Following the release of Ivan Nova and Hector Rondon, the Phillies have their work cut out for them. Forming the rest of their 40-man roster will be a challenge in the coming days. Nova and Rondon both had the option to request their release from the Phillies by March 24th if they believed they were not going to make the major-league roster.
This type of clause is common among veteran camp invites. Some other Phillies still have several players who also fit the bill. Jeff Mathis also requested his release from the team and was granted it yesterday. The Phillies will have a lot of difficult decisions to make over the next few days
What will the Phillies’ rotation and bullpen look like?
The Phillies still have five pitchers remaining in camp that are not on the 40-man roster. Out of those six, four are likely to either be released or be sent to AAA Lehigh Valley any day now. Neftali Feliz, Bryan Mitchell, and Michael Ynoa have each received varying amounts of attention during Spring Training. However, are of them all unlikely to make the 40-man.
Only Brandon Kintzler and Tony Watson are likely to make the team. Kintzler and Watson were two of the savviest moves made by Dave Dombrowksi this offseason, reinforcing the Phillies’ young bullpen with two experienced arms. Kintzler has performed well in action so far this Spring, allowing one earned run in 8.2 innings. Watson, meanwhile, has struggled a bit so far but has the track record of a successful reliever. However, if the Phillies go with both Jose Alvarado and JoJo Romero, there may not be room in the bullpen for another lefty.
In the Field
Five non-roster invitees remain in the mix in the field as well. Christian Bethancourt and Rodolfo Duran remain as spare catchers. Ronald Torreyes remains in the infield with Travis Jankowski and Matt Joyce in the outfield.
Out of the five, Matt Joyce appears to be the only shoe-in to earn a roster spot. Joyce has had himself a great Spring Training, going 8-for-25 with five walks and four RBI. His .873 OPS ranks him as the fifth best-performing batter in camp. The 36-year old outfielder could serve as a good pinch-hit bat off the bench. Along with this, he could serve as a versatile backup across the entire outfield as well.
One thing of note is that Odubel Herrera also remains in the mix. However, as Herrera remains officially in minor league camp, he does not appear on the list of NRI’s. With Adam Haseley returning early from his injury, it appears unlikely Herrera would win the battle for starting center fielder.
Which Phillies Make the 40, and Who Gets Taken Off?
The Phillies’ 40-man roster is full. 41 players are listed including Seranthony Dominguez who remains on the 60-day IL. Overall, it appears that Kintzler, Watson, and Joyce will be the three NRI’s joining the Phillies’ roster this season.
Watson would likely replace fellow southpaw Kyle Dohy on the 40-man roster. Both of them would both fulfill a similar role on the team as a lefty. The real question lies in whether Watson or Romero makes the Opening Day roster. While Phillies fans love the Red Bull crushing young gun, starting the year in AAA Lehigh Valley and filling in when an injury occurs would not be a bad outcome for Romero.
Kintzler, meanwhile, would likely take the place of a young pitcher like Mauricio Llovera or Cristopher Sanchez. These players have yet to hit the peak of their career. Along with this, each would have the time to further develop and prove themselves in the minors. Another outside possibility would be if the Phillies deal away Vince Velasquez before the season begins. The 28-year old starter/reliever hasn’t been able to establish himself during his time in Philadelphia. At this point, a fresh start may be just what the doctor ordered for Vinny Velo.
Simon Muzziotti is the obvious choice when it comes to Matt Joyce. Muzziotti, 22, has seen a few games in Philadelphia over the past three seasons. In these games, he’s mainly acted as a “break in case of emergency” type of player. If, however, Joyce joins the bench, that leaves the Phillies both Mickey Moniak and most likely Roman Quinn available to be called up from AAA Lehigh Valley at a moment’s notice.
The Coming Days
It’s going to be a interesting few days for the Phillies from a roster management perspective. However, given that the issues are too much depth and figuring out who to cut, these are good problems to have for a team that struggled due to injury and a poor bullpen in 2020.
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