Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

Phillies News

Predicting the Phillies' 2020 Opening Day roster

@ToddZolecki
November 5, 2019

PHILADELPHIA -- Did you watch the World Series? If you did, you watched the Nationals and Astros stack a couple of awesome rotations against each other in a thrilling seven-game series. Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Justin Verlander, Patrick Corbin and Zack Greinke each pitched in the Fall Classic.

PHILADELPHIA -- Did you watch the World Series? If you did, you watched the Nationals and Astros stack a couple of awesome rotations against each other in a thrilling seven-game series. Max Scherzer, Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Justin Verlander, Patrick Corbin and Zack Greinke each pitched in the Fall Classic.

The Phillies would love to have just one of those guys.

“When you get in those long series in the playoffs, the more they see the relievers, the more [the hitters] become familiar, so if you have starters that can give you distance and there’s not a huge drop off, I think it’s important,” manager Joe Girardi said during his introductory news conference at Citizens Bank Park. “But if you don’t, then you’ve got to find another way to win a game. And I’m not afraid to deploy a bullpen.”

Asked about what the Phillies need to make the postseason in 2020, Girardi said a couple things: First, the bullpen needs to stay healthy. Second, they need more from the starters already in the organization (although there is no question the Phils must acquire at least one legitimate starter from outside).

“Obviously, [general manager Matt Klentak] is well aware of the areas that need to be addressed here and we will do it,” Girardi said.

The World Series just ended, which means the 2019-20 offseason has begun. Here is a look at Philadelphia's projected 2020 Opening Day roster, based only on players currently on the 40-man roster.

Catchers
Locks: J.T. Realmuto
Possibilities: Andrew Knapp, Deivy Grullon
It would be a surprise if the Phillies do not sign Realmuto to a multiyear contract extension this offseason. But they could look outside the organization for Realmuto’s backup. Knapp posted a .518 OPS (81 plate appearances) before the All-Star break, but a .760 OPS (79 plate appearances) after the break. The Phils need the second-half version of Knapp if they decide to move forward with him. Philadelphia must keep Realmuto healthy, and it will be easier to rest him if they have somebody swinging a decent bat.

Infielders
Locks: Rhys Hoskins, Jean Segura, Scott Kingery
Possibilities: Cesar Hernandez
Also on roster: Maikel Franco, Arquimedes Gamboa, Brad Miller, Logan Morrison, Sean Rodríguez
Hoskins is expected to be the 2020 first baseman, but where will everybody else play? The Phillies have options. Hernandez could be non-tendered. He has a combined 93 OPS+ in 2018 and ’19, and his .732 OPS ranks 17th out of 29 qualified second basemen. It might be time to move on, but the Phils’ front office has been enamored with his on-base skills (.345 combined on-base percentage the past two years). If Philadelphia cuts ties with Hernandez, it could move Kingery to second base, which is his best defensive position. Segura can play second, too. But then the Phillies would need to find another shortstop. Franco is unlikely to return, as he has a 90 OPS+ from 2016-19. Potential free-agent third basemen include Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, Mike Moustakas and Todd Frazier. Rendon would solve a ton of problems, but the Phils might not have another $300 million player in them. Donaldson, Moustakas or Frazier might make more sense because they would cost less, which would allow Philadelphia to invest more money into pitching.

Outfielders
Locks: Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen
Possibilities: Jay Bruce, Adam Haseley, Roman Quinn
Also on roster: Corey Dickerson, Jose Pirela, Nick Williams, Odúbel Herrera
The Phillies have wiggle room here. Kingery can also play center field if the Phils find creative ways to fix their infield. McCutchen is a lock, but he is recovering from ACL surgery. It is easy to see Bruce, Haseley and/or Quinn on the Opening Day roster for multiple reasons, but it is also easy to see Philadelphia trading any of them or moving in a different direction. It might not make sense to re-sign Dickerson, even though he was productive following a trade from Pittsburgh before suffering a season-ending foot injury. Williams fell out of favor with the front office and former manager Gabe Kapler, so it is probably best to give him a fresh start elsewhere. Herrera served his season-ending suspension for violating the league’s domestic abuse policy. Can the Phillies really bring him back?

Rotation
Locks: Jake Arrieta, Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin
Possibilities: Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez
Also on roster: Enyel De Los Santos, Cole Irvin, Adonis Medina, Drew Smyly
The Phillies must find at least one quality starting pitcher to upgrade the rotation, but they could use two. If the Phils find two, Eflin would enter camp ahead of Pivetta and Velasquez for the No. 5 job. Somebody like Smyly might be worth bringing back on a Minor League deal, if he is interested. Can Philadelphia get Cole? He loves the West Coast, so the Phillies might have to significantly outspend the Angels (or other West Coast teams) to get him. If Cole heads west as expected, the Phils could take a run at Madison Bumgarner, Strasburg, Zack Wheeler and others. Cole Hamels struggled at the end of the season because of injury, but he still lives in the area and might return on a one or two-year deal.

Bullpen
Locks: José Álvarez, Héctor Neris
Possibilities: Vìctor Arano, Seranthony Domínguez, Tommy Hunter, Adam Morgan, Ranger Suárez
Also on roster: Austin Davis, Edgar Garcia, JD Hammer, Juan Nicasio, David Robertson, Nick Vincent
Where do the Phillies even start here? Arano, Domínguez, Hunter, Morgan and Robertson each finished the season with injured elbows. How much can the Phils count on any of them in ‘20? If they are nervous about the stability of their bullpen, how do they address it? They have been burned recently when signing veteran relievers to multi-year deals, but they need to do something to give themselves a better chance to win.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook .