Phillies 2019 season preview: Outfielder Aaron Altherr

PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 14: Philadelphia Phillies Outfield Aaron Altherr (23) runs the bases after hitting a home run during a MLB game between the Miami Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies on September 14, 2018 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia,PA.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 14: Philadelphia Phillies Outfield Aaron Altherr (23) runs the bases after hitting a home run during a MLB game between the Miami Marlins and the Philadelphia Phillies on September 14, 2018 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia,PA.(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 16: Aaron Altherr #23 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the Miami Marlins during a game at Citizens Bank Park on September 16, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Altherr’s role in 2019

Early in the offseason, it appeared Altherr would have a chance to be a starter once the team moved Rhys Hoskins back to first base with the trade of Carlos Santana. Then the team signed Andrew McCutchen to fill Hoskins’ spot, and then they landed prize free agent Bryce Harper to play right field. With Odubel Herrera entrenched in center field, Altherr is eyeing a bench role, but he’s not the only once.

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Altherr, Williams, and Roman Quinn came into spring training to jockey for one or two backup outfield jobs. Quinn is (unsurprisingly) injured and his availability for Opening Day is in doubt. That allows the team to delay their decision until he returns, but sooner or later they will have to make a decision. They are only going to carry a four-man bench, which will make balancing the players on the roster even harder.

What may help Altherr is that he doesn’t have any more options left after his last one was burned last year. The team would have to put him through waivers to send him back to the minors, and it’s likely at least one team would claim him. Unless Altherr is truly struggling, it’s hard to imagine a situation where he gets designated for assignment.

So long as Altherr is on the team, he would be the team’s fourth or fifth outfielder. He plays better defense than Williams and can play center field adequately, which does give him some advantage over Williams. However, Williams is a far better option offensively, especially given the latter’s struggles in 2018.