For the last two seasons, Wilson Valdez logged more playing time and plate appearances than any member of the Phillies' bench. Those days have come to an end as the veteran utilityman has been shipped to Cincinnati for 26-year-old southpaw Jeremy Horst.
Beerleaguer: Unless the Phillies have unexplainable faith in Michael Martinez to support three fragile spots in the infield, this could signal a pending move. A player like Jeff Keppinger, for example, who was non-tendered by the Giants, comes to mind as the type of available, cheap, decent hitter the Phils have lacked from their utility department. Valdez specialized in terrific bench defense at three positions, but at the cost of a .249/.294/.341 line last season. He was an underrated culprit behind the Phillies' offensive malaise these last two seasons; he stepped to the pate 663 times in two years due to injuries suffered by Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Placido Polanco. They're all a year older, so the utility vacancy shouldn't be taken lightly.
Valdez was set to earn $930K, so the Phils earn back some wiggle room in their budget. Which might have been the whole point of this and nothing more. However, I do see the Phils shifting away from the all-glove-no-bat strategy with their utilitymen and trying to pick up extra offense however they can, even if it means having Ty Wigginton slide into the utility spot after he's done subbing for Ryan Howard. Kevin Frandsen, Pete Orr and Freddy Galvis also become more interesting discussions this spring.
Horst, 26, made 12 relief appearances for the Reds last year and went 0-0 with a 2.93 ERA. He spent most of the season with Triple-A Louisville, where he posted a 1-4 record with a 2.81 ERA and 42/14 K/BB in 36 games (51 1-3) innings, while holding opposing hitters to a .219 batting average. Dozens of Triple-A lefties can say the same thing. His non-roster status speaks volumes.
The Phillies are now at 38 players on their 40-man roster.