Jonathan Papelbon Rumors

Phillies Notes: Hamels, Revere, Giles

Phillies lefty Cole Hamels had a rough outing on Sunday but he insists that he’s healthy, as Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes. He also says he’s not worried about how his recent outings may impact his value.  “I think my track record speaks for itself,” the Phillies ace said. “But sometimes you can get yourself in a rut and you’ve got to get yourself out, and sometimes you get on a hot streak and you can go for months, so it’s just being able to start back over and see what I can do from the first pitch.”

Here’s more related to Hamels and the Phillies:

  • People around baseball are wondering if there’s something wrong with Hamels, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets. In his last two outings, Hamels has thrown a combined 6.1 innings while allowing 14 runs, 20 hits, and two walks. Hamels has a history of minor elbow and shoulder injuries. He missed a few starts earlier this season with a hamstring strain. For what it’s worth, his velocity has remained consistent through his recent plunge. A decline in velocity is often a leading indicator of injury.
  • The Red Sox sent VP Allard Baird to scout Hamels today, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN. Unfortunately, today’s outing probably didn’t provide much useful information for potential suitors. In my opinion, the Red Sox may not be the best positioned to acquire Hamels. On the fringe of the AL East pennant race, Boston is on Hamels’ limited no-trade list. It’s unclear if he would waive his no-trade protection to join the Sox if they fall farther out of the race.
  • In addition to the Red Sox, the Dodgers, Orioles, Rangers, and Cubs had scouts in attendance for Hamels’ start, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Angels were also present, but they were said to be scouting hitters.
  • Outfielder Ben Revere understands he could be traded in the next few days, writes Marc Narducci of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He admits that anxiety increases as the trade deadline approaches. Revere, 27, is hitting .297/.336/.377 with a career high .080 ISO. It wouldn’t shock me if the Phillies kept Revere. None of the current contenders are said to be looking for a speedy outfielder, so most teams probably view him as a tertiary target. I could see him filling a role similar to that of Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson. However, with his huge range in the outfield and reliable offensive production, he can be of some benefit to the Phillies as they break in a new generation of pitchers.
  • Ken Giles is prepared to step in as closer, writes Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Phillies are widely expected to trade All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon in the next couple weeks. Giles ticks all the prerequisites of the modern closer. His fastball touches 100 mph, and he also features a wipeout slider. In his brief major league career, he has a 1.46 ERA, 11.99 K/9, and 2.92 BB/9 in 86 innings. For those looking to keep up to date on all closer news, check out @CloserNews on Twitter.

Trade Market Notes: Pitchers, Shields, Hamels, Papelbon, Reds

The much vaunted sellers market could soon favor buyers – at least for starting pitchers, observes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal figures GMs with players like Cole Hamels or Johnny Cueto should be motivated to act quickly. As he notes (tweet), Hamels and Cueto are already joined by Scott Kazmir, Mike Leake, Dan Haren, Mat Latos, and four Padres hurlers. Closer to the deadline, we could see Jeff Samardzija, Yovani Gallardo, and David Price join the trade block among others. If there is any point in the sellers’ favor, it’s that every club feels like it needs more pitching.

  • Agents prefer for their star players to be traded, tweets Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Players with expiring contracts become ineligible for a qualifying offer. As we’ve seen in recent seasons, clubs can be very deliberate about signing a top free agent with a qualifying offer attached. The bonus pool rules instituted in the last collective bargaining agreement ensure that some teams will carefully guard their access to young talent rather than ink an expensive veteran.
  • A “rival evaluator” tells Buster Olney of ESPN (Insider only) that he expects the Padres to trade Shields. The source put the odds anywhere between 75 and 90 percent. Of course, that’s just the opinion of one anonymous source. Shields’ market is liable to be complicated, and I could see it extending into August.
  • In other Shields-related news, Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune thinks it could be a mistake to trade the veteran righty. While the Padres may desire to get out from under his back-loaded deal, it would send a confusing signal to the next class of free agents. For what it’s worth, I think this could be overthinking it. The Padres don’t have the same stigma as the Marlins. The Friars could easily market such a trade as comparable to the Red Sox dump of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.
  • Per Olney, multiple teams have engaged the Phillies regarding Hamels. Sources have also indicated that Jonathan Papelbon could be dealt very soon. Philadelphia has long been expected to dump pricey veterans at the deadline, but recent rumors have suggested the club could also stand pat until the offseason.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Hamels, Cueto, Kazmir, Gomez

The Dodgers, Cubs, Rangers, and Red Sox are among the clubs still interested in Cole Hamels, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. Boston is expected to scout Hamels’ start tomorrow, and we can assume other clubs will have a heavy presence as well. Talks with the Rangers aren’t dead, but Texas does expect other teams to make a better offer.

Interestingly, we’ve recently seen speculation that the Phillies could opt to keep Hamels past the July deadline. Other clubs wonder if uncertainty in the front office has hampered their ability to finalize a deal. As Rosenthal notes, Jonathan Papelbon should have been traded by now. Here’s more from Rosenthal:

  • Health will affect the markets of Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir. Both hurlers have missed time with various ailments and will be free agents at the end of the season. It can be difficult to justify trading a talented prospect for 12 starts, especially when the player involved is at an increased risk to not make those starts.
  • Short of an impressive streak in the second half, Pat Murphy is unlikely to manage the Padres next season. Rosenthal suggests that the culture change from Bud Black was too great. Murphy could join Craig Counsell‘s staff in Milwaukee if he is relieved of his duties.
  • As we now know, the Astros are open to adding a bat at the trade deadline. One star they’ve scouted is Brewers outfielder Carlos Gomez. Houston prefers a right-handed hitter, but may target lefty swinging Gerardo Parra due to a lower acquisition price. The Astros are open to trade Jon Singleton.


Amaro On Papelbon, Harang, Hamels, Utley

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. discussed his team’s trade deadline situation in an appearance on the WIP Morning Show (relayed by CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman). Broadly, Amaro said that he has had “great dialogue with a lot of clubs on several fronts” and expressed confidence in “get[ting] some things done.”

The first and most obvious topic of conversation was closer Jonathan Papelbon, who yesterday aired his view that Philadelphia needs to make a decision on dealing him. Amaro praised the veteran reliever as a competitor and excellent pitcher, but said that “he doesn’t know anything about the front office.”

Regarding Papelbon’s market, Amaro indicated that he sees plenty of opportunity to strike a trade. “There’s live discussions going on right now regarding Pap,” said Amaro. “I do believe that there’s enough of a market that we can probably get something done. But again, I don’t necessarily believe in ‘probably.’ … There’s a lot of clubs that are interested in a lot of our players and we have to sort through it and make the right deals.”

In the course of addressing Papelbon’s comments, which touched upon the decisionmaking process of the front office’s highest levels, Amaro said that there was internal clarity about how deadline decisions would be handled. Namely, current president Pat Gillick holds final authority, with incoming replacement Andy MacPhail serving more of an advisory function at present.

“I’m the GM and Pat is my boss,” Amaro explained. “As in all these deals, particularly ones that are as complicated and have so much money involved, these are all discussions that we’ve had. … It’s something that’s discussed, not just with me, but also with my boss. And that’s the same structure that we have right now. Right now, Andy is part of the decision-making process, but only in so much that he’s an observer and someone who’s going to give us his opinion. Really, Pat is the one who ultimately will make the ultimate decisions.

Even as he gave indications that Papelbon could indeed be on the move, as is widely expected, Amaro downplayed the possibility of receiving value for starter Aaron Harang“As far as Aaron Harang is concerned,” said Amaro, “he had a foot problem and he’s dealing with an injury so you can’t really trade a guy that’s got an injury. Frankly, there was no real market for him prior to him getting injured.”

Of course, Philly’s biggest trade chip remains lefty Cole Hamels. Amaro said he was not concerned with the fact that the staff ace had suffered a rough outing in his most recent start, saying that “people know what he is.”

The embattled Phillies GM also touched upon his recent comments indicating that long-time second baseman Chase Utley has lost his starting role. Amaro said he did not regret “being straight and honest” on the topic, and added that he expects the veteran to “get opportunities to play” once he returns to health. As to whether there was any possibility of Utley calling it quits, Amaro made his own view clear: “No, he’s absolutely, unequivocally not going to [retire]. He’s got plenty in the tank left.”


Papelbon: “Phillies Have Got To Make A Decision” On Trade

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, outspoken and colorful as ever, has made no secret of the fact that he hopes and expects the team to trade him to a contender this summer. But he escalated the rhetoric somewhat today while representing the club at the All-Star game, as Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, saying that he feels it’s time for the front office to make a move.

“The Phillies have got to make a decision. You’ve got to go one way or the other,” Papelbon said. “You can’t be in limbo and sit here and say, ‘What if we do this or what if we do that?’ You’ve got to make a decision and you’ve got to go with it. I know that we’ve got a new interim president. We’ve got a new interim manager and we’ve got all this change supposedly happening, but I don’t see any of it yet.”

Papelbon summed things up by saying the Philadelphia front office ought to “you know what or get off the pot.” Clearly, for the 34-year-old, it’s less a matter of whether he should be dealt than when. As he said: If this decision was solely on my shoulders, I would’ve been gone a long time ago.”

Recently, a report suggested that the Phillies had been zeroing in on a deal. But talks were said to have been shelved by the Phils due to higher-level intervention relating to the hiring of president-to-be Andy MacPhail. It’s not clear whether Papelbon’s frustrations are tied at all to that situation.

A deal of some kind would seem a fait accompli — at least, that is, were it not for the complications embedded within Papelbon’s contract. At this point, it’s highly likely that his 2016 option will vest, which at least lends certainty to the equation. But Papelbon’s limited no-trade protection has allowed him to insert his own preferences into the transactional equation — most notably, perhaps, an apparent insistence that he be shipped to a contender that will use him as a closer.

All said, the Phillies do seem rather likely to get something done on Papelbon by the end of the month. But it isn’t inconceivable that he could be moved in August (during the revocable waiver trade period) or even the offseason.


2016 Vesting Options Midseason Update

Several notable players could see their 2016 statuses change depending on whether or not they unlock vesting options in their current contracts.  As we enter the All-Star break, let’s check in on the progress each of these players are making towards those getting those options to vest.  All stats are current heading into today’s action…

  • Chase Utley: The veteran second baseman has a $15MM vesting option for 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he makes 500 plate appearances.  (If he doesn’t, it becomes a team option worth between $5MM-$11MM depending on how much time Utley spends on the DL, with a $2MM buyout.)  Utley, of course, is on the DL right now recovering from an ankle injury and will be out until late July or early August.  Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has openly stated that Cesar Hernandez has earned the everyday second base job, leaving Utley’s playing time in question for the remainder of the season.  Utley is suffering through by far the worst season of his 13-year career with only a .179/.257/.275 slash line and four homers through his 249 plate appearances.  If Utley isn’t back until early August, he’d be hard-pressed to reach 500 PA even in the increasingly unlikely event that he plays every day.
  • Jonathan Papelbon: This Phillie‘s march towards his vesting option is going much more smoothly.  His $13MM option for 2016 vests if he either finishes 55 games this year, or finishes 100 games combined between the 2014 and 2015 seasons.  Papelbon finished 52 games last year and has 29 finishes this season, so collecting those last 19 finishes over roughly two and a half months shouldn’t be difficult for the closer if he stays healthy.  There’s a chance Papelbon could ask for his option to be guaranteed to facilitate a trade, yet he sounds so eager to get out of Philadelphia and pitch for a contender that he may not bother and instead bet on himself to finish those 19 games.
  • David Ortiz: Big Papi has 340 plate appearances, making him a virtual lock to reach the 425 PA he’ll need (plus passing an offseason physical) for his 2016 option to vest.  Ortiz will earn at least $11MM in 2016, plus more depending on how many PA past the 425-mark he ends up recording this season.
  • Joaquin Benoit: With only seven games finished, Benoit has no shot at the 55 games finished he’s need to turn the Padres‘ $8MM club option into a guarantee for 2016.
  • Marlon Byrd: If Byrd has 600 PA this season, or at least 550 PA this season and 1100 PA total between 2014-15, the $8MM club option on his 2016 services will become guaranteed.  A DL stint limited Byrd to 262 PA thus far, so it’ll be difficult for Byrd to reach the 550 PA mark unless he stays healthy and the Reds play him virtually every day.
  • Santiago Casilla: The Giants righty signed a three-year, $15MM deal in the 2012-13 offseason that contained a vesting option. MLBTR has learned that Casilla’s 2016 option will vest at $6.5MM with 55 games finished during the 2015 season. Casilla’s option could have vested at $7.5MM with 100 games finished between the 2014-15 seasons, including 55 in 2015. The option could also have vested at $8.5MM with 150 games finished from 2013-15, including 55 finished in 2015.
  • Nori Aoki: The outfielder was one of the league leaders in plate appearances when he fractured his right fibula, so he already has 291 of the 550 PA he needs to turn the Giants‘ $5.5MM option for 2016 into a mutual option.  If Aoki returns around July 24 (as Bruce Bochy estimates) and resumes his everyday spot atop San Francisco’s lineup, he stands a good chance of reaching the vesting point.
  • Jonny Gomes: If Gomes receives 325 PA, his $3MM option for 2016 will become guaranteed.  He’s just over halfway there with 166 plate appearances, so this one may come right down to the wire.

We already know that Cliff Lee won’t achieve the innings totals required for his 2016 option to vest, as the Phillies southpaw hasn’t pitched all season and is attempting to recover from a torn left flexor tendon without undergoing surgery.  Brandon League also hasn’t pitched this season and has been released by the Dodgers, so he won’t reach the games-finished total required to allow his 2016 player option to vest.


East Notes: Gordon, Orioles, Hamels, Clippard

The Marlins will be without All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon for at least two weeks, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Gordon dislocated his thumb sliding headfirst into first base. There was no ligament damage or broken bones per Rosenthal. Gordon will be replaced on the All-Star roster by Troy Tulowitzki. Fellow Rockie DJ LeMahieu will now start for the NL All Stars.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • Miami is weighing trades ahead of the deadline, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. The club is 10.5 games back in the NL East and 14 games below .500. They will probably have to get hot in the next couple weeks to change the current plan. As MLBTR readers are well aware, pending free agents Mat Latos and Dan Haren are trade candidates. The Marlins have also received interest in former closer Steve Cishek and swing man Brad Hand.
  • The Orioles could be primed for a quiet trade deadline, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. The club already has a host of impending free agents. It could be ill-advised to deal controllable assets like they did last season. Dan Duquette dealt Eduardo Rodriguez for Andrew Miller, a trade he may now regret given Rodriguez’s success in Boston. Additionally, top prospects Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey are sidelined with injuries. Mike Wright showed some promise but ultimately struggled in two stints with the club.
  • It’s imperative that the Phillies trade Cole Hamels before the end of the month, opines Jake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. While the club could find it easier to swap Jonathan Papelbon or Ryan Howard over the offseason, a robust group of free agent starters will hurt Hamels’ value in the winter. In my opinion, it would be quite shocking if the Phillies held Hamels for the rest of the season. If they did fail to find a deal to their liking, they could position Hamels as a cost effective alternative to aces like Johnny Cueto and David Price.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro is excited about the state of the farm system, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. “I would put our farm system up against anybody’s,” said Amaro. He specifically mentioned Aaron Nola and Aaron Altherr, both of whom are finding success at the Triple-A level. It’s widely assumed that Nola will soon join the club. Trades could also open the door for Altherr. Nola is not on the 40-man roster, but Altherr already has a spot.
  • The Yankees and Mets should consider adding Athletics closer Tyler Clippard, suggests Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Even though neither club technically needs relief help, Martino references the Royals dominant trio of relievers from last October. Their ability to shorten the game is critical in October. Particularly with the Yankees, a trio of Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Miller would be intimidating.

NL East Notes: Mets, Papelbon, Pettibone, Span

Mets GM Sandy Alderson indicated today that the trade landscape for bats is starting to take shape, as Mike Puma of the New York Post reports on Twitter“The target market is just beginning to reveal itself,” said Alderson. New York’s most obvious needs seem to be on the left side of the infield, where the shortstop position continues to be a source of consternation and third bagger David Wright remains an uncertainty.

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • Other teams believed the Phillies were nearing a deal involving closer Jonathan Papelbon at some point in June before putting talks on hold, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports (links to Twitter). Per Stark, there is a sense that the decision to pull back came from above GM Ruben Amaro Jr., with Philadelphia choosing to hold off when the Andy MacPhail hiring neared completion. Clubs that were in the conversation included the Blue JaysCubsRangers, and one of the Los Angeles franchises, according to the report. MLBTR recently posed the question on Instagram whether Papelbon or Francisco Rodriguez is the better closer target. Check it out to join the discussion.
  • Phillies righty Jonathan Pettibone is set for another shoulder surgery, the club announced. The 24-year-old once seemed primed to function as a quality rotation piece, but has not pitched competitively since early last season.
  • The Nationals are waiting to decide on a DL stint for center fielder Denard Span until he sees a back specialist tomorrow, Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com tweets. Span has been excellent when healthy, but continues to deal with a series of nagging injuries. The progress of this particular malady could play a significant role not only in his future free agent case, but also Washington’s motivation to land a player like Ben Zobrist to provide the team with options down the stretch. While Michael Taylor and Matt den Dekker are capable of playing center, the club is also dealing with the absence of Jayson Werth and several other injury and performance issues that could make an addition desirable.

Trade Market Notes: Papelbon, Indians, Cotts, Maybin

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon said today that he would be surprised and disappointed if he is not traded this summer, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. The veteran righty indicated that he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause to play for any contender — provided, that is, that he’d work in a closing capacity. “I think [the front office] knows where I’m at,” he said. “I’ve always been straightforward that I want to go play for a contender and I’m not going to shy away from it. I feel like that’s my right and my prerogative to have that opportunity and, you know, it’s in their hands. The ball’s in their court. I guess that’s kind of it.” While Papelbon’s preferences will play a significant role in his market, he’s done nothing but increase his trade value through his on-field performance this year. Entering today’s action, the 34-year-old owns a 1.65 ERA with 9.4 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9 — and a career-best 50.6% groundball rate — on the season.

  • The Indians are still alive for a post-season berth even though the club has underperformed expectations, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the club will probably stand pat for the most part at the trade deadline. Cleveland is not terribly interested in dealing away Carlos Santana, but could consider moving David Murphy or Ryan Raburn, both of whom have been quite productive this year and can be controlled through fairly reasonable 2016 options. In the event that the Indians decide to add pieces, says Rosenthal, the club could target a pen arm or a bat (at an unidentified position — the left side of the infield seeming most likely).
  • The Twins and Brewers have had some preliminary trade chats, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports (Twitter links). It is not clear precisely what players were under discussion, though Berardino indicates that Milwaukee lefty Neal Cotts could hold some appeal to Minnesota.
  • Some opposing clubs believe the Braves could be interested in selling high on outfielder Cameron Maybin this summer, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. Olney had previously indicated on Twitter that Atlanta was not interested in parting with Maybin, who’s been quite a pleasant surprise since coming over as part of the salary swaps in the Craig Kimbrel deal. But he could have significant appeal to teams in need of an outfielder, particularly if the market ends up being largely devoid of bats.

Cafardo On Sale, Ramirez, Uehara, Papelbon

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe suggests ten steps to help fix the Red Sox.  The first item on the list is one that has been discussed quite a bit – Boston’s need for a true ace in the rotation.  Beyond that, Cafardo would like to see the Sox trade Clay Buchholz, focus on acquiring players who can thrive in their environment, and hire an executive to oversee and question the moves of GM Ben Cherington.   Here’s a look at some of the highlights from Cafardo’s Sunday offering..

  • White Sox left-hander Chris Sale is on a strikeout tear and teams would surely like to add him this summer.  However, team sources tell Cafardo that Sale is not available.  Even though the White Sox are in last place, they see him as the cornerstone of their franchise.  Sale, 26, has a 2.74 ERA with 12.1 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 through 13 starts this season.
  • There have been conflicting reports on the subject, but Cafardo hears that the Mets have made inquiries on Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez.  Ramirez, who turns 37 this week, has hit just .220/.256/.405 in 211 plate appearances this season.  However, some feel that a move to a contending club could get him back on track.  Cafardo also writes that it wouldn’t be surprising if the Giants or Padres got in the mix on the veteran.
  • Teams are watching Red Sox closer Koji Uehara and monitoring him to make sure that he’s free of serious injury concerns.  At the same time, his $9MM salary for next season is a deterrent for rival teams.   “There’s always going to be a holding of your breath to commit to him, but he’s still very good. Boston would have to pick up some of the salary. But I think teams will definitely inquire and make a push for him,” one AL evaluator told Cafardo.
  • Jonathan Papelbon would seem to be a great fit for the the Blue Jays, but money continues to be an issue for Toronto.  The Phillies could probably assume a lot of Papelbon’s deal for this year and some of the $13MM vesting option for 2016, but the sense is that Toronto wants to go even cheaper.  Also, they don’t want to give up youngster Daniel Norris to find their late-inning solution.