4 Phillies non-roster invitees poised for Opening Day roster
By Matt Rappa
3. Matt Joyce
The Phillies’ outfield situation is particularly crowded, especially in center field. While Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen are locks for the corner outfield, the main competition will be to see who steps up and outperforms all other outfielders for the starting center field job.
Scott Kingery, Adam Haseley, and Roman Quinn are the favorites to either land the job outright or be a part of a platoon. Should the Phillies deem that a player beyond those three will enter the picture, outfielder Matt Joyce could be the direction they head.
Joyce will compete with fellow non-roster invitee outfielder Travis Jankowski, as well as Odubel Herrera, Jhailyn Ortiz, Johan Rojas, and Matt Vierling at spring training mini-camp.
A 13-year veteran, Joyce appeared in 46 games this past season for the Miami Marlins, slashing .252/.351/.331 with four doubles, two home runs, 14 RBI, 20 walks, and 41 strikeouts spanning 148 plate appearances. In the postseason, he notably collected a double and two walks in the Wild Card Series opposite the Chicago Cubs. In the NLDS against the division-rival Atlanta Braves, he recorded a single and RBI, while striking out twice across six plate appearances.
Joyce and Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski have deep roots. About 15 1/2 years ago, Dombrowski selected him in the 12th round of the 2005 draft. Three years later, the front office executive traded him from the Detroit Tigers to the Tampa Bay Rays for Edwin Jackson. Fast-forward to February 2021, and the path between Dombrowski and the 2011 American League All-Star have crossed once again.
Joyce’s best season came in 2011, the year he earned his first and only All-Star nod. Playing 141 games for the Rays, Joyce slugged 32 doubles, 19 home runs, and 75 RBI, while logging a respectable .277 batting average.
Joyce will serve as a potential bench bat, and if he makes the team, could be relied upon often as a pinch-hitter — especially without the universal designated hitter at manager Joe Girardi‘s disposal.