The Phillies made a lot of moves this winter. Some were major (hi, Trea!) and some weren’t, but the front office still managed to attend to just about every aspect of the roster — except the outfield. In fact, the Phillies actually lost depth when they traded away Matt Vierling, who led the team in games played in center field in 2022.
However, that doesn’t mean that the outfield is a problem. In the best case scenario, the Phillies have the potential to have two All Stars, two Silver Sluggers, and a Gold Glover — and that’s without Bryce Harper, who could be back as soon as July.
Kyle Schwarber: Already one of the two best position players returning from the NL Championship season, a major factor in Schwarber’s upcoming season is the addition of Trea Turner to the top of the lineup. Turner will be taking over the leadoff position from Schwarber, who will now be batting second. The Phillies got a good look at what this new duo has the potential to do last weekend. Of note: A staggering 67% (31/46) of Schwarber’s homers in 2022 were solo shots. (For comparison, the league average was about 57% or 26/46.) With Turner now batting in front of him, that percentage is bound to decrease.
Best Case Scenario: Thanks to more at bats with Turner getting on base in front of him, Schwarber not only maintains his 2023 production, but increases his RBI total.
Nick Castellanos: As the antithesis of Schwarber, Castellanos is coming off one of the worst seasons of his career. The good news is that it’s nearly impossible for Castellanos to be much worse than he was in 2022. The other good news is that there’s no doubt he’s got the talent, the work ethic, and the drive to be better this year. The Phillies signed Castellanos to a 5-year deal coming off the best season of his career, in which he hit 34 homers, had 100 RBI, won the a Silver Slugger award, and made the All Star game for the first time.
Best Case Scenario: Castellanos regains his 2021 form, adding yet another fearsome bat in the lineup.
Brandon Marsh: Marsh has been with the Phillies for less than a year, so the Phillies are still getting to know him. He came to the Phillies with issues with consistency at the plate, but the potential to become a serviceable bat. His major upside, which the Phillies have desperately needed, is his defense. Marsh was a finalist for the AL Gold Glove in left field with the Angels. Though center is more difficult to play than left, he has already shown glimpses of being able to transfer his abilities successfully.
Best Case Scenario: Marsh figures out a consistent approach at the plate and wins the first Gold Glove in the outfield for the Phillies since Shane Victorino in 2010.
Jake Cave and Dalton Guthrie seem at this point to be the projected bench guys for the outfield. Edmundo Sosa has also taken a few reps in the outfield this spring, and could be an option in a pinch. This is definitely a downgrade from last season’s outfield bench, but as long as the starters stay healthy this shouldn’t be too significant a change.
Best Case Scenario: The Phillies don’t have to rely on their bench players in the outfield for any long period of time.
The biggest question mark for the outfield is Bryce Harper’s elbow. The initial timeline puts him returning to play around the All-Star break, though likely only as the DH in the beginning. When he’ll be able to return to playing right field is a different question entirely. It’s no secret that Harper is the best defensive outfielder the team has, which is why getting him fully healthy will be so important. But it’s also imperative not to rush him back to the field before he’s ready, or risk a setback or, Baseball Gods forbid, re-injury.
Best Case Scenario: Harper is playing right field in time to shake the rust off before the playoffs begin.