The Phillies will be relying heavily on Brandon Marsh in 2024, making Friday's news less than ideal.
Marsh underwent arthroscopic debridement surgery on his left knee Friday morning. The procedure was performed in Philadelphia by Dr. Steven Cohen.
Arthroscopic debridement extracts loose material that may be in the knee joint and can smooth the surfaces inside the knee. Marsh felt discomfort while working out earlier this month.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Philadelphia sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
The Phillies say that Marsh is expected to return to play in 3-to-4 weeks and be ready for Opening Day on March 28 against the Braves.
Still, the injury will likely sideline Marsh until about the midpoint of spring training and you can bet the Phillies will take it slow with him given his importance to their outfield. Spring training results don't matter but the live reps do, and throughout the 2023 season, several Phillies — Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Ranger Suarez, Taijuan Walker — looked back to time missed in camp as a reason for a slow start.
Marsh enters the season as the projected starter in left field. Nick Castellanos is in right field, and the Phillies want and will give Johan Rojas every opportunity to win the center field job.
If Rojas does not hit in spring training, Marsh could return to center and occupy that spot until Rojas has shown enough at Triple A. It's also possible that Friday's news boosts Rojas' chances of starting on Opening Day either way.
The Phillies have a bit of outfield depth behind those three but could certainly use another quality bat to provide protection in case Marsh misses time or Rojas doesn't hit. They currently have Cristian Pache as a backup centerfielder, with Jake Cave, Weston Wilson and Kody Clemens options in a corner. Non-roster invitee Cal Stevenson can also play center field. The Phillies designated another center fielder for assignment Thursday in Simón Muzziotti.
The main reason why the Phillies have not signed an outfielder to this point is they haven't wanted to commit a starting job to him because doing so might unnecessarily block a higher-upside player in Rojas. Free agents like Whit Merrifield, Tommy Pham, David Peralta, Jurickson Profar, Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, Robbie Grossman and Randal Grichuk are seeking starting opportunities or platoon jobs that the Phillies have been hesitant to offer.
We'll see if the Marsh situation changes that calculus. Pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater at the beginning of next week, while the first full-squad workout is Feb. 19.