The Phillies have been very aggressive this offseason in terms of number of moves, considering that the World Series is not over yet. You might ask, "Aggressive? Jerome Williams and Grady Sizemore?" These moves may not be the minor moves that they appear to be on the surface. Instead, these moves may be the precursor of some major moves coming.
Here are the moves the Phillies have made thus far:
- Outrighted Sean O'Sullivan to AAA; O'Sullivan chose free agency.
- Outrighted Tony Gwynn, Jr. to AAA; Gwynn chose free agency.
- Outrighted Andres Blanco to AAA: Blanco cleared waivers.
- Agreed to a one-year contract with Jerome Williams.
- Agreed to a one-year contract with Grady Sizemore.
- Avoided arbitration, agreed to a one-year contract with Cesar Jimenez
The first three moves were to be expected. None of those players were in the Phillies' plans. I would not be surprised if O'Sullivan re-signed if he did not find something better. But the other two moves tell more than they appear to on the surface.
Who is going to start in 2015?
A Cole Hamels trade may be brewing. The Phillies will not be able to move starters A.J. Burnett and Cliff Lee this offseason due to their previous injuries. David Buchanan is in the mix internally, as is Jonathan Pettibone. One reason the Phillies could have rushed to sign Williams is that they know they will need somebody, anybody, to take the ball every five days.
The Cesar Jimenez signing was particularly noteworthy, too. The Phillies have three other left-hand relievers: Antonio Bastardo, Mario Hollands, and Jake Diekman. Diekman and Hollands appear to be the left-handed future in the bullpen. Bastardo is likely as good as gone. Would the Phillies turn Hollands back into a starter?
Hollands turned heads in Spring Training last season, going from someone who was invited to camp just to get a little flavor, to surprisingly making the Opening Day roster to spending a whole season in the bullpen. Hollands started his whole climb up the minor leagues and could fill a Phillies rotation spot if a trade occurs.
The signings of Jimenez and Williams give the Phillies some options for the future; as players move on, they will be capable to plug some spots in the bullpen or in the starting rotation. The possibility of trades of Cole Hamels, Antonio Bastardo, and maybe Jonathan Papelbon creates holes. The Phillies are not expected to contend, even by management's standards, so 2015 is a matter of having people on the mound to throw the ball.
Who Will Play the Outfield in 2015?
The signing of Sizemore seems to be odd, since it locks the Phillies into five outfielders: Darin Ruf, Domonic Brown, Ben Revere, Marlon Byrd, and Sizemore. With the Phillies reportedly hot for Yasmany Tomas, that means there will be too many outfielders. It appears that the Phillies expect changes in the outfield.
Sizemore is not the player he once was but he is indeed a useful player. If the Phillies trade Marlon Byrd and sign Yasmany Tomas, maybe he and Ruf platoon in left field. If the Phillies find a deal for Ben Revere that makes sense, Sizemore can play center capably. If the Phillies trade Byrd and add no one else, Sizemore can play against right-handed pitching.
Sizemore could start, Sizemore could plattoon, Sizemore could be on the Phillies' bench. But with the Phillies continued interest in Tomas, talk of Cody Asche potentially playing some outfield, and the Sizemore signing, it appears some of the heads in the Phillies outfield are ready to roll. Sizemore will give them options.