in 2023 - who goes to DH? If Harper returns to LF in 2023, I think we move Schwarber to DH and Castellanos to right. Setting aside fielding percentages - the question is range here.. both were not great in 2022 - Castellanos -11 OAA, Schwarber -13 OAA. But statistically - and through his career - Castellanos makes many more plays in the unikely category and we saw that. We also saw Castellanos' defense sag with his hitting. Castellanos' defense in the post season and in May of last year was better than Schwarbers. Castellanos is the better fielder. I think we should be moving Schwarber to 1st Base in 2024 when Hoskins goes free agent. I think Castellanos belongs in the outfield.

If you want to talk about a trade - there are rumors the Rays would be willing to talk about a trade for Randy Arozarena - I'm not sure what they'd want with Mick Abels to be interested, but I'd be listening... They like pitching. Of course then we wouldn't have any place to play Arozarena.