Phillies GM Matt Klentak says his team will depend on newly acquired Jeremy Hellickson to help solidify its rotation, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes. “This offseason we made it a priority to add a stabilizing influence to our young rotation, and we think we found that guy in Jeremy,” says Klentak. “I think one of the things on top of the obvious is that he’s a veteran guy, but still just 28 years old. He’ll pitch at 29 this season, so we’re excited that he’s still in his prime.” Klentak says he’s hoping for bounce-back seasons from not only Hellickson but also James Russell and Dan Otero, both of whom the Phillies acquired earlier this month. Here are more quick notes from the East divisions.
- Free agent infielder Cliff Pennington, who played down the stretch with the Blue Jays, is close to signing, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. He’s considering one- and two-year deals. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets Pennington is choosing from among three teams. The 31-year-old Pennington hit just .210/.298/.281 in 2015. Given his solid defense and versatility (he can play shortstop, second base, third base and outfield and even pitch if needed), Pennington does have value, but it would be mildly surprising, in my opinion, if he wound up with a two-year deal following a down season.
- The Marlins would like to acquire two veteran starting pitchers this offseason because they don’t want to force themselves to start the year with one of a trio of youngsters (Justin Nicolino, Adam Conley, Jose Urena) in their starting rotation, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes (scroll down). The three younger pitchers will compete for a spot, but the Marlins would like to have a veteran option to compete as well. It looks, then, like the Marlins’ rotation will be Jose Fernandez, Jarred Cosart, Tom Koehler, a veteran, and then either another vet or one of Nicolino, Conley or Urena. (The team also has Henderson Alvarez, David Phelps, Brad Hand and Kendry Flores on its 40-man roster, although each of them comes with at least one question mark related to injury, performance or inexperience.) Jackson also adds that the Marlins like Justin Bour at first base, but they want him to improve his conditioning and could consider adding a right-handed platoon partner for him.