Reserve catcher Paul Hoover chose free agency earlier in the off-season when the Phillies outrighted him, but one of the other catchers used in 2010 has decided to return.
Dane Sardinha re-signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies, according to Baseball America's fantastic minor-league transactions page.
In July, Sardinha started six straight games behind the plate for the Phillies. He wasn't knock-your-socks-off impressive, but for your fourth-string catcher, he was about all the Phillies could have asked for. In 39 at-bats, Sardinha hit .205/.225/.487. He had three home runs and eight RBIs.
Sardinha, who turns 32 in April, will almost certainly be back in big league camp this spring and could go to triple-A Lehigh Valley as the team's top catcher.
That position remains extraordinarily thin in the Phillies' organization.
The top prospect is Sebastian Valle, who turned 20 during the season at single-A Lakewood. Valle hit 16 home runs there with a .728 OPS but there are concerns about his defensive skills. Still, he has plenty of time and seasoning to go.
Valle is playing for Caneros de los Mochis in the Mexican Pacific League this winter and is hitting .310 with one home run and four RBIs in 42 at-bats.
Three catchers split time at double-A Reading in 2010. Two of them (Kevin Nelson and John Suomi) are minor-league free agents this off-season. The other, Tuffy Gosewisch, remains in the organization from what I can tell.
So there is work to be done there in filling out the minors.
Domonic Brown will report to winter ball in the Dominican Republic beginning Monday. He'll play for Escogido, which is managed by Ken Oberkfell, who will be interviewing for the Mets managerial position in the coming days.
Brown will spend about a month in the Dominican. The regular season ends Dec. 21 and that's around when he'll return to the states.
The goal is simply more seasoning for Brown, who spent a great deal of time on the bench in August and September. There is also work to be done in the outfield, where Brown is a talented, but raw defender.
Charley Kerfeld, Ruben Amaro Jr.'s most trusted pair of eyes, typically makes a visit to the Dominican each winter. He will undoubtedly get a few looks at Brown while down there.
By Dec. 2, the Phillies must make a few internal decisions before the Rule 5 draft takes place at the winter meetings.
Any player in the organization signed at age 19 or older and has been in the organization for four years is eligible for selection in the Rule 5 -- unless they are protected on the 40-man roster.
There are a few interesting names who fit this criteria and are still unprotected. They are: RHP Justin De Fratus, INF Harold Garcia, RHP Chris Kissock, 1B/DH Matt Rizzotti, RHP/DH/1B Joe Savery.
Of those, I'd say De Fratus is the only lock to be added to the 40-man roster. We wrote about him last week.
Rizzotti had a fantastic 2010 season and is carrying it over in the Arizona Fall League. He will probably be protected, but there is no guarantee. Simply, there is really no spot for him at the major-league level right now (or in the near future). Can he even play at the major-league level? Could he be a trade chip? Maybe.
Kissock, 25, was a ninth-round pick in 2007 and had a decent 2010 season split at Clearwater and Reading. He's having a solid Arizona Fall League, too. The Phillies need arms. He could be protected for that reason. Still doubtful.
Savery will be left unprotected. Garcia was eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 last off-season but was not. He hit .305 between single A and double A in 2010 and that has raised his stock within the organization. He just turned 24. Is that enough?
Last year, the Phillies picked up David Herndon in the Rule 5 draft and lost Carlos Monasterios to the Mets (who then traded him to the Dodgers).
FoxSports.com reported Thursday the Phillies signed utility man Pete Orr to a minor-league deal. Orr was at triple-A Syracuse in the Washington organization during the 2010 season and hit .264 with 12 home runs while playing six different positions.
With the addition of Orr and Carlos Rivero off waivers, the Brian Bocock Era may have reached its end.