Recently cut outfielders Matt Kemp, Gerardo Parra could boost Phillies' bench


The Phillies' bench has not been a strong suit early in the season. Sure, players like Phil Gosselin and Sean Rodriguez have filled in capably during the Phils' early-season rash of injuries, but the team hasn't gotten much from its pinch-hitters.

Phillies pinch-hitters are 9 for 56 this season, hitting .161 with three extra-base hits (all doubles), two walks and 19 strikeouts.

On Saturday, the Phillies designated outfielder Aaron Altherr for assignment to make room for Odubel Herrera's return to the active roster (see story).

Herrera is not in Saturday night's starting lineup against Nationals lefty Patrick Corbin, but once he returns, the bench will consist of Nick Williams, Gosselin, Rodriguez and Andrew Knapp. 

There's versatility in that group but not much offense aside from Williams. Two veteran outfielders who could provide more of an offensive spark were let go by their teams this week and both could help the Phillies.

Gerardo Parra was designated for assignment Friday by the Giants after a slow start. He was hitting just .198 but has a long track record as a solid fourth outfielder. From 2015-18, the left-handed hitting Parra hit .285/.323/.422 with an average of 33 doubles per 162 games.

Parra is also an excellent defensive outfielder, a two-time Gold Glover who could provide value as a late-game defensive replacement. He also has experience playing first base.

The Cincinnati Reds, meanwhile, released Matt Kemp Saturday after a similarly slow start. Kemp is an aggressive hitter who swings and misses a lot and doesn't walk much, which doesn't exactly fit in with the Phillies' style. 

But he does have power from the right side, and it's not as if he's completely lost it. Just last season, Kemp was an All-Star for the Dodgers, hitting .290 with 21 homers, 85 RBI and an .818 OPS in a resurgent season.

Kemp is currently on the injured list with a broken rib but should be ready to go sometime this month. Where he'd be most valuable to a team like the Phillies is as a pinch-hitter against lefties late in games. Kemp is a career .314 hitter against lefties and last season slugged .508 against southpaws with 11 home runs. 

The Phillies, over the last two seasons, have had a tendency to carry four bench bats and eight relievers. If they decide at some point that the extra bat could help more, or that additional offense is more important than carrying both Rodriguez and Gosselin, these outfielders could help in an inexpensive way. 

Parra, in particular, is the type of bench piece you often see on contending teams, a guy who has professional at-bats and experience in every type of situation.

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