Phillies make surprising roster move before Nationals series

Deivy Grullon, Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Deivy Grullon, Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The Phillies made five roster moves prior to their Monday series opener against the Nationals, one of which is a surprise

The Philadelphia Phillies made one trade before Monday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, acquiring RHP David Phelps from the Milwaukee Brewers, but that was not the most shocking roster transaction of the afternoon.

Ahead of their series opener against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies announced five roster moves — one of which is particularly surprising.

First, outfielder Jay Bruce (quad injury) and LHP Ranger Suarez (COVID-19) were reinstated from the injured list. Bruce, who is slashing .231/.273/.596  with four home runs and 11 RBI in 16 games this season, had been sidelined for just shy of two weeks. The return of Suarez is another strong addition to the Phillies’ bullpen, which has been overhauled in recent weeks through the addition of four games via trade — the most recent being Phelps on Monday. The left-handed Suarez had been absent all season so far following a bout with COVID-19.

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Next, utility player Scott Kingery was placed on the 10-day injured list with back spasms, and right-handed reliever Reggie McClain was designated for assignment. Kingery is slashing just .127/.184/.183 this season, and like Suarez, has battled the COVID-19 virus; 6ABC’s Jeff Skversky reports that Kingery has been battling back issues since early July. McClain had made five appearances this season, the most recent being in the 12-10 loss to the Braves, where he allowed two hits, one run, and one walk in the defeat; overall, he had a 5.06 ERA spanning 5 1/3 innings.

The most surprising move of the five overall, however, was the Phillies also designating catcher Deivy Grullon for assignment. The 24-year-old had been at the team’s alternate training site all season, and has long been considered the Phillies’ No. 3 catcher on the depth chart behind J.T. Realmuto and Andrew Knapp. Last season at the Triple-A level, Grullon slashed .283/.354/.496 with 24 doubles, 21 home runs, and 77 RBI.

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As The Athletic’s Matt Gelb notes, if either Realmuto or Knapp go down due to injury, Rafael Marchan is now the likely backup option. Marchan will have to be added to the 40-man roster regardless this offseason to avoid being selected in the Rule 5 draft.

In 70 games last season between the Lakewood and Clearwater affiliates, Marchan caught 36.5% of runners attempting to steal a base.

It is not clear whether Grullon’s designation is more of Marchan outperforming him at the alternate training site, or whether the Phillies simply had no other option of who to designate to clear room on the 40-man roster. Also, it could mean the Phillies are confident they can bring back soon-to-be free-agent Realmuto in 2021, and therefore are not worried about their catching depth.

The Phillies hope they will not have to add a third catcher to their 28-man, big-league roster for the rest of the season, meaning Realmuto and Knapp stay healthy.