Phillies add two new names to desperate outfield situation

With the recent shakeup of the Phillies' outfield, the team is exploring all options within its clubhouse.
Texas Rangers v Philadelphia Phillies
Texas Rangers v Philadelphia Phillies / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

The 2024 Philadelphia Phillies don't have many weaknesses.

Their starting staff has been one of the best in the league. The bullpen has done its job shutting the door. The infield has been the most productive unit in baseball, as shown in the recent All-Star voting update. The one place that has lacked, however, has been the outfield.

Heading into Friday, the outfield unit had a slash line of .226/.289/.349 in 959 plate appearances. Over that period, they have hit 22 home runs (28 less than the infield) and 97 RBI (119 less than the infield). The unit, as constructed, has just not been performing up to expectations.

The Phillies recently started an outfield reconstruction after the return of former left fielder Brandon Marsh. With Marsh prepared to take over center field, the Johan Rojas experiment was put on a brief hold as he was optioned to Triple-A.

Marsh was the first piece of the puzzle as the team tries to figure out what the end-of-season outfield group will look like. Now it seems like, for the moment, the Phillies will look internally to get some more production from the unit.

Phillies add two new names to desperate outfield situation

With an improved Nick Castellanos in right field and a Gold Glove-caliber defender in center, the Phillies are getting creative with the left field position.

Edmundo Sosa played extremely well in Trea Turner's absence — well enough to buy a vote of confidence from the team and manager Rob Thomson.

Through the 38 games that Turner missed, Sosa hit .275 with an OPS of .841 and smashed four home runs, a valiant effort from a player who has mainly been a utility bench bat for his career. More importantly, the Phillies went 25-13 across those games, gaining ground in the division even with a perennial All-Star on the shelf.

That effort alone created enough buzz to begin exploring moving the Panama native to the outfield, where he has only played five innings his whole career. MLB.com's Paul Casella posted photos of Sosa taking reps in left field this week.

The idea isn't foreign, as corner outfield is often a spot players are moved to in an attempt to keep a hot bat in the lineup. With the sub-par production from their carousel of platoon options such as Whit Merrifield, Cristian Pache and David Dahl, the immediate solution could be Sosa. The defense could end up being an issue, but with none of the aforementioned players having an OPS+ over 76, Sosa's 132 OPS+ would be a huge help to a diminished bottom half of the lineup.

The reinforcements don't stop there, though.

Kody Clemens could also see time in left field

Kody Clemens is expected to return from the 10-day IL in late June. He has been going through most all day-to-day baseball activities and will start a rehab assignment in Triple-A this weekend. According to MLB.com, Thomson says that Clemens will be playing these games in the outfield. With a good rehab stint, the son of former great Roger Clemens could find himself with a big role in the Phillies outfield.

In 2024, Clemens has hit to an outstanding .906 OPS across 17 games while also playing well defensively, committing no errors while playing first, second, third, and left field. In the midst of his hot stretch he was sidelined with a back injury that has kept him out until now.

The former Detroit Tiger has experience in the outfield, tallying 55 1/3 innings, primarily in left. The plus of using Clemens includes his previous outfield experience and adding another left-handed bat to platoon with Pache or Merrifield. If Clemens can return and go right back to hitting, he can finally find a role with a major league team that he has been waiting for.

After not budging on the outfield unit until this point of the season, the demotion of Rojas means that the Phillies mean business. Even with the success throughout the year, the front office and coaching staff understand that with the poor production in the outfield, the Phillies could find trouble down the stretch and into the postseason.

The Phillies now seem to have two outfield spots locked in for the foreseeable future with Marsh and Castellanos. Until a move is made, the left field spot is up for grabs to whoever can provide the most offensive production, regardless of their previous experience.

manual