11:21am: Dombrowski tells reporters that Marsh’s injury occurred during a workout a few days ago (X link via Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer). The debridement procedure that was performed was tied to “floating cartilage” in Marsh’s knee.
10:21am: The Phillies announced Friday that outfielder Brandon Marsh underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee this morning. He’s expected to return to game activity in three to four weeks, per the team, and the Phillies anticipate that he’ll still be ready for Opening Day.
Marsh, 26, was acquired from the Angels at the 2022 deadline in a trade sending catcher Logan O’Hoppe to the Halos. It was a somewhat rare one-for-one swap of two well-regarded young players whose positional fit was stronger with another club than the one that drafted him. Marsh hit the ground running in Philly and has seized a regular spot in the outfield, batting .280/.360/.457 in 610 plate appearances since that swap.
While he’s played plenty of center field for the Phillies, Marsh will likely slide over to left field in 2024 in deference to defensive standout Johan Rojas, whom president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said earlier this week is “likely” to be his Opening Day center fielder. Marsh has been a capable enough defender in center, but he graded out as a plus in the corners last year. More than that, however, Rojas posted otherworldly defensive marks in just 392 innings of center field work: 15 Defensive Runs Saved and 6 Outs Above Average.
The Phillies were already known to be poking around the market for another bench bat, and it’s fair to wonder whether this injury news regarding Marsh might push them a bit harder to find a right-handed-hitting outfielder. Marsh is a career .223/.278/.312 hitter against southpaws anyhow, and while there’s no indication that this is expected to be a long-term issue, it’s also not uncommon to see a relatively minor surgery bring about some lingering issues.
Right now, Cristian Pache is the Phillies’ fourth outfielder — though utility infielder Edmundo Sosa has also seen some time in the outfield as well. Both are right-handed, but both are also defensive-minded players. If Marsh experiences any kind of setback, the Phillies could turn to a platoon arrangement with Pache and fellow reserve Jake Cave in left field, or the club could take a look at a non-roster depth option like Cal Stevenson. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see at least another non-roster invitee brought into camp to join that mix, and Dombrowski acknowledged earlier this week that the club “might” end up signing another bat for the Major League bench, so a more notable addition than another NRI shouldn’t be ruled out entirely.