We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag.  The lockout has ended, and the Phillies are making moves!  Each Tuesday we take your Phillies questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Submit your questions to @FrankKlose on Twitter and tune in to hear your question answered on the air.

Word, after seeing Joe Girardi's & Dave Dombrowski's pressers the other day, both stated, great owner, plenty of money. Is John Middleton going to get off his wallet, sign a premium player or pull an Odubel Herrera?
~Van

Sounds like it could be both, Van.

Yes, the Phillies have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $1.75 million major league contract to bring Odubel Herrera back to the Phillies.  I really do not like the move, as it suggests that center field be given to five of last year's list of seven: Herrera, Adam Haseley, Mickey Moniak, Scott Kingery, and Matt Vierling all remain.

Travis Jankowski and Roman Quinn are the two who have moved on.

It sounds as if the Phillies are really high on Vierling.  I would personally prefer, especially with a designated hitter, that they not count on him to man one of the positions on even a semi-regular basis.  I think if Vierling was available to move around the diamond as needed that could be helpful.

The onus will now be on the Phillies to fill out the bench with some more positional flexibility.

But the only positive that could conceivably come from this would be that by filling center field on the cheap they can fill left field with a more expensive acquisition.

Kevin Kiermaier is a name that the Phillies would probably love to have.  But even with extra room under the competitive balance tax, the Phillies probably would not want to spend $12 million on Kiermaier while also giving up prospects.

I think the Phillies played their cards well and will end up with one of the big bats to hit behind Bryce Harper in the lineup.

The name I personally prefer is Kris Bryant.  Besides being a close friend of Bryce Harper, Bryant gives the Phillies some options as they go into a season where Alec Bohm could move off of third base, and where there is a gaping hole in left field.  Bryant could play left and then could move to third base if Bohm is designated hitter, or, if his bat does not wake up.

And, a right-handed bat is my preference for the bat to hit behind Harper.

And there's one more factor: Bryant has won.  I wrote last June that the one thing that the Phillies lacked was a leader who has experience winning a World Series.   The likes of Andrew McCutchen for leadership as a former MVP was good, but McCutchen has not won a World Series.

Bryant helped the Chicago Cubs break the infamous "curse" and win the World Series in 2016.  Bryant is not totally the player he was back then, but the Phillies really could use that experience to take their younger players to the next level.

If not Bryant, Nick Castellanos and Trevor Story would be nice additions. Maybe Kyle Schwarber, but he has no real defensive position.

But doing some math, especially with the Seattle Mariners presumably out now after acquiring Jesse Winkler and Eugenio Suarez in trades, I think there are more bats than obvious landing spots.  That could end up being a game well played by the Phillies.

Outside of the obvious additions to be made (power bat in left field, middle relief pitcher, sixth starter), do you see any other acquisitions?
~Sonny

Since the question was asked, the Phillies did pick up lefty reliever Brad Hand.  So yes, relief was addressed.  I would certainly like to see the Phillies pick up one more reliever, if at all possible.

But I think the Phillies need to add starters number six and seven right now.  The Phillies appear to be starting the season without three of their top starters: Zach Eflin is recovering from knee surgery.  Zack Wheeler is finally throwing off of a mound after some shoulder soreness in December.  And Ranger Suárez is stuck in a Colombia airport hotel.

They might be able to get by with Bailey Falter starting.  Falter would have gotten the opportunity had he not contracted COVID last year.  Cristopher Sanchez is also a possibility for some innings, as is Hans Crouse, acquired from the Rangers last season in the Kyle Gibson deal.

So they will need at least two more starters in the mix to at least get this Phillies season going.

Without signing any more players, who do you think would be a better fit at DH, Alec Bohm or  Rhys Hoskins? Bohm's defense is a issue and we could put Bryson Stott or Didi Gregorius at the corner. But Hoskins is a pure DH; I could see him in the Edgar Martinez role.
~Dave

I agree, Dave, that Rhys Hoskins might fit the profile a little bit better than the other options.  But it sounds like the Phillies are not going to commit to a full-time designated hitter, unlike the Washington Nationals, who signed slugger Nelson Cruz to a $15 million deal to hit behind Juan Soto in 2022.

It sounds like the designated hitter spot will become the "day off" for Phillies hitters.  But we are facing a situation where both Hoskins and Alec Bohm had defensive issues that they would prefer to shore up, particularly when ground ball pitchers take the mound for the Phillies.

But J.T. Realmuto has caught a lot and had some injuries by season's end the last two full seasons.  The Phillies would feel better about Realmuto as designated hitter (or perhaps even at first base, as he preferred in 2020) once or two times a week to keep him healthy and fresh, and keep his bat in the lineup.

Realmuto will hit more than he did last season, thanks to the designated hitter.

So we will see a number players in that role.  I am going to guess that this will depend on the defensive alignment.  If Bryson Stott is with the Phillies, he could force their hand on some moves.  If then, for example, Didi Gregorius played third base some, maybe Bohm plays first and Hoskins is designated hitter.

There are lots of combinations here.  The Phillies will try to use it to their advantage.  That is something Joe Girardi did well in 2020, when their offense really clicked.

How many major league games for Bryson Stott this season?
~Jason

I think that the Bryson Stott question will be an open question.  I think the intention really is this Spring (though short) to see just what they have from Didi Gregorius and if he is behind the pseudogout that wrecked his 2021 season, and, what they see from Stott in Spring Training.

Right now, it's easy to love what we've seen from Stott and feel really good about his future.  His performance in the Arizona Fall League turned a lot of heads.  He looks to be a long-term part in the Phillies infield.

But this is a performances sport, and his performance needs to mandate it.

Also consider that Stott has played just 10 games at the Triple-A level.  If the Phillies like what they see from Gregorius in camp, they might feel comfortable giving Stott more at bats at Triple-A first.  The reverse is true as well: If Gregorius is struggling, the Phillies might want to give Stott an early shot.

So I am going to set this number at 120 games.  I think we will see Stott soon, but maybe not right away.  The next three weeks will help us know.