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Chase Utley Rumors
The Phillies, who lost Ben Revere for six to eight weeks over the weekend due to a broken bone in his ankle, are currently 6.5 games out of first place in the NL East. With Revere on the shelf for the foreseeable future, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is on the lookout for a center fielder. A rough couple of weeks could have the team selling pieces, however. Here's more on the Phils….
- Phillies chairman Bill Giles told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that this is the "most difficult (final) July two weeks" he has ever seen for the team. The 78-year-old Giles, who has been with the Phillies since 1969, is in particular "worried a lot" about Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley's futures. "I am rooting for Chase to be with us, I will tell you that," Giles said. "He is a quality person and has done so much for this organization."
- Utley, for his part, tells MLB.com's Todd Zolecki that he wants to remain in Philadelphia past the trade deadline and beyond. "I've never envisioned wearing another team's uniform," Utley said. "And I know there's a lot of speculation, but I still haven't….that still hasn't changed over the last month. I've talked to Ruben. I've told him what I think about the organization and city of Philly. That's kind of where we're at." Amaro recently said he hoped Utley would stay a Phillie for the remainder of his career.
- A Red Sox team source tells Tim Britton of the Providence Journal that they don't expect the Phillies to be sellers at the trade deadline since the Phils are still afloat in the NL playoff race.
- At today's All-Star festivities in New York, Cliff Lee told reporters (including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford) that as far as he knows, he will not be traded this year.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
Phillies' right-hander Luis Garcia looked the part of a big league pitcher when he made his MLB debut on Wednesday, striking out Ryan Zimmerman and getting a double-play grounder from Adam LaRoche. However, prior to this season he'd been out of organized baseball for two years, working for a moving company and in a barbershop, Todd Zolecki and Stephen Pianovich of MLB.com write. After showing the Phillies a mid-90s fastball and a decent slider, the team assigned him to their high-A club, and he's now pitching out of a major league bullpen. Some more Friday night Phillies links…
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. isn't expected to make drastic changes to his team as the trade deadline approaches, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Though the Phils remain under .500, the team is playing well lately, having just taken five of seven from divison rivals Washington and Atlanta. A model for the Phillies' approach to the trade market this year might be the 2007 club under GM Pat Gillick, which plugged holes by acquiring infielder Tad Iguchi and pitcher Kyle Lohse for two non-prospects. Gelb also discussed the market for Michael Young, highlighting the Red Sox, the Yankees, the Dodgers and the Orioles as potential trade partners.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com runs down possible trade pieces for the Phillies at the deadline. From conversations with people around baseball, it would seem that Lee is staying put while rival execs see at least a small chance of Jonathan Papelbon being traded. Opinions seem to be split 50/50 on Chase Utley, though there's a strong belief that Young is a goner if they're not in position to contend. Finally, execs could see the club trading catcher Carlos Ruiz if they remain on the cusp of the race or fall further.
- The Phillies signed 11th-round pick Denton Keys to a $350K bonus (plus a $200K college scholarship) that will put them over their bonus pool and force them to pay a luxury tax, according to Baseball America's Jim Callis (Twitter links). Because Callis mentions no loss of future draft picks, it seems that the Phils exceeded their pool by 0-5 percent. Any further overage would result in a loss of their 2014 first-rounder. Keys, according to Callis, is a prep left-hander from Colorado whose fastball touches 91 mph. He was committed to Kansas.
Earlier today, we learned that the Phillies are likely to decide between buying and selling based on their current ten game homestand. General Manager Ruben Amaro says that he has had a lot of interesting discussion on his players with other clubs but whether any of them actually get moved remains to be seen. Here's more on the Phillies and other Eastern items..
- Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes that what the Red Sox do at the deadline will impact their roster on December 12th. Boston has a number of players they need to protect from the Rule 5 Draft this winter, and that will explain who’s available and who’s not in July.
- If Clay Buchholz is healthy, it will be tough for the Red Sox to go out and acquire a starter, tweets Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. If another hurler is added to the starting five, it's not clear who would get bumped from the group.
- Within today's column from Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Amaro went on to say that no one is truly off the table, but there are players he'd definitely like to hang on to in particular. “Some guys are a lot less touchable than others,” he said. “But we’ll keep our eyes open, our ears open.” Amaro has been open about his desire to keep Cliff Lee and hang on to fan favorite Chase Utley. Last night, Amaro said it would be "really tough" for him to part with the second baseman.
In his latest column (Insider subscription required and recommended), ESPN's Buster Olney writes that Nelson Cruz is among the players whose free agent stock could be severely impacted by the Biogenesis scandal. If Cruz is cleared of any wrongdoing by that time he will be fine, but if discipline has yet to be handed out, or he receives a suspension near the end of the season, teams will be wary. Cruz's case could be further complicated if the Rangers make him a qualifying offer. Here are a few of the highlights from Olney's excellent piece…
- The Blue Jays are looking for upgrades in their rotation and at second base, and they will be interested in Chase Utley should the Phillies make him available.
- Former Giants closer Brian Wilson is working out in Hawaii and could pitch for teams later this month or in early August.
- The Cubs are "making progress" in trade negotiations surrounding Matt Garza, and they're actively talking with the Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Indians and Dodgers. They may also still be involved in talks with the Orioles as well as other NL West teams.
- Olney also spoke with his colleague Jayson Stark on today's Baseball Tonight podcast, and they discussed the impact of Biogenesis on pennant races in addition to discussing the upcoming trade deadline (Biogenesis talk begins immediately; trade discussions begin shortly after the 11:00 mark).
- Olney said he'd be "shocked" if Garza was still on the Cubs by the All-Star break, but Stark hears that the Cubs may prefer to wait for a team to meet their price, even if it means waiting until the end of July. Stark and Olney agree that Garza will have the highest price tag of any player on the trade market.
- The Dodgers, Rangers and Rockies are the three teams that are still in the mix on Ricky Nolasco, while the other formerly interested parties are "on the periphery" according to Stark.
The first big move of trade season went down yesterday when the Orioles acquired starter Scott Feldman from the Cubs, along with catcher Steve Clevenger, for starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, reliever Pedro Strop and international bonus pool money. The move will obviously have an impact on the O's, but more broadly, it means that we've entered the period when trade talk becomes more than just talk, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Here's more from today's column..
- Scouts that have spoken with Martino expect the Phillies to be active sellers, but hold onto Cliff Lee since they want to contend next year. However, rival scouts and execs anticipate that, in addition to Michael Young and Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon will be dealt or at least heavily shopped. We've heard previously that the Phillies are expected to ask for an astronomical haul to part with Papelbon.
- Papelbon also fits the bill as someone who could be kept for next year, but rivals that have spoken with Martino see too much of a need for bullpen help amongst contenders like the Red Sox and Tigers and they expect GM Ruben Amaro to get a strong offer for the closer.
- One executive involved in the talks for the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco predicts that he will land with the Dodgers, with the Giants a possibility and the Padres still somewhat interested. Last night it was reported that the Rangers, Rockies, and Dodgers are in "heavy pursuit" of the Miami hurler.
- A major league source told Martino that the Twins will likely shop Mike Pelfrey later this month, if he makes a strong few starts. While the 29-year-old hasn't exactly been a world-beater this year – he has a 6.11 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 – he could perhaps get better as he moves further from last year's Tommy John surgery and appeal to a contender willing to throw starters against the wall like the Orioles.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post has some interesting items in today's column so let's dive in..
- The Dodgers reportedly have interest in acquiring the Phillies' Chase Utley and one NL executive sees it happening, just not necessarily this month. “I know everyone has [Robinson Cano] going to the Dodgers as a free agent if the [Yankees] don’t get him signed up, but I would put it at 90 percent that Utley ends up there,” said the exec. He reasoned that the Dodgers, who have to sign Clayton Kershaw to a $200MM+ deal soon, may not be all that bullish about Cano since they aren't as flush with cash as people believe and they have learned that collecting mismatched expensive star players isn't necessarily the way to go. The exec went on to predict that the Dodgers will offer Utley something like a three-year, $45MM deal this winter. As for the Dodgers and Cano, we learned yesterday that the club doesn't want to do long-term contracts beyond age 36, which could limit Cano to a six-year offer if they decide to get involved.
- The Marlins fire sale appears to be panning out well for the club, even if it was done for the wrong reasons. Miami now looks better not just from a financial standpoint, but also when it comes to talent. The Hanley Ramirez deal brought them Nathan Eovaldi and the blockbuster with Toronto imported Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, and well-regarded minor leaguers Jake Marisnick and Justin Nicolino. The Marlins’ rebuilding might be going quicker and better that the Mets' rebuilding. As one AL source told Sherman, ignore who made the deals and just realize, “they made good baseball trades.”
- After the Indians gave Michael Bourn a four-year, $48MM deal and the Nationals dealt one of their top prospects for Denard Span, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Sherman that Brett Gardner was in their class, if not better. Right now, Gardner is outperforming both players in OPS and has a significant lead in WAR (2.8).
Here's a look at the latest from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com..
- A person familiar with the Ricky Nolasco talks says the Dodgers, Orioles, Giants, Rangers, and Rockies are among the teams in the mix, Heyman writes. The Dodgers have been considered a favorite since they might be willing to absorb the $5.75MM remaining on Nolasco's $11.5-million 2013 salary, but the source suggested late Monday afternoon that there's isn't a deal out there yet that is good enough to jump on. Colorado is said to have offered two decent prospects for the hurler but they are skittish about paying the salary. While some have suggested that the Marlins are anxious to trade Nolasco before his scheduled start on Wednesday, they are still holding out for a quality offer.
- Heyman hears that the word around baseball is that the Dodgers could have interest in Chase Utley. It isn't known if the Dodgers have gone so far as to contact Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, but he doesn't seem anxious to trade the second baseman despite the fact he is headed towards free agency. If the Phillies do decide to sell, they are said to be more willing to part with Michael Young, who's interested the Dodgers before.
- With the deadline just weeks away, Heyman laid out the market as it stands today. The piece starts by highlighting the six biggest sellers in the Cubs, White Sox, Brewers, Twins, Marlins, and Astros.
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Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said yesterday that he hoped Chase Utley would retire as a Phillie, but though Utley will be a free agent this winter, there have been no extension talks between the club and the veteran second baseman, WPVI-TV's Jeff Skversky reports (Twitter link). It's probably no surprise that the Phils were hesitant about a new contract given Utley's injury problems over the last few seasons, and Utley has already spent a month on the DL with an oblique injury this season.
Here's the latest from around the NL East…
- As much as the Phillies hate to part with the veterans that helped them to so much success over the last several seasons, Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown thinks the team is on the verge of at least a partial rebuild. "Where this leaves the Phillies is at the start of a month that could redirect the franchise. That probably should redirect the franchise," Brown writes.
- The Phillies will stick to their usual strategy of not spending big on international signings as the July 2 signing period approaches, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Brookover also talks to Joe Jordan, the Phils' director of player development, about some of the international prospects currently in the farm system.
- Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest discusses the Ricky Nolasco trade rumors, Jose Fernandez's innings limit and Giancarlo Stanton's future in Miami with Jim Bowden and Jeff Joyce on The Front Office program on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (audio link).
- The Braves are likely to seek depth for the bullpen and bench before the trade deadline, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets.
As impressive as young players like Manny Machado, Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Yasiel Puig have been, no one was more spectacular than young Alex Rodriguez, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. However, A-Rod has since tarnished his legacy by being linked to performance enhancing drugs. It all comes back to Rodriguez's love of baseball, because for him, being the best was never good enough. Now he finds himself rehabbing from injury in Tampa, Florida and no one knows how it will play out. Rodriguez could retire because of a physical disability and collect the remaining $114MM on his contract or he return to the Yankees after the All-Star break and provide the righthanded bat they sorely need. Here's more from today's column..
- One team that has at least discussed acquiring the Phillies' Chase Utley is the Royals. Kansas City would love to stabilize their lineup and/or second base situation with someone of Utley’s caliber. Meanwhile, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that he wants the second baseman to retire in a Phillies uniform, if possible.
- The Red Sox are one of the teams extremely interested in Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, but they won’t break the bank for him, according to a team source. The Sox were certainly burned by the Daisuke Matsuzaka signing and don’t want to get burned again on a deal for the 26-year-old righthander. Even though Gonzalez seems to be the real deal, past injuries seem to be giving some teams pause.
- White Sox reliever Jesse Crain will draw interest and Cafardo warns not to rule out the Red Sox. Pitching coach Juan NIeves coached him in Chicago and he’s a stable force at the end of games. Meanwhile, there will be others vying for Crain, including the Orioles and Yankees. Our own Charlie Wilmoth recently examined Crain as a trade candidate.
- FIrst baseman Chris Carter is an interesting righthanded bat the Astros would move for the right package of young players. The Yankees are a possibility since they need a righthanded hitter who can play first base and the outfield. Even though he strikes out a lot, the 26-year-old Carter could be an intriguing option for clubs.
- The Cubs have a lot of desirable trade pieces, starting of course with Matt Garza, who could be dealt sooner rather than later – maybe even sooner than the Marlins' Ricky Nolasco. Besides Garza, there’s been a lot of interest in outfielder Nate Schierholtz and veteran righthander Scott Feldman, who Cafardo sees as a match for the Orioles. Outfielders Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus along with relievers Kevin Gregg and James Russell could be moved as well.
- While the Twins say that Glen Perkins is not available, they should expect some club – possibly the Tigers - to offer a substantial package.
If you're looking for some good reading over your Saturday morning coffee, here are a few nice leftovers from yesterday: Writing for Fangraphs, MLBTR contributor Marc Hulet broke down the position players who will participate in the MLB Futures Game. MLB.com's Corey Brock had the story of former third-overall pick Donavan Tate's attempt to revive his injury- and addiction-plagued career. Writing for the Biz of Baseball, Maury Brown discussed the decline in MLB and MiLB PED suspensions thus far in 2013. And as the Washington Post's Dave Sheinin reports, youth baseball is experiencing what could be an inner-city renaissance in Washington, D.C. On to some National League notes:
- Dodgers fans are probably still reeling from last night's beating, the team's worst home loss (Twitter link) since the franchise played in Brooklyn. But with the club's offense pointing upwards of late and with just six games to make up in a scuffling NL West, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes that L.A. still could be looking to buy pitching. He says that the Dodgers cannot depend on a mix of Chris Capuano, Stephen Fife, Ted Lilly, and Matt Magill at the back of the rotation, and would be even more foolish to place their faith in Brandon League, Peter Moylan, and Matt Guerrier with late-inning pen roles.
- While the Phillies continue to hang around just under .500, speculation has focused on whether the club might deal top arms Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com wonders whether the club might be more likely to look to deal infielders Chase Utley or Michael Young, in spite of the no-trade protection that both enjoy. With Utley and Young set to become free agents after the season, a clear fall away from contention would make it difficult to pass up a youth infusion. On the other hand, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that his "intention would be to keep [Utley] in our uniform for the rest of his career, if possible." Should the Phils look to deal, Knobler suggests that the Yankees could be in on both players, with the Royals potentially interested in Utley.
- One player that Philadelphia was hoping might provide a boost was mid-season signee Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano's inconsistent performance in minor league action had already dampened any real enthusiasm for his ascension to the bigs, but he took the Triple-A mound last night hoping to convince Amaro that a call-up was warranted in advance of his July 1 opt-out date. Instead, Zambrano left the game with what Amaro called "serious pain" in his shoulder. As Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports via Twitter, the injury means that Zambrano's already-uncertain big league return will now definitely not occur for the foreseeable future.
- Embattled Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol, who currently sits in DFA limbo, may be able to draw some kind of trade return after all. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweeted yesterday that three unnamed teams have shown some interest in Marmol.