Adam Haseley and Alec Bohm — two of the Philadelphia Phillies eight opening day position players — are currently playing at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, rather than contributing to a major league team that’s attempting to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011.
2021 has turned into a lost season for both, but the Phillies organization still seems to have hope in salvaging the careers of the two former first-round picks.
Matt Gelb of The Athletic noted Tuesday that the Phillies “are hopeful” that both Haseley and Bohm will play in the Dominican Professional Baseball League this winter.
Haseley — the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft — hasn’t played at the major league level since being placed on the restricted list in mid-April for what the Phillies called personal reasons. The 25-year-old was the opening day center fielder, but had hit just .190 in 21 at-bats before taking a leave of absence. While he hit five home runs in his first 222 major league at-bats in 2019, Haseley has zero home runs in 100 at-bats since. In 124 at-bats for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, Haseley is slashing .250/.301/.315 with two home runs and 11 RBIs.
The Phillies may tentatively hope that Haseley plays winter ball this offseason, but it’s hardly certain he’ll still be in the organization next opening day. Some of that is out of Haseley’s control.
It seems hard to imagine the Phillies will pick up Odúbel Herrera’s $11.5 million option for 2022, but the 29-year-old has certainly proven more at the major league level than any other center field option in the Phillies organization. Herrera’s club options for 2022 and 2023 could be declined — leaving the Phillies on the hook for $3.5 million worth of buyout money over the next two seasons — but he still wouldn’t have enough service time to become a free agent, as far as we can tell. So the Phillies could go to arbitration with Herrera, who has played in 113 games in 2021 after missing the majority the last two seasons following his arrest for domestic violence.
There’s also Mickey Moniak in the picture. The former No. 1 overall pick has worn out his E-ZPass going back and forth between Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia this season. Joe Girardi said that he viewed Moniak more as a corner outfielder than a center fielder in May, an assessment that the 23-year-old politely disagreed with. There have been ample opportunities in center field and enough in left field that haven’t gone to Moniak, leaving you to wonder about his future in an organization that has increasingly less people in positions of power that had any connection to his selection in 2016.
22-year-old Símon Muzziotti has flashed in limited at-bats between the 2019 and 2021 seasons, but injuries and Visa issues have kept him from potentially pushing his way into the center field discussion. At this point, though, it’s perhaps as easy to envision a scenario where Muzziotti plays a meaningful role for the 2022 Phillies as Haseley.
You also have the lingering possibility of signing or trading for a veteran, though options outside of impending free agent Starling Marte — who, for as great of a season as he’s having, will turn 33 next month — are limited.
Haseley could be back in 2022, and impressing in winter ball may go a long way in helping to revitalize his stock. But remaining in the Phillies organization beyond 2021 may mean he’s an opening day outfielder for the IronPigs next year, as opposed to the Phillies.
As for Bohm, it’s hard to quantify how different the long-term outlook on him is from this time a season ago, when he was wrapping up a campaign that saw him finish in a tie for second place in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting.
Bohm has -17 defensive runs saved in 1,118 career innings at third base in the majors. For as hard as he’s worked to improve defensively, seemingly it’s time to pull the plug on the experiment, though he has continued to play at the hot corner with Lehigh Valley and general manager Sam Fuld didn’t seem to believe a position change was coming when asked in August.
The Phillies hoped Bohm would turn into an adequate major league third baseman, but the fact that he hasn’t isn’t especially shocking — we pondered the possibility back in spring training.
But whether the team imagines his future at third base, first base, in left field or at DH, his offensive regression is what has been really alarming in 2021. In 160 at-bats in 2020, Bohm slashed .338/.400/.481. This season, he slashed .245/.302/.342 in 371 at-bats, and the fact that he showed very few signs of tapping into the power potential that he possesses served as another red flag.
Bohm hit fifth in the opening day lineup in 2021, but it’s hard to imagine him being guaranteed any regular spot next season, regardless of what position he plays (or doesn’t play, if he’s a DH).
It’s perhaps an oversimplification, but for Haseley, winter ball would really be about just getting better results. For Bohm, you’d be trying to repair his confidence, but also doing so with a plan. What position is he going to play moving forward? If it’s still third base, what can be done to fix a defender who had 15 errors at the position in 2021?
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