Phillies roster breakdown after latest set of trades and signings

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Phillies roster breakdown after latest set of trades and signings originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Phillies have accomplished pretty much everything they set out to accomplish this offseason, landing their top target in Trea Turner, a mid-rotation starter in Taijuan Walker and three late-inning relievers in Craig Kimbrel, Gregory Soto and Matt Strahm.

They filled their need for the fourth dependable starter they didn't have during a deep 2022 playoff run. Relievers David Robertson and Zach Eflin were lost to free agency after picking up important outs in September, October and November, but the Phillies' bullpen is in a better position now than it was then.

The Phils won't play a spring training game for another six weeks but many roster spots are already spoken for. Here's an early rundown, assuming good health and acknowledging that Bryce Harper will be out for at least a couple of months to start the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery performed on November 23.

Starting pitcher locks

Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Taijuan Walker

No. 5 starter candidates

Bailey Falter, Cristopher Sanchez, Andrew Painter, Griff McGarry

The Phillies are leaving the final spot in their rotation open for a young pitcher, whether that's someone who's already started games for them like Falter or Sanchez, or two of their top pitching prospects in Painter and McGarry.

Painter isn't even 20 years old yet but is coming off a brilliant year in which he dominated at three levels, ending with 37 strikeouts, two walks and a 2.54 ERA for Double A Reading. Overall, he struck out 155 and walked 25 in 103⅔ innings with a 1.56 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. If he dazzles in spring training, the job could be his, even without time spent at Triple A. This will be one of the most intriguing topics of Phillies camp.

Bullpen locks

Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarado, Craig Kimbrel, Gregory Soto, Matt Strahm, Connor Brogdon, Andrew Bellatti

That's seven spots all but claimed.

Brogdon had a 3.27 ERA last season and then pitched 7⅓ scoreless innings in the NLCS and World Series, striking out 11 without a walk.

Bellatti had the 11th-highest strikeout rate among all major-league relievers with 12.9 per nine innings, a rate comparable to Liam Hendriks'.

This could be a very good bullpen. Its success will likely be determined by the control of Alvarado, Kimbrel and Soto, three back-end relievers with elite stuff and bat-missing ability who are prone to wildness.

Beyond those seven, the Phillies would carry one or two more relievers. They'd go with eight if they use a four-man bench, or nine if they begin the season with a three-man bench.

Other bullpen candidates

Nick Nelson, Falter, Sanchez, McGarry, Sam Coonrod, Yunior Marte, Luis Ortiz, Andrew Vasquez, Michael Plassmeyer

The Phillies would be better served to keep Falter and Sanchez stretched out as starters for depth purposes if neither makes the opening-day rotation. They'd be the next two up.

Nelson appeared in 47 games for the Phillies last season, mostly as a long reliever. He allowed a ton of baserunners, 115 in 68⅔ innings. He also led the National League with 13 wild pitches. He was able to keep his ERA under 5.00 because he allowed only one home run, and he's actually given up just one over his last two seasons and 83 innings. He averaged just under 97 mph with his fastball in 2022.

Coonrod had a decent year with the 2021 Phillies but arm problems kept him out most of 2022. He appeared in 12 games in the majors and was not effective. He'll look to bounce back in camp.

Marte, another hard-throwing, right-handed option, was acquired from the Giants on Monday. Ortiz and Vasquez were claimed off waivers from the Giants in November.

Catchers

J.T. Realmuto, Garrett Stubbs

Nothing much to say here. Rafael Marchan is the next man up. Depth catcher Donny Sands was traded to Detroit along with Matt Vierling and Nick Maton for Gregory Soto and Kody Clemens.

Infield

Rhys Hoskins, Bryson Stott, Trea Turner, Alec Bohm, Edmundo Sosa, Kody Clemens, Darick Hall

It sounds like Clemens has an inside track to an opening day roster spot, at least based on Dave Dombrowski's comments after the Tigers trade when asked about the Phillies' bench. When it was brought up that the Phillies lost two bench players in the deal, Dombrowski said it was more like one because Clemens' utilityman skill set could replace Maton's.

Hall is in line to DH against right-handed pitching with Harper out. It's not a perfect swing and he's going to strike out, but he did hit .250 with nine homers, eight doubles and a triple in just 142 plate appearances last season, slugging .522.

There aren't many other infielders in the organization on the cusp of battling for a big-league job out of camp.

Outfield

Kyle Schwarber, Brandon Marsh, Nick Castellanos, Dalton Guthrie

Schwarber, Marsh and Castellanos will start, and the Phillies feel that Marsh is more than just a platoon centerfielder against right-handed pitching. He will see more work against lefties in 2023.

The right-handed-hitting Guthrie benefits from the departure of Vierling. He appears to be the Phillies' fourth outfielder, but he can also play second and third base.

Other outfielders in the picture

The Phillies claimed veteran left-handed hitter Jake Cave from the Orioles last month. He had 1,015 plate appearances for the Twins from 2018-22 with the bulk of his time coming in center field. He's hit .206/.262/.352 the last three seasons.

Simon Muzziotti offers defensive value and could find his way back to the majors if an outfielder is hurt. He went 1 for 7 in nine games with the Phils last season, appearing six times as a defensive replacement in the eighth inning or later.

Johan Rojas is an interesting 22-year-old outfield prospect and the Phillies feel he'd be ready to contribute defensively in the bigs now, but the bat still needs some development.

Cave, Muzziotti, Rojas and former high-priced international signing Jhailyn Ortiz are on the 40-man roster.