Chase Utley Rumors
The Phillies received some more bad injury luck today when the team announced that Chase Utley was going to the 15-day DL with a Grade 1 oblique strain. While the injury isn't considered particularly serious, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro told media (including CSNPhilly.com) that the team was going to be cautious in order to keep Utley's oblique from bothering him throughout the season. Utley has battled a number of injuries over the last few seasons and going on the DL yet again is likely to hurt his free agent stock this winter -- at the very least, it will drop him a few spots in the next edition of Tim Dierkes' 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
Here are some items from around the NL East...
- On Wednesday, before Utley's DL stint, Amaro said he saw his team as buyers leading up to the trade deadline since he felt his team was still in the race, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports. Amaro did warn that the decision to buy or sell at the deadline was coming soon. "The real question is: How long can you wait? Right now, we're willing to wait, because no one is crazy and running away with it. We're willing to wait, and how long we'll wait is a decision I'll have to make," Amaro said.
- Amaro also commented on manager Charlie Manuel, reiterating that the team wouldn't look at Manuel's status until after the season. This is the 69-year-old Manuel's last year under contract as the Phillies skipper.
- Philadelphia's numerous injury problems give the Phillies the look of a seller at the deadline, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal opines in his latest Hot Corner video. Rosenthal notes that the team would at least listen on offers for "virtually any Phillie" on the roster in order to clear money off the payroll and obtain young talent.
- The Nationals aren't living up to their status as World Series favorites, but GM Mike Rizzo said the team isn't planning any major roster shake-ups to get on track during the season, Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports. "I think we put together a roster that we feel is going to contend....We feel we have the roster in place to win a lot of games," Rizzo said. "We felt that in Spring Training, we felt that in the winter, and I still have all the confidence in the world that this is the team that’s going to play deep into the season.”
- Eric O'Flaherty is the seventh Braves pitcher to undergo Tommy John surgery in the last five years, leading David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to wonder if the team needs to re-examine their methods of using and developing their pitchers.
- In other NL East news from earlier today on MLBTR, the Marlins designated Jon Rauch for assignment, the Nationals could be interested in hiring Don Mattingly as Davey Johnson's successor, and we shared a collection of notes about the Mets.
Major league baseball has made strides in increasing racial diversity but has yet to increase its hiring of females in the sport's upper echelons, reports Ronald Blum of the Associated Press. Changes in the number of African-American and Latino players since last year reportedly fell within the range of regular fluctuation. Elsewhere around baseball:
- If you were wondering how bad your team's injury woes are compared against the rest of the league, be sure to check out the New York Times' Money on the Bench feature. With a daily wasted dollar total that is updated as you read, the site also includes a helpful graphic that shows which players have accounted for the largest hit. Currently leading the way are the Yankees, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Mets, and Cardinals. Alex Rodriguez and Johan Santana have been the biggest drags on their teams' payrolls.
- Every year, several players that look to be on the decline will manage to turn things around. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca details this year's turnaround specialists. Chase Utley, Scott Kazmir, and Nate McLouth are among the rebounding players who will be looking to take their early success into next year's free agent market.
- Earlier today, Tim Dierkes asked MLBTR readers to weigh in on which players would receive qualifying offers after this season. The current results have produced some clear favorites, with more than 50% of respondents identifying Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, and Curtis Granderson as likely to receive an offer. The only other player to receive a greater-than 35% response rate is Hunter Pence, at 46.0%. Hanging around the 30% mark are players like Chase Utley, Matt Garza, Brian McCann, Tim Lincecum, Hiroki Kuroda, Mike Napoli, and Nelson Cruz.
In his latest edition of Rumblings & Grumblings, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark looks at what we've learned around the 30-game mark of the season. The Red Sox have spent their money better than any team in baseball as Mike Napoli, Ryan Dempster, Koji Uehara, and Shane Victorino (before his back issues) have gotten off to excellent starts. Meanwhile, it looks like the Braves have made the best trade of anyone so far as they landed Justin Upton and Chris Johnson for Martin Prado and four players that aren't currently in the majors. Here's more from today's column..
- Teams that have checked in on Brian Wilson have been told that his target date to throw for interested clubs should be around the All-Star break. Wilson wants to ensure that he's fully recovered from Tommy John surgery before auditioning again.
- Giancarlo Stanton's hamstring injury should probably put any talk of a July trade to rest. "If they trade him in-season, they probably wouldn't get any major league talent," said one exec. "So given everything that's happened with their team and their attendance, are they really in a position to make a deal for him where they just get back prospects? Probably not." The exec concluded that the Marlins are better off waiting until the offseason and getting big league ready talent back for their star.
- The Rays may be the most closely-watched team in the league by contenders over the next few months. Teams know the Rays will keep David Price in July if they're alive in the AL East, and will listen hard if they're out of contention. If they're caught in between, one exec believes that the Rays still might move him if they feel like they're not good enough to win it all. The hurler's price tag is expected to by skyhigh if he hits the open market after the 2015 season.
- The buzzards are already starting to circle over the Phillies, Stark writes, but club officials have told teams that have checked in that they still expect their club to contend and won't even think about selling for another two months.
- If a Phillies sell-off happens, the biggest buzz would include impending free agent Chase Utley. One exec who has checked into things says his impression is that the Phillies would approach Utley first and get a feel for whether he wants to go elsewhere. Utley, who will be just short of 10-and-5 rights at the deadline - can block trades to 21 teams.
- Execs say they'd rather trade for Lucas Harrell than Bud Norris if they had a choice between the Astros pitchers. Harrell has two more years of control and one scout says that the big knock on Norris is that he's still basically a "two-pitch guy". Quite a few teams also think he profiles more as a bullpen weapon on a contender even though he's the Astros' ace.
- The Yankees want a right-handed bat, but one scout feels that they don't have enough pieces to land an impact deal. The Bombers added one right-handed hitter when they traded for Chris Nelson earlier this week.
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.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. confirmed to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that Charlie Manuel will return as the team’s manager in 2013. Manuel will remain in place next year and the sides will re-evaluate following the ’13 season. Amaro said he’s pleased with Manuel’s performance but acknowledged that the two disagree at times, as most GMs and managers do.
Here are some more highlights from Amaro’s Q&A with Salisbury:
- Amaro said Ryne Sandberg has been great as the organization’s Triple-A manager. The GM declined to call Sandberg the successor to Manuel, but said he’s worthy of consideration for MLB managerial jobs. Amaro added that he is hopeful Sandberg gets the chance to manage in the Major Leagues and said he would like to keep him in the organization.
- Chase Utley is an option at third base for the 2013 Phillies, Amaro said. The decision depends on Utley’s comfort level at the position. If the Phillies look outside of the organization for third base help they could seek a left-handed hitter to platoon with Kevin Frandsen.
- The Phillies aren’t impressed by the free agent options at the hot corner. “There are no third basemen out there,” Amaro said. “Very, very few. The options are very, very small. It’s no secret that that’s one of the things we were looking for at the deadline and the availability of third basemen was basically zero. And the ones that were available, the prices on them were enormous.”
- The Phillies may find their setup relievers from within the organization, Amaro said. Pitchers such as Antonio Bastardo, Phillippe Aumont, Justin De Fratus and Josh Lindblom are options. However, the Phillies were disappointed with Bastardo’s performance this year and he’s an unknown going forward.
Chris Corrigan of the High-A ball Palm Beach Cardinals made history tonight by throwing a perfect game in his start against the Charlotte Stone Crabs. Corrigan, 24, was a 30th-round selection for the Cardinals in the 2009 amateur draft and carried a career 4.04 ERA in 102 minor league games (25 starts) entering tonight. Corrigan's gem was the first minor league perfect game since Jeanmar Gomez threw a perfecto for Double-A Akron in 2009. As for the Stone Crabs, they're an affiliate of (who else?) the Rays, who have been perfecto'd three times in the last four years at the Major League level.
Some news and notes from around the baseball world...
- “Every team needs a guy like [Nick] Swisher,” an AL executive tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. “You watch him play every day and you can see how much he cares. I wish every player cared that much.” Feinsand suggests that the Yankees could re-sign Swisher and move Brett Gardner to center field, thus creating room to trade the more expensive Curtis Granderson. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently looked at Swisher's free agent stock.
- Chase Utley took some groundballs at third base before today's game and he told reporters (including MLB.com's Todd Zolecki) that he had approached the Phillies about getting some reps at third in order to "create some more flexibility as far as the organization is concerned." Utley spent a season playing third in 2002 in Triple-A before but hasn't played at the hot corner since.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. commented on Utley's trial, noting that "in a perfect scenario," Utley could hold down third base until prospect Cody Asche is ready, theoretically for the 2014 season. Amaro cautioned reporters (including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer) that it's hypothetical since Asche has yet to play above Double-A.
- Billy Hamilton will "probably not" be called up for September, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Jocketty noted that the decision wasn't finalized yet, however, and that he was going to watch Hamilton play in person this weekend.
- Mets outfielder Scott Hairston believes the Diamondbacks claimed him off waivers, he tells Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (Twitter link). The Giants were known to be interested in outfield help and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports speculated earlier this month that the D'Backs would likely try to block Hairston or Juan Pierre from getting to their NL West rivals. Rosenthal also reported that the team that claimed Hairston did so as a blocking maneuver.
- Roger Clemens is planning to start again for the Sugar Land Skeeters on September 7, according to a text the pitcher sent Mark Berman, sports director of FOX 26 KRIV (Twitter link). Clemens, 50, threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings in his first start with the Skeeters on August 25.
- Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston suggests a few moves the Red Sox should make this offseason, including re-signing David Ortiz and Cody Ross and trying to add Justin Upton and a top-tier starting pitcher.
- Major League Baseball is investigating whether agents Sam and Seth Levinson arranged for former client Paul Lo Duca to meet with PED distributor Kirk Radomski, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out that we should expect the unexpected once trade talk picks up this summer. For example, who expected Ubaldo Jimenez to be traded this time last year? Here are Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB...
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams says he’d prefer to focus on short-term goals for now and figure out whether to buy or sell closer to the July 31st trade deadline. “We’ll see where we are in July and then we’ll figure it out,” he said.
- Chase Headley is a popular trade target, Rosenthal reports. The Padres could replace Headley at third with Jedd Gyorko or move Gyorko to second if they hold onto Headley.
- The Diamondbacks explored the trade market for young catchers before signing Miguel Montero to an extension, only to find that acquiring a backstop such as Travis d’Arnaud or Austin Romine would have cost them top pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs and then some.
- Some executives wonder if the Blue Jays should make their move this summer, asking “If not now, when?” One person says the Blue Jays are monitoring Matt Garza of the Cubs.
- Carlos Lee can block trades to 14 teams, including the Dodgers, Rosenthal reports. Almost all of the teams on Lee’s no-trade list are high-revenue clubs. This provides Lee with some leverage, but doesn’t necessarily mean he’d block a deal.
- Brett Myers’ $10MM option for 2013 likely vests with between 40 and 50 games finished, Rosenthal estimates. If a team acquired the right-hander and used him as a setup man, the option wouldn’t become an issue. But teams interested in using Myers as a closer might have interest in re-working the option like the Brewers did with Francisco Rodriguez a year ago.
- The contracts for Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay of the Phillies include the same no-trade protection, Rosenthal reports. Each player can block deals to 21 teams per year.
- Dodgers president Stan Kasten expects his team to be “aggressive, but not reckless” in considering possible upgrades.
The Cubs are trying to break an 11-game losing streak, their longest in 15 years, as they take on the Pirates this afternoon at PNC Park. Manager Dale Sveum has changed closers, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Sveum didn't reveal who would replace Rafael Dolis if a save opportunity presents itself, but Sullivan writes he did mention James Russell and Casey Coleman.
Here are some more links on this Sunday before Memorial Day.
- MLB.com's Mark Bowman tweets the Braves may be looking for starting pitching because of the struggles of Mike Minor and Jair Jurrjens. Bowman cautions money will be an issue.
- Manager Bud Black told reporters including Bill Center of the San Diego Union Tribune that Carlos Quentin could make his Padres debut this week when the team travels to Chicago. Quentin has yet to play this season because of knee surgery performed in March.
- Chase Utley also hasn't seen action in 2012 because of a knee injury. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes Utley is feeling better but there is still no timetable for his minor league rehab. Salisbury points out Utley has been working in left field to ease the strain on his knees and to work on his agility.
- Kevin Mulvey has retired, reports ESPN New York's Adam Rubin. Mulvey had been pitching in relief with the Mets' Double-A affiliate. Mulvey was part of the Johan Santana trade and rejoined the Mets late in spring training after being released by the Diamondbacks.
- The Braves optioned right-hander Jair Jurrjens to Triple-A Gwinnett following a disappointing start against the Dodgers yesterday. The right-hander has a 9.37 ERA through four starts, so he's returning to the minors, where he last spent considerable time in 2007. Jurrjens' path to free agency could be affected if he spends two months or more in the minor leagues.
- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel hasn’t ruled out the possibility of playing Chase Utley at first base when he's activated from the disabled list, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. If Utley returns before Ryan Howard, the Phillies could mix things up defensively. "We'll figure that out when we get there," Manuel said.
- Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada has the unenviable task of replacing Reyes, but as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com shows, the 22-year-old has already earned the confidence of his team. Meanwhile, Tejada says Reyes was a "great teammate" in New York before signing a $106MM free agent contract with the Marlins this past offseason.
- Ken Davidoff of the New York Post suggests there's no rush to lock David Wright up long-term despite the third baseman's hot start. Davidoff points out that it's April and that Wright is under team control through 2013. If he's still hitting this well when summer trade talks begin in earnest, the Mets will face a major decision, but we aren't there yet.
Baseball America recently ranked all 30 organizations based on how much talent has passed through their systems since the end of the 2008 season and the Nationals and Braves place third and sixth, respectively. The Marlins (11th) and Phillies (12th) were also better than average, but the Mets were 28th. Here are today's NL East-related links...
- The Phillies are less motivated to trade Joe Blanton than they were earlier in the spring, when Joel Pineiro was around, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links).
- The Phillies are cautiously optimistic about Chase Utley and hopeful that Ryan Howard will play in early May, Knobler writes.
- Braves third baseman Chipper Jones told reporters that his upcoming retirement will be final, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick writes (Twitter link). "I'm very comfortable with this decision and I'm ready to stick to it," Jones said this morning while discussing his decision.