The divisional round is over in the NFL, probably one of the best weekends on the sports calendar, meaning that there are only three football games left to be played. No, the Pro Bowl isn’t football, let alone a game.
This means spring training is near and the Phillies’ roster is near complete. To say they have few holes might be stretching, but it can’t really be argued that there are few roster spots left to be grabbed. A big free agent signing isn’t going to shake the core of this roster unless one of the remaining big names drops his price so low, the team would be foolhardy to deny them a contract sheet. Knowing this is unlikely to happen, it’s pretty easy to figure lay out a plan for the Opening Day roster, so here’s the first guess at it.
Catcher - J.T. Realmuto
The Realmuto contract, I’d expect, will be debated heavily in the final years of its existence. Father Time is undefeated and will eventually catch up to Realmuto. For now, he seems to be defying it, but the team, as we have argued here many, many times, would be wise to start letting Garrett Stubbs catch more often than on Sundays.
Infield - Bryce Harper, Bryson Stott, Trea Turner, Alec Bohm
If we go by wRC+, I’m willing to bet that this infield will be a top seven unit at the end of the season. Turner might be the best bet in the game to put up better overall numbers than he did last year if history is any indication. Harper being available an entire season will boost his overall numbers as well. Stott showed improvement in specific areas last season; he just needs to add a touch more power. Bohm, we’ve discussed at length already.
It’s a really solid group of infielders the team has assembled.
Outfield - Brandon Marsh, Johan Rojas, Nick Castellanos
As much as the team claims they aren’t handing Rojas an Opening Day job, who else is going to beat him out?
If we’re looking at the 40-man roster as it currently stands, as much as he struggled in the playoffs, Rojas and his defense are enough to be a better option anyone else. A platoon of Jake Cave and Cristian Pache might be something the team looks at for left field, sliding Marsh into center and keeping Rojas in Lehigh Valley is the only other likely scenario right now, but is that the best option for the team?
It’s why exploring the outfielder market is something the team has been interested in this offseason, but to no avail. Price are likely to still be high with the market flooded with somewhat decent options still, so that’s maybe why the team has yet to make a move, but maybe it’s because they don’t want to. They’ve stated they don’t want to block Rojas for when his time eventually comes, but the signs currently point to his time being on Opening Day.
DH - Kyle Schwarber
Unless, of course, they trade him to Detroit...
Bench - Edmundo Sosa, Cristian Pache, Garrett Stubbs, Jake Cave
Boy do they need to upgrade this spot.
Starters - Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Taijuan Walker, Cristopher Sanchez
One of the top starting five groups in the game.
This is a big opportunity for Cristopher Sanchez. He’s struggled to find his stuff as a starter, but last season, something clicked with him where he was chosen to start a playoff game over their high priced free agent import in Walker. He was still working on building up innings during the season, but this year should be a bit different. Asking him to throw 125-140 innings during the season shouldn’t be that tall a task for him to complete so long as he’s able to show he can replicate the success he had in 2023. If he can, the team really has a pillar they are able to build on as a team with the strength of this unit.
Now, they just need to stay healthy.
Bullpen - Jose Alvarado, Seranthony Dominguez, Gregory Soto, Matt Strahm, Orion Kerkering, Dylan Covey, Jeff Hoffman, Shintaro Fujinami
The top seven are solid and can basically be written in stone. It’s the eighth and final spot that is probably going to be from outside of the organization. They’re clearly looking for one-year deals to be given out and most relievers still have a market for multi-year deals if they so choose. Fujinami is someone I’ve stumped for this offseason as a possible one-year option since he’s coming off a season where he struggled mightily to find the strike zone. If anyone can make it work with the stuff he’s got, it’s Caleb Cotham, so why not see what it would be to bring him in?