Phillies Trade Asher, Cut Coghlan, and Disappoint Some Others
Not wasting any time after releasing some catchers yesterday, the Phillies have started the remaining pre-season cleaning of the roster.
#Phillies have released OF Chris Coghlan.
— Phillies (@Phillies) March 28, 2017
#Phillies have traded RHP Alec Asher to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later.
— Phillies (@Phillies) March 28, 2017
Cesar Ramos, Hoby Milner, Colton Murray, Pat Venditte and Pedro Florimon told they won't make team, but will remain in camp through Friday.
— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) March 28, 2017
That is 9 players gone from camp in two days, plus another free 40 man roster spot. The 25 man roster has become much clearer in the process. There are still two bench spots up for grabs, but the competition is now down to Daniel Nava, Brock Stassi, and Jesmuel Valentin for those two spots. If the Phillies want to go with Nava and Stassi, they would need to free up a 40 man spot. That spot would probably come at the expense of the loser of the competition for the last bullpen, Adam Morgan or Luis Garcia. Right now it seems like the inside edge for the bench job is Stassi and Valentin with Stassi becoming the primary LH bat off the bench, while also giving Mackanin the ability to rest Tommy Joseph against tough right handers. Valentin has more positional flexibility than Coghlan and allows the Phillies to use Blanco as a pinch hittter, and not hold him back as a defensive replacement in case of injury. Valentin probably could have used more time in AAA, but being a bench player was likely his ceiling anyway. Daniel Nava is having a good spring and while he is a switch hitter, his job would be similar to Stassi’s given that he has never really hit left handed pitchers. While both Nava and Stassi would need 40 man roster spots to be added to the 25 man roster, both can also be sent to AAA without losing them to opt outs.
In the bullpen, Garcia and Morgan offer very different skill sets. Morgan’s best attributes are his left arm and ability to work multiple innings. He has yet to show any huge improvements by moving to the bullpen, but it is still early. None of his stuff is bat missing and he is at his best when he can mix his pitches and locate to the edges of the zone. Luis Garcia is a 30 year old with a scouting report matching a low-A 21 year old. His fastball will sit mid to hi 90s, touching 100 and his slider can flash plus to plus plus. He is working on a splitter that has had positive early results, and he continues to generate ground balls at a rate that would rate among the best relievers in the game. He also appears to not always have a clue where he is throwing the baseball. He has only walked 1 batter this spring, instead being victimized more by leaving hittable pitches in the zone. Garcia’s upside continues to entice, but he has tried and failed many times in the majors already. Sending Garcia back to AAA might not accomplish much, but a trip to Lehigh Valley for Adam Morgan could give the Phillies more time to evaluate him as a full time reliever.
The Phillies of course could choose to carry 8 pitchers or trade for hitter, throwing all of this off in the next week.
As for the departed, Alec Asher was always going to have a tough road to major league success. He has never had plus stuff, so he needed to be perfect, and he wasn’t. He added a two seam fastball last season, and saw early success with it in Reading. He then missed most of the season to a PED suspension, before returning to pitch for the Phillies down the stretch. The problem was that he continued to be the same pitcher. His newly added two seam fastball did not generate ground balls, and while his changeup looked good, his ineffective fastball limited its usage. This left Asher unable to miss bats or generate weak contact, and his 3.37 FIP and 4.67 DRA showed the true talent behind his 2.28 ERA. With the 40 man roster crunch, Asher was pushed down to 10th or lower on the Phillies starting pitching depth chart, and unlike some of their other arms he did not have the arsenal to translate well to relief. He still has a chance to be an up and down starter for another team, but that is not something the Phillies lacked.