PHILADELPHIA -- Dave Dombrowski is focused on three areas of the Phillies’ roster, which he laid out Tuesday on MLB Network Radio with Spring Training scheduled to begin next month.
- “We need to help our bullpen."
- "Right now, we need a catcher."
- “Probably, right now, we would also look a little bit at the shortstop position.”
Dombrowski did not mention center field, but there could be reasons for that. It is possible they give Roman Quinn (.213/.261/.315) and Adam Haseley (.278/.348/.342) another opportunity to prove themselves, particularly if Dombrowski believes they will re-sign J.T. Realmuto and acquire an everyday shortstop.
The "X" factor in center field remains Odúbel Herrera.
Herrera has not played in the big leagues since May 2019 following his arrest on a charge of simple assault of his girlfriend. The charge was dismissed, but Major League Baseball suspended Herrera 85 games for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy. The Phillies removed Herrera from the 40-man roster in January 2020, first designating him for assignment and then outrighting him to Triple-A. He never joined the team’s 60-man player pool last season, despite Philadelphia being severely shorthanded in the outfield and Herrera being its most talented and accomplished center fielder.
The Phillies are slated to pay Herrera $10 million in 2021. They have a $11.5 million club option with a $2.5 million buyout in '22 and a $12.5 million club option with a $1 million buyout in '23.
Dombrowski also did not mention the rotation. The Phillies have Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin in the top three spots. Spencer Howard and Vince Velasquez are the Nos. 4 and 5 starters on the depth chart. But the Phillies could use some help there.
The Phillies acquired left-hander José Alvarado in a trade in December with Tampa Bay, which likely is the first of several moves to improve the bullpen. Alvarado posted a 2.39 ERA in 70 appearances in 2018, striking out 80 and walking 29 in 64 innings. He had a 4.80 ERA in 35 appearances in '19, missing a month because of a personal matter in Venezuela before making two trips to the injured list because of a strained right oblique and injured left elbow. He made only nine appearances in '20 because of a shoulder injury.
“We think he can help us,” Dombrowski said. “I know last year was a little bit down, but his stuff is quality. But we need to continue to pursue more help out there.”
Of course, the worst-kept secret in the world is how badly the Phillies need to re-sign Realmuto (.266/.349/.491).
“We are in a spot where we basically have one [catcher] in [Andrew] Knapp on our roster at this point,” Dombrowski said. “J.T. is still out there. He’s somebody we’d love to have as part of our organization, but we’ll see what ends up happening.”
The Phillies had not made Realmuto a formal contract offer as of late last month, which really is not a surprise. The Phillies always expected the Realmuto market to develop slowly, like the markets for other top-tier free agents. But with only weeks remaining before camp opens in Clearwater, Fla., things should begin to pick up. Or not. Remember, Bryce Harper did not sign his 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies until late February 2019.