Jonathan Papelbon Rumors
The Phillies have struggled to stay competitive this season and have been rumored to be a trade deadline seller for weeks, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn't plan on moving his most valuable pitching assets. Amaro told reporters (including ESPN's Jayson Stark) on Friday that he has "no desire to trade those guys. At all," referring to Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon.
"My job is to try and put a contending team on the field every year, and we have a much better chance to be a contending team with both of those guys on the club," Amaro said. "If we have those guys at the top of our rotation, we're a better club. ... It starts and ends with pitching, as far as I'm concerned. So the more quality pitching you have, the better chance you have to build around that to win."
The general manager didn't draw the line at any midseason moves, noting that "We have plenty of people to trade" and that "four or five guys come off the payroll" after the season, which could give the Phils more flexibility. It could also seem to hint that four of Philadelphia's pending free agents (Roy Halladay, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley and Michael Young) could be trade bait in July, though Young is the only one of the quartet who isn't on the DL, and Halladay's and Ruiz's injuries have greatly diminished -- if not destroyed -- their trade value.
Amaro didn't rule out bringing any of those free agents back in 2014 but noted that moves would still be made with an eye towards contending next season rather than beginning a rebuilding process.
"Whether you're talking about retooling or rewrapping or taking a different direction, I think there are ways we can do that," Amaro said. "But when you start talking about blowing it up, you're basically saying you're going to start from scratch. And that's not happening."
Dealing Lee (owed at least $78MM through the 2015 season) or Papelbon (roughly $33.6MM owed through 2015 with a $13MM vesting option for 2016) would count as sign that the Phillies were taking a step back to reload, and dealing Hamels (who just signed a six-year, $144MM extension last July) would count as the first step towards a major rebuild. Lee said yesterday that he wanted to play for a contender and that while his preference was to do so in Philadelphia, winning was his top priority. Lee has a partial no-trade clause in his contract that allows him to block a deal to 20 teams each season.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if George Brett is being groomed to be the Royals' next manager now that he has committed to being with the team every day as hitting coach. Dennis Gilbert, who represented Brett as an agent and who has fallen short in bids to purchase the Dodgers, Padres, and Rangers, would have installed Brett as manager had he landed one of those clubs. Brett could very well be Ned Yost’s eventual replacement if he boosts Kansas City's offense, but there’s also a lot of sentiment for Jim Fregosi, who has ties to GM Dayton Moore. Here's more from today's column..
- Cafardo spoke to a couple dozen executives, scouts, and players over the past few days about who the top player on the trade block will be and the consensus was Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee. The Red Sox, Orioles, Indians, Angels, and Rangers would really like to have Lee and there are many more clubs who could be in the mix, including the Dodgers and the Yankees, who say they can’t swing it but have the means to do it. One American League exec indicated there would be 20 teams lined up for Lee. Lee might be the last guy Ruben Amaro Jr. wants to trade, but he'd yield the greatest return.
- The Phillies have another interesting piece in Jonathan Papelbon and if they decide they are retooling, they probably don’t need a top closer. Several baseball people say the Tigers would be a tremendous fit for Papelbon since pairing him with that starting rotation would be rather formidable. He would also be an option for the Angels and Red Sox, but the Sox want to give Andrew Bailey every chance to do the job. The Indians would also be a possibility.
- It shouldn’t be long before a long list of teams start to inquire about free agent Grady Sizemore. Sizemore has begun baseball activities after being sidelined by knee surgeries and so far he’s had no setbacks. Cafardo suggests the Mets could be a fit as they are in need of outfield help.
- The White Sox, Blue Jays, and Twins might hold some of this year's top trade chips. “Alex Rios, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and you can add Justin Morneau, are definitely the major guys scouts are focusing on,” said one AL GM.
- After Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole five bases Thursday night against the Phillies, it started to dawn on people — including some in the Philadelphia organization — that Ellsbury would be a nice piece in the Phillies’ lineup next season. However, he also hurt his groin during the game, and the injury question popped up.
Even though the Mets aren't contending, GM Sandy Alderson says they could be buyers at the trade deadline, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. "It’s a possibility. It depends on what is available," says Alderson. "I have been involved in deals in the past whose first consideration was not the current season but the following season...The possibility of making an acquisition that has implications not just for the second half of this season? Yes." It sounds like we shouldn't expect the Mets to pursue rentals, but they might be open to a splashy acquisition of a veteran who is under team control through at least 2014. Martino notes that the Mets could look for outfielders in particular. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Lots of former Yankees and Mets are doing well with other teams, Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes. Sherman singles out former Yankees Russell Martin (Pirates), Nick Swisher (Indians) and Eric Chavez (Diamondbacks) in particular.
- The Red Sox are one of eight teams to which Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon can refuse a trade, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. That Papelbon would have his old team on his no-trade list initially seems strange, but Bradford notes that it's not uncommon for a player to put a large-payroll team on his no-trade list, reasoning that he might be able to use his ability to nix a trade as leverage to negotiate an extension if a large-payroll team wants him. When asked, Papelbon said he could see himself playing for the Red Sox again.
The Red Sox bullpen was dealt another blow today with the news that Joel Hanrahan will undergo flexor tendon surgery and miss the rest of the season. Most pundits were in agreement that the Phillies overpaid when they signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50MM contract following the 2011 season, but Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes that the Red Sox might end up being the ones paying the biggest price for Papelbon's departure given how the Sox have struggled to fill the void at closer over the last two years.
Here's a look at the latest out of the American League East..
- Right-hander Steve Delabar has become a key contributor out of the Blue Jays' bullpen since joining the team last July, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm writes. Delabar has a 2.86 ERA and a 12.7 K/9 in 44 games as a Blue Jay.
- As he approaches a $13MM club option year, Red Sox southpaw Jon Lester is looking strong through one month and change, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. First-year pitching coach Juan Nieves helped make some adjustments to Lester's mechanics and the 29-year-old has a 2.73 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 through eight starts this sesaon.
- Recent acquisition Alberto Gonzalez is nothing special, but the Yankees had to fortify their Triple-A affiliate's middle infield, writes Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues. The Bombers acquired Gonzalez from the Cubs earlier this week in exchange for a player to be named later or cash.
- Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com makes the case that the Orioles' Manny Machado belongs in the conversation alongside Mike Trout and Bryce Harper as the best young player in baseball.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
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.
A few links from around the NL East and AL East, where the Yankees and Nationals reside in first place at the All-Star break ...
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman has no plans to acquire a catcher despite Russell Martin's struggles, according to Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger. "We have our catching," Cashman said. "I believe in Russell Martin, period."
- The Phillies are flirting with exceeding MLB's luxury-tax threshold of $178MM, which could affect their dealings with impending free agent Cole Hamels, who's also a potential trade candidate, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. The looming threat of a luxury tax stifling a player's contract negotiations is something union chief Michael Wiener said he wouldn't be "happy about," but he understands it's part of the the collective bargaining agreement.
- The Blue Jays will have to pay a tax after overshooting the $2.9MM cap for signing international free agents that kicked in on July 2, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. Toronto inked three of BA's top 20 international free agents.
- Former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon said his Boston tenure all but ended when ex-manager Terry Francona's 2012 option was not picked up, leaving a managerial void the club would not fill till December, according to ESPNBoston.com. The Sox never made the right-hander an offer, Papelbon confirmed: "(The Red Sox) wanted to see if I could go out and test the market and maybe come back. I don't know if they would (have countered), but I don't go back. I go forward."
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. spoke to FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi about his team's offseason moves, and what he still might have in store before Opening Day...
- Amaro would like to add a left-handed reliever or rotation depth, provided either could be had at a reasonable price. The club would also like to add a bench option who can provide some added speed.
- The team is happy with its four-year, $50MM deal with Jonathan Papelbon, even after ex-closer Ryan Madson signed a one-year, $8.5MM deal with the Reds that looks like a major bargain. “That’s the beauty and difficulty of free agency,” Amaro said. “We knew there were other teams who were going to be very competitive in the market for closers. Once we got to an AAV (average annual value) of $12.5 million with Papelbon, we felt that was a reasonable deal for us to make....Markets can be fluid and difficult to gauge. I’m happy with the player we have.”
- Ryan Howard was recently cleared to resume weight-bearing and strength-building exercises but Amaro says the club is being "very cautious" with their star first baseman. Howard ruptured his left Achilles tendon while making the last out of the NLDS and his DL stint will last into next season. Amaro says it would be "great" if Howard could return to the Phillies by May.
- Amaro is satisfied with his club's internal first base options, including Jim Thome, who Amaro says could play first up to four or five times per month. “Our medical people are surprised at the shape he’s in,” Amaro said. “They think he might be better now than he was when we first signed him in 2002.” Thome has been a full-time DH and pinch-hitter for the last four seasons.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein joined WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show this morning and discussed a number of topics, including the Cubs, the Red Sox and the circumstances that led to his current role in Chicago. Here are some highlights from the interview:
- "There are plenty of resources here," Epstein said, when asked about the Cubs' ability to spend. So far the Cubs have made modest free agent additions led by David DeJesus' $10MM contract, as our Free Agent Tracker shows.
- "We've brought in multiple players in their pre-prime years who have plenty of upside ahead of them," he said of the Cubs' moves so far this offseason.
- Not surprisingly, Epstein said Manny Ramirez isn't a fit for the Cubs.
- Epstein said he and current Red Sox GM Ben Cherington discussed the possibility of Epstein's departure for years. To put last year's off-field issues in context, he said there were periods that were "just as unproductive and contentious" in 2004.
- Though Terry Francona isn't currently an MLB manager, Epstein expects the skipper to land a managerial job as soon as he wants one, whether that occurs next summer or next offseason.
- "You can get in trouble sometimes giving huge four-year deals to closers," Epstein said, after acknowledging that Jonathan Papelbon will be missed in Boston. Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon should help Boston's bullpen recover from the loss of Papelbon, Epstein said.
- Carl Crawford didn't let his athleticism translate into performance during his first year in Boston, but Epstein expects better results in 2012 and beyond. Red Sox owner John Henry wasn't a proponent of the Crawford deal, but Epstein wanted to sign the speedy left fielder.
- Epstein says the Red Sox should obtain compensation for his departure, but he cited Andy MacPhail's move to the Cubs in 1994 and cautioned that historical precedent suggests the Red Sox shouldn't obtain much from Chicago.
10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll update them in this post throughout the day in advance of the 11pm central time deadline. For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here.
Updated team decisions:
- The Blue Jays offered arbitration to Frank Francisco (B), Kelly Johnson (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick), Jose Molina (B) and Jon Rauch (B), according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (on Twitter). They declined to offer Shawn Camp (B) arbitration.
- The Red Sox announced that they offered David Ortiz (A) and Dan Wheeler (B) arbitration. They declined to offer Jason Varitek (B) arbitration. Jonathan Papelbon (A) already signed with the Phillies.
- The Yankees offered Freddy Garcia (B) arbitration according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch (on Twitter).
- The Royals offered Bruce Chen (B) arbitration, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- The White Sox announced they've offered arbitration to Mark Buehrle (B) and not Juan Pierre (B).
- The Athletics announced David DeJesus (B) and Josh Willingham (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) were offered arbitration.
- The Rangers announced C.J. Wilson (A) will be offered arbitration. Modified Type B free agent Darren Oliver does not require an offer.
- The Orioles announced they will not offer arbitration to Vladimir Guerrero (B).
- Twins GM Terry Ryan said today on a conference call that he will offer arbitration to Michael Cuddyer (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) and Jason Kubel (B), and noted that no arbitration offer is necessary for modified Type B free agent Matt Capps.
Teams with decisions still due:
Some links as Tuesday turns into Wednesday...
- The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will implement some major changes to the draft, but Baseball America's Jim Callis says the spending limitations won't be as drastic as initially thought.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports (on Twitter) that slots for the first four picks for the draft will be $7.2MM, $6.2MM, $5.2MM, and $4.2MM. Teams are not required to spend that much, however.
- In an Insider-only breakdown, ESPN's Keith Law analyzed the new CBA point-by-point. "The net result here is a big negative for the sport," he says. Click here for some more CBA reactions.
- The Rangers were not in on Jonathan Papelbon before he signed with the Phillies, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford (on Twitter). Texas signed Joe Nathan to close yesterday.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian says (on Twitter) that the Indians will give Lonnie Chisenhall every chance to win their third base job in Spring Training, so don't expect their search for offense to result in an upgrade at the hot corner.
- In a second tweet, Bastian says the one-year deal between the Indians and Grady Sizemore should be announced soon, perhaps on Wednesday.
- The Diamondbacks announced their minor league coaching staffs in a press release. Former D'Backs Jay Bell and Robby Hammock have joined the club's player development staff.
- Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review passes along some changes the Pirates have made to their scouting department.