Phillies Free Agency

Phillies can still upgrade a few roster spots as spring training nears

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When you're set with at least eight of your nine starting position players, all five starting pitchers and six of eight relievers, the Hot Stove season loses some of its luster.

But that doesn't mean the Phillies are done looking. With pitchers and catchers set to report to Clearwater in nine days, the Phils continue to monitor the free-agent market for players or contracts that could fall into their lap. And that could very well happen as players generally get antsier as spring training nears.

The Phillies could still stand to upgrade in several spots. They need an offensive piece on their four-man bench, which as of now would consist of Jake Cave, Cristian Pache, Edmundo Sosa and Garrett Stubbs.

The Cave spot, specifically, could be boosted, and there are still quality outfielders available in free agency like Tommy Pham, David Peralta, Jurickson Profar, Eddie Rosario, Adam Duvall, Robbie Grossman and Randal Grichuk. Cody Bellinger's presence on the market has held up all tiers of outfielders below him.

Most or all of the players listed above will be looking for at least a platoon job, which the Phillies would not be able to guarantee. They plan to use Nick Castellanos in right field, Brandon Marsh in left and Johan Rojas in center, unless Rojas shows in spring training or early in the regular season that his bat is not ready. The Phillies are being careful not to fully block him which is why they haven't signed an outfielder.

Going into a season with Cave and Pache as your top two bats off the bench would not be ideal, nor would be having to use them in a clutch situation as your top pinch-hitter off the bench. Cave had a few moments last season but hit .212/.272/.348 and was used three times as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning or later in the NLCS. He doubled in Game 2, struck out for the penultimate out of Game 4 and flied out to end Game 7.

Beyond the bench, the Phillies could still use at least one more reliever. Jose Alvarado, Jeff Hoffman, Gregory Soto, Seranthony Dominguez, Matt Strahm and Orion Kerkering are locks for six of the eight spots. Others in play include Dylan Covey, Andrew Bellatti, Kolby Allard, Nick Nelson, Luis Ortiz, Yunior Marte, Jose Ruiz and Connor Brogdon.

Perhaps one of those seven pitchers steps up in camp to claim a role. Covey, Bellatti and Ruiz are out of minor-league options, which would make it more difficult for the Phillies to carry them on the active roster since they wouldn't be able to freely send them back to the minors without first passing them through waivers.

There are still a few decent relievers lingering on the market like Ryne Stanek, Jakob Junis and Ryan Brasier.

A year ago around this time the Phillies signed Josh Harrison, who was with the big-league club until being released in August. Pache was acquired on March 29, the day before the 2023 regular-season opener. Hoffman was signed on March 31.

The Phillies' first spring training game is less than three weeks away but there's still plenty of time to tinker with those final few roster spots.

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