Chase Utley Rumors
Here's the latest from the NL East...
- Jose Reyes told reporters (including WFUV's Amit Badlani) that he signed with the Marlins because of the team's potential to contend, not just because of the money, as recently stated by Marlins president David Samson.
- Chase Utley's chronic right knee tendinitis "is not going away. More than likely, it might never go away," says Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told reporters, including CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. Utley has yet to play during Spring Training and the Phillies are known to be looking for infield depth for not only Utley, but also Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco. Prospect Freddy Galvis has seen a lot of time at second this spring, and Manuel thinks he could potentially handle the position should Utley miss significant time during the season.
- Braves right-hander Arodys Vizcaino will visit with Dr. James Andrews on Monday, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Vizcaino has been suffering from ulnar neuritis in his right elbow and could potentially face Tommy John surgery if Andrews feels the ailment is serious enough. Vizcaino is one of Atlanta's several top-tier pitching prospects and was recently ranked as the 40th-best prospect in the sport by Baseball America.
- The Nationals optioned Eury Perez to Double-A today but some front office officials think he could be eventually be their answer in center field, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Adam Jones, B.J. Upton and Gerardo Parra are just a few of the many names that have been connected to Washington's search for a long-term center fielder. The 21-year-old Perez is coming off a .283/.319/.321 season for Class A Potomac in 2011 but he turned a lot of heads with an impressive Spring Training performance.
- For more Nationals news, check out this collection of Nats links from earlier today.
As ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark points out, the Phillies’ decision to sign Luis Castillo suggests they aren’t overly optimistic about the timetable for Chase Utley’s return. According to Stark, the Phillies heard that there is no guarantee that surgery would make Utley healthy again, so they’re hoping rehab works. Here are the rest of Stark’s rumors...
- The Marlins have decided that Matt Dominguez isn’t ready for the majors, so they’re “actively exploring” outside options. Earlier tonight, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports heard that the Marlins were “unlikely” to look outside of the organization for help at the hot corner.
- Though the Pirates are still shopping Ryan Doumit, teams that have spoken to Pittsburgh say the catcher/outfielder is not drawing much interest.
- Multiple teams, including the Phillies, Marlins and Cubs, appear to be eyeing Michael Young. None of those clubs can afford Young’s annual salary of $16MM and the Rangers expect a “massive” return if they’re going to eat a significant amount of Young’s salary.
- Scouts covering the Nationals say Nyjer Morgan is very much available. “They're trying to give him away," one scout said, before suggesting that the Nationals could release him.
- Scouts watching the Yankees expect the team to add a veteran catcher in the next week.
- The Phillies are looking for a veteran outfielder who’s capable of playing center field.
- Teams that have spoken with the Astros say they’d like to add a veteran catcher, but have very little money to spend.
The latest on the Phillies, before they take on their intra-state rivals far from Pennsylvania...
- The Phillies' goal with Chase Utley is to avoid surgery at all costs, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
- As Olney points out in a column at ESPN.com, this is the point in the spring where injuries have a good chance of impacting Opening Day rosters.
- The Phillies say they aren't worried about Placido Polanco, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The infielder, who is dealing with a hyperextended elbow, practiced yesterday and won't play in a game for at least two days.
- Former Phillies prospect Jason Knapp tells Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he was healthy when Philadelphia sent him to Cleveland as part of the summer 2009 Cliff Lee trade. Knapp, still just 20, has recovered from shoulder problems to re-establish himself as one of Cleveland's top prospects.
Some links for St. Patrick's Day as players don green uniforms in Arizona and Florida...
- Chase Utley has made "minimal" improvement since taking a shot for his injured knee, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Though Utley can hit and field, he can't run, so Wilson Valdez will play second base for the time being.
- Adam Wainwright told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he's anticipating a high-stakes rehab, since the Cardinals may not exercise his $21MM option for 2012-13 if he struggles. "There's a lot of money resting on me coming back healthy next year," he said.
- Willie Harris can opt out of his contract with the Mets on March 27th, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (on Twitter). There seems to be a good chance that Harris will make the team and the opt-out won't be an issue.
- Michael Young told Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com that he has found it tough to develop a rhythm this spring, partly because he has been bouncing from one position to another.
- Not surprisingly, Ben Sheets isn't negotiating with any teams, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). Sheets' 2010 season ended early when he needed flexor tendon surgery.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio that the Phillies have maxed out their payroll and that any rumors about the team acquiring an infielder are "B.S." David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News provides a transcript of the conversation and points out that Amaro said similar things before acquiring Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee last year.
Amaro notes that the Phillies' payroll will be over $160MM and says no room for potential acquisitions exists. Chase Utley has an injured knee, prompting many - including MLBTR - to speculate on potential trades for the Phillies.
Let's take a look at some items on the Mets and Phillies..
- The Mets are within their rights to limit the number of games closer Francisco Rodriguez finishes this year, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post. If K-Rod finishes 55 games this year, his $17.5MM option for 2012 will vest. The player's union will reportedly keep a watchful eye on the situation.
- Jon Heyman of SI (via Twitter) finds the timing of Ruben Amaro's four-year extension interesting, as it comes shortly after manager Charlie Manuel agreed to a two-year extension. Heyman wonders if the Phillies wanted to avoid giving Manuel "any ideas", presumably meaning that they didn't want to give him a deal of similar length.
- There has been a lot of talk about how the Phillies might look to replace the injured Chase Utley, but the club can survive without him, writes Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Daily News.
- Meanwhile, the club is still without a clear timetable for when their star second baseman will return, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com.
- Mets skipper Terry Collins tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that his club has plenty of starting pitching depth.
Here's the latest from the four-time defending National League East champs...
- In an interview today on Philadelphia's WIP Radio, Cliff Lee said that his top priority as a free agent was to join the team with the best chance of winning. After the Phillies, his next choices were the Rangers and the Yankees, in that order. New York was the third choice since, Lee says, "I felt like with what the Red Sox had done and it seems like some of the Yankee guys are getting older, but I liked the Rangers.”
- It seems unlikely that the Phillies could manage to take on Michael Young's salary, but Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News outlines how the Phils could conceivably acquire the Rangers' infielder. Hagen surmises the club can partially pay for Young if they receive some insurance money back from a lengthy Chase Utley injury, and if the Phillies can move Joe Blanton (owed $17MM over the next two seasons) to the Rangers in the trade.
- Both Hagen and MLB.com's Todd Zolecki point out that the Phillies want to avoid having their payroll reach the $178MM threshold that would cost them a luxury tax payment. The Philadelphia payroll currently projects to be in the $165MM-$168MM range. GM Ruben Amaro tells Zolecki that the team believes Utley "will be healthy enough sooner rather than later," but if the team does look outside the organization for help, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently looked at some potential second base candidates.
Phillies team physician Dr. Michael Ciccotti released a statement this morning regarding second baseman Chase Utley; here's an excerpt:
An MRI was obtained that demonstrated his prior tendinitis, chondromalacia, and bone inflammation. His chondromalacia symptoms persisted in spite of focused non-operative care, including a cortisone injection. A subsequent cartilage-specific MRI was obtained confirming the initial diagnosis. Continued non-operative treatment is being carried out and additional opinions will be obtained.
Additionally, here are comments from GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and head trainer Scott Sheridan, passed along by MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Amaro at least is not considering the idea that Utley could miss the season.
ESPN's Buster Olney presumes the Phillies are at least considering which second base candidates might become available this season. We'll start with his two speculative ideas, and add a few more.
- Chone Figgins, Mariners: Figgins' value is at a low point, he's owed $26MM over the next three years at the least, and switching him to second base again would be questionable.
- Jeff Keppinger, Astros: He's making $2.3MM this year and is under team control for 2012 as an arbitration eligible player. He could be a good fit.
- David Eckstein, free agent: SI's Jon Heyman made this suggestion on Twitter. On a minor league deal, there's no harm in adding Eckstein or a similar free agent. Others include Willy Aybar, Julio Lugo, Bobby Crosby, and Cristian Guzman, although Guzman will miss at least the first half due to family issues.
- Michael Young, Rangers: Between Young's contract and Adrian Beltre's injury, this is difficult to picture. Plus it'd create another uncomfortable situation when Utley is ready to play. Heyman tweets that while the Phillies have not been in contact with the Rangers lately, top scout Charley Kerfeld is following them and Young.
- Felipe Lopez, Rays: Lopez is battling with out of options Elliot Johnson for the Rays' utility infielder job. Johnson is dealing with a quad injury currently. It's possible Lopez has an opt-out if he doesn't make the team.
- Luis Castillo, Mets: If Castillo is released the Phillies could take a look, but they might prefer their internal options. Castillo would only cost the league minimum.
- Ramon Santiago, Tigers: He "could be a possibility" for the Phillies, tweets CBS' Danny Knobler.
Six days ago, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said regarding Utley's injury, "I'm not going to be doing anything else because of this. I mean, we'll watch some of the other guys play, but we expect (Utley) to be our second baseman." Look for the Phillies to make a minor addition at most unless Utley's condition takes a turn for the worse.
There may be a lot of NBA and NHL rumors and signings floating around today, but the MLB hot stove will only get hotter as we approach the trade deadline. Here are some items from around the majors...
- Scott Miller of CBSSports.com speculates that the Angels and Reds could join the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. Perhaps one of them could be the mystery team?
- Speaking of that mystery team and the possibility that it could be the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks it would be a bad move for the Cards to deal prospect Shelby Miller.
- Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports that the Russell Branyan trade was "a very popular move in the Indians' clubhouse. Branyan was great with reporters, but he was not exactly up for team captain consideration by his teammates."
- Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com says trying to replace Chase Utley is Ruben Amaro Jr.'s "next big test" as Philadelphia's GM.
- Commenting on Tom Krasovic's item about Jayson Werth possibly being on the trade market, ESPN.com's Rob Neyer uses the "pretty far-fetched" rumor as further evidence that the Phillies erred with the Raul Ibanez signing.
- Washington manager Jim Riggleman is using the trade deadline as motivation for his team to play well enough that it doesn't get broken up, reports MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling.
- With the international signing period beginning tomorrow, Baseball America's Ben Badler ranks players by their projected signing bonuses. The story also provides links to other pieces breaking down what each team is looking for and scouting reports on various international players, though these stories are only available to Baseball America subscribers.
- Dan McNeil of the Chicago Tribune thinks Carlos Zambrano is a lost cause with the Cubs and can't believe that Jim Hendry defended Zambrano's contract extension.
- With Manny Delcarmen headed to the disabled list today, Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com thinks this will force Boston's hand in acquiring a reliever. If the Sox do get some bullpen help, don't expect them to give up any good prospects in return.
- Speaking of bullpen deals, Jon Weisman of ESPNLosAngeles.com cites the Josh Bell-for-George Sherrill deal as proof that the Dodgers should be very wary about another trade for a reliever.
7:30pm: According to MLB.com's Bill Ladson, the Phillies haven't talked to the Nationals about Kennedy.
1:31pm: The Phillies learned today that Chase Utley will be out for several weeks due to thumb surgery, and Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com chimes in with some possible replacement options. He notes that the replacement doesn't necessary have to be a second baseman (Twitter link), because the team can use Placido Polanco at that position once he's healthy. That opens up the possibility of a trade for a third baseman.
Rosenthal says that former Phillie Pedro Feliz is an unlikely target, citing a scout who says his bat speed is "gone." Feliz has hit just .229/.255/.317 in 255 plate appearances this year, and his trademark defense has declined back to a -4.3 UZR this season. The Fox Sports scribe throws the names of Miguel Tejada, Ty Wigginton, Jhonny Peralta, Adam Kennedy, and Jose Lopez into the mix (Twitter links). The Mariners are actively trying to move Lopez, according to Rosenthal.
For the now, Philadelphia will try to tread water with the combination of Wilson Valdez and Greg Dobbs at second and third, respectively. They've combined to hit just .222/.252/.338 in 222 plate appearances this season, and Jack Moore at FanGraphs chronicled just how big of a downgrade this is for the Phillies.