LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Phillies designated Tommy Joseph for assignment Monday night to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Jake Arrieta.
Joseph, 26, had an uncertain future ever since the Phillies signed first baseman Carlos Santana this winter and moved Rhys Hoskins to left field. The Phillies have seven days to trade, release, or place Joseph on waivers and outright him to the minor leagues if he clears. Joseph traveled with the Phillies Monday night but was removed from the lineup shortly before first pitch of a 3-0 win over the Braves.
Arrieta passed his physical Monday afternoon in Philadelphia and boarded a flight to Florida after signing his three-year contract. The Phillies will introduce him Tuesday morning at a news conference at Spectrum Field. Arrieta will wear No. 49.
"I think every man in that clubhouse has a tremendous amount of respect for Tommy," manager Gabe Kapler said. "It's a loss in the clubhouse and certainly it's something that we thought about the last couple of hours and we missed him in the dugout today."
Joseph hit 22 homers last season but batted just .240 with a .289 on-base percentage. He had nine hits this spring in his first 21 at-bats and three of his hits were doubles. He spent time this spring in the outfield, a position he had never played, and took ground balls at third base. The Phillies wanted to see if he could handle a position besides first base.
Joseph started his career as a catcher but moved to first base during the 2015 season after suffering a series of concussions. The team removed him from the 40-man roster after that season and his future looked uncertain. He started 2016 in minor-league camp and responded by reaching the majors in May.
"Every conversation I've had with Tommy has been professional. It's been thoughtful. He's been a joy," Kapler said. "I told him that we still believe that he's a part of this and we would like it to break that he's a part of us going forward."
Zach Eflin's start Monday night was no longer an audition for the final spot in the starting rotation after the team signed Jake Arrieta, signaling that Eflin will likely begin the season in triple A.
"Regardless of what's going on, I go out to compete and pitch," Eflin said. "Everything will settle the way it settles. It's my job as a pitcher to go out and compete every pitch and compete every inning, and I'm going to continue to do that."
Eflin, who struck out two batters in five one-hit innings Monday, was competing with Ben Lively for the final spot in the rotation before Arrieta was added. Both will likely start the season in the Lehigh Valley rotation but could be used for a spot start if Arrieta is not ready for the start of the season. The Phillies, because of off days, do not need a fifth starting pitcher until April 11. Kapler said the Phillies will have a better idea in the next few days if Arrieta can be ready.
"We want to spend some time with Jake and get to know where he is and how much he's built up, how confident and comfortable he is facing hitters," Kapler said. "We're obviously going to treat him just like we treat the rest of our players, which is we want him healthy in April or May but also in September and October."