As spring training winds down, roster sizes of each camp will continue to dwindle, and the Phillies will be keeping their eyes open for any player who is released who might be able to help them.
Teams are beginning to make their cuts as they prepare to pare the roster down to 25 players, which all teams must reach by Sunday afternoon. As with each year, there are a number of players who are out of minor league options.
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A number of these players are on the bubble with their current team, either about to be cut, or about to find themselves exposed to waivers before they can be sent back to the minor leagues. Some potentially valuable players have already been released.
The Phillies are in this same situation. They have several players who are out of options, and this final week will determine their future in the organization. A few of these no-options players will be traveling to Philadelphia as a part of the Opening Day roster, such as Justin De Fratus and Freddy Galvis.
In a perfect world, players that the team is seriously considering keeping would not actually be considered at all. They would have no place on the roster if the team were competitive. I have been pretty vocal in my opinion of the need to give players like Hernandez their release:
Other players, like the aforementioned Sizemore, have performed so poorly this spring that the team should be thinking about their release, even if major league contracts had been given out in the past.
With a fairly long season staring the team in the face, and the financial muscle needed to employ this idea, perhaps the Phillies need to spend their season playing the waiver wire, looking for freely available talent.
Should they get lucky with a player they find on waivers, the team has a cheap resource on its hands, one that can soak up innings or at-bats while the minor league talent continues to percolate. If such waiver wire acquisitions are ineffective, their release would cause the team no harm, except a slight dent in the rather large checkbook the Phils have at their disposal.
That being said, MLB Trade Rumors recently ran a series in which they analyzed each team’s players who were out of options entering spring training and their chances of making the parent club. It’s worth your time to read each piece individually to see their opinion.
Jul 7, 2014; Boston, MA, USA;
Doubront (22) throws a pitch against the Chicago White Sox in the ninth inning at Fenway Park.
(David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
What I will do is look at a few players who they believe won’t make their current organization’s 25-man roster and see if they would interest the Phillies at all.
Felix Doubront: (11.57 ERA in 7 spring training innings, 4 K, 0 BB) Doubront had recently been released after this list had been compiled, so he is an interesting name to consider. Obviously, the spring stats leave a lot to be desired, but the 27 year old lefty has had success in the past.
As recently as 2013, Doubront pitched 162 innings, compiling a 3.78 FIP. His control (1.96 K/BB) was an issue, but he kept the ball on the ground (45.6 GB%) and wasn’t overtly lucky (.310 BABIP) on balls that were hit. Last year was a struggle for him, but with youth on his side and a track record of some success, this could be an arm to watch for.
Erasmo Ramirez: (6.23 ERA in 13 ST innings, 7 K, 1 BB) Ramirez is another interesting arm out of options that still has youth on his side. The soon-to-be 25-year old has had a rough spring, and at least one Mariners beat writer thinks he will not be making the team:
Ramirez is a guy who wasn’t great coming up through the minors, but was good enough that manager Lloyd McClendon named him the #2 starter for Seattle just last year. He promptly lost that spot, only getting 14 starts in which he compiles a 5.38 FIP, 7.17 K/9, and a whopping 4.06 BB%, numbers that saw him demoted way, way down to Single A.
He’s an extreme flyball pitcher (37.7 GB%), which might not play well in Citizens Bank Park, but this is another type of arm that the team currently does not have. Baseball America never had him ranked higher than 13th in their Mariners organizational rankings (in 2011), but he has shown at least enough to stick around the majors. This could be another arm to watch come this Saturday or Sunday.
David Lough: (.185/.241/.185 in 27 ST at bats) Lough is a guy who I personally would like to see the Phillies take a chance on. He’s mostly been a defensive replacement since coming into the big leagues, but that defense is exceedingly valuable.
In 2014 with Baltimore, Lough had a .309 wOBA and 95 wRC+ in 197 PA, numbers that don’t exactly scream “starting outfielder”. However, combined with his stellar defense, his overall production earned him 1.9 fWAR, which is remarkable.
This number tells us that his defense was so valuable to the team, they routinely batted Delmon Young in the lineup, only to have Lough inserted late in games. Sadly, it looks like he will beginning his season on the disabled list:
His defense might prove to be too valuable for a playoff contender like the O’s to lose, but should he come available, his run prevention alone would be worth exploring. If this spring has demonstrated anything about the Phillies, it’s that run prevention is going to be incredibly important to a team that looks like it will struggle to score runs.
There aren’t many other players on MLBTR’s list that would be available for the Phillies to choose from. These three represent perhaps the best options the Phillies might have should they explore that route. That might mean cutting players already in camp. Of course, writer Jayson Stark tweeted this out earlier Monday:
It’s a depressing thought that after 5 straight NL East titles, Phillies fans need to worry about guys like this lot. But that success, though not so long ago, is now clearly in the past. With a bleak future staring them in the face, management has nothing to lose by playing the waiver wire.
Perhaps the team gets lucky and finds lightning in a bottle. It worked last year, when Roberto Hernandez was signed cheaply, then turned into two semi-prospects at the trade deadline. Let’s hope the second, third, fourth, and maybe fifth time is the charm.