But when the Phillies added a whopping 11 prospects to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, it represented more than a series of perfunctory transactions. The sheer math explains it: The Phillies, at least in April, may have to form a 25-man roster from 29 other players.

They are committed to roster spots for young players. And the prospects, when ready, will be needed in 2017.

"With adding this many young players and with the average age of the roster being as young as it is," Klentak said, "I think there's a reasonable expectation that many of these young players are going to spend time in the big leagues this year."

To clear space, the Phillies designated for assignment righthanders David Buchanan and Jimmy Cordero. Elvis Araujo, a lefthanded reliever, was claimed off waivers by Miami. The 40-man roster is now full.

That could limit the Phillies later this winter. Valentin and Knapp, because of the roster crunch, could be major-league bench players in April. The 40-man roster has 14 starting pitchers, and Klentak admitted it could be a challenge to find rotation spots for all of them. Some could become relievers in spring training.

The most notable players who were left unprotected: Andrew Pullin, a hot bat without a true position in the field; Carlos Tocci, a rail-thin defensive maven in the outfield; Seranthony Dominguez, a promising righthander with such little pro experience; Malquin Canelo, a glove-first shortstop; Miguel Nunez, a hard-throwing reliever with a high walk rate; and Hoby Milner, a lefthanded reliever who thrived with a new side-armed delivery.

Klentak said he expects to lose at least one player in the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 8.

Players become eligible for the Rule 5 draft based on years spent in the minors and age. This year, in most cases, eligible players include high school picks and international free agents signed in 2012 and college picks signed in 2013.

 mgelb@philly.com
@mattgelb