We are back with our 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. We take your questions and discuss them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Tune in Tuesdays to hear your questions answered on the air.

With the current roster (minus Bryce Harper) do you think the Phillies are a playoff contender?
~John D.

Yes.  I think that the Phillies will be able to hang around in Harper's absence to be considered a contender.   It will not be easy, but here's why.

I expect the Phillies to add a position player.  I am not sure who, exactly.  But Dave Dombrowski is the type of guy who always seems to pick up players that are off everyone's radar but very helpful.  Kyle Gibson, for example, was not someone frequently mentioned as a potential trade piece who ended up being a solid starter.

Dombrowski really has his choices.  I think ideally he would add a defensive player who can also hit.  Center field might be the ideal spot, if such a trade option exists.  That would allow the Phillies to use Mickey Moniak, Matt Vierling or Odubel Herrera in right field while Nick Castellanos is designated hitter more than others.

But really, they could add a third baseman and use Alec Bohm as designated hitter more.  A first baseman and use Rhys Hoskins at DH (though I really do not love the idea of having two first base-only players on the roster).

The Phillies claimed Oscar Mercado to add some defense in the outfield.  They may get a look at him first before doing anything else.  But if they had their druthers, a bat that plays center field well would be nice to add.

But the Phillies players who have been struggling - Castellanos and J.T. Realmuto - will need to step up.  If they can be what the Phillies are paying them to be - they should hang in there.

Does the Harper injury save us from Dave Dombrowski trading Logan O'Hoppe or Johan Rojas for a 7th inning reliever?
~John H.

I do not believe the Phillies will trade catching prospect Logan O'Hoppe for anything.  The catching position is an important one and the Phillies would be foolish to trade away the catcher of the future.  I think he is staying.

Yes, the Phillies did give J.T. Realmuto a five-year contract prior to the 2021 season.  But this is year two of that deal.  O'Hoppe probably needs next season in the minors too, so that's three years of five.  So we are looking at a two-year overlap.  Between the need for two catchers, first base, and the designated hitter spot, the Phillies can managing having both on the roster a couple years if necessary.

Johan Rojas could be someone who is traded.  The Phillies have two center field prospects in Rojas and Simon Muzziotti.  They might be willing to give up one of them.

Rojas is ranked the Phillies' fourth-best prospect; Muzziotti 20.  The latter would be easier to trade.  But neither are top-100 prospects.  I would not worry about trading one of them if necessary.

An available reliever like David Robertson might cost a team's top 10 prospect, but maybe not.  We'll see what's available.

Any chance Hoskins gets traded prior to the deadline? Having another year of club control and needing to get under the luxury tax next year, trading Hoskins for pitching and bringing up Darick Hall would make sense for Dave Dombrowski to consider (doubt he signs an extension so get something for him now.

A few people were asking about Darick Hall this week.  I understand why: He's hitting a solid .270 with 19 home runs and an OPS of .892 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.  But I am not sure a call-up is imminent, here's why.

For one, Rhys Hoskins is not going anywhere.  At least not mid-season.  He is a centerpiece of the roster, the team's union representative, and part of the chemistry that started the winning streak that put the Phillies back into contention.  Trading Hoskins is the type of move that's a total roster overhaul and is the type of trade teams would make in an offseason as part of a big re-tool.

That might happen in the offseason.

The Phillies could theoretically summon Hall and use the designated hitter spot to place either he or Hoskins.  But to do so would limit the flexibility of the roster.  You'd have two players who can only play first base.

And then, there's Nick Castellanos.  I think of the fielders that are defensively challenged, Castellanos is the one that might take priority to put in the designated hitter role with Bryce Harper out.  I would try to use the designated hitter spot to help improve the defense for now.

This offseason I expect the Phillies to try to improve their overall defense.  Trading Hoskins could be part of that.  But, I firmly believe this is not something the Phillies are considering at this time.

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