Phillies: Previewing the bench for 2019
Option 3: Catcher
This is a tricky one. Andrew Knapp has one more year of Pre-Arbitration left before an additional three years of team control, making him a cheap backup catcher option. However, Knapp struggled mightily last season, and Wilson Ramos was brought on to play.
Ramos has since moved on, signing a two-year contract with the New York Mets. Few viable free-agent options remain, such as Matt Wieters, Devin Mesoraco, or Martin Maldonado. It’s possible the Phillies go that route, or they could opt to trade for one.
Options 4 & 5: TBD
Kingery has played every position but first base, and Rhys Hoskins probably will not start every game this year. So, it might be best for the Phillies to go after another first baseman with some “pop” off the bench. I could put Matt Stairs here and say it’s a perfect world, but let’s be realistic.
The most viable option available on the Market is Lucas Duda, entering his age-33 season after spending last year with both the Braves and Royals. He might want to play in a starting role next season, but had a .733 OPS with 14 HR and 50 RBI in 107 games (87 with KC), in addition to being an average fielder.
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If the Phillies do not opt to go that route, they could look within their system, say, Dylan Cozens (traditionally an outfielder), or perhaps Matt McBride, who was signed to a minor-league contract this offseason.
The Phillies may not need to get a fifth bench player if they opt for a larger bullpen. Based on the amount of pitching changes the Phillies made in 2018 (though it is not a well-known tracked statistic), the team might need an eighth bullpen pitcher. Also, if one of the super-star free-agents is signed, the fifth option may already be available in the form of Aaron Altherr or another trade.
The Phillies continue to find themselves in a waiting period with Machado and Harper. If one (or, in a marginal case, both) is signed, then the bench will likely be set. If not, there is some thinking to do.
Pitchers and catchers start to report for teams on February 12th. That’s 38 days away. The baseball season is slowly approaching.