CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Brock Stassi's spot on the Opening Day roster looks better than ever.The Phillies announced Tuesday they had released outfielder Chris Coghlan and traded right-hander Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named or cash, which removes a player from the bench competition and clears
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Brock Stassi's spot on the Opening Day roster looks better than ever.
The Phillies announced Tuesday they had released outfielder Chris Coghlan and traded right-hander Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named or cash, which removes a player from the bench competition and clears a spot on the 40-man roster, potentially for Stassi.
The Phillies have two bench and two bullpen jobs available, although there is a small chance they could carry a four-man bench and an eight-man bullpen.
Either way, Stassi, who is a non-roster invitee, is a smart bet to join the Phillies' bench. The first baseman and corner outfielder is hitting .320 (16-for-50) this spring, with five home runs, 15 RBIs and a 1.050 OPS. He has impressed everybody in camp -- from the front office to manager Pete Mackanin to the coaching staff.
"We will wait until the final minute, just in case," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said about the Opening Day roster. "A lot of it has to do with the mechanics of the 40-man roster, and just our internal preference for how it breaks, whether it's a lefty or a righty or a long man or one bench player or two bench players. It's making sure we put the best group together. I would expect by the time we got on a plane Friday, we'll have a pretty good idea."
Infielder Jesmuel Valentin and outfielder Daniel Nava, who is a non-roster invitee, are the remaining candidates for the other bench job.
Valentin is the club's No. 30 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, so there has been some thought that his development could be stunted with limited playing time in the big leagues. But the Phillies might try to get him enough at-bats.
If Valentin, who is hitting .378 (14-for-37) this spring, with six doubles, four RBIs and a .980 OPS, struggles early in the regular season, the Phillies can always option him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he will play every day at second base.
"That's the beauty of roster flexibility and having players on the big league club with options," Klentak said. "We can make those decisions in real time throughout the year."
Nava is hitting .361 (13-for-36) this spring, with one double, one triple, two RBIs and a .910 OPS. He is a non-roster invitee, so the Phillies would have to clear another spot on the 40-man roster for him.
"There isn't only one way to make up a bench," Klentak said. "I think in broad terms, you'd like to have players who can hit from both sides of the plate, and have coverage at a variety of defensive positions. Whether those are experienced players or younger players, every team is going to be a little different in that realm. Where we are as a franchise right now, it doesn't bother me that we might have younger players on the bench. We have young players on our Major League team. That's OK. I say all that, but if Daniel Nava makes the team as a 34-year-old, I'm good with that, too. This is not a one size fits all."
It is a bit of surprise the Phillies released Coghlan, but he hit .231 (9-for-39) with a .601 OPS this spring. Coghlan had an opt-out clause that allowed him to request his release Sunday, which he did. The Phillies then had until Tuesday to place him on the roster or release him.
"That was a tough decision," Klentak said.
Left-hander Adam Morgan (2.35 ERA in 15 1/3 innings this spring) is a favorite for one of the two remaining bullpen jobs, leaving left-hander Joely Rodriguez (four earned runs in 10 innings) and right-hander Luis Garcia (five earned runs in 8 2/3 innings) competing for the final job.
Klentak said he does not see a player from outside the organization making the team before Opening Day on Monday in Cincinnati.
"But anything's possible," Klentak said.
The Phillies also told left-handers Cesar Ramos and Hoby Milner, right-hander Colton Murray, switch-hander Pat Venditte and infielder Pedro Florimon that they will not make the team. However, they will remain with the club through Friday.
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.