The Phillies need to add at least two infielders to their bench, but the problem is trickier than just that.
The Phillies’ middle infield situation is complicated. The team currently has four middle infielders on the 40-man roster: Jean Segura, Scott Kingery, Nick Maton, and Kyle Holder. Maton is a depth prospect who is highly unlikely to make the opening day squad. Holder is a Rule 5 Draft pick, and it’s hard to know if the Phillies will roster him all season. Segura and Kingery are the de facto starters right now, but Kingery’s hold on a starting job is tenuous. If the Phillies re-sign Didi Gregorius or add another shortstop, then Scott Kingery will once again take on the role of a super-utility player.
Here’s a breakdown of both possible scenarios, one in which Kingery is on the bench and one in which he makes the starting lineup.
Scenario 1: Scott Kingery is on the bench
Scott Kingery is a valuable bench player. Even if his bat never fully develops, his versatility alone makes him worthy of a major league job. On the 2021 Phillies, he can serve as a competent back-up for everyone in the infield (even Rhys Hoskins, by playing third base and allowing Bohm to slide over to first).
Unfortunately, he’s not a reliable pinch-hitting option. There’s still a chance that Kingery will figure things out and blossom into a solid offensive player, but that’s far from a sure thing. This is unfortunate for the Phillies because they already have one bench spot taken up by the back-up catcher and another by Adam Haseley or Roman Quinn. That means the team only has two bench spots left to add some quality pinch hitters to the roster. Therefore, the Phillies will have to think really carefully about who they chose as their second bench infielder.
There aren’t all that many options for talented offensive bench players. “Talented bench player” is kind of an oxymoron after all. One great option, however, is former Phillie Brad Miller. Although he only played 66 games with the Phillies in 2019, Miller certainly made his mark. He quickly earned the nickname “Bamboo Brad” after a bamboo plant he bought helped end a seven-game losing streak. While, ultimately, the bamboo didn’t get the Phillies to the playoffs, Brad Miller did his part. He hit 12 home runs and slashed .263/.331/.610 in only 130 PA with the team.
Miller was a starter last season with the Cardinals, so he might be reluctant to accept a bench role. However, he received most of his starts at DH, so without the universal designated hitter in 2021, he may not be able to find a starting job. Plus, due to his positional versatility, the Phillies could offer him plenty of opportunities to crack the starting lineup.
Scenario 2: Scott Kingery is a starter
This scenario does not change the fact that the Phillie should pursue a player like Brad Miller or Howie Kendrick for the bench. It does, however, open up a spot for another reserve infielder.
The Phillies will have plenty of flexibility when it comes to the second back-up infield spot, because Segura and Kingery are so versatile. Simply put, they don’t have any other “holes” to fill, so they won’t be constricted in that regard. That being said, they also probably won’t want to spend too much money on this bench spot, since a player like Miller or Kendrick will eat up most of the infield reserve budget.
The way I see it, there are two very clear choices to fill this role: Kyle Holder and Phil Gosselin.
Kyle Holder has the inside track on the job because he’s already on the roster. Plus, as a Rule 5 Draft pick, he must remain on the roster all season if the Phillies want to keep him. The team wouldn’t have drafted him if they weren’t considering keeping him, so he’s definitely in the mix.
According to scouting reports, Holder is an excellent defender, but his bat isn’t major league ready (and might never be). As long as the Phillies already have a strong-hitting infielder on their bench, his poor offense is not a dealbreaker. However, it could prevent him from holding onto his roster spot all season long.
Phil Gosselin is Kyle Holder’s polar opposite. Okay, that’s not entirely true, but while Holder is a spectacular defender with a questionable bat, Gosselin is a known commodity who doesn’t excel in any particular area.
Gosselin’s primary advantage is that he has been a beloved member of the organization for the past two seasons. He grew up a Phillies fan, and he’s become a fan-favourite due to his strong work ethic and passionate play. If there’s a roster spot available, I’d love to see Gosselin back with the team.
Have any other ideas for back-up infielders the Phillies could sign? Leave a reply and let me know! And don’t forget to check back soon for the final installment in the Phillies bench series.
Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire
Leo is an aspiring sportswriter, currently covering the Phillies for Philly Sports Network. You can read more of his writing at Philadelphia Sports Nation and That Balls Outta Here. You can also find him on twitter @morgensternmlb