The Phillies yet again have a glut of outfielders, which may help Nick Williams be one of their most valuable trade assets.
Certain areas of the Phillies roster remain in flux as the team waits to find out how the remainder of free agency and spring training will play out. One of those areas is the outfield, with five, potentially six, players looking to find a role on the team.
Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera, Roman Quinn, and Nick Williams will return from last year’s outfield. Andrew McCutchen was added via free agency during the winter meetings. The looming giant is Bryce Harper, who may be the team’s starting right fielder Opening Day.
Whether or not Harper does sign here, at least one outfielder in this group will become expendable. The team carried four outfielders last year and will likely do the same this year. This leaves one player open to being traded, and Williams may be that one.
More from That Balls Outta Here
- How will Rob Thomson manage the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen in 2023?
- How Phillies’ Ranger Suárez is set to build on 2022 postseason dominance
- What can Philadelphia Phillies expect from Bryson Stott in 2023?
- 3 Reasons to get excited for Phillies’ Craig Kimbrel signing
- 11 Free-agent deals the Philadelphia Phillies wish fell through
As it stands now, the starting outfield will likely be McCutchen in left, Quinn in center, and Herrera in right. If Harper is added, Herrera would move to center and Quinn would go to the bench. Of Quinn, Williams, and Altherr, Williams has the most value.
Williams’s name has been tossed around in trade discussions before as he is viewed as a young, controllable bat with enough upside to be an above-average hitter. He showed the upside once he got into the starting lineup on a consistent basis, posting a .266/.334/.448 line, hitting 16 home runs and driving in 46 runs from May through the end of the season.
Williams only was worth 0.3 Fangraphs wins above replacement due to his awful defense in right field. However, he is better served playing left field and Philadelphia’s defense as a whole was terrible last year. It’s hard to imagine his defensive numbers remaining that bad if he spent the whole year in left field (and on another team).
Williams won’t hit arbitration until the 2021 season, giving whichever team that has him ample time to let him develop on the cheap. By that time, Williams will either be the outfielder he shows the potential to be, or he will flame out without too much financial loss.
I’d love to see Williams stay here and be a key part of the outfield, but if the team is going to trade any of their outfielders, he may be the best option to flip and fill another hole.