CLEARWATER, Fla. — The construction of the Phillies' bench will come to a resolution sooner rather than later because the team must make a decision on infielder Yuniesky Betancourt by Sunday. Betancourt will ask for his release if he is not added to the 25-man roster, his agent said Friday.
"Our preference would be to stay with the Phillies but it's out of our control," Alex Esteban said. "We would definitely be opting out and seeing what's out there."
Esteban has not received an inclination of which way the Phillies are leaning. The Phillies have committed $850,000 to Kevin Frandsen and are enamored of Freddy Galvis' defense. If the Phillies keep both of those infielders, plus a backup catcher, that leaves two bench jobs. One will go to whichever outfielder — John Mayberry Jr. or Laynce Nix — is not starting opening day.
The 25th man could be Darin Ruf, but the Phillies probably want him to see regular time at triple A. That leaves Rule 5 pick Ender Inciarte, who has never played above single A, and Jermaine Mitchell in camp as candidates. Mitchell was a six-year, minor-league free agent from Oakland.
It's totally possible the Phillies scan the waiver wire in the week leading up to opening day for an bench outfielder.
They could keep Betancourt, too, and go with three reserve infielders. But that would leave just one backup outfielder until Delmon Young returns from ankle surgery.
Betancourt's contract with the Phillies, if purchased, is worth as much as $1.4 million with performance incentives. The Phillies could add him to the roster Sunday and still trade him before opening day. But other teams are aware of the glut of middle infielders and the return would be minimal.
There should be interest in Betancourt, the eight-year veteran who is hitting .439 (18 for 41) with a .957 OPS this spring. St. Louis, Houston and Miami are possible suitors.
"We are obviously keeping an eye on the market and needs of different organizations," Esteban said.
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