Phillies 40-Man Roster Crunch: Who’s In, Who’s Out?

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Mar 7, 2016; Bradenton, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp hands the ball to Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Gregory Infante (left) during the seventh inning of a spring training baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. The Phillies won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 7, 2016; Bradenton, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies catcher Andrew Knapp hands the ball to Philadelphia Phillies relief pitcher Gregory Infante (left) during the seventh inning of a spring training baseball game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. The Phillies won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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Every year, the Phillies have to determine which minor-leaguers they need to add to their 40-man roster and protect from the Rule 5 draft. Here we’re going to take a look at which players should and shouldn’t be added.

Last Friday, the Phillies outrighted six players off their 40-man roster, leaving the roster at 38, including four players on the 60-day disabled list. More spots should open up as several players head into free agency, which will soon be filled by prospects the team needs to protect from the Rule 5 draft. Let’s take a look at which players they will protect by adding to the roster.

First we need to figure out which players the Phillies will either cut or have expiring contracts. For simplicity’s sake, we will assume the team doesn’t retain any of their free agents – they probably will, but it’s hard to guess so far away from the free agency period.

Going through, I see seven pitchers – Elvis Araujo, David Buchanan, Matt Harrison, Jeremy Hellickson, David Hernandez, Michael Mariot, Charlie Morton – as well as A.J. Ellis, Ryan Howard, Darin Ruf, Andres Blanco, and Peter Bourjos all leaving either through more cuts or just free agency. Alec Asher, Luis Garcia, Severino Gonzalez, Phil Klein, Adam Morgan and Cody Asche all could lose roster spots if the team needs to protect more prospects, so we’ll keep them off for now and add them later.

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There are a few prospects the Phillies need to add to the roster, otherwise someone will take them. Andrew Knapp, Dylan Cozens, Ben Lively, Ricardo Pinto, Nick Williams, and Nick Pivetta all made it to at least Double-A, if not Triple-A, this season. Players who demonstrated success at those levels are prime targets in the Rule 5 draft, and the Phillies would be moronic to let them go.

The Phillies have five other prospects who spent time at Double-A or Triple-A this season in Jesmuel Valentin, Andrew Pullin, Mark Appel, Cameron Perkins, and Miguel Nunez. Appel and Valentin carry the biggest prospect potential, but Appel is coming off shoulder surgery that could cause him to miss time this year, and Valentin has little present value as more than a backup second baseman, which is hard to keep on a roster for a full year.

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Finally, there are the prospects that didn’t play above High-A Clearwater this year. That group is Elniery Garcia, Malquin Canelo, Andrew Anderson, Seranthony Dominguez, Carlos Tocci, and Alberto Tirado. The two I would be most concerned about from this group are Garcia and Tirado. Matt Winkleman of Phillies Minor Thoughts considered Garcia essential enough to call him a “lock” to make the 40-man. Tirado is an electric arm, but his complete absence of control limits his value.

A rebuilding team could stash either of these pitchers in thier bullpen for the year where there inexperience could be minimized.

While most prospects below Double-A I consider safe, Garcia and Tirado each have enough value to protect.

To recap, let’s see what players I have protected already:

  • Major-Leaguers
    • Starting Pitchers: Zach Eflin, Jerad Eickhoff, Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, Jake Thompson (5)
    • Relief Pitchers: Hector Neris, Jeanmar Gomez, Joely Rodriguez, Edubray Ramos (9)
    • Catchers: Cameron Rupp, Jorge Alfaro (11)
    • Infielders: Tommy Joseph, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis, Maikel Franco (15)
    • Outfielders: Aaron Altherr, Tyler Goeddel, Odubel Herrera, Roman Quinn (19)
  • Minor-Leaguers
    • Pitchers: Ricardo Pinto, Nick Pivetta, Elniery Garcia, Alberto Tirado, Jimmy Cordero (24)
    • Hitters: Andrew Knapp, Dylan Cozens, Nick Williams (29)

Taking a glance at this list, we still need six more players to fill out the major-league roster with ten position players and nine pitchers already there. The team would likely add three or four more pitchers as well as another couple hitters. Some of those spots could be filled internally, while others could come from outside the organization. The club could pick from the players who are stuck in limbo, re-sign free agents, or bring someone in through free agency or trade.

Next: Phillies Post-2016 Top 30 Prospect Rankings: 16-20

In addition, the Phillies can protect five more minor-leaguers. Some will come in the form of swing players like Morgan and Klein as well as the lower-grade prospects who are Rule 5 eligible. It will be up to the team which players they feel are either major-league worthy or too talented to be left unprotected.

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