Phillies 2024 Outlook: Has Rafael Marchan Improved

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MLB: SEP 20 Blue Jays at Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 20: Philadelphia Phillies catcher Rafael Marchan (13) during the Major League Baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Toronto Blue Jays on September 20, 2020 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

A player on the bubble for the 2024 Phillies’ roster is catcher Rafael Marchan.

With a stacked Major League roster, the Phillies will have to make moves in the margins as they head into the 2024 Major League Baseball season.

Assessing the depth of the organization is one of the most important tasks of this time of year, and getting the most value from your roster is essential.

Rafael Marchan is a player who could make an impact in 2024. Whether or not that impact happens in a Phillies uniform remains to be seen.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Rafael Marchan plays during a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Who is Rafael Marchan?

The name Rafael Marchan might sound familiar to those who watched the Phillies in 2020–2021.

A young catcher in the Phillies’ system, Marchan was called to the big leagues in 2020 to fill in during the shortened COVID season. Roster manipulation was at an all-time high and the Phillies were desperate to try and make the playoffs.

Rafael only played in three games that season. In one of those games, he hit a game-tying three-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays for his first big league home run.

In 2021, Marchan would only get 20 games under his belt in a normal big-league season. With JT Realmuto as the starting catcher, there were limited opportunities for the youngster to earn playing time. 

At this time, Andrew Knapp was still the backup catcher for the Phils. If you remember, JT Realmuto’s future with the team was uncertain, and there were talks that the club would move forward without him. Rafael Marchan would have likely gotten the first opportunity to win the starting job.

In the spring of 2022, Marchan would be placed on the injured list for Spring Training. The team had traded for Garrett Stubbs in that off-season, and JT was signed to an extension. By the time Marchan had healed, he had played the remainder of the season in the minors.

The same story played out this past season as well. A Spring Training injury left Rafael on the injured list, where he would return to the minor leagues for the remainder of the season.

2024 and Beyond

With Garrett Stubbs coming back in 2024, Rafael Marchan is still the third catcher in the organization’s depth chart. This is a good spot to be in, but with JT Realmuto being the club’s backstop, it makes it harder for anyone to crack the lineup.

He will turn 25 before the season begins, and with just 23 games at the big league level, the chances of him becoming a big league contributor with the Phillies become increasingly less probable.

Aside from injury, I do not see a path to the majors for Rafael in 2024. With him being blocked from making it to the majors, I think it would be an interesting idea for the Phillies to explore his trade market.

Potential Suitors

The 25-year-old’s trade value is fairly low at the moment, but the positional value that Rafael brings could be where the Phillies could capitalize.

A team that is looking for a cheap and controllable backup catcher might be interested in trading for Marchan.

For the Phillies, a team would need to be willing to part with either a AAA-caliber player in return or a low-level major league bullpen arm.

Teams like the Brewers, Padres, and Mariners are all rumored to be looking to shave their payrolls. If the Phillies could get a depth reliever, I can see them moving on and giving Rafael a chance to play for another organization.

2024 Prediction:

I expect Rafael Marchan to be in the Phillies’ Spring Training camp when the pitchers and catchers report in February.

The chances of a team offering up anything for him are slim, but never zero.

In the event JT Realmuto or Garrett Stubbs get injured, he will be the first guy up to fill in their place. A strong season in AAA in the meantime could help build some value for a trade deadline move as well.

The Phillies have some options when it comes to their depth for next season. We will see where Rafael Marchan falls into their plans as the off-season moves along. When Spring Training does roll around, keep your eyes peeled for this young catcher.

Photo Credit: (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)