2023-2024 Hot Stove - Chapter 4 - Outfield

2023 Phillies Outfield

LF PA 688 wRC+ 112 (14th) OPS .785 (9th) 63.5% Schwarber (also Marsh, Pache, Wilson, etc..)

CF PA 620 wRC+ 108 (10th) OPS .769 (9th) 66.7% Marsh (also Rojas, Pache, etc.)

RF PA 701 wRC+ 105 (13th) OPS .770 (9th) 91.3% Castellanos

So what we can say is that offensively - the Phillies outfield went through changes but with Castellanos as the biggest constant (those two words: Castellanos & constant don't belong together, but) - they were .. above average offensively. Harper's return - not to RF but to 1B allowed for the exit of Schwarber from the outfield which improved radically the Phillies defense in the grass as through a path of other injuries - Schwarber's indirect replacement became glovemaster Johan Rojas. (I wanted to show this through stats but FG doesn't do team positional splits by date for hitting or defense).

Looking forward: Based on Dombrowski's recent announcement and a big heaping bowl full of common sense - barring some "musical chairs" style injury (that we've been having a lot of lately) Kyle Schwarber ain't going to be playing a lot outfield. First let's look at our 2023 outfielders with a 2024 perspective..

Nick Castellanos 31yo RHB $20MM/year until after 2026.

2023 Season PA 671 HR 29 OPS .787 wRC+ 109 (10th) OAA/RF -7 (11th)

2023 8/4-> PA 217 HR 14 OPS .836 wRC+ 118

2021 & 2022 PA 1143 HR 47 OPS .818 wRC+ 118 OAA/RF -10

2023 PostSn PA 52 HR 5 OPS .843 wRC+ 111

In 2023 Castellanos wound up with a strong platoon split .930 OPS vs LHP (187 PAs) & .733 vs RHP (484).

and a strong Home/away split: Home .900 OPS, Away .678

and causal or correlative - an interesting win loss split: in Wins OPS .922 in losses .620

But I'm reluctant to read too much into any of that because he's just so darned streaky and the streaks are long - like one pretty much ate the 2022 season and take a look at Nick by month (OPS):

A/M: .878 May .695 Jun .954 (elected an All-star) then Jul .497 Aug .860 SEP/OCT .817 PostS .843

The streaks (swinging from .954 one month to .497 the next) cross home/away RHP/LHP possibly unevenly and make everything into smaller samples.

It's wild to think of Phans wanting to trade away a guy who hit multiple homers and homers in back to back games in the playoffs, but he is frustrating. (and we thought Hoskins was streaky...) However Dombrowski and this piece in MLBTradeRumors, and I all think a trade is just not happening.

And for several reasons

1) Harper is a first baseman now and we have an open RF

2) Castellanos is frustrating but he does produce - maybe not like 2021, but he does produce

3) Nobody wants to absorb his big paycheck for 3 years - even if we paid part of it and just dumped him.

4) From helping out Rojas to his whole "Roy Kent" vibe with the media - he is a Phillie

5) The same way he slumped almost all of 2022 - he could boom almost all of 2024. Who knows?

We got Castellanos.

We didn't discuss his defense. His defense is kind of .. Nick Castellanos. No errors but stats that don't look that great - but he has clutch flashes of brilliance. When his bat sags, his glove follows. He benefits from having a strong CFer & 2B, because he doesn't roll to his right well or play balls behind him that well and with Stott on 2B he can just play further back and Rojas covers - well just about half of what Nick should.

So this is a long way of saying - we got RF covered - we're stuck with Nick for good or ill, and I'm not really unhappy with it. I can live with 25 HRs & .780 OPS and hope for 35 Hrs and .830 (which is sometimes on a pace to produce).

Brandon Marsh - 26 yr LHB pre-arb $<1MM - not a UFA until 2028

2023 Season PA 404 HR 12 OPS .829 wRC+ 125

2023 8/4-> PA 117 HR 4 OPS .870 wRC+ 139

2021 & 2022 PA 721 HR 13 OPS .677 wRC+ 88

2023 PostSn PA 42 HR 1 OPS .931 wRC+ 153

Marsh-by-month is not as dramatic as Casty's but it's still interesting:

OPS: A/M 1.066 May .599 Jun .754 Jul .794 Aug 1.171 Sep/Oct .725 PostS .931

Vs LHP PA 110 OPS .717 wRC +96 vs RHP PA 362 OPS .862 wRC +133

Marsh's 2023 measured by wRC+ (117) was 30th among all OFers (that's top 1/3) and not far behind Schwarber, Lourdes Gurriel, and Adam Duvall. And he's a lot cheaper and can get better. In the last two months of the season his 125 wRC+ was 21st among all MLB outfielders.

Games & Defense by position CF IP 431 OAA 4 (22nd) LF IP 136 OAA 1 (10th)

I didn't like the deal that brought Marsh here, but I've grown to really like Marsh, especially as a hitter. In the early part of the season he was the youngest guy on the team and led the team in just about every way except homers. Hell, he led baseball for a week or so. And it wasn't just about the early season. In the playoffs he hit really well and he hit well in the playoffs last year too. The guy can hit and if Stott (a year older) - is any indication - he could get better. With the glove - when he came here - he was thought of as a glove man. And Marsh is not a gold glover, but he is an adequate centerfielder (better than any CF we've had in prior years) and a better left fielder.

Like Stott last year - Thomson has protected Marsh some from LHPs and he has a platoon split (not much worse than Casty's). So he could be paired with a RHB that hits significantly better than .720 vs LHPs.

Marsh can play and should - this becomes another assumption. Where? is a good question. But we have 2/3rds of our outfield. Or maybe 3/6th (which is 1/2) but let's move on.

Johan Rojas 23yo RHB pre-arb until after 2026.. $720K

With Harper moved to first everyone's favorite buffalo removed from LF, we needed a LF or CF to fill out our outfield and .. Cristian Pache had a screw loose (IL). So Dombrowski rummaged around in the bag of tricks (Muzz? no, Kingery? no, trade? no, Rojas!). We called up Johan - a speedster gloveman who was stealing bases like crazy in the minors:

23 Reading PA 354 HR 9 SB 30 OPS .845

23 Phillies PA 164 HR 2 SB 14 OPS .771

23 PostSea PA 45 HR 0 SB 0 OPS .276

no real platoon split (small sample) vs RHP OPS .760 (99 PAs) vs. LHP .789 (65)

With his bat he ranked 14th among MLB CFers with more than 150 PAs in wRC+ (111). Two slots after Brandon Marsh, ahead of R-o-Y Corbin Carroll (when playing CF), Kevin Kiermaier, & Daulton Varsho, Cedric Mullins, Trent Grisham, & Jazz Chisholm. Fangraphs has him 3rd in their SPD stat for all MLB players with more than 150 PAs after only Carroll and Ely De La Cruz.

With his glove, he posted a DRS of 15, an OAA of 6, and a UZR/150 of 12.1. The first two are not "rate" stats but he finished 4th in DRS with the three above him averaging twice as many innings (B Doyle, Kiermaier, & Varsho). The UZR/150 (a rate stat) was 9th among CFers. And the eye test was popping. Like, basically everybody saying Rojas is one of the best CFers to play for the Phillies - certainly in this century - maybe ever. Great reads, jumps, speed, glove, athleticism & the arm looked good too. And judgment and leadership in the field.

Two years ago the Phillies couldn't find anyone in the organization to play adequate CF. Last year we paid a lot and were happy to get a more than adequate young CFer. Then out of blue we promoted an elite CF defender. And he can hit... maybe.

So we play him, right? Well, probably. We played him through most of the playoffs even when he sucked with the bat. Rojas is the youngest Phillie. He could get better. He could learn to bunt. Across the season - he adds a third 30+ base thief (with Turner & Stott). And he could be good for 40+ if he can get on base enough. He could have a sophomore slump. But even if he doesn't hit a lot better - if he can maintain what he did in 2023 - he was hitting with Kiermaier, Varsho, Mullins, Grisham, & Chisholm and he has elite defense and baserunning. If he gets no better but gets on base more he'll be very competitive in CF.

So an outfield of Castellanos in right, Marsh in LF, & Rojas made sense for the last two months of the season, does it make sense for 2024? There's another card in the deck:

Cristian Pache 24 yo RHB

2023 PHI PA 95 HR 2 SB 2 OPS .736 OA 2

2023 AAA PA 83 HR 1 SB 4 OPS .656

2022 OAK PA 241 HR 1 SB 2 OPS .459 OA 7

In 2021 for Atlanta's AAA team - Pache: PA 353 HR 11 SB 9 OPS .744

He has a strong split - hitting LHPs for OPS .924 vs RHP for .449 but it's a small sample.

In small samples Pache has been impressive (esp. vs. LHP) and he's younger than Marsh. But his .736 without distinctive power or speed doesn't compare well to the larger sample that Rojas produced and his defense is not as good (few, maybe nobody, is). He has really never hit better than he hit for the Phillies last year - even at AAA. He could platoon with Marsh in LF some, and if he can produce .924 in larger samples against LHPs - that's an answer. I'm still worried about the elbow and long throws. I don't think Pache looks like a everyday starter on a playoff team. If we have no better we can keep him around as the 4th and starter vs strong LHP.

So, other options? to platoon with Marsh, replace one of Marsh or Rojas? replace Pache on the bench?

First - our minor leagues:

Weston Wilson 29yo RHB (every position except maybe CF) pre-arb until 2026

Solo homer in first MLB AB

2023 PHI PA 22, HR 1, SB 3,BB% 27.3,K% 22.7, .313/.500/.500, OPS 1.000 very small sample...

2023 AAA PA 544 HR 31 ST 32 OPS .879 big sample, big numbers

Wilson is insta-bench - and basically plays everywhere... in the minors he has been known as a shortstop - in the majors he has played everywhere except catcher, shortstop, & centerfield. Personally - they are both 29 yos - I don't know why we kept carrying Jake Cave instead of this guy - and we could have used the RHB.

Simon Muzziotti CF & Corners LHB 25yo (15th) LHV/AAA PA 524, HR 7, .296/.358/404 OPS .761

Ethan Wilson corners LHB 24 yo Rdg/AA PA: 463 HR17 .250/.307/.443 OPS .750

Gabriel Rincones JR corners LHB 22 yo (9th) A PA 214, HR 5 .264/.388/.444 OPS .832 AZFL PA 101 OPS .889

Justin Crawford CF LHB 19yo (4th) A 2023 PA 390 HR 3 .332/.392/.467 OPS .859

Jordan Viars OF/1B LHB 20yo (16th) A PA 327 HR 6 .214/.315/.343 OPS .658

I think CDLC, with his height, will wind up a 1st baseman

Muzz is lower grade Marsh. If Johan Rojas is hearing footsteps it's from Crawford and he's years off.

Technically, we can probably bring back Jake Cave (Arb 3 $1.6MM or even Scott Kingery (who is out of his lucrative contract but still doesn't have Minor Lg FA - he's still a Phillie. but ..why?

Free Agents Cornermen:

Teoscar Hernandez 31yo RHB $14 MM 23 PA 678 HR 26 OPS .740

Joc Pederson 31 yo LHB $19.7 MM PA 425 HR 15 .764

AJ Pollack 36 yo RHB $15 MM PA 144 HR 5 OPS .523

Michael Brantley 36yo LHB $12 MM PA 57 HR 2 .735

Randal Grichuck 32yo RHB $10.4 MM PA 471 HR 13 OPS .797

Enrique Hernandez 32yo RHB $10MM PA 508 HR 11 .646

JD Martinez 36yo RHB $10MM PA 479 HR 33 .893

Eddie Rosario 32yo LHB $9MM 23 PA 516 HR 21 OPS .772

Jurickson Profar 30 yo SWB $7MM PA 621 HR 9 OPS .689

Adam Duvall 35yo RHB $7MM PA 353 HR 21 .834

David Peralta 36yo LHB $6M PA 422 HR 7 .675

Tommy Pham 35yo RHB $6M PA 481 HR 16 .774

Garrett Cooper 32yo RHB $4.2MM PA 455 HR 17 .723

Whit Merrifield 34YO RHB $4MM PA 592 HR 11 OPS .700

Lourdes Gurriel 30yo RHB $3MM PA 592 HR 24 .772

Travis Jankowski 32yo LHB $1.2MM PA 827 HR 1 .689


Cody Bellinger 38yo LHB 17.5MM PA 556 HR 26 OPS .881

Kevin Kiermaier 33yo LHB $9MM PA 408 HR 8 OPS .741

Harrison Bader 29yo RHB $5.2MM PA 344 HR 7 OPS .632

Michael Taylor 32yo RHB $4.3MM PA 388 HR 21 OPS .722

Kevin Pillar 34yo RHB $3MM PA 206 HR 9 OPS .666

Marsh hit .829 (.717 vs LHP) & Rojas hit (.771)

- so unless we think they'll do worse & slump

- any FA cornerman should be a RHB that can better that (and platoon with Marsh) or LHB that can hit a lot better and play centerfield

That leaves us with Teo Hernandez vs LHP, but $14MM for a platoon player? Grichuck vs LHP $10 MM for a platoon player.

For LF - we could consider JD Martinez $10MM or Adam Duvall vs LHP $7MM. But both would be part time players since we already have an outfield and a full-time DH.

For CF - Cody Bellinger is a LHB (not a platoon for Marsh) but he outhit everybody we have in the outfield. But he's 38 years old and would seem to cost over $15MM. To me it seems like we'd start Bellinger every day he could in LF and platoon Marsh & Rojas in CF.

Trade Targets

Juan Soto 25yo LHB LF $23MM AAV UFA 2025 2003 PA 708 HR 35 OPS .929

Soto is a franchise level player who would give us a substantial boost in offense. He can hit. He's young. He could have a better year in 2024 in a better environment with another year of maturity. Rumor is, Harper (SVP of baseball everything) would like to have him..

Mike Trout 32 yo RHB $35.5MM through 2030 (39th year)

2023 PA 362 HR 18 OPS .857 2022 PA 499 HR 40 OPS .999 2021 PA 146 HR 8 OPS 1.090

Trout was arguably the best player in baseball a few years ago. For the last three years he has been a part time player due to injuries and his teammate has taken that title to new heights. He is only 32yos. It is said he wants to play in his hometown. $36MM is a lot to pay for a part time player and our DH spot is as full as it can be. The Angels would make a deal for him.

Randy Arozarena 28 yo RHB primarily a cornerman $4.2MM AAV (last year in contract, but not UFA until 2027)

2023 PA 654 HR 23 SB 22 OPS .789 2022 PA 645 HR 20 SB 32 OPS .773 2021 PA 604 HR 20 SB 20 OPS .815

I was surprised to read in reputable sources that Tampa was interesting in dealing him. His stats look like Marsh without the defense, but would two Marshes be so bad?

Strategies: I'm assuming we are playing Castellanos & Marsh at least part-time, and nobody (else) from the minor leagues is ready to contribute as any kind of starter.

#1 Castellanos in RF, Marsh in CF, acquire a new LF

This is the "based on the playoffs, Rojas is not ready" strategy. The new LF could be Hernandez, Martinez or Duval by signing or Soto or Arozarena by trade. (no more Rojas defense)

#2 Castellanos in RF, Rojas in CF, platoon Marsh & Pache in LF

This is the "no confidence in Marsh to hit LHP" strategy. I think Marsh can develop to hit LHP and this is wrong.

#3 Castellanos in RF, Rojas in CF, platoon Marsh and a new LFer in LF

We'd be acquiring a RHB part-time LFer like Adam Duvall to platoon with Marsh .

#4 Castellanos in RF, Rojas in CF, Marsh in LF (Pache on the bench unless he's tossed there in Spring Training).


I Like #1 & #4

If we are willing to shake it up big time and bring in Soto - I wouldn't object. Otherwise. I don't want to spend more than $4M on a FA OF or a lot in trade for a RHB LF when I think Marsh can develop to hit both LHPs & RHPs.

Here's the link to the last piece on the infield - from there you can link back to 1st/DH & Catchers.

2023-2024 Hot Stove - Chapter 3 - Infield

Next up a short piece on the bench (Phish fans will know the chant...)