The Phillies made some major roster moves Tuesday, designating two struggling players for assignment while calling up some surging players.
The Phillies made one of their most significant roster moves of the season Tuesday, designating Michael Saunders and Jeanmar Gomez for assignment. Meanwhile, the team selected the contracts of Hoby Milner and Cameron Perkins, calling them up to the majors.
Saunders was brought in during the offseason to add a veteran presence to a lineup that struggled for most of 2016. They signed him to a one-year, nine million dollar contract with a team option for 2018.
However, Saunders barely contributed to the lineup at all this year. He had a meager .205/.257/.360 slash line in 61 games with a 57 wRC+. He was worth -0.7 fWAR.
With Aaron Altherr surging and Howie Kendrick returning to the lineup, Saunders saw his playing time diminish. Even with Kendrick moving to second to replace the injured Cesar Hernandez, Daniel Nava saw an increase in playing time rather than Saunders. The Saunders experiment is now officially over.
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Gomez also struggled this season, posting a 7.25 ERA in 22.1 innings. Gomez started off the season as the closer despite falling off the wagon at the end of 2016, but he was removed from the role less than a week into the season. Gomez’s -0.5 fWAR was the worst among the team’s relievers.
A team may decide to take a chance on Saunders or Gomez with a waiver claim, but Saunders’ contract may deter some teams. If they pass through Gomez may opt to go to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, but Saunders may elect free agency and try to find another team that could want him in their outfield.
To replace Saunders and Gomez, the team will bring up Perkins and Milner. Perkins has been hitting the ball well at Triple-A this season with a .298/.388/.476 line and six home runs. He has a 11.2% walk rate and 14.5% strikeout rate in 241 plate appearances. He has been one of the top hitters in Triple-A that can combine both contact and power this season.
Meanwhile, Milner has been extremely effective in Lehigh Valley’s bullpen this season. He has struck out a quarter of opposing hitters, posting a 1.01 WHIP and 2.60 ERA in 22 games. Milner was selected in the Rule 5 draft during the offseason by the Indians, but they returned him during spring training.
This could have been an opportunity for the team to call up Nick Williams to the majors with Saunders being removed from the roster. However, it appears Nava will stay in the lineup while Perkins serves as the team’s bench outfielder. The team wants their prospects to play everyday, and Williams will continue to do that at Lehigh Valley.