Phillies Claim Outfielder Jake Cave
The Phillies offseason ended as late as possible in the 2022 calendar year. But the 2023 Offseason is under way. The Phillies, knowing they have holes in the infield, starting rotation, and also likely the bullpen, should be pretty busy heading to the Winter Meetings this week in San Diego. Ahead of the trip, the Phillies picked up an outfielder for some depth.Jake Cave
Originally drafted by the New York Yankees, Cave was a regular presence in the outfield of the Minnesota Twins the last five seasons. Cave is a left-handed hitting outfielder who has spent time at all three outfield positions. The Phillies, of course, will be without one of their own left-handed hitting outfielders for some time.
Bryce Harper will miss about half of the 2023 season as he returns from "Tommy John" surgery. So adding another outfielder is something the Phillies likely had on their checklist. With only two spots left on the 40-man roster, Cave is probably on the edge of the Phillies roster.
Sometimes teams will claim a player on waivers and try to slip them through waivers again later in an offseason. That's essentially what has happened to Cave once already this season; the Orioles successfully were awarded a waiver claim in October.
But the Orioles did the Phillies a favor in signing Cave to a split contract, in which he will earn different pay rates for the time he spends at Triple-A or in the majors. That could be helpful to the Phillies as they look to plug holes either at the start of the season or later in the season as injury occurs.
Cave's glove is probably his best asset:
Peter Labuza of the Twins website, Twins Daily, sees some more potential after a strong second half:
In the second half, Cave posted a better OPS than Gary Sánchez, Celestino, Max Kepler, and Jorge Polanco. He hit about as well as the aging Nelson Cruz did for the Nationals except on a $800k contract that managed a half point of WAR—essentially quadruple his salary. It may have still been frustrating to see Cave batting fifth in a lineup for a playoff contention team, but Cave was hardly the problem given the improvements he demonstrated.
Cave turns 30 years old on Sunday.
All eyes will be on San Diego this week. All indications are that the Phillies will be active this week at the Winter Meetings. Stay tuned.