Frandsen out as Phils clear roster room

Posted: March 25, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. - During the game, Ryne Sandberg inserted Cesar Hernandez at third base. After the game, the manager summoned Kevin Frandsen to his office.

The result was the latest wrinkle in the Phillies' quest to identify the members of their bench for the upcoming season. Frandsen, a member of the team's active roster since July 2012, was outrighted off the 40-man roster yesterday, a sign that the Phillies are leaning toward other options for the two backup infielders they usually carry.

Frandsen has 72 hours to decide between accepting an assignment to Triple A Lehigh Valley or becoming a free agent. If he chooses the latter, he will be free to sign with any major league organization but he also will forfeit the $900,000 guaranteed salary the Phillies agreed to pay him in the offseason. Because none of the 29 other teams decided to claim Frandsen and his $900,000 contract when he passed through waivers, it is highly unlikely that he would land that kind of deal as a free agent.

Assuming he accepts his assignment and remains with the organization, the Phillies could add him back to the active roster before Opening Day. But such a move would be complicated by the team's 40-man roster situation.

After outrighting Frandsen, the Phillies have three open spots on the 40-man. They could need to clear a fourth. Centerfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. seems like a lock for the Opening Day roster, so he will claim one of those spots. So, too, will whatever pitcher is tapped to replace Cole Hamels, who is expected to miss most, if not all, of April as he works his way back from a bout with biceps tendinitis (although the Phillies do not need a fifth starter until April 13). A third 40-man roster spot will almost certainly be needed to accommodate a backup shortstop, because the Phillies do not currently have a healthy one on the roster.

Freddy Galvis was supposed to be that player, but he contracted a MRSA infection in his knee and is facing an uncertain future. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday that Galvis could be discharged from the hospital as early as today, and that he has switched from intravenous antibiotics to oral antibiotics, which Amaro called a "good sign."

But Galvis will start the season on the disabled list, meaning the Phillies will need to add a player to the 40-man roster capable of spelling Jimmy Rollins at shortstop. The current options in camp are Ronny Cedeno and Reid Brignac, both veterans on minor league deals. Cedeno can opt out of his contract if the Phillies do not add him to the roster by tomorrow.

The Frandsen move would seem to clear the way for Cedeno to be added, with Sandberg and Amaro perhaps making due with 23-year-old prospect Cesar Hernandez as the second backup infielder until Galvis returns.

Yesterday, Sandberg made what he described as a last-minute decision to put Hernandez at third base, a position he had never played until he began experimenting there this spring in minor league camp. Hernandez will also get some time at shortstop in minor league camp until the Phillies head north on Thursday.

Hernandez is on the 40-man roster, which is why he would be an attractive candidate to take Frandsen's spot on the bench as a backup third baseman/second baseman. But he is a second baseman by trade, having switched to the position from shortstop shortly after signing with the Phillies out of Venezuela.

"Well, I'm looking at numerous guys who could be that guy," Sandberg said. "So that verdict's still out. So guys will get some chances and give us some time to make some decisions."

Amaro said there is the potential of adding a player who is currently in another camp. Whatever happens, the Phillies have three near-definite needs for spaces on the 40-man roster and a potential fourth if outfielder Bobby Abreu makes the club.

Abreu has had a solid spring at the plate, but the Phillies are still in the process of evaluating how much they think he can contribute defensively. Abreu was not seen in throwing drills yesterday (Amaro said the 40-year-old was experiencing some shoulder soreness).

Frandsen is a career .289/.343/.435 hitter against lefties and has a .265/.318/.343 line as a pinch-hitter. But he is not regarded as a strong defender and with a healthy Galvis would not be the primary defensive backup at any position.

"All the guys in camp are still eligible," Amaro said. "They're competing. Including Frandsen."


On Twitter: @ByDavidMurphy

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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