Phillies' everyday 1B job belongs to Joseph

25-year-old shared role with Howard during 2016

Phillies' everyday 1B job belongs to Joseph

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The Phillies are prepared to turn Tommy Joseph loose in 2017.

He hit .257 with 21 home runs, 47 RBIs and an .813 OPS in 347 plate appearances last season, sharing time at first base with Ryan Howard. But Howard will not be back, which had some folks wondering if the Phillies might find somebody to lighten Joseph's load again next year.

"Right now, Tommy Joseph is our everyday first baseman," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. "If that changes by virtue of an additional player acquisition, then we'll adjust. But Tommy showed pretty well for himself all year long and we're excited to see what he can do in a little more of a regular role this coming year."

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin sounds comfortable with Joseph in an everyday role, too.

"Any player that comes up for the first time has to learn to make adjustments and handle that position," Mackanin said. "If you want to be an everyday Major League player, No. 1, you have to be a special guy, the kind of guy that takes the challenges and battles for his role. I think Tommy is capable of doing that. I think Tommy has got it in him to fight the adversity and be an everyday first baseman, but he's got to prove himself."

Mackanin's option
Mackanin is entering the final season of his contract, although he does have a 2018 club option.

"Well, I hope they pick it up, but that's not up to me," Mackanin said. "That's up to them. I feel that when it's time for them to let me know, they let me know. But in the meantime, I'm not consumed by it."

Said Klentak: "We have time to do that. Obviously last year we talked about his status in Spring Training, and I'm sure the time will come when we'll sit down and talk about it again." 

Rule 5 Draft
The Phillies are unlikely to select a player in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, which is not a surprise. They currently have a full 40-man roster.

"Unless something changes, then, yes, we'll sit out. But we spent some time this morning as a group preparing for the Rule 5 Draft, lining up our boards, so that if a transaction takes place between now and Thursday, then we're ready to take action," Klentak said.

Klentak said he still believes one of his unprotected prospects could be selected in the Draft.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.