Phillies complicate CF competition, sign Travis Jankowski

Travis Jankowski #16, formerly of the San Diego Padres (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Travis Jankowski #16, formerly of the San Diego Padres (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

There will be two main focuses this spring training for the Philadelphia Phillies — how the back end of the rotation will fill out, as well as who will earn primary duties in center field for the team.

In regards to the latter question, Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, and Scott Kingery are expected to compete, as well as non-roster invitee Matt Joyce and possibly Odubel Herrera. On Monday, a sixth name was added to the mix, only further complicating the situation. The Phillies signed six-year veteran outfielder Travis Jankowski to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.

The Travis Jankowski signing further complicates the Phillies CF competition.

While there are six ways the Phillies could go, competition is good for spring training — and a centerfield platoon is always a possibility.

“I would say [center field is] one spot that we have to iron out in 6 1/2 weeks — six weeks and approximately 30 games,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi recently told reporters. “That’s the one spot that we’re not sure who’s going to take ahold of it. In saying that, you could take hold of it in spring training, but you have to continue to produce. There are going to be other guys that are trying to get that spot. That will definitely be a competition.”

Jankowski, 29, was drafted in the first round, 44th overall, in the 2012 amateur draft out of the State University of New York at Stony Brook. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania, native made his debut three years later for the San Diego Padres, a team he played for through the 2019 season. In 2020 for the Cincinnati Reds, the left-handed hitter collected just a single across 17 plate appearances.

Jankowski’s best season came in 2018, when in 117 games he slashed .259/.332/.346 with 12 doubles, three triples, four home runs, 17 RBI, 24 stolen bases, 37 walks, and 73 strikeouts across 387 plate appearances. In the field, he provides versatility in being able to field all three outfield positions.

The Phillies are currently mulling Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn, or Scott Kingery.

Girardi recently identified that Haseley, Quinn, and Kingery are the three guys the Phillies are “probably looking at the most right now.”

“We need one guy to take hold of it, or even two guys,” he added. “I’d be willing to platoon and do a lot of different things out there. We just want the most production that we can get from that position and I think it’s important.”

If Jankowski surprises everyone in the coming weeks and takes ahold of the job over this trio, that would only be a good thing for the 2021 Phillies.

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