The Braves added Yasiel Puig to their roster; the Phillies should counter with Alec Bohm at the onset of the 2020 season
The Philadelphia Phillies’ division rival Atlanta Braves — who have won back-to-back National League East titles — seemed to have experienced a lot of roster subtractions in recent weeks, mostly due to COVID-19-related injuries.
Among them notably includes not having slugging first baseman Freddie Freeman, who tested positive for the virus, as well as outfielder Nick Markakis, who opted out.
In the same stretch, the Phillies saw several of their players return; Aaron Nola, Scott Kingery, and Hector Neris, to name a few.
The two teams seemed to be heading in the opposite direction, favoring of the Phillies, however, the Braves on Tuesday made a notable move to help reverse the trend. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the Braves signed outfielder Yasiel Puig.
Puig, a seven-year veteran and 2014 All-Star, has slashed .277/.348/.475 in his career with 159 doubles, 132 home runs, and 415 RBI; he debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013 and played there through 2018. Last season, the Cuba native split time between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians, combining to slug 24 home runs and a career high 84 RBI.
Puig is now expected to man right field for a good portion of the 60-game slate, with Ronald Acuna Jr. transitioning to left. Not to mention, the Braves have slugging outfielder Marcell Ozuna at their disposal, along with former Phillies Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte playing in center.
If anything, the Braves having Puig over Markakis could almost be considered an upgrade.
Phillies fans wanted general manager Matt Klentak and company to ink Puig; now, with him in the division, they should have no choice but to counter with top hitting prospect Alec Bohm.
Bohm has not disappointed so far in summer camp. Phillies manager Joe Girardi views the 23-year-old “as a guy with the possibility to contribute this year,” adding, “he continues to improve in all facets of the game.”
The question becomes, do the Phillies want to start the “clock” with Bohm and lose an extra year of control, simply by having him on the 30-man roster come Opening Day on July 24. It is believed that the Phillies could promote Bohm after their first seven games, if they were to manipulate his service time.
In a season that will last just 60 games, every game counts. Bohm could come in handy against the Miami Miami for three games, as well as the New York Yankees in the home-and-home set (four games overall). If the Phillies learned anything from last year, they should not take anything for granted in terms of playing against lesser opponents such as the Marlins. The Yankees will not be any easy task, either, as Girardi faces off against the team he previously managed for a decade.
The designated hitter will be in play, too; Girardi has said he wanted to use the position to spare some time off for his everyday players. But, how much of that will exactly have to be done at the onset? Bohm could easily slot in to the DH spot and surprise the opposition with his skillset.
The Phillies have also recently fielded Bohm at first base, in addition to third base, as a possible backup for Rhys Hoskins during the season.
These first seven games could be crucial. A 5-2 start as opposed to a 2-5 start could make all the difference between a postseason contender and falling short.
The Braves added a slugger. The Phillies should do the same with Bohm.