Breaking Down the Phillies Early Moves


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On Sunday, the Phillies finished the 2015 season with 47 players on their roster. Obviously they were going to have to get back to 40 players before free agency began. They wasted very little time getting there, cutting seven guys yesterday from the roster, getting back to the needed number.

My take on the seven:

  • Justin de Fratus- On the one hand, it was surprising that they were so decisive in making this move, on the other hand it was best for both sides. Once it became clear that JDF wasn’t going to be a set-up man type moving forward, his value on this team was greatly diminished. The Phillies didn’t need to offer arbitration to a long reliever. For their sake, this made sense, even if it was early. It was also best for him. He is now a free agent, and has an earlier start on finding a home for 2016.
  • Ken Roberts- This move kind of surprised me, if only because it was so early. Roberts is a lefty, and has options still, so I thought he may have a shot of surviving, or would at least be around until they desperately needed spots. He had little chance of making the opening day 2016 roster though, so it would make more sense to clear the spot.
  • Jordan Danks- No shock here. When he didn’t get a September call-up, the writing was on the wall.
  • Chase d’Arnaud- I’d like to see them try and bring him back on a minor league deal, but it’s no shock that they cleared him off.
  • Erik Kratz- This was also not shocking. There’s not a lot of room for Kratz with some young catchers coming up. I wouldn’t rule out him being back as the AAA back-up and getting some DH/1B time as well. I doubt it, but it’s possible. He could also end up retiring, or seeking a starting job for someone else in AAA.
  • Adam Loewen- Much like with De Fratus, Loewen really didn’t have a home moving forward in the MLB bullpen. He’s not a set-up type, and frankly younger guys out pitched him down the stretch. He was a nice story, but he’s not really a big leaguer at this point.
  • Jon Pettibone- I assumed he was going to be around a little longer, but I also assumed he would be cut. Activating him and outrighting him frees up space. If he can show health, it won’t be hard to bring him back on a minor league deal. If he can’t, his career is probably over.

I was a little surprised a few other guys did not go in this round. Brian Bogusevic survived yesterday, and is arbitration eligible. His contract was a one year minor league deal, so he also could end up in free agency. Dom Brown is in a similar contract situation, finishing out a one year major league deal and reaching an arbitration date that most fans assume he won’t get. Clearly that decision was not as easy as the De Fratus one (he was also arbitration eligible), because they didn’t just cut Dom outright. I also thought that Joely Rodriguez and Severino Gonzalez’s jobs were in danger yesterday. Clearly, they were not, yet.

The Phillies are under no further obligation to cut anyone at this time, and actually are fine to go into free agency and make moves, if they wish. Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang, Jerome Williams, and Jeff Francoeur are all definitely free agents, and it appears 100% likely that Cliff Lee’s buyout will be paid on his option, and he will be a free agent too. The Phillies will still have to decide whether to tender contracts to Brown, Bogusevic, and Andres Blanco this off-season, and could still look at cutting Rodriguez or Gonzalez later, if they need a spot. With five guys going to free agency, and only really Francoeur being considered for a return, the Phillies roster will be down to 36 most likely when free agency begins.

In addition to Francoeur, I think it’s safe to assume Blanco will be back. They have identified signing a starting pitcher and a veteran reliever as their two main free agency needs. They need to protect Roman Quinn and Nick Williams this off-season as well, which would fill two more spots on the roster. This means that if the Phillies want to make a Rule 5 draft choice as well, they probably need to clear one more spot, as they would sit at 40 from those four additions. This could mean they non-tender Brown, Bogusevic, or both at the deadline. It also could mean they trade someone off the major league team.

They will probably turn their attention now to getting contracts done with Frenchy and Blanco in the next few weeks. Once free agency begins, I suspect they will be aggressive in seeking a major league starter and reliever, and may try to get those done early in the off-season, as they won’t be bidding on the Prices and Greinkes of the market. They will also be aggressive with getting minor league deals with invites to camp done fast. Remember, with Jesse Biddle likely to start the season on the 60-Day DL after Tommy John Surgery, the Phillies will have an open spot on the 40 man to burn on someone who surprises and makes the team.

It’s a long off-season, but it appears to be off to a fast start. There’s nothing to be unhappy about in yesterday’s cuts.

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