Be ready to hear this excuse if the Phillies don’t promote someone

There is a myth that has been perpetuated partly by the Phillies, partly by the press and partly by fans for the last two years. And it’s a myth we shouldn’t be buying into anymore.

The myth usually picks up steam in October and November. It gains momentum to the point that everyone starts to believe it and gets nervous that it might come true.

This year, the myth already has some legs as the Phillies prepare, possibly, to make some long-awaited promotions of young prospects such as Rhys Hoskins, Tom Eshelman and, down the line, Scott Kingery.

The myth is that the Phillies’ 40-man roster is too full and it doesn’t have any more room to add players.


For those that don’t know, the 40-man roster is the list of players eligible to be added to the active, 25-man roster. If you’re not on the 40-man roster, you can’t play in the bigs. After a certain amount of time in a career, a player must be added to the 40-man roster or else the team could lose him in the annual Rule 5 Draft in December. Mid-November is the deadline for teams to finalize the 40-man roster.

During the season, teams add to and subtract from the 40-man. Generally, a player is dropped from the 40-man by being released or designated for assignment – the dreaded “DFA.” When a player is designated, he is placed on waivers and any team can pick him up for 10 days. If he makes it through waivers, the team keeps his rights and he is sent to the minors or just released.

For the last two years, the Phillies have told everyone who will listen that their 40-man roster presents challenges when they make moves, and that it’s a good thing. They say it’s full of guys they want to keep instead of losing the rights to. We’re probably going to hear that refrain again in the next couple weeks as the trade deadline approaches. We also could hear it as an explanation as to why Kingery won’t receive a call-up early next year, because he doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man until after the 2018 season. Then we’ll hear it again in November when J.P. Crawford and other minor leaguers will have to be added to the 40-man.

We’ve bought into this farce the last couple years because as far as we could tell, it was true. We wanted to keep all the prospects we could, even if we didn’t know how to pronounce their names. We were told they were too valuable, too important to the future of the franchise, to lose them to another team for nothing. And they weren’t ready for the big leagues, so they couldn’t just be brought up.

Fine. If you want to use that excuse in November, it’s flimsy at best. But if the Phillies try to run that up the flagpole this summer as a reason why they’re not making promotions, or not making deals, then we should all be waiting with pitchforks and torches to call them on it.

Take a look up and down the Phillies’ 40-man. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Back now? How’s your stomach? Did you puke? There are five (at least) guys on there who probably don’t belong in the major leagues. There’s another three or four (at least) about whom I really wouldn’t blink if they were suddenly released. So if General Manager Matt Klentak tells us Eshleman isn’t getting an audition because the team didn’t want to use up a spot on the 40-man, you’ll know he’s lying to you. Not that anyone on this team is worth multiple prospects, but if we hear the team turned down deals because there wasn’t enough room on the 40-man to add multiple guys, you’ll know it’s trash.

The rostering of guys like Ty Kelly, Cam Perkins, Mark Leiter Jr. and a few others should not be holding up any deal, or any earned promotion. The Phillies should be comfortable DFA-ing a few of these guys who obviously are expendable and hold very, very little value so we can see the guys who have proven they are ready.

But the Phillies have gotten away with the 40-man excuse for so long, they might just try it again. Let’s make sure we don’t let them.



  1. Mitchell Nathanson

    July 13, 2017 at 10:06 am

    The Phillies have sold the fans a line of garbage for several years now and, as this article correctly notes, fans (along with many in the media) just buy it verbatim. Don’t listen to Klentak, don’t listen to McPhail, don’t listen to anybody. Just watch the team on the field. Do you see nine guys who belong in the bigs down there? Now add 31 roster spots to what you’re looking at. Do you really think that this organization is brewing talent such that it overfills that bucket? Take a look back three years or so (because they’ve been selling this line of crap for at least that long). How many guys have they promoted during that time that make you say “WOW! Here’s the future!”? None? Okay. Then that suggests they’ve got plenty of room on that roster to do just about whatever they want. Nobody is “blocked” by the “talent” in the bigs or by the dearth of available roster slots. If Hoskins doesn’t get a legitimate shot to play over the next few months, then something is seriously wrong. Well, we already know something is seriously wrong. When you’re 29-58 something is, de facto, seriously wrong. Here’s a guess as to what’s seriously wrong with the Phillies: The Phillies. The Phillies are what’s wrong. Middleton is what’s wrong. McPhail is what’s wrong. Klentak is what’s wrong. Their line of garbage is what’s wrong. The next few months are only going to bring more of it. The Phillies are a pile of hot, stinking garbage rotting in the late summer heat. Otherwise, all is well at CBP.

  2. Paul

    July 13, 2017 at 11:39 am

    Excellent piece. Listen to Jim Salisbury’s podcast with John Manuel of Baseball America. Things aren’t much better in the minors.

  3. Edwin Bupp

    July 13, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Plus, keeping them in minors slows clock on arbitration and free agency

  4. Justin McElroy

    July 13, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Hoskins will be up as soon as they move Joseph.

  5. schmenkman

    July 28, 2017 at 9:13 am

    No mention of all the minor leaguers who will need to be ADDED to the 40-man roster in the off-season? Otherwise they will be exposed in the Rule 5 draft, or will simply become minor league free agents and lost to other team.

    • Mike Fassano

      July 28, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      Looking over the 40 man roster this morning,I count 26 names that belong on the roster. I don’t know how many they must add, but 14 seems like a good amount of room.

      • schmenkman

        July 28, 2017 at 6:25 pm

        Well then, that settles that. ; )

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