TAMPA, Fla. -- So much has changed for Adam Haseley since he stood in center field for the Phillies on Opening Day last year.
He played a couple weeks, then left the team in mid-April for personal reasons. He returned a month later, then spent the rest of the season in the Minor Leagues. In his absence, the Phillies got a good look at outfielder Matt Vierling. They liked what they saw. But the Phillies knew they needed more help in the outfield, so this month they invested nearly $181 million in it, signing Nick Castellanos (five-year, $100 million contract), Kyle Schwarber (four-year, $79 million contract) and Odúbel Herrera (one-year, $1.75 million contract). The Phillies signed those players in part because they no longer considered Haseley, whom they selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 Draft, a viable long-term option.
Philadelphia turned the page on Tuesday, trading Haseley to the White Sox for right-hander McKinley Moore.
Moore was Chicago’s No. 27 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He falls just outside the Phillies’ top 30.
“I think sometimes a change of scenery is good for players,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said at George M. Steinbrenner Field. “Great kid. Works really hard. [Haseley] was doing everything we asked of him. It might be good for him. He’s going to get an opportunity there.”
Still, it is a sobering result for an organization that selected outfielders in the first round in three consecutive Drafts from 2015-17: Cornelius Randolph (10th overall in 2015), Mickey Moniak (first overall in 2016) and Haseley. Only Moniak remains in the organization.
Moniak is in the driver’s seat to be the team’s fifth outfielder, with Herrera expected to open the season on the injured list because of a strained right oblique. Interestingly, Girardi said just last week that the Phillies did not consider Moniak an option in center field. But like Haseley’s long-term future in Philadelphia, things changed. Specifically, Moniak homered in three consecutive games over the weekend.
Vierling remains the favorite to be the Phillies’ Opening Day center fielder. He could play there regularly, at least until Herrera returns.
“Those two guys have played really well in Spring Training,” Girardi said about Vierling and Moniak. “It gives us left-handed options and right-handed options. I’m not sure exactly what we’re going to do. We could [platoon them]. One could take it and run with it.”
The Haseley trade also opened a spot on the 40-man roster. It could be used for Bryson Stott, the club’s top prospect, who is competing for a job in the Phillies’ infield. Stott started at third base on Sunday, and he will start there again this week as he pushes Alec Bohm and Johan Camargo for the job at third. It will be a fascinating decision, as Bohm was the third overall pick in the 2018 Draft and finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2020, before struggling and getting optioned to Triple-A in August of last season.
“I can put it this way, he’s making a strong case for himself,” Girardi said about Stott.
But the Phillies might need more than one spot on the 40-man roster because they also have needs in the bullpen, with Sam Coonrod (strained right shoulder) opening the season on the IL and José Alvarado (neck) behind schedule. Keep an eye on Connor Brogdon, too. His fastball averaged 93.4 mph on Saturday in Lakeland. It averaged 96 mph last season. Brogdon was scheduled to pitch on Tuesday, but Girardi said it was an error and that Brogdon will pitch Wednesday.
“It’s down,” Girardi said about Brogdon’s velocity. “That worries us, like how close he is [to Opening Day]. We’re hoping there will be a little bit of an uptick these next couple times [on the mound].”
The club has time to make these decisions. Opening Day is 10 days away. Plenty can change in that time, just like they changed for Haseley.
On the night the Phillies drafted Haseley, they touted him as somebody who could hit 20 to 25 home runs a season and as a top-of-the-lineup threat because of his ability to command the strike zone. They said he could play anywhere in the outfield. They considered him a good runner with a strong arm. But on Tuesday, they traded him for Moore, who could be a Major League reliever someday.
Moore is 6-foot-6 and weighs 225 pounds. His fastball sits in the 93-96 mph range, but he has trouble consistently throwing strikes. He reduced his walk rate from 11.8 per nine innings in college to 6.9 per nine in his pro debut to 4.6 per nine in 2021.