The Philadelphia Phillies announced some roster moves today as they work towards setting their 26 man and 40 man roster for the 2021 season. The most notable of the moves was the decision to send Scott Kingery to Triple A to start the season
Kingery has struggled in Spring Training, hitting just .159 with a .525 OPS in 44 at bats before being sent to Minor League camp. This is on the heels of a 2020 season that saw the 26-year old stumble to a .159 average and .511 OPS after returning from a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Kingery’s struggles are not new
Since the start of 2019, Kingery is slashing .238/.297/.436 with a 29.2 K% in 162 games. Kingery’s swing has fallen victim to the previous Phillies regime’s desire to place launch angle above contact. For Kingery, this has resulted in trouble making solid contact and becoming overly susceptible to fastballs, particularly high. He is in need of a total swing and approach overhaul and the hopes are he will obtain that in Triple A.
Kingery is entering the fourth season of the 6 year, $24M contract he signed before making his MLB debut in 2018. The contract includes three club options starting in 2024 with a $1M buyout.
Questionable bullpen and 40 man roster decisions
The more puzzling of the Phillies moves announced today was the decision to send Jojo Romero to Triple A, presumably keeping David Hale on the roster at his expense. This is questionable in two ways. One, the Phillies now only have one left-handed relief pitcher on the active roster in Jose Alvarado to face the likes of Juan Soto, Ronald Acuna Jr., and Freddie Freeman. Two, it means the Phillies will now most likely have to DFA two prospects from the 40 man to make room for Ronald Torreyes and Odubel Herrera, as all signs are beginning to point to their additions to the roster.
Hale is a 33-year old reliever with a 4.23 ERA. Yes, he will most likely be the 8th reliever of an eight man bullpen. But is it worth losing a prospect for said 8th reliever? The same could be said for Herrera and Torreyes. Neither are in the Phillies long term plans and neither have outright won jobs in the spring.
The Phillies seem to be prioritizing Major League depth, especially in the bullpen, at the expense of prospect depth. The crux of the issue is that the MLB depth players they’re choosing will most likely contribute very little and force out prospects who have a higher chance of contributing at some point. Choosing quantity depth over quality options or possible future quality options is shortsighted, especially in a bullpen that has had problems (to say the least) performing.