A hot topic of conversation during the spring has been the Los Angeles Angels fourth outfield spot. We already know who the starters are, and we know what most of the roster will look like on Opening Day. What we don't officially know is who will be the fourth outfielder.
The Angels signed Brett Phillips to a one-year deal worth $1.2 million dollars. Signing him to a MLB deal would in theory make it extremely likely he'd make the Opening Day roster, but Phillips is doing everything in his power to forfeit his spot.
Phillips has just two hits in 26 at-bats with 15 strikeouts. The Angels knew they were getting a light hitter in Phillips but two hits in 26 at-bats with 15 strikeouts is putrid. Even with that being said, Phillips should be the fourth outfielder and likely will be. Here's how his role will look if he does get that job.
Brett Phillips will play a very minimal role on the 2023 Angels
The Angels have a set outfield with Taylor Ward in left, Mike Trout in center, and Hunter Renfroe in right. Injuries always happen and are especially worrisome in the case of Trout, but if all three of them somehow stay healthy, you'd think they'd all play at least 140 games in the outfield. That leaves roughly 22 games at each spot for backups to play.
The Angels are a very versatile team in 2023, that's something we couldn't really say in the past. They have quality players who can play virtually everywhere.
In terms of backup outfield options, the Angels can use players like Jared Walsh, Luis Rengifo, David Fletcher, and Brandon Drury at both corner spots. The problem is, Mike Trout is the only center fielder. That's where Brett Phillips comes in.
Phillips is going to play center field when Mike Trout takes a day off. The Angels need Mike Trout to be in center field for them to win consistently, so Trout, unless he's hurt, won't be resting constantly. That's the only time Phillips will start games. The players listed above will take the spots of Ward or Renfroe if they ever need a day off.
Phillips is an awful hitter, but he's an elite defender and a very fast baserunner. He can come in late with the Angels ahead and play defense (which is valuable), and he can pinch run for a slower player on the team. Outside of some spot starts in center and some appearances running and fielding, Phillips won't be playing.
This is why a player like Mickey Moniak who clearly deserves the spot over Phillips should not get it. Moniak would benefit way more by playing every day in the minors. If there's an injury, he can come up and play more at the big league level. Barely playing doesn't do him any good.
Phillips is good in the locker room and provides value defensively and on the basepaths. The role of whoever takes that fourth outfielder spot will be so miniscule, it only makes sense to give Phillips the first crack.