With adding two players to their 40-man roster in recent days — outfielder Matt Joyce and reliever Brandon Kintzler — the Philadelphia Phillies had to make a difficult decision as a corresponding move in order to make the final touches on their Opening Day roster.
Only one subtraction was necessary, given No. 10-ranked prospect, outfielder Simon Muzziotti, was placed on the restricted list due to visa issues preventing him to report to spring training. The Phillies wound up releasing 26-year-old utility infielder C.J. Chatham, a player they acquired just two months earlier from the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later.
Chatham may be a Phillie once again in the near future, however.
The Phillies are hopeful that they can reunite with utility infielder C.J. Chatham
Chatham played 10 games this spring before he was optioned to minor-league camp. Through 23 at-bats, the infielder slashed just .174/.208/.217 with three singles, one double, two RBI, one walk, and six strikeouts.
Most 40-man roster subtractions are done through designating a player for assignment, where the player would then be on the “waiver wire.” If unclaimed, they would then report to the organization’s minor-league affiliate (Triple-A).
Chatham was released altogether, however — which raised some eyebrows, considering the Phillies traded for him and did not get a large sample size in spring training to gauge his potential impact for the organization in the short- and long-term.
Phillies President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski clarified to reporters Tuesday afternoon that the decision to release Chatham, rather than designate him for assignment, was due to injury.
“We needed a roster spot. When we [released him], we had the right to do that. He wasn’t on our club at that point,” Dombrowski said. “However, you can’t ask outright waivers on an injured player. That’s against the rules, so it really was the only way that we could get him off our roster, and we needed a roster spot at this time.”
According to Dombrowski, Chatham has an oblique injury and tried to play through it in spring training — unbeknown to the team at that time.
While the two sides are currently split, the Phillies have a desire to reunite with Chatham and keep him in the organization. “He knows that, and we are hopeful that he will be in a position where he may join us and sign a Triple-A contract,” Dombrowski added. “We will wait and see.”
Right now, Ronald Torreyes will assume the “utility infielder” role that since-demoted Scott Kingery once filled on the big-league roster. If re-signed, Chatham likely falls behind those two, and even perhaps No. 19-ranked prospect Nick Maton.
Dombrowski had plenty of chances to see Chatham, a former longtime Red Sox prospect, over the years. There is no secret that the Phillies executive is bullish on his talent and potential. A reunion is probably in the cards at some point in the coming weeks, once he is fully healthy.