With Matt Vierling and Nick Maton traded, Scott Kingery and Darick Hall have a golden opportunity for the Phillies.
The Philadelphia Phillies kept their busy offseason rolling by trading for two-time All-Star reliever Gregory Soto over the weekend — a move that adds another fireballer to the bullpen mix. But just as notable were the departures of Matt Vierling and Nick Maton in the same trade, leading some to question the impact that dealing away two young bats might have, as far as depth. This rings especially true since Bryce Harper is expected to miss half the season while he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Still, you have to trust Dave Dombrowski, as this presents an opportunity for a few players within the organization. Símon Muzziotti and Dalton Guthrie might receive a look, but Scott Kingery and Darick Hall come to mind as two players with the most to gain.
We all know the story of Kingery’s failure to progress. He will turn 29 in a few months as he enters the final year of his historically bad contract, before the Phillies will almost certainly buy out the three remaining years. This year will represent one final chance for the team to get something out of his services, and so you have to figure he will be given every spring training opportunity to work himself into the type of utility role that Maton would have filled.
The Phillies completely mishandled Kingery. But he is a sunk cost, and there is nothing to lose by trying him out as a “Swiss Army knife” — at least for the few months that Harper’s recovery has them down one roster piece. The potential value that Kingery could have in spelling the infield is worth exploring. If he does a good enough job, maybe he can hang around MLB for a few years, after all.
As for Hall, we need only look at his performance during Harper’s 2022 absence to get an idea of how he could be used. Hall would work as part of a designated hitter rotation along with Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber. He could also switch off with Rhys Hoskins at first base on days that Hoskins either needs a break or assumes DH duty.
Hall’s complete inability against lefties will likely always limit him as a player, so it’s not a perfect situation. Similarly, his scant experience playing the outfield is unfortunate from the perspective of maintaining a flexible lineup. But Hall’s power is real, and he has an easier path to playing time with Vierling and Maton no longer in the picture.
You’ve got to give something to get something, and Vierling and Maton will be missed. But they will get more opportunities in Detroit, while the Phillies push all their chips into the middle of the table. The remaining support players — like Kingery and Hall — will now be counted on to smooth out the edges while the Phillies’ star players do their thing. Hopefully, they won’t let this golden opportunity pass them by.