Nearly every season, at least one player makes the 25-man roster out of spring training that leaves fans asking: “Who?” You know the type. The Tyler Goeddels and Cedric Hunters of the world. There are a ton of players out there who can help a team – minor leaguers looking for the right fit and veterans not ready to hang their cleats up just yet.
General Manager Matt Klentak has said the team is still looking to fill some holes and create competition come spring training, and manager Pete Mackanin has made it clear he wants more offense. The Phillies have already added a few non-roster invitees – Daniel Nava, Pedro Florimon, and Hector Gomez – who will compete for spots this spring, but are still looking to add a few bench pieces, specifically in the corner outfield and at catcher.
As it looks now, Odubel Herrera will be back in center with Howie Kendrick and Roman Quinn in the corners. The bench competition is already pretty full with Aaron Altherr, Goeddell, Nava, and Nick Williams, but the Phils are still looking to add another bat or two. This can come through a trade or, more likely, a low-risk signing.
There are a few free agents the Phils could sign, ranging from ultra-low risk like Juan Perez or Michael Bourn (yes, that Michael Bourn) to a little more costly addition like Colby Rasmus. Perez is a free agent who batted .276/.310/.444 in triple-A last year for the Iowa Cubs. He previously spent three seasons with the Giants and was on the 2014 World Series roster. The likelihood of Perez cracking the opening day roster may be slim, but he would be nice insurance in case of injuries.
Fans are very familiar with Bourn, both as a Phillie and as an NL East opponent. The 33-year old is a shell of the player he used to be thanks to injuries and time, but he could provide a cheap, much-needed left-handed bat off the bench and possibly help coach the team’s young, often misguided, baserunners.
It’s still possible Klentak would like to sign a more solidified corner outfielder, allowing Kendrick to play more middle infield, especially if a Cesar Hernandez trade comes to fruition. Rasmus could come at a heftier price but he recently had surgery to repair a torn labrum, a bone spur and a torn core muscle, so he might settle for a one-year deal on a rebuilding team to recover and boost his value. He’s also a left-handed bat and can play all three outfield positions. He hit just .202/.286/.355 with 15 home runs in 2016 but was a finalist for a Gold Glove in left field.
After losing A.J. Ellis to Miami, the thought surrounding the team was Klentak would look to add a catcher to compete with Andrew Knapp to back up Cameron Rupp. Klentak has since said that isn’t necessarily true, but some names worth exploring are Alex Avila, Dioner Navarro and Brayan Peña.
Avila hit just .213/.359/.373 in 57 games with the White Sox last season but would provide a left-handed bat in a right-heavy lineup. At 33-years-old and coming off injuries last season, he would most likely take a one-year deal at or less than the $2.5 million he made last year.
Navarro and Peña also provide a left-handed bat, as both are switch-hitters. Navarro would cost more dollars as he played in 101 games last season between the White Sox and Blue Jays, as opposed to Peña, who was sidelined most of 2016 with a knee injury. Navarro had an down-year offensively, hitting just .207/.265/.322, but he has some power and can pinch-hit late in games. Peña had surgery last April and is looking for work after being released by the Cardinals. He would certainly be a cheap, low-risk option for the Phillies.