How and why the Phillies roster fills out

(Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Did Aaron Cook grab a bullpen spot with another good outing on Saturday? What about the status of Yuniesky Betancourt, does he stay or go? When you try to figure out the 25-man roster for the Phillies, you can't just look at the numbers; here's why...

40-man roster spots: Right now, the Phillies have one open spot on their 40-man roster, but that's only because Carlos Ruiz, who is on the restricted list to serve a 25-game suspension, doesn't count against the total number of players. When he is eligible to rejoin the team a month from now, the Phillies would need to open up a spot for him unless they don't add to their roster as it stands now.

Keep in mind too, that Ender Inciarte, who the Phillies got in the Rule 5 Draft, is on the 40-man roster and if the Phillies don't keep him, he would come off the roster to open another spot. Both back-up catchers still in camp are also non-roster players who will need a spot on the 40-man.

Clauses to consider: There are two players who have contract clauses that are putting some measure of pressure on the Phillies. The most daunting is that Yuniesky Betancourt, who has played well for the Phillies both offensively and defensively this spring, must be told whether he has made the 25-man roster by the end of the day on Sunday (March 24). If he doesn't make the team, he can elect to become a free agent. His agent - who could be bluffing - has said that there is no way Betancourt would stay with the Phillies if he's not on the 25-man roster.

The other clause that carries some need for consideration is that of Aaron Cook. The Phillies have until Tuesday to add Aaron Cook to the 25-man roster or he can become a free agent. If he elects to stay in the Phillies organization, the team is on the hook for an additional $100,000 as a "retention payment" for Cook not electing free agency. 

Both Cook and Betancourt have shown some value this spring and it would be a much better scenario to keep them in the organization than to lose them with no compensation. But since both players would need a spot on the 40-man roster, keeping both could prove to be a little tricky.

The Rotation: Yes, the rotation is set and yes, all indications are that Roy Halladay will be starting April 3 against Atlanta. Still, there has to be some concern about Halladay and very few teams go through a season without an injury to a starter, so you need insurance at the Triple-A level. Right now, the Phillies have Tyler Cloyd and possibly Adam Morgan, who had a big spring, but hasn't pitched above Double-A. This is where keeping Cook would be a bonus for the Phillies, because he would provide them with a veteran starter to plug in should an emergency pop up.

The Bullpen: Jonathan Papelbon is the closer and Mike Adams is the set-up guy. Chad Durbin figures to have made the team and so far, the Phillies insist they're not too concerned about lefty Antonio Bastardo and his ERA of 5.40 this spring. That leaves three spots open and there are six guys still in camp who could conceivably fill those spots. Non-roster pitcher Zach Miner is a very longshot, but not officially out of the picture. Cook's situation has been detailed, but add in the fact that the Phillies don't have a true longman in the mix and that's a role that Cook could fill for them. Mike Stutes is coming off an injury and has been inconsistent this season, as has Phillippe Aumont since he returned from pitching for team Canada in the WBC. 

Is there a position that Freddy Galvis can't play? The Phillies don't seem to think so. On Saturday, Galvis even took the field in right field late in the game and looked comfortable out there. Could versatility be the key to him making the team? (Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

It's likely the Phillies will want at least one more lefty in the bullpen and they've got two left in camp without an official job; %%MATCH_20%% and %%MATCH_24%% have both pitched well this spring and also pitched well for the Phillies last season. Valdes could conceivably be a reasonable facsimile of a longman, if that's the way the Phillies want to go.

Catchers: %%MATCH_25%% will be the starter until Ruiz returns, but who will be the back-up? The Phillies still have %%MATCH_15%% and %%MATCH_21%% in camp and both are non-roster players, so either one will have to be added to the 40-man roster. Quintero is a veteran and the Phillies love how Lerud has developed. Neither provides a lot of offense, but Lerud is slightly stronger defensively and the Phillies catchers remarked even during Lerud's short stint with the team last season that he calls a great game.

Here's something to keep in mind. Since one of the catchers will have to be added to the 40-man roster and it's likely that someone - very possibly the same guy - will exit the roster when Ruiz is activated, keep this in mind. The Phillies might keep Quintero, because they won't want to risk getting Lerud through waivers when they need to send their back-up back down and take him off the 40-man. Losing Quintero is a lot less likely to happen and would hurt a lot less if it did happen.

Infield: Of course, the starting four are set, but they come with a bit of an asterisk. Charlie Manuel has already said he's going to have to dole out more off-days to some of his aging and health-challenged players - %%MATCH_23%% and %%MATCH_22%%, primarily - so utility guys are going to be more important this season. It's also possible Manuel will want a defensive replacement at third base late in a close game, since %%MATCH_19%% is relearning the position.

%%MATCH_28%% is still hanging around camp, primarily because he can play all over the infield and has played some outfield during his career. Orr is also not on the 40-man roster, so that makes it a little tougher for him to stick. The Phillies put Freddy Galvis in right field on Saturday and he looked comfy out there, which would make him even more versatile and would give Manuel a better chance of getting him the 250 at-bats he has promised should Galvis make the team. Galvis definitely provides the best middle-infield defense and possibly the best at third base as well. It might be nice to have him playing every day at Lehigh Valley, but the odds of him making the team look good. %%MATCH_16%% is very close to being a lock to make the team. He played very well for the club last season and has shown his value to the team, plus, he is out of options, so the Phillies would have to sneak him through waivers if they wanted to send him to the minors and that's not likely.

That brings us to Betancourt. He and Galvis are pretty similar in talent, but Betancourt has more major league time under his belt. It's possible that the Phillies would keep three utility infielders and either go with just four outfielders - especially if Galvis can lend a hand in the outfield - or go with one less reliever to start the season.

Outfield: Let's face it, %%MATCH_17%% has made the team. %%MATCH_27%% is the starting center fielder and %%MATCH_18%% Jr. and %%MATCH_26%% have pretty much made the team by default. That leaves Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte to consider. While he hasn't put up overly impressive offensive numbers, the Phillies like Inciarte. He has good speed, generally plays well defensively and wouldn't be a bad guy to keep around. The question is, how bad to they want him? They could attempt to work out a deal with %%MATCH_29%% to keep him or just give him back if they can't find a spot for him. The added speed would be nice though.

Amaro admitted that he's going to keep an eye on the waiver wire and wouldn't rule out the potential to pull off a trade for another outfielder in the waning days of spring training. That of course, could throw everything into an even bigger jumble not just because the Phillies would be adding another player, but because of who they might give up in the deal.

The bottom line: Here's a very logical way for it all to play out. First of all, Miner and Orr don't make the team. They're insurance at best and not worth using up one of those roster spots to keep in Philly.

Quintero gets the job because of the fear of potentially losing Lerud if they had to expose him to waivers. That takes up the one 40-man roster spot that the Phillies have available right now. Could they create another spot or two? Yes. %%MATCH_32%%, %%MATCH_30%% and %%MATCH_31%% are all expendable and could be dropped from the roster. Even if they make just two of those moves, it gives them some flexibility.

Betancourt and Cook have both performed well and deserve spots on the club. That takes up the two newly opened roster spots and eliminates Inciarte from consideration. If the Phillies and D'backs can work out a deal, great. If not, Inciarte heads back to the Snakes. Galvis will be the emergency outfielder, unless the Phillies find someone else to take that spot either through a trade or the waiver wire, and it says here that that's what they'll wind up doing. At that point, Galvis would start the year at Lehigh Valley. That also means that Frandsen makes the team as a utility infielder.

Cook is the longman in the pen. Either Aumont or Stutes makes the club [most likely, Stutes] and either Horst or Valdes makes the club [most likely Valdes]. If the Phillies don't keep Cook, then odds are that both Horst and Valdes make the team.


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