Carlos Ruiz Rumors
The Phillies have made multiple inquiries on the availability of Giancarlo Stanton over the past several months, Major League sources tell Jim Sailisbury of CSNPhilly.com, but have received the same answer as every other team in baseball: Stanton isn't available for the time being.
Salisbury notes that while the Phils lack a deep farm system, they do have plenty of near-MLB-ready arms such as Jesse Biddle, Jonathan Pettibone and Adam Morgan that could be used to headline a Stanton package. Of course, as Salisbury notes, if and when the Marlins decide to listen to offers on Stanton, they may not be keen on trading him within the division. That hasn't stopped the Phillies -- and reportedly the Mets -- from showing interest.
Salisbury writes that the very reason that the Phillies have such great need for Stanton's services could lead the team to be sellers come the trade deadline. Philadelphia outfielders are hitting just .215/.285/.330, which has contributed to their 13-16 record. Here are the highlights from his list of potential trade chips...
- Cliff Lee could become the prize of the July trade market should the Phillies sell. The Red Sox inquired on Lee before the Winter Meetings but were rebuffed. Given their first-place standing, they could look at Lee as a means to push them toward a World Series run.
- Jonathan Papelbon is another expensive piece that the Phils could move, and Salisbury wonders if the Tigers could be interested, given deep-pocketed owner Mike Illitch's desire to win a World Series. Detroit has had bullpen issues all season and recently re-signed Jose Valverde to reprise his role as closer. However, Salisbury reports that the Tigers are one of the team's in Papelbon's no-trade clause.
- Jimmy Rollins could be moved but would have to waive his full no-trade clause in order for that to happen.
- There's a sentiment that the Phillies would prefer to keep Chase Utley than deal him this summer if he remains healthy. Utley will gain 10-and-5 rights in August, Salisbury notes.
- Salisbury also mentions Carlos Ruiz, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Delmon Young as players the Phillies would consider. Halladay's inconsistency and Howard's price tag would be prohibitive factors in any trade talks for that duo.
Ruiz, 33, posted a .325/.394/.540 batting line with a career-high 16 home runs in 421 plate appearances this past season. Exercising the All-Star catcher's option appears to have been an easy decision. All option decisions must be in within three days of the end of the World Series.
The Orioles' record-setting success in one-run games continued on Tuesday as they eked out a 1-0 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field. Both teams combined for just four hits in the game, with Chris Davis' solo homer accounting for the only run. James Shields was the tough-luck loser as he threw a complete game two-hitter while striking out 15 O's batters. The Yankees' 12-inning victory over the Red Sox tonight means that New York still holds a one-game lead over Baltimore for first place in the AL East.
Here's the latest from around the majors as we head towards the last day of the regular season...
- Picking up Carlos Ruiz's club option for 2013 is "a formality," said Phillies GM Ruben Amaro tells CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury, though the club will still wait until after the World Series to make it official. The 33-year-old Ruiz delivered a career-best .327/.397/.542 line in 416 plate appearances, making his $5MM option a foregone conclusion to be exercised.
- Mariners players are happy that Safeco Field's fences will be moved in next season, reports MLB.com's Greg Johns, both for their own sakes and to help the team in acquiring free agent hitters. "Every time a guy gets on first base, that's all they talk about, how terrible this place is to hit," said Justin Smoak. "Everybody hates hitting here...I'm sure there are a lot of guys out there that have declined coming here because of that reason. This should definitely change some things. Everybody is excited about it."
- Safeco Field's adjustments will also impact Mariners pitchers, to the point that Fangraphs' Dave Cameron wonders if the M's could non-tender Jason Vargas. MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects that Vargas will earn $8.1MM in his third trip through the arbitration process, a high price for a pitcher who has had severe home/road splits in three of his four seasons in Seattle. This season, Vargas has a 2.74 ERA in 14 starts at Safeco and a 4.78 ERA in 19 road starts.
- Joey Gathright has tested positive for amphetamines and will face a 50-game suspension when he signs his next contract, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link). Gathright last played in the Reds organization before being released by their Triple-A team in July.
- Gordon Blakeley, a long-time scout and special assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, is reportedly interested in leaving New York for a position with the Red Sox, reports ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes.
- The Rays and Angels fell short of the postseason due to injuries and unexpected rises from the Orioles and Athletics, but MLB.com's Matthew Leach also points the finger at both teams' failed low-cost signings. Luke Scott and Carlos Pena provided little offense for Tampa Bay, while LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen didn't help stabilize the Halos' bullpen.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has plenty of news in his latest edition of Rumblings & Grumblings. Let's dive in and take a look..
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro says that his value assessment on Cole Hamels hasn't changed but he will have to take his other free agents into account this winter. "But the biggest thing is all the other decisions we have to make...at third base [Placido Polanco], in center field [Shane Victorino], and at right field [Hunter Pence] and catcher [Carlos Ruiz] in two years. And we haven't solved our left-field situation, either," Amaro said.
- Amaro says that he is high on Ruiz but will consider the club's payroll as a whole before considering a long-term deal. The GM also pointed out his age (33) and demanding position. The Phillies hold a $5MM club option for next year on Ruiz, which would put him on the open market on the verge of his age-35 season.
- The Phillies GM also seems confident that the club won't be in a position to cave before the deadline and become sellers. For the Phillies to pull the plug and sell, he says the club would have to "fall out of contention pretty significantly."
- The Tigers might want to consider waiting around for the Rockies' Marco Scutaro as a solution at second base. Clubs that have checked in with the Rockies say they're still at least a month from selling but Scutaro, Rafael Betancourt, and Jeremy Guthrie are all likely to be available when they do.
- There's been a surprising amount of trade talk surrounding Twins outfielder Josh Willingham but teams that have kicked the tires on him have been rebuffed.
- The Pirates are telling other teams that they're likely to approach this deadline like they did last year's, looking to add. They've indicated that they're likely to trade arms for bats, especially hitters they can control beyond this year.
- Meanwhile, potential shoppers wonder if the Pirates are willing to move enough quality to make a splash. Pittsburgh is hinting that they'll keep James McDonald, A.J. Burnett, and probably Erik Bedard if they have a shot to win. If that's the case, they'll instead be shopping the likes of Charlie Morton, Kevin Correia, Jeff Karstens, and prospect Rudy Owens, which won't net them the same kind of return.
- Despite reports to the contrary, Roy Oswalt never received offers from the Phillies or Cardinals according to Amaro and a source who spoke with the Cards' brass, respectively. While there was other interest, it seems that this was a one-team negotiation with Oswalt and the Rangers.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new Full Count video up, so let's recap...
- Don't be surprised if the Twins consider trading Justin Morneau. The first baseman is owed $14MM both this season and next, and Minnesota likely needs the position for Joe Mauer long-term. Denard Span, Matt Capps, and Carl Pavano could also be on the block, but Morneau offers hard-to-find power. He has a no-trade clause but the extent is unknown.
- The Phillies hold a $5MM option for 2013 on catcher Carlos Ruiz and an extension is warranted, but at 33 years old, Chooch is three years older than Yadier Molina and four years older than Miguel Montero. They aren't contract comparables.
- This year's crop of free agent center fielders stand to benefit from Adam Jones' new six-year, $88.5MM extension, but age will again be a factor. B.J. Upton will be 28 next season and is two years younger than Michael Bourn and four years younger than Shane Victorino. All three will hit the open market after the season.
- Josh Hamilton is unlikely to sign a contract extension with the Rangers, and the lack of comparable players (both on and off the field) make him even more likely to hit the open market. It's possible the only way to determine his actual value is to let other teams bid for his services as a free agent.
The 2013 class of free agent catchers is taking shape. Yadier Molina and the Cardinals signed a five-year, $75MM extension this week, but Miguel Montero and Russell Martin have tabled extension talks for now and Mike Napoli expects to test free agency. Here are the latest notes on catcher extensions in MLB...
- One agent joked to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that Royals GM Dayton Moore “must have been wearing a ski mask” to convince Salvador Perez to sign a five-year, $7MM extension (Twitter link). I examined the extension earlier in the week, explaining what Perez will have to do for the Royals to break even.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports suggests the Diamondbacks and Braves might be ticked off by Molina's extension. The deal figures to shift the market for catchers and it may now cost more to retain the likes of Montero and Brian McCann. Rosenthal says the Cardinals' deal with Molina is an overpay, but an understandable one given the value of Molina's defense.
- David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News explains that the Molina deal isn't a fair point of reference for Carlos Ruiz. Though Ruiz and Molina have posted similar offensive numbers in recent years, the Phillies’ catcher won't hit free agency until he's entering his age-35 season and allowed stolen bases with much greater frequency than Molina in 2011.
With the signing of Ryan Howard to a five-year, $125MM deal, the scope of what the Phillies can do heading into the 2012 season has come into greater focus. And at the risk of hyperbole, the key takeaway may be: when the Mayans said the world would end in 2012, were they specifically talking about the Phils?
Let's take a look at what Philadelphia will be spending money on as the 2012 season dawns. Roy Halladay is signed for $20MM. Howard, too, is signed for $20MM. Chase Utley is signed for $15.3MM. Joe Blanton is signed for $10.5MM, Shane Victorino for $9.5MM, Placido Polanco for $6.4MM, Carlos Ruiz for $3.7MM, and almost certainly, Brad Lidge will be given a $1.5MM buyout.
That's $87MM going to seven players to play and one player to not play. And for their money, the Phillies will receive:
- The age-32 season of a first baseman whose numbers overall have been in decline through age 30, and whose difficulties against lefties make him a good deal less valuable against situational relievers late in games (Howard).
- The age-35 season of a pitcher who is dominant now, but will be 35 years old (Halladay).
- The age-33 season of a second baseman, a position that is notoriously tough on aging players (Utley).
- The age-31 season of a pitcher with a career 4.21 ERA (Blanton).
- The age-31 season of a center fielder whose value is largely tied to his legs (Victorino).
- The age-36 season of a third baseman whose value is largely tied to his defense (Polanco).
- The age-33 season of a catcher whose career OPS is .720 (Ruiz).
Now obviously, the above list merely points out the red flags of the players under contract. Perhaps all seven of them will perform in 2012 as they did in 2009.
The problem is that even if they do, the Phillies will need to make a relatively small amount of money go a long way.
Consider that the team traded Cliff Lee this past offseason, passing up a chance to have a 1-2 punch in the rotation of Halladay and Lee over concerns that Lee would cost C.C. Sabathia-type money ($23MM annually). It seems fair to assume that the money that would have gone to Lee went to Howard instead. In other words, the $140MM threshold the Phillies find themselves at right now isn't far from where they expect to be in 2012. Certainly, they had no intention of being at $160MM, which is where Lee plus Howard would have landed them.
But we want to be fair to the Phillies, so let's split the difference, and plan for a $150MM 2012 payroll. With $87MM gone, Philadelphia has $63MM left over for: three starting pitchers, six or seven relievers, a shortstop, a left fielder, a right fielder, and four or five bench players.
In other words, even without any decline from any of the seven players under contract that year, the Phillies are going to need a lot of their prospects step up. And if they decide to sign current right fielder Jayson Werth and shortstop Jimmy Rollins- both likely to cost $10MM or more annually and both entering their age-33 seasons in 2012- the entire remaining team will have to be low-cost options fresh from the farm system to make the numbers work.
And we haven't even discussed what Cole Hamels, signed for $9.5MM in 2011, is likely to get in 2012 in what will be his final year of arbitration.
With so many holes to fill, it is hard to believe that Philadelphia decided to put so much of its 2012 payroll into Ryan Howard. This analysis doesn't even get into the problems for the team when Howard pulls down a cool $25MM annually from 2014-2016 for his age 34-36 seasons.
For a team that has managed to position itself as the clear favorite in the 2010 National League, such success may be fleeting.
7:33pm: The deal is worth $8.85MM over three seasons, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The contract includes a fourth-year club option of $5MM with a five-year buyout as well as performance incentives for games started.
5:22pm: The Phillies and catcher Carlos Ruiz have agreed to terms on a three-year, $9MM deal, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Ruiz, who turns 31-years-old on Friday, had his best offensive campaign to date in 2009, hitting .255/.355/.425 with a career-high 9 HRs in 107 games. The deal covers all of Ruiz's remaining arbitration years.
With Chooch set to sign, the Phillies have avoided arbitration with their three eligible players. Earlier in the week, the club agreed to a three-year, $24MM extension with pitcher Joe Blanton. Shane Victorino was next up, inking a three-year, $22MM pact.
The Phillies have officially signed Shane Victorino to a three-year, $22MM deal. The contract, which buys out Victorino's two remaining arbitration years and one free agent year, will keep Victorino in Philly through 2012. Craig Calcaterra of Circling The Bases first reported the agreement.
Victorino earned $3.125MM in 2009, when he hit .292/.358/.445 with 10 HRs. In the field, the Flyin' Hawaiian posted a slightly below average UZR/150 of -4.2. Calcaterra writes that if Joe Blanton's deal is any indication, Victorino's contract will likely be backloaded.
With Victorino back in the fold, catcher Carlos Ruiz is the only remaining arbitration-eligible Phillie. However, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes that GM Ruben Amaro expressed optimism that a multi-year deal could be reached with him as well. Assistant GM Scott Proefrock believes that the team will come to an agreement on a one-year or multi-year deal with Ruiz within the week.
Yesterday we learned that the Phillies were discussing a multi-year deal with the arbitration eligible Shane Victorino, and now MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports that the team is doing the same with both Joe Blanton and Carlos Ruiz. Blanton is up for arbitration for the final time, but this is Ruiz's first experience with the process."I think we're making progress on all of them," (GM Ruben) Amaro said. "We're trying to work through it. We're hoping we can get these done."
Blanton and the Phillies were $2.75MM apart in their arbitration filings, the second largest gap behind Tim Lincecum. We all know what Blanton is at this point, and that's an extremely durable innings eater that'll give you an ERA in the low-4.00's.
Ruiz filed for $2.5MM while the Phillies countered with $1.7MM. He had a breakout season in 2009, hitting .255/.355/.425 (all career highs) in 379 plate appearances. Chris Iannetta's three year deal worth $8.3MM guaranteed could serve as a baseline for a Ruiz extension.