Who will be the Phillies’ fourth outfielder with Matt Vierling traded?
The Philadelphia Phillies recently upgraded their bullpen by acquiring Gregory Soto from the Detroit Tigers — sending 2022 National League champions Matt Vierling and Nick Maton to the American League Central.
But the trade raises a new question — who will be the team’s fourth outfielder on Opening Day? Vierling is not a difference-maker at the plate, but he has the speed and glove to be a valuable late-inning defensive substitute.
The fourth outfielder on any roster usually is not a big deal, but with Bryce Harper out for a considerable amount of time, the Phillies will need a serviceable fourth outfielder who can play a few times a week.
Corner outfielders Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber will likely serve as the designated hitter at least once a week until Harper returns. Even on days that both play the field, the fourth outfielder may still be called upon to replace Castellanos as a late-inning defensive substitute.
With the vast majority of free-agent options already off the table, here are five options the Phillies have left to consider.
1. Dalton Guthrie
In terms of in-house options, Dalton Guthrie may be at the top of the list. The 27-year-old was a late call-up at the end of the 2022 regular season. He appeared in 14 games, hitting .333 with a home run and five RBI. While the sample size is small, this was an impressive start to the former sixth-round pick’s major league career.
On defense, Guthrie primarily played right field, but he also appeared at third base and second base. He played error-free ball in 70 innings in the field.
In terms of being cost-effective, Guthrie may be the best option heading into spring training. The one downside is whether he can play center field, if needed.
Vierling platooned in center with Brandon Marsh down the stretch. While the Phillies believe Marsh can become a full-time starter, there still needs to be another outfielder capable of playing center field at a high level.