Phillies set Opening Day roster

March 28th, 2024

PHILADELPHIA -- This Spring Training felt different.

Different because the Phillies were not coming off their first World Series appearance since 2009, like they were last spring. Different because they brought back nearly everybody from the '23 roster, even though they lost Game 7 of the National League Championship Series to the D-backs. Different because they entered camp with very little drama, other than Johan Rojas’ quest to be the Opening Day center fielder (he will be) and Zack Wheeler’s desire to sign a contract extension (he did).

The Phillies made several roster moves on Sunday that essentially finalized their roster. The club will get its season going on Friday after its Opening Day matchup against Atlanta was postponed by rain.

Catcher (2): ,
Nobody caught more innings the past two seasons than Realmuto. The Phillies hope he makes another 130-plus starts this year.

Stubbs will be Realmuto’s backup.

First baseman (1):
Harper said at the beginning of camp that he does not expect to play right field again, although “never say never.” The Phillies like their infield defense with Harper at first. In fact, infield coach Bobby Dickerson thinks Harper could win a Gold Glove Award someday.

Second baseman (1):
Stott flirted with a .300 batting average through mid-August before struggling in the 2023 season’s final six weeks. He is working on adjustments to improve his chances for success in ‘24. Defensively, he is already one of the game’s best second basemen.

Third baseman (1):
Last year, Bohm posted his best on-base percentage (.327) and slugging percentage (.437) since his 2020 rookie season. Bohm started 80 games at third base and 59 games at first in '23. This season, he can focus on playing third, which should be good for him.

Shortstop (1):
Turner slashed .337/.389/.668 in his final 48 regular-season games, but anything close to his career averages (.296/.349/.483) in his second full season in Philly will be just fine. Turner’s big focus this spring is his defense. He made 23 errors last season. He expects to be better.

Outfielders (4): , , ,
Rojas made his first Opening Day roster because he is a brilliant defensive center fielder. He might be the Phillies’ best defensive outfielder in more than a generation. Senior advisor Larry Bowa played with eight-time Gold Glove Award winner Garry Maddox for years. Bowa isn’t ready to say Rojas is better than Maddox, but he said Rojas is in the Secretary of Defense’s class.

But will Rojas hit? The Phillies think he will hit enough to keep his glove in center field, which is the most important thing. Remember, Rojas will be hitting ninth. No. 9 hitters in MLB the past two years hit a combined .228 with a .292 on-base percentage, a .357 slugging percentage and a .649 OPS, which is 71 points lower than the OPS of the average hitter. Philadelphia doesn't need Rojas to hit .300 or even .250 to be immensely valuable to this team. So pump the brakes if Rojas is hitting .225 (or even .200) at the end of April.

If Rojas is playing, it means he is running down balls in the outfield, and you can bet his pitchers will love that.

“All we want him to do is make sure he doesn’t get buried mentally and emotionally,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “If we can do that, we’re good. … Just because of the defense.”

If Rojas is overwhelmed offensively, Marsh could move to center and Whit Merrifield could see more playing time in left. Pache could see time in both left and center.

DH (1):
The Phillies are 151-100 (.602) the past two years when Schwarber leads off, including the postseason. They are 45-48 (.484) when he does not.

Bench/Utility (2): ,
The Phillies signed Merrifield to a one-year, $8 million contract to bolster the bench, providing them much-need insurance if Rojas needs seasoning at Triple-A Lehigh Valley or if there is an injury. Sosa is an above-average defender who can play all around the infield.

Starting Pitchers (5): , , , ,
will open the season on the 15-day injured list because of an impingement in his right shoulder. It is unclear how much time he will miss, but the Phillies believe they will be fine in the meantime with Wheeler, Nola and Suárez at the top, and Sánchez and Turnbull taking the final two spots.

Relief Pitchers (8): , , , , , Luis F. Ortiz, ,
The Phillies will once again have one of the hardest-throwing bullpens in baseball. If you’re wondering who will close, you haven’t been following Thomson too closely. He prefers to close by committee. Alvarado and Hoffman are probably the best bets to close on Opening Day, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Domínguez, Soto or Strahm.

will open the season on the IL following a lengthy illness that sidelined him most of camp.