Remember Nick Williams?
The prospect shine has worn off the Phillies’ 26-year-old corner outfielder, who has become somewhat of a forgotten man on the 40-man roster.
Williams finds himself competing for a spot on the Phils’ bench. Andrew McCutchen’s delayed season debut opens up a potential opportunity for Williams in early April in what appears to be his last chance at meaningful playing time with the Phillies.
There are several reasons that Williams, the Phillies’ last piece left from the Cole Hamels-to-Texas trade in 2015, has not carved out a role here. The bat hasn't been consistent enough. He showed flashes of pinch-hitting value in 2018 but struggled as a starter and extra man in 2019 and at times looked checked out.
Defensively, Williams has never been an option in center field. He was one of the Phillies’ only outfielders the last two seasons whom previous manager Gabe Kapler flat out said was not an option in CF. In the corners, Williams’ defense has been average at best. He has a strong arm but his range, reads and instincts have been below average.
Williams sticks out as a player the Phillies could trim from the 40-man roster at some point this season when they need room. A trade remains a possibility, though it’s unrealistic to expect much in return. Maybe Williams brings back a reliever on the fringes of another team’s bullpen. Another club will eventually take a chance on him because of the tools and perceived upside.
The Phillies’ trade deadline return for Hamels and lefty reliever Jake Diekman in 2015 appeared solid at the time but did not pan out. Jake Thompson was let go by the Phils in 2018 and is currently in camp with the Angels. Alec Asher made only 12 appearances here before being traded to Baltimore. Jerad Eickhoff had a promising start to his Phillies career but needed a change of scenery after an ugly 2019 and signed with the Padres in December.
The most impactful piece of that trade for the Phillies was Jorge Alfaro, who has provided this organization value because he (and Sixto Sanchez) led to J.T. Realmuto.
When Williams’ time with the Phillies comes to an end, the book will close on that Hamels trade, another in the long list of deals in which quantity didn't trump quality.