As the MLB lockout continues, there are some players who are getting squeezed financially and developmentally that you might not be thinking about. Here’s who. And, why.
When you look at the Phillies 40-man roster as currently constructed, you can pretty easily identify players who will take their place on the Phillies 26-man active roster for the 2022 season. You can also see some holes, where players may need to be added as soon as the lock-out ends–but that’s a post for another day. After you remove 22-26 players from the 40 names, you’re left with some names of players who are on the bubble for those coveted active roster spots, some players who need time to heal from injury, and some younger players who are all-but-certain to be optioned to the minor leagues.
Normally, all of these players would be in MLB Spring Training right now. They would get practice reps alongside the other big leaguers, and get playing time in the spring training games. Eventually, they would be optioned over to minor league camp, practice there, and ultimately get assigned to one of the minor league rosters.
But this season is different. Because they are on the 40-man roster, they have MLB contracts. Because they have MLB contracts, they are locked out. No practice, no professional training, no games, no professional rehabilitation. For some, this delay in starting their 2022 campaign is a delay in development–a stagnation similar to the pandemic shutdown but hopefully of much smaller scale. The season is only so long, and the opportunities can be limited. This delay may keep a player from advancing from one level to another, or may keep a player from being ready to compete for a big league job as soon as they otherwise might. Below is a list of the players I’ve been thinking of, along with a quick blurb about their individual situations.
Oh, one more thing: These guys are locked out, and not getting paid. This might not matter as much to guys like Moniak and Haseley who have first-round pick money still in the bank (I would think) but other guys who didn’t receive big signing money could really use their 40-man pay.
RHP Hans Crouse: He already got a taste of the big leagues, and is in line to be depth for the rotation. But, as a younger player, is he going to be able to get himself ready for that position in the limited amount of time of Spring Training if and when it starts for the MLB guys?
RHP Seranthony Dominguez: He had worked himself all the way back from arm surgery late last season. But, is he fully ready? Does he need more rehab? Are there going to be any visa issues getting back to the states when it’s ‘go’ time?
LHP Damon Jones: Like Crouse, he’s in line to be depth for the big league rotation. Or, perhaps, make the permanent move to the relief corps. With Eflin likely still working back from injury and Ranger Suarez already anticipating visa issues returning to the states, there will be opportunity. An accelerated spring training doesn’t do Jones or Crouse any favors competing for a spot right away.
RHP Francisco Morales: Inconsistent last season in Reading, is he a starter or a reliever? The sooner we find out the sooner he can work towards that role. Locking him out doesn’t help.
C Rafael Marchan: I think he’d appreciate the opportunity to work with the major league coaching staff and pitching staff, but the veteran signings are going to likely be ahead of him on the depth chart when they get back. Marchan eventually lands in Allentown, but again, the late start isn’t helping him continue to develop, or compete.
INF Nick Maton
INF Luke Williams: Both Maton and Williams saw some big league time and held their own. I don’t think either benefits from getting stapled to the bench or getting only late-game pinch-hit opportunities versus the other team’s best relievers. They need to play and right now they’re not.
OF Adam Haseley
OF Mickey Moniak: Haseley and Moniak are certainly in the position to make a run at a roster spot with the Phillies severely lacking in outfielders right now. It’s a big year for these guys to prove they belong, or end up somewhere else next season. Not playing isn’t helping things.
OF Matt Vierling: Perhaps a bit ahead of Moniak and Haseley on the depth chart, he needs to prove he belongs, as well–or at least a swing guy who can come up to the big team when a roster position is open.
OF Simon Muzziotti: Is he going to have visa issues again?
OF Jhailyn Ortiz (cover photo: Cheryl Pursell): Muzziotti and Ortiz are younger guys probably destined for the Reading roster. The late start is hindering their development and decreasing the time they have to advance in 2022.
So there are similar themes among all those players, but some are under more pressure to perform than others. The lockout by the owners threatens to cost them opportunity.
See you at the (Coca Cola) Park,