Probable move before Opening Day: Phillies add a veteran presence to the bench
The last at-bat of the 2023 Phillies season was taken by the best left-handed option off the bench at the time, Jake Cave. Not good. With not much time until spring training and only a few weeks until the regular season kicks off, this looks to be a big area of weakness.
The bench, as it stands, consists of inexperienced, defensive-minded players, including Cristian Pache, Edmundo Sosa, and Garrett Stubbs. The number one left-handed-hitting option off the bench, the before-mentioned Cave, is not the caliber of player a World Series contending team needs in big moments, as shown by his 69 OPS+ last season.
An intriguing option to fill the last bench spot would be Whit Merrifield. Last year with the Blue Jays, the 35-year-old was an All-Star and played three different positions for them, mostly splitting time between second base and left field.
A more contact-driven hitter, the long-time Royal has played seven different positions throughout his career and would bring a different dynamic to this Phillies ball club.
With his ability to play anywhere on the field and his low strikeout rate, Merrifield adds in areas that the Phillies lack. The current lineup consists of a ton of swing-and-miss, and the bench lacks someone who can consistently put the bat on the ball and do enough to help the starters get over the hump. Merrifield would instantly become the best hitter on the Phillies bench and can play anywhere needed to help give guys days off during the hot summer months.
Eddie Rosario is another option who is more limited defensively but offers more of a bat. The longtime Twin-turned-Atlanta Brave has had some incredible performances in the playoffs, especially for the Braves during their run in 2021. The 32-year-old lefty could improve on the role that Cave played in 2023. Rosario collected a .755 OPS and hit 21 home runs last year across 142 games.
While it's unlikely that the Phillies will make moves for two bench bats with several players in Triple-A who could make an impact on the major league team, a proven veteran hitter to add to an inexperienced bench would allow manager Rob Thomson to manage the game how he likes with heavy matchup-based decisions.