Jonathan Papelbon Rumors

Cole Hamels Rumors: Thursday

Here’s the latest trade buzz about Phillies lefty Cole Hamels

  • “The Cubs have continued to touch base with the Phillies” about Hamels, sources tell Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.  The likes of Kris Bryant or Addison Russell are “unquestionably off the table,” yet Chicago has enough prospect depth to get the Phillies’ attention.  Whether it’s Hamels or another notable arm, Wittenmyer expects the Cubs to target starting pitching at the trade deadline.
  • The Red Sox have long been connected to Hamels in trade talks, and while those rumors have primarily swirled around Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes that the Phillies also “like” Sox youngsters Jackie Bradley, Deven Marrero, Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson and possibly others.  The Phillies have been insisting on Swihart or Betts in any Hamels deal and the Sox have been firm that neither player is being traded.  Also from Cafardo’s mailbag piece, he feels Boston should add an ace but thinks the team will give Rodriguez or Johnson a shot in the rotation before they make a major trade to upgrade their pitching.
  • Of course, there is no evidence that the Phillies will trade Hamels (or Jonathan Papelbon) any time soon, if at all.  GM Ruben Amaro said as much to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, noting that “I have no mandate to trade players. These are not financial deals. These are baseball deals. That’s the beauty of the flexibility our ownership group is giving us. This is really about doing baseball deals. We don’t have to move money.”

AL East Notes: Papelbon, Holt, Romero, Paredes

The Phillies have been trying to sell the Red Sox on a reunion with Jonathan Papelbon in light of Koji Uehara‘s decline in velocity, reports the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Uehara’s average heater is down to 86.2 mph, according to Fangraphs, which is leading to an alarming reliance on his splitter — a pitch he’s thrown upwards of 85 percent of the time this season, per PITCHf/x. Cafardo looks up and down the Sox roster, noting that uncertainty abounds not only in the rotation, but in the lineup as well.

More from Boston and the AL East…

  • Tony La Russa’s handling of super utility player Tony Phillips in the late 1980s has served as at least somewhat of a blueprint for Red Sox manager John Farrell’s usage of Brock Holt, writes WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. La Russa spoke with Bradford about the importance of using a player like Phillips (or Holt) to keep the rest of the lineup fresh, particularly when that versatile asset is one of the team’s better hitters. Holt may or may not be one of Boston’s top bats — the lineup is loaded with talent, after all — but it’s hard to look past the .293/.344/.397 line he’s tallied dating back to Opening Day 2014.
  • Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star details the Blue Jays‘ decision to part ways with embattled left-hander Ricky Romero. GM Alex Anthopoulos explained to Kennedy that the Blue Jays didn’t feel Romero would recover from a double knee operation in time to contribute by season’s end, and they therefore opted to part with in order to “give him the opportunity to get a head start somewhere else.” Romero did not request his release from Toronto, per Anthopoulos, who spoke highly of a pitcher who was formerly seen as a building block in Toronto. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” said Anthopoulos. “He’s worked tremendously hard. We don’t have anything but the highest praise for the way he’s gone about it…” The GM added that to this day, he’s still not sure if anyone has an explanation as to what caused the chronic knee problems that seemed to derail Romero’s career.
  • The decision to re-acquire Jimmy Paredes after first losing him on waivers to the Royals is paying off significantly for the Orioles, writes MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski. Baltimore lost Paredes to waivers last offseason and acquired him for cash in July. Since that time, he’s batted a collective .352/.374/.636 with the O’s. Paredes won’t sustain a BABIP near .400, but he’s shown more power than most likely expected and could be a valuable utility piece going forward.

Latest From Rosenthal: Papelbon, Braun, Young, Redmond

Some within the industry believe the Nationals should trade for Jonathan Papelbon and install Drew Storen as the setup man, says Ken Rosenthal with FOX Sports (video link). While there is some concern over Papelbon’s velocity, he’s off to a great start and “never misses his spots.” His $13MM vesting option for 2016 remains an obstacle. Rosenthal notes that the Tigers and Blue Jays are other possible destinations. I agree that these three clubs could all use relief help. To me, it makes more sense for the Nationals to address their bullpen at the trade deadline. The Blue Jays have a tougher path to the postseason, so they could really use the reinforcements now. Here’s more from Rosenthal.

  • The Brewers may shift to a rebuilding stance, and teams are in constant contact about Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura. Another star, Ryan Braun, will be difficult to trade. He’s slumped to start the season. He’s owed $105MM through 2020, and his no trade clause includes every team by the Angels, Dodgers, Nationals, Rays, and Marlins.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman credits his analytics department for recommending Chris Young. The outfielder is off to a blazing start with four home runs and a .357/.426/.762 line in 48 plate appearances. The Yankees have become familiar with buying low. They also acquired Chris Capuano, Martin Prado, and Brandon McCarthy at discount prices.
  • The Marlins are en route to their fourth consecutive victory, but manager Mike Redmond may remain on the hot seat. As one insider told Rosenthal, once owner Jeffrey Loria gets an idea in his head, “he can’t let it go.” If that’s the case, Redmond will need his team to go on an impressive streak.


Phillies Notes: Papelbon, Billingsley, Rotation

Asked by Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com if he’ll be disappointed if he isn’t traded to a contending team this year, Jonathan Papelbon replied, “Yeah, I will be, if we continue to lose.” Papelbon again voiced a preference to win with the Phillies, stating that “there’s no better reward than that,” though clearly that isn’t looking likely, as the Phils are off to a 5-11 start with a -33 run differential. More than anything, it seems that Papelbon wants to avoid a season full of trade rumors without a deal coming to fruition. “I will be disappointed if this continues to happen,” said Papelbon. “If we continue to do the same things as we’ve done the last couple years with me, where we try to do something and get something done with me and then nothing still happens.”

In more Papelbon/Phillies-related news…

  • Salisbury’s colleague, Corey Seidman, feels that the league has undervalued Papelbon recently due to his abrasive personality, his contract and his diminished velocity. However, as Seidman notes, Papelbon has been working with diminished velocity dating back to Opening Day 2014, and he’s still pitching excellently, throwing an increased amount of sliders and effectively working the corners of the strike zone more than in previous years. Seidman speculatively lists the Blue Jays, Tigers and Nationals as fits for Papelbon. He also runs down the number of struggling, injured or already-replaced closers in the league just 16 days into the season, using that as evidence to suggest that further openings will surface this summer.
  • The Phillies announced this morning that Chad Billingsley will continue a rehab assignment tomorrow night with Triple-A Lehigh Valley as he works toward his Phillies debut. To this point, Billingsley has allowed three runs on six hits and three walks with seven strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings at Triple-A as he builds his pitch count and gets re-acclimated with pitching in game situations.
  • Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News spoke with Dustin McGowan following yesterday’s spot start, and McGowan says he’s not sure if he’ll be asked to start again following an outing with mixed results. As Lawrence notes, McGowan did well, given the circumstances. He fired three scoreless innings to open the game after being given less than 24 hours notice that he’d be starting, but fell apart in the fourth inning. That, perhaps, should not have been unexpected, as he hadn’t thrown more than 28 pitches in a game since last May. Manager Ryne Sandberg told Lawrence that the Phillies didn’t consider promoting one of their younger arms to fill the short-term spot in the starting rotation. Billingsley, he notes, may be ready to join the club by May 8-10, but he has another two weeks remaining on his rehab assignment.

NL Notes: Papelbon, Kimbrel, Padres, Castro

The Padres expressed some mild interest in Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon earlier in the offseason, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Obviously, San Diego no longer looks like an even hypothetical landing spot for Papelbon. It seems likely that Papelbon’s greatest appeal will ultimately lie with a club that suffers an injury or wants a chance to add late-inning depth over the summer.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • With the Padres having taken on significant salary commitments and given up young talent to acquire Craig Kimbrel from the Braves, reactions to the move have been divided somewhat between front office and uniformed personnel, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes (Insider link). Atlanta has the backing of most executives, says Olney, while players and coaches have understandably focused on the impact that Kimbrel could have in San Diego.
  • The Padres received immediate trade interest in their bullpen after adding Kimbrel, as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. “Within minutes, probably, of the (Kimbrel) deal, four or five teams have checked in,” said GM A.J. Preller. “So that’s part of making the deal. Hopefully, you add depth and it may help us in another area down the road.” Of course, that depth could be put to use either to fill in the pen or to shore up another area of need via trade.
  • The shortstop position is an obvious area to watch for the Cubs, but Olney says (in the above-linked piece) that it may not all be positive. Starlin Castro has proven he can hit, but Olney says there are real concerns about how committed he is to grinding things out on defense. Chicago informed other teams this winter that it was open to trade scenarios involving the 25-year-old.

East Notes: Papelbon, Warren, Victorino

Here’s the latest from the game’s eastern divisions to wrap up the day’s news:

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was notably on hand to watch Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon work early in his outing today against the Yankees, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. While Salisbury notes that it is impossible to know the reason for the visit, Toronto obviously has some questions at the back of its pen and has been mentioned as a plausible suitor for the veteran righty. Papelbon has looked strong this spring, as the report further notes, though his contract (and, in particular, its vesting clause for next year) remains the largest factor in his trade value.
  • Though the Yankees have yet to say so officially, Adam Warren appears ticketed for the team’s fifth starter role, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. If he does indeed take that slot, the out-of-options Esmil Rogers will either need to lock up a pen slot or, perhaps, find another team.
  • Shane Victorino‘s recent comments about the possibility of the Red Sox dealing for Cole Hamels led to a bit of a dust-up in Boston, due in part to a seemingly strained interpretation suggesting that Victorino was advocating for the departure of phenom Mookie Betts. As Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports, Victorino vehemently denies that reading of his words. Regardless, of course, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal explains, Boston’s front office understandably has little interest in shipping away its most prized young talent for expensive veterans.

East Notes: Mets, Phillies, Papelbon, Blue Jays

The Mets weren’t a particularly strong team even before losing Zack Wheeler to a torn UCL, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. Losing Wheeler hurt, but the Mets do at least have plenty of rotation depth with which to replace him. Their bullpen is a weakness, and only Juan Lagares stands out for them defensively. “I don’t subscribe to the notion that we’re going to have a lousy defense. I don’t believe that’s the case,” says GM Sandy Alderson. “But at the same time, I don’t assume, nor do I think, all of our success is predicated on being outstanding defensively.” Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • The Blue Jays need a closer, but they aren’t a great match for Jonathan Papelbon and the Phillies, ESPN’s Buster Olney writes (Insider-only). Papelbon’s contract (including his 2016 option, which will vest at 48 games finished) is too expensive and complex for such a deal to make sense. Also, Papelbon has hidden value to the Phillies, in that using him at closer rather than Ken Giles will limit the amount of money Giles will make in arbitration once he becomes eligible.
  • Phillies reliever Mario Hollands has elbow discomfort and will have an MRI today, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Hollands says the pain feels about how it felt when he had a flexor strain late last season. When healthy, the lefty posted a 4.40 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in his rookie year in 2014. He might have joined fellow lefty Jake Diekman in the Phillies’ bullpen. An injury to Hollands might further encourage the Phillies to keep Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver, a lefty who has performed well in Spring Training.

NL East Notes: Wheeler, Braves, Lee, Halladay

ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider link) lists five spring transactions that ought to occur. Among them are trades involving two veteran Phillies players — Chase Utley and Jonathan Papelbon. While Papelbon has been discussed quite frequently this offseason, as has fellow hurler Cole Hamels, Utley has scarcely seen his name come up in rumors (and is only just returning to action after suffering a sprained ankle). Bowden also advocates an early-career extension for Christian Yelich of the Marlins

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • Injured Mets starter Zack Wheeler dealt with rather significant elbow pain last year, as GM Sandy Alderson has indicated and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News further reports. Per Martino, the team maintains publicly and privately that Wheeler’s UCL never was a matter of concern for the team, but he details some of the developments last year that raised red flags about the young righty’s health. Of course, as Martino is right to explain, there are not only many unknown details but also plenty of medical uncertainties in the world of pitching elbows.
  • The Braves are prepared to announce a deal with Comcast involving the team’s new ballpark and mixed-use development, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. It appears that the cable company will occupy office space and provide technology services for the controversial new facility.
  • Of course, that stadium opening is still years away, and the Braves are still working to resolve numerous roster matters before the start of the upcoming season. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman updates the situation in camp, writing that Jace Peterson appears to have the inside track on a 25-man spot, if not the starting gig at second base. The team has numerous infield and outfield slots still up for grabs.
  • The Phillies have insurance on Cliff Lee‘s contract and will have a chance to recover an unknown sum for the time he is expected to miss, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. That will not match the return the team had hoped to be able to achieve if a healthy Lee had turned into an attractive mid-season trade chip, of course. As part of his rest and rehab plan, Lee will not even throw a ball for several months. While the decision not to undergo surgery was announced a mutual one between team and player, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News tweets that all doctors consulted recommended surgery and that it was Lee’s decision not to pursue that option.
  • As Lee faces the possibility of retirement, former teammate Roy Halladay says he is interested in pursuing sports psychology as a second act, as Zolecki reports.

NL East Notes: Papelbon, Gee, Mets

Of all the Phillies vets on the block, Jonathan Papelbon probably has come the closest to getting shipped out. The Phillies and Brewers were in talks for some time, but the closer says he wasn’t in the loop with regards to how close a deal actually was.

I don’t know if I was ever going to be a Brewer,” Papelbon said, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. “Nobody ever said a word to me about it. I read about it, but I guess it never got far along enough for my agents or the team to let me know something. As far as I know I’m a Phillie and everyone else is, too. Nobody’s getting traded, as far as I know. This is actually a good group of guys. Best I’ve been around since I’ve been here.”

More from the NL East..

  • A Mets source told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter) that the team has not received any calls from the Rangers in the last 24 hours.  Rangers ace Yu Darvish might need Tommy John surgery, but it appears that they have yet to call on Dillon Gee.  On Saturday night night, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Rangers did not seem inclined to try to acquire Gee.  The right-hander, who is currently slated to be in the bullpen thanks to the Mets’ crowded rotation, will turn 29 in April.
  • In a chat with reporters, including Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com, union chief Tony Clark offered no objection to the Mets‘ “voluntary” offseason workouts and declined to criticize the team’s payroll.  The Mets’ payroll has actually risen to $100MM for this season and Clark wouldn’t say whether he has spoken to the Mets specifically about their spending.
  • Clark also spoke about the hiring of former Mets GM Omar Minaya for a union role earlier this winter, as Rubin writes.  “We were looking for additional support in the area of international as well as baseball ops and player development. And for those of you who know Omar, that’s right up his alley,” Clark said. “So he’s providing us support in a few different areas that will invariably help the players as we sit down and discuss any number of issues tied to all three moving forward.”
  • The Phillies are trying not to act desperate when it comes to the trade talk surrounding them, but it’s hard to pull that off since everyone knows they have to make a deal, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes.  Silverman touched on the speculation regarding both Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, but as we learned earlier today, Lee could be sidelined for a while thanks to his sore elbow.

Quick Hits: Japanese Signees, Phillies, McCutchen

This season will mark the first since 1995 that features no new players from Japan, MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby notices. Heading into the offseason, Hiroshima Carp pitcher Kenta Maeda looked like the most likely to make the leap to the Majors, but the Carp decided not to post him. Then infielder Takashi Toritani, who also looked like a candidate to cross the Pacific, re-signed with Hanshin. For the last decade, Japanese players have arrived at a rate of about three per season, with Masahiro Tanaka and Tsuyoshi Wada (who actually signed with the Orioles prior to the 2012 season) making their debuts last year. Here’s more from around the league.

  • Phillies pitchers Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon top the list of players who could be dealt before Opening Day, MLB.com’s Jim Duquette writes. Lee will need to prove he’s healthy after missing time due to an elbow injury last season. Last week, he faced hitters for the first time since July. Duquette lists the Dodgers, Marlins and Blue Jays as possibilities for Papelbon. The reliever has a limited no-trade clause, but last week he expressed interest in pitching for the Blue Jays.
  • Andrew McCutchen‘s current $51.5MM contract with the Pirates, which tops out at a mere $14MM per season before the Bucs get a $14.5MM team option in 2018, is one of the most team-friendly in the game. But that doesn’t mean it’s turned out badly for McCutchen, GM Neal Huntington tells MLB.com’s Tom Singer. “It has worked out well for him. He is a very wealthy young man,” says Huntington. “He has been open about saying that the financial comfort and security freed him up to just go play. He didn’t have to worry about the risk of injury, or the risk of not performing. The contract has been a part of why he became such a great player.” Huntington goes on to point out that teams assume risks when they sign players to long-term deals, and even if a contract results in a player being underpaid, as is the case with McCutchen, he’s free to sign a bigger deal once his contract is over.