After Bryce Harper, the Phillies outfield is full of question marks.
Bryce Harper is an absolute stud, but unfortunately for the Phillies, an MLB team needs more than one outfielder. Andrew McCutchen is the left fielder, but his knee health is still a big unknown. Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley are set to platoon in center field, but both of them profile more like fourth outfielders than starters. The other outfielders on the forty-man are Kyle Garlick and Mickey Moniak, neither of whom should make the opening day squad.
To make matters more confusing, the Phillies might be in the market for a new starting center fielder. Specifically, the Phillies have been linked to former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. ever since Dave Dombrowski became team president.
However, while signing JBJ would greatly improve the Phillies lineup, it won’t really affect the bench. Either way, Adam Haseley or Roman Quinn will take up one bench spot, and the other should go to an offense-first corner outfielder.
Adam Haseley or Roman Quinn
If the Phillies sign a new center fielder, they’ll need to trade either Adam Haseley or Roman Quinn. Both of these guys are decent bench outfielders, but the problem is that they fill the same niche. They’re both strong defensive players and valuable baserunners, but neither of them can hit for much contact or power. With no universal DH next year, one of the back-up outfielder spots needs to go to someone the team can count on as a pinch hitter.
But which one should the Phillies retain? Haseley is younger, has more offensive potential, and is far less of an injury risk. For exactly those reasons, he’s the smarter player for the Phillies to keep. However, that also means he would also bring them more value in a trade.
Quinn is a perfectly serviceable bench player, so if Dombrowski can find a good trade for Haseley, then he should pull the trigger. However, if the right trade isn’t out there, the Phillies are better off cutting Quinn and sticking with Haseley.
Do the Phillies need to find a pinch hitter?
The most traditional approach the Phillies can take is to bring back Jay Bruce. He’s still a solid hitter (especially against right-handed pitching), but his mediocre defense means he probably won’t get any offers for starting jobs. Nick Markakis is another similar type of player. However, both of these guys could get offers from AL teams to play DH. If the Phillies want to pursue either of them, they should pounce now and offer reasonable one-year deals.
A less traditional (and less likely) option for the Phillies is Joc Pederson. Pederson is too good to take on a pure bench role. However, he’s also so bad against left-handed pitching that he probably won’t be able to find a starting job. The Phillies could sign Pederson as part of a complicated outfield platoon situation. He could frequently substitute for Andrew McCutchen, who struggled against right-handed pitching in 2020. He could also see some starts in center field, or he could play right field while Bryce Harper slides over to center. On days when he doesn’t start, he’d still be guaranteed at least one plate appearance as a pinch hitter. Pederson surely wants to be a starter, but following a down year in 2020, he might be willing to join the Phillies on a one-year “prove-it” contract.
Unfortunately for the Phillies, there aren’t many great options for back-up outfielders this offseason. By scooping up some of the few good players available, Dave Dombrowski could give the Phillies a meaningful advantage next season.
This is the final installment in a short series about the Phillies bench. You can read the rest of the series right here on PhillySportsNetwork.com.
Photo by Rich Graessle/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