Well folks, the roster turnover for the Phillies has finally commenced.
While seven players became free agents yesterday, led by superstar catcher JT Realmuto, the Phillies decided to get some roster decisions out of the way this morning. The team announced that they outrighted RHP Heath Hembree and LHP Adam Morgan from the 40 man roster. Both Morgan and Hembree were arbitration eligible and were projected to have 2021 salaries in the $2 million range, as projected by the incredibly accurate model over at MLBTradeRumors.com.
Hembree, acquired before the deadline along with Brandon Workman from Boston, was absolutely dreadful all season. I wrote an article about how this trade, along with the other bullpen deals, would help Matt Klentak lose his job. I wasn’t so far off. Prior to deal, Hembree pitched to a 5.59 ERA in 9.2 innings while striking out 10.
Couldn’t get much worse, right? Wrong.
After the trade, in 9.1 innings with the Phillies, Hembree pitched to the tune of a 12.54 ERA with a WHIP of 2.35. All that he showed in his time with the Phillies is that he has a flat fastball that hitters were teeing off on, as he was giving up 6.8 HR/9. That type of number isn’t going to improve the worst bullpen in the league, especially in a park like Citizens Bank Park. The outright of Hembree doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as he showed absolutely nothing in his time here to make the organization believe he could be a productive member of a playoff team. While Workman was an established commodity and acquiring him made sense at the time, even if he looked bad in Philly, Hembree was not good. On top of that, you gave up a very interesting young arm in Connor Seabold who could have been more productive than either pitcher was during their times here.
Morgan, on the other hand, has been mainstay on the Phillies since 2015. He was drafted by the team in the 3rd round out of Alabama as a starter, but after two rocky seasons in the Bigs, he was jettisoned to the bullpen. While he performed much better in a lefthanded specialist role for the Phillies, the three batter minimum rule really hampered the team’s ability to use him. For his career, Morgan has held lefties to an impressive .226/.299/.340 clip, whereas righties have fared much better, slashing a healthy .290/.335/.524 off of him. Pitchers with splits like that are going to have a hard time keeping a roster spot in this age of baseball.
On top of the numbers, Morgan underwent surgery to repair a flexor tendon in his left elbow, meaning he is likely out of action for the next 6-8 months. Morgan hasn’t performed well enough to hold a roster spot, especially when you have lefties like Zach Warren and Kyle Dohy nearly MLB ready. Bringing Jose Alvarez back just seems all the more important now, and I think that could be the first signing we see the Phillies make
Sadly, with the outright and eventual refusal by Morgan leaves the Phillies with only four players drafted prior to 2015 left in the organization. Clearly, owner John Middleton was right when he discussed how poor this organization has been in scouting players.
The Phillies are going to be very active this offseason, as they really don’t have a choice. After the performance this season, the team has to make moves to correct the flaws of this team, while also filling holes of potential free agents who leave. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
Middleton has made it clear that he would like to cut payroll this offseason due to the pandemic. It will be interesting to see how the Phillies try and improve while cutting the operating costs of the organization.
Buckle up, people. We are in for a very interesting few months.