One thing I bet most people think about the general manager job is that the hardest part is having to tell a player they’ve been traded or released. There will be many accompanying waves of emotion flowing from the player, adding a sense of menace to the situation, especially if that player has been around the team for a while.
Me, I’ve always wondered what’s the hardest part about telling a player that you’re interested in bringing him to your team, but you don’t want him to play every day. Is it heartbreak in his eyes when he realizes this might be the best he’ll ever get? Is it the indignity one has to feel when someone thinks you can’t do your job at peak performance anymore? Is it the realization that the big payouts will no longer come?
These types of players are usually the ones that teams add to the bench. In the past, they could have shrunk to perhaps somewhere in the vicinity of 250-300 plate appearances thanks to the National League using the starting pitcher as another part of the hitting order, but with the prevalence of the game’s designated hitter, those options have gone. Now, players will have to hope for a manager who believes in matches or be part of a platoon if they want to get more playing time than originally planned.
For a while, it looked like a Veles their bench set. It would have been easy to see them come up with a quintet of Nick Mattoon, Matt Ferling, Garrett Stubbs, Edmundo Sosa and Darrick Hall, but after the Gregory Soto trade, there are some open positions. We can probably safely assume that Dalton Guthrie has a job now, but there’s still one, maybe two, jobs open depending on what the team does with Hall. What are the remaining options? Assuming they will go with 13 shooters like the rest of the game probably do, we can assume these locations:
C – Stubbs
inf – soda
INF/OF – Guthrie
INF – Hall (?)
There are still some solid options as bench players, assuming they realize their starter days are over. These are just a few.
Jackie Bradley Jr
Let’s get this out of the way first: Bradley can’t hit anymore.
In the past two years, Bradley has been the only player in the game to get more playing time than he did (>770 PA) and post OPS+ as low as (45). It’s really amazing to see how much worse he’s been doing, especially lately. There will be no team in the game (at least, there is should not be b) that would give him a starting job of any kind. This makes him the ideal candidate to kidnap Phillies.
Well, for example, he will not need an entry-level job. That’s kind of important. With that lack of a rookie job comes the lack of a rookie salary, which means they could potentially get him for a minor league deal with a minimum guarantee at best. Therefore, it will be cheap.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, he can still play the field. Last year, he ranked 13th among all outfielders with a +7 OAA as a CF, and if you wanted to narrow it down even further, he ranked 6th among all right fielders with a +4 OAA (on center alone, he’d be 8th). The guy can still be used as a defensive weapon, something that could appeal to a team that is currently looking to get Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos onto the field regularly. He can be a solid late-game option, with a bit of a starter here and there, in a team that isn’t looking for starters at the moment.
This is the least likely of all the names mentioned here. Harrison spent 2022 with the Chicago White Sox And he got a great deal of playing time for himself there. This was due to some roster injuries, but when Harrison was put into the lineup he kept him, if not a little more. 256/.317/.370 across 425 plate appearances, playing most of his games at second base. He can move around in the dirt, recording a handful of plays at shortstop and third, but you don’t want him in there for long. He can play outfield, but he’s limited to the left if we’re realistic about his ability. The Phillies won’t be able to give him a starting position at the moment, something that might be required to put pen to paper, but if he continues to stay in the market, maybe the appeal of playing for World Championship The challenger may appeal to Harrison.
A blast from the past?
Williams would be an option to bench the Phillies as someone who has the knack for moving around the infield (short save) as well as out in an emergency situation. His numbers in the major leagues last year weren’t enough to write home about (.236/.287/.315 on 136 plate appearances), but while in the minors, the numbers are significantly better. He still gets out a lot (32.4% in MLB), but as a guy who won’t be asked to do much with the bat anyway, the team can live with him. He’s also got some valuable minor league options left, so the minor league deal means the team can move him back and forth as necessary.
These are just some of the names the team could consider. They may just be running an open contest for the last spot or two among their group at minor league camp, but many of their moves indicate they want to stack the roster as deep as possible of league caliber. The weeks are getting shorter for spring training, so we’ll have to wait and see which direction it moves.