One of the important dates on baseball’s offseason calendar arrives Friday at 6 p.m. when major league teams must add eligible prospects to the 40-man roster to avoid possibly losing them in next month’s Rule 5 draft.
The Phillies have nine openings on their 40-man roster.
It’s not clear how many players the Phillies will add to their roster, but three seem to be strong candidates, pitchers Francisco Morales and Damon Jones and centerfielder Simon Muzziotti.
Morales and Muzziotti were both included on Baseball America’s Top 10 list of Phillies prospects, which was released earlier this week. Jones, a hard-throwing lefty, was part of the Phillies’ 60-player pool during the 2020 season.
Players who signed their first pro contract when they were 19 or older and have played for four years or players who signed their first pro contract when they were 18 or younger and have played five years are eligible for the Rule 5 draft. It costs $100,000 to draft a player. Players who are selected must spend the next season in the majors or be offered back for $50,000 to the team from which they were drafted.
The Phillies have had a number of notable Rule 5 players over the years, including Dave Hollins, Shane Victorino and Odubel Herrera. The Phils lost future American League MVP George Bell to Toronto in the 1980 Rule 5 draft.
In addition to Morales, Jones and Muzziotti, eligible Phillies prospects of interest include infielder Nick Maton, relievers Zach Warren and Kyle Dohy, starting pitchers David Parkinson and Kevin Gowdy, first baseman Darick Hall and outfielders Austin Listi and Jhailyn Ortiz.
Maton, Warren, Dohy, Hall and Listi all participated in major-league spring training camp in 2020. Parkinson, a lefty, won the Paul Owens Award as the organization’s top minor-league pitcher in 2018. Gowdy was the team’s second-round draft pick in 2016 but has been slowed by an elbow injury. Ortiz, a 22-year-old, power-hitting outfielder who has struggled to make contact in the low minors, was signed for $4 million out of Venezuela when he was 16.
Several players who would have required protection from this year’s Rule 5 draft made it to the majors in 2020 and are now on the 40-man roster. They include pitchers Spencer Howard and Connor Brogdon, catcher Rafael Marchan and outfielder Mickey Moniak. Marchan was left unprotected last winter and was not selected by another club in the Rule 5 draft. He is now considered the Phillies’ top catching prospect.
After Friday night, the next big date on the baseball calendar is December 2, the deadline for tendering 2021 contracts to players eligible for salary arbitration. Pitchers Vince Velasquez and Seranthony Dominguez are candidates to be non-tendered.
Velasquez has been inconsistent in five seasons with the Phillies and could make over $4 million in arbitration. If he’s non-tendered, the Phils, short on pitching depth, could look to bring him back at a lower price.
Dominguez will miss 2021 after having elbow surgery.