Aaron Harang Rumors

Reactions To The Cole Hamels Trade

In the days leading up to the trade deadline, the Phillies finally traded ace Cole Hamels, sending him with Jake Diekman and cash to Texas for pitcher Matt Harrison, top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, outfielder Nick Williams, and young pitchers Jake Thompson, Alec Asher and Jerad Eickhoff. Here’s a roundup of reactions to one of the week’s biggest deals.

  • The Giants came very close to acquring Hamels — so close, in fact, that Hamels waived his no-trade rights to allow the Phillies to trade him to San Francisco, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
  • The Phillies got a strong return for Hamels, Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com writes. Alfaro looks like the key to the deal for Philadelphia, but the Phillies also got interesting pieces in Thompson and Williams, and they actually can use Harrison as well, even though he’s in the deal partially to offset Hamels’ salary.
  • Philadelphia got “quantity and quality” in the Hamels trade, says MLB.com’s Jim Callis (video link). Callis says Thompson’s slider is, at its best, one of the top sliders in the minors, and Williams has great bat speed and has dramatically improved his plate discipline. Alfaro needs to improve his polish in some areas, but he has terrific tools, including his arm strength.
  • The Phillies could continue trading in August, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. Chase Utley could be a candidate to be dealt, assuming his injured ankle heals and he waives his no-trade privileges. Aaron Harang and Jeff Francoeur are possibilities as well.

Amaro On Papelbon, Harang, Hamels, Utley

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. discussed his team’s trade deadline situation in an appearance on the WIP Morning Show (relayed by CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman). Broadly, Amaro said that he has had “great dialogue with a lot of clubs on several fronts” and expressed confidence in “get[ting] some things done.”

The first and most obvious topic of conversation was closer Jonathan Papelbon, who yesterday aired his view that Philadelphia needs to make a decision on dealing him. Amaro praised the veteran reliever as a competitor and excellent pitcher, but said that “he doesn’t know anything about the front office.”

Regarding Papelbon’s market, Amaro indicated that he sees plenty of opportunity to strike a trade. “There’s live discussions going on right now regarding Pap,” said Amaro. “I do believe that there’s enough of a market that we can probably get something done. But again, I don’t necessarily believe in ‘probably.’ … There’s a lot of clubs that are interested in a lot of our players and we have to sort through it and make the right deals.”

In the course of addressing Papelbon’s comments, which touched upon the decisionmaking process of the front office’s highest levels, Amaro said that there was internal clarity about how deadline decisions would be handled. Namely, current president Pat Gillick holds final authority, with incoming replacement Andy MacPhail serving more of an advisory function at present.

“I’m the GM and Pat is my boss,” Amaro explained. “As in all these deals, particularly ones that are as complicated and have so much money involved, these are all discussions that we’ve had. … It’s something that’s discussed, not just with me, but also with my boss. And that’s the same structure that we have right now. Right now, Andy is part of the decision-making process, but only in so much that he’s an observer and someone who’s going to give us his opinion. Really, Pat is the one who ultimately will make the ultimate decisions.

Even as he gave indications that Papelbon could indeed be on the move, as is widely expected, Amaro downplayed the possibility of receiving value for starter Aaron Harang“As far as Aaron Harang is concerned,” said Amaro, “he had a foot problem and he’s dealing with an injury so you can’t really trade a guy that’s got an injury. Frankly, there was no real market for him prior to him getting injured.”

Of course, Philly’s biggest trade chip remains lefty Cole Hamels. Amaro said he was not concerned with the fact that the staff ace had suffered a rough outing in his most recent start, saying that “people know what he is.”

The embattled Phillies GM also touched upon his recent comments indicating that long-time second baseman Chase Utley has lost his starting role. Amaro said he did not regret “being straight and honest” on the topic, and added that he expects the veteran to “get opportunities to play” once he returns to health. As to whether there was any possibility of Utley calling it quits, Amaro made his own view clear: “No, he’s absolutely, unequivocally not going to [retire]. He’s got plenty in the tank left.”


Aaron Harang Lands On DL With Plantar Fasciitis

The Phillies announced today that Aaron Harang has been placed on the 15-day DL due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Chad Billingsley was activated in a corresponding move.

Harang, of course, has been viewed as a possible trade chip for a rebuilding Phillies club that enjoyed surprisingly strong results from the veteran right-hander through the first two months of the season. Signed to an affordable one-year, $5MM contract, Harang posted a 2.02 ERA through the and of May. While that output was never sustainable, and pitching-hungry teams wouldn’t have valued him as someone who could be reasonably counted on for such results, one has to imagine that he’s still damaged his trade value with his recent play. Over his past six starts, Harang has worked to an 8.31 ERA and allowed 48 hits (eight homers) in 34 1/3 innings with a 20-to-12 K/BB ratio.

Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Harang could miss only two starts due to the upcoming All-Star break, which would create a small window to display improved health. If he can display better control than he’s been able to with an ailing plant foot, perhaps he’d still hold some appeal to a club looking for veteran innings at the back end of its rotation. If the Phillies can’t trade him before July 31, either due to health or lack of interest, an August swap would also be a possibility.



Pitching Market Notes: Wilson, Bucs, Yankees, Dodgers

The starting pitching market is beginning to take shape around the league. Let’s have a look at the latest reports:

  • As the Angels try to remain patient with their lack of production from many lineup spots, they remain in the market for bats and “have dangled” starter C.J. Wilson, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. The Halos would also consider moving prospect arms, per the report, though the team is not interested in parting with the best of the bunch: Andrew Heaney, Sean Newcomb, and Chris Ellis. Wilson, who is playing on a $18MM salary this year and is owed $20MM for next season, has worked to a 3.92 ERA with 7.8 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 over 96 1/3 innings.
  • The Pirates are looking at both the Red Sox and Phillies as they consider adding a starter, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Pittsburgh is also interested in a first base upgrade, per the report. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported recently on the Bucs’ interest in Clay Buchholz, though he noted that it seems unlikely that Boston will deal away the righty with two reasonably-priced option years still left on his deal. Philadelphia is sending a scout to take a look at the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate, says Biertempful, who suggests that Aaron Harang could conceivably make sense to add rotation depth.
  • At least as of yesterday afternoon, the Yankees “were not on [Cole] Hamels,” Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Nevertheless, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, New York could ultimately feel it necessary to add a high-quality arm. Sherman ticks through some options, noting that there is “nothing active ongoing with the Reds” and suggesting that Jeff Samardzija could be a prime target if the Yankees decide to pursue a starter.
  • The Dodgers had a top scout (Galen Carr, per Sherman) on hand to watch Hamels pitch at Yankee Stadium yesterday, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported. That outing likely did not do much to commend the lefty, but obviously the club will be looking at a much broader body of work in assessing whether to move on Hamels.

Heyman’s Latest: Phillies, C. Johnson, Sellers, Harang, Rays

In his weekly Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by taking a look at a messy situation in Philadelphia. Heyman hears the same rumblings that were first reported by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury — that Andy MacPhail could very well be in line for an executive role with the Phillies. The hiring of MacPhail would bring into question the status of both GM Ruben Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg. While one exec notes that no one could have had much success with the hand Sandberg has been dealt, his calm demeanor hasn’t motivated the team much, and he may have lost the clubhouse at this point. Heyman notes that partial owner John Middleton, who is believed by some to be calling the shots in Philly, may have extra impetus to get a new decision-maker in the door so that a lame-duck GM (Amaro’s contract expires at season’s end) isn’t the primary decision-maker on what could be a franchise-altering Cole Hamels trade. Speaking of Hamels, Heyman notes that interested teams will want to see him pitch at least twice now that he had a start pushed back due to a hamstring strain, thinning the window of opportunity to trade him. As far as Jonathan Papelbon goes, the belief is that he’d approve any trade that sent him to a contending team, though the Cubs might be his preferred fit at this point if he had a say in the matter.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s latest (though there’s more in the column than we can cover here)…

  • The Braves have tried to trade Chris Johnson and even offered to substantially pay down the remaining money on his contract, but there’s been little interest. The Johnson deal was widely questioned from the start, and there’s still about $21MM owed to Johnson through the end of the 2017 season. Johnson’s a viable weapon against lefties, but he’s a sub-par hitter against right-handed pitchers and is not well-regarded from a defensive standpoint.
  • Rival teams are beginning to wonder if the Red Sox might sell some pieces this summer, with Mike Napoli, Clay Buchholz and Koji Uehara among the possible names listed by Heyman. Napoli isn’t hitting for average but has shown good power and a nice walk rate. Buchholz has improved after a rocky start and Uehara again has strong numbers in the ‘pen.
  • The White Sox are beginning to think about selling, Heyman hears, but they’re not quite ready to move their bigger pieces. Emilio Bonifacio might be the first name they make available, but eventually, Jeff Samardzija‘s name could be out there. Heyman writes that while Samardzija isn’t pitching well in 2015, his big arm is so tantalizing to scouts that there will still be interest in him.
  • The Reds aren’t expected to sell until after the All-Star Game and would be very open to shedding Brandon Phillips‘ contract, per Heyman, though I have a difficult time envisioning too many teams lining up to take on the remainder of that deal. Phillips is owed about $34.1MM through the end of the 2017 season and has seen his power more or less vanish. Heyman speculates that Everth Cabrera could be a fit in Cincinnati with Zack Cozart out for the year, and there’s some logic to that scenario, though they may first prefer to see what they have in Eugenio Suarez. The Mets aren’t interested in Cabrera, he adds later.
  • The Marlins aren’t selling yet, according to GM-turned-manager Dan Jennings. “We’re in it, we’re not jumping off the ship. No doubt about that,” Jennings told Heyman. If their attitude changes, Heyman thinks they’ll find interest in Martin Prado and Mike Dunn.
  • The Astros like Aaron Harang but are said to be aiming higher when looking at potential trade targets to bolster their rotation.
  • The Dodgers are on the hunt for a top-tier starting pitcher and a late-inning arm to help bridge the gap to Kenley Jansen. In other Dodgers-related news, Heyman hears that No. 35 pick Kyle Funkhouser is strongly considering returning to Louisville. Funkhouser was once looked at as a potential Top 10 pick, but he fell to a slot with a $1.756MM value. He’d have less leverage in 2016 as a senior sign, of course, but he could certainly improve his draft stock and his bonus with a big senior year.
  • Yankees chief international officer/executive vice president Felix Lopez is no longer listed on the team’s web site and some indicate that he’s been gone from the organization for three months, Heyman writes. Lopez was said to have angered Yoan Moncada‘s camp after calling to express displeasure with their decision to sign in Boston over New York. The team hasn’t made a statement on his departure.
  • The Rays are looking for first base help with James Loney on the disabled list, but Loney’s said to be returning around the All-Star break. Heyman speculates on the possibility of Ryan Howard ending up in Tampa Bay if the Phillies eat some or all of the contract, but I’d think there’d be something of a logjam there once Loney is activated in that scenario.

Phillies Have Had Recent Papelbon Talks With Blue Jays, Cubs

8:58pm: The Blue Jays had a scout in Cincinnati to watch the Phillies’ series against the Reds, writes CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury. According to Salisbury, that scout may have also been checking out right-hander Aaron Harang and lefty Cole Hamels. (Salisbury adds that Hamels will not approve a trade to Toronto, however, as has been previously reported.) Salisbury adds that multiple sources have told him that the Blue Jays and Phillies have indeed been discussing Papelbon quite recently.

5:57pm: The Phillies “are ready” to trade Jonathan Papelbon and have had recent discussions with the Cubs and Blue Jays regarding the five-time All-Star, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, there’s currently nothing close, and talks between the Phillies and both of those teams are at an impasse, per Rosenthal.

The Phillies are willing to pay a significant portion of Papelbon’s contract if it means receiving better prospects, and since speaking with the Blue Jays last week, they’ve increased their scouting of Toronto’s minor league affiliates. The Blue Jays are on Papelbon’s no-trade list, though Papelbon said months ago that he would have interest in pitching for Toronto. The Jays are currently one game above .500 and just three games back in the AL East, despite the fact that they’ve endured bullpen struggles nearly all season.

As for the Cubs, their front office knows Papelbon well. Both president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer worked for the Red Sox when Papelbon was drafted, and each has a respect for his work ethic despite his somewhat abrasive personality. The Cubs aren’t committed to Hector Rondon as the team’s closer and are trying to add multiple late-inning alternatives, hence their recent signing of Rafael Soriano.

Rosenthal hears that the Phillies prefer to deal with the Blue Jays as opposed to the Cubs. I’d imagine that moving Papelbon to Toronto could require the Phils to eat more cash, as Toronto has more budgetary constraints. They’re said to have between $5MM and $8MM to make in-season additions, though Papelbon is earning $13MM this season, of which $8.3MM remains. It seems unlikely that the Blue Jays would want to place all their eggs in this one basket by spending all of the money they have left on Papelbon’s salary. Additionally, Papelbon’s $13MM vesting option has to be a consideration, as if he were inserted into the ninth inning in Toronto, he’d almost certainly reach the 48 games finished needed to lock in that final year.


Heyman’s Latest: Howard, Tillman, Price, Cespedes, Astros

In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off by discussing Ryan Howard‘s increased trade value. Howard is hitting .256/.298/.519 with 10 homers this season, and while the OBP is lackluster, he’s performed particularly well of late, hitting .307/.340/.602 with six homers this month (a .389 BABIP on the month, though, is heavily influencing those numbers). The Phils were willing to pay down $35MM or so of Howard’s remaining contract this offseason, and doing so would make him a roughly $10MM player this season and next. While Heyman notes that might be seen as a fair price, he adds that some scouts and executives will want to see more sustained production before considering a move, which strikes me as more than reasonable; I doubt three weeks of hot hitting have transformed him from albatross into hot commodity. The Orioles, Royals and Rays all discussed Howard with the Phillies this offseason but went different directions, and Heyman looks at those three teams as well as five others in determining if there’s a fit to be made. Howard received 10-and-5 rights on May 2, however, allowing him to veto any deal. And while many reports have indicated it won’t get in the way of a trade, Heyman hears that Howard is happier in Philadelphia now than he was over the winter and wonders if he might require some kind of incentive to waive those rights.

Some more highlights from a lengthy column …

  • The Orioles never really came close to reaching an extension with starter Chris Tillman this spring, and talks are on hold at present. The 27-year-old has scuffled early this year with a 5.59 ERA over 48 1/3 innings.
  • David Robertson could have taken home even more than the $46MM promised to him by the White Sox, says Heyman, as an unnamed team offered him more this winter. That provides yet more reason to believe that plenty of teams are still willing to pay top dollar for premium relievers.
  • While the Tigers are very interested in attempting to retain Yoenis Cespedes beyond the current year, Heyman says that all signs point to him reaching free agency. Detroit can, of course, pursue him on the open market, but sources tell Heyman that Cespedes is unlikely to agree to an extension.
  • Likewise, the Tigers don’t appear to have much hope of an extension with ace David Price, and Heyman says they “aren’t overwhelmingly confident” that he’ll be back. Detroit’s front office believes that Price will look to top Max Scherzer‘s contract. 
  • The Astros are sorting through many pitching acquisition possibilities, and Aaron Harang of the Phillies has “at least been discussed” by the club. Fellow Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels may come with too much contract for Houston, but Heyman reports that the club does see Reds free agent-to-be Johnny Cueto as a possibility.
  • While Brewers GM Doug Melvin has given signals that he’s ready to sell early, owner Mark Attanasio may prefer the club hold off until at least the upcoming draft. While PR considerations seem to be a factor, that may be the best strategy anyway; the team could still get out ahead of the market, while allowing it to mature somewhat before acting.
  • Be sure to check out the piece for more interesting items around the league.

Quick Hits: Harang, Mesoraco, Grandal, Jenkins

Veteran right-hander Aaron Harang may soon join his ninth major league franchise, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Harang’s career trajectory includes a dominant, stable peak with the Reds followed by a multi-season reinvention with a handful of clubs. With the Phillies in rebuild mode, Harang is a prime trade candidate. His 1.82 ERA, 6.67 K/9, and 1.97 BB/9 would represent an upgrade for any club. However, it’s worth noting his 4.12 xFIP. Harang has allowed just two home runs despite a high fly ball rate. Kepner offers more detail about Harang’s transformation from power pitcher to crafty veteran.

  • Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco has experienced a setback with his left hip impingement, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Mesoraco indicated that this week would be “pivotal” in deciding if the condition required surgery. He hasn’t been in the lineup the last two days, but he might be available to pinch hit tomorrow. To this point, club and player have attempted to avoid the surgical option.
  • Dodgers catcher Yasmany Grandal has a “mild concussion,” writes Anthony Witrado of MLB.com. Last night, Grandal was hit in the jaw by a Yangervis Solarte backswing, and he took a Matt Kemp foul ball off the mask. The club expects him to be ready to resume baseball activities in a few days. He may only require the minimum seven day stay on the disabled list.
  • Shelby Miller has done well to make the Braves look good for trading Jason Heyward. However, Tyrell Jenkins is doing his best to improve the return for the Braves. The 22-year-old righty has performed strongly in Double-A. Scouts and players credit him with excellent makeup. He tore his lat in 2012 and 2013 which has delayed his development as a prospect. He’s now fully healthy for the first time in years and reaching 96 mph on the gun. Although he has a shiny 2.94 ERA, his 5.71 K/9 and 3.81 BB/9 could stand to improve.

NL East Notes: Span, Harang, Cishek

Nationals center fielder Denard Span is something of a wild card on next year’s free agent market. After battling through offseason core muscle surgery, his latest health issue, Span is somewhat quietly producing at a .292/.342/.514 clip. His power output is not likely to continue, of course, but it is good evidence that he is back to full strength and making hard contact. That’s all the more impressive given that Span has as many walks as strikeouts (six apiece) through his first 79 plate appearances. While defensive metrics continue to view Span more as an average center fielder than the very good one he used to be (and still is, in some eyes), he has a good chance of being the most appealing free agent center fielder if he can stay on the field and hit even at more typical rates — particularly since he is already coming off of a very strong 2014 campaign. As things stand, the 31-year-old seems on track to merit a qualifying offer from the Nats, which could potentially give the team four QO players (along with Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Ian Desmond).

  • The Phillies player receiving the most concrete trade interest at this point in the season is not staff ace Cole Hamels, but veteran righty Aaron Harang, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince reports. Indeed, Philadelphia looks to have a rather useful trade chip in Harang, who is under contract for just one year and $5MM. While he is probably unlikely to keep his walk rate under 2 per nine for the first time in his career, and may be in line for some BABIP-related regression, Harang has undeniably been excellent: through 45 1/3 innings, he owns a 2.38 ERA. Plenty of teams could use an arm like that at the back of their rotation, and Harang’s low price tag should increase competition for his services — and with it, the return for the Phils.
  • Steve Cishek‘s difficulties have led the Marlins to decide on a shake-up of their ninth-inning roles, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. The club will seemingly use a mix of arms for the time being. Cishek, a 28-year-old sidearmer, inked a $6.65MM deal to avoid arbitration. With two more years of arb eligibility remaining, Cishek has lost over a tick off his average fastball and uncharacteristically walked eight batters in 11 1/3 frames. He does have plenty of time to turn things around, of course, but his hefty starting salary makes a contract tender look questionable even at this early stage.

Cafardo On Soriano, Harang, Kazmir

In last week’s win over the Orioles, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez officially passed Willie Mays for fourth place on the all-time home run list.  Of course, his home run record is clouded by his history and the Yankees refusing to pay him his milestone bonuses has arguably become the bigger story.

Many former players have spoken out against current players that have used steroids, like Rodriguez.  Former major league first baseman David Segui alleges that a few of those scolding players are PED users themselves.

What bothers me is the hypocrites,” Segui told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. “I see them on TV sometimes criticizing people who took steroids. I say, ‘What a minute . . . maybe the public doesn’t know what you did, but I know what you did.’ Those are the ones that bother me. Just keep your mouth shut.

Years ago, Segui fessed up to his own PED use, but he refused to turn on fellow players who also used steroids.  Here’s more from Cafardo’s Sunday morning column..

  • Scott Boras tells Cafardo that he’s getting closer with “a few teams” regarding Rafael Soriano.  Late last month it was reported that Twins and Mariners are among the teams interested in Soriano.  At the time, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, who reported that there were conversations between the M’s and Boras regarding Soriano, also suggested that the Pirates, Indians, and Dodgers could be “logical suitors.”  If there is interest for Cleveland and Pittsburgh, one has to wonder if payroll constraints could play a factor.
  • A major league source tells Cafardo that teams are already calling on Phillies veteran Aaron Harang and scouting him.  One NL scout has been impressed with Harang before and feels that he would be worth a second-level prospect for a contending club.  Back in March, MLBTradeRumors spoke with Harang about his experience in free agency and what led him to sign with the Phillies this winter.  Harang also told MLBTR that he wasn’t overly concerned about the prospect of being traded midseason by GM Ruben Amaro as the team rebuilds.
  • One AL GM feels that it’s just a matter of time before the A’s move left-hander Scott Kazmir.  “Tick, tick, tick,” the GM said when asked if he thinks Kazmir might be moved before the deadline. “Sure. If Oakland can’t hang in, Billy [Beane] will flip him for prospects. He’s actually an interesting name. All you hear about is [David] Price, [Jordan] Zimmermann, [Johnny] Cueto, but that’s a pretty good name right there.”  Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the A’s aren’t yet thinking about trading Kazmir as they still haven’t given up on their hopes of contending.  In last place at 12-20 heading into today’s game against the Mariners, I’d imagine that the A’s will have to give some serious thought to moving the 31-year-old if things don’t turn around quickly.