Philadelphia Phillies Rumors

Philadelphia Phillies trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Quick Hits: Scully, Harang, Profar, Kirby

Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully has announced his intention to return for the 2016 season. He expects it to be his final season as a broadcaster, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. It will be his 67th season in the booth. As Sportsnet Stats tweeted earlier today, Scully has announced games involving A’s manager Connie Mack (born 1862) and Cubs shortstop Addison Russell (born 1994). He’s likely to see a couple even younger players including Julio Urias (born 1996).

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Phillies starter Aaron Harang was not claimed on waivers, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. As Heyman notes, Harang has a 7.09 ERA since the All-Star break. He has about $1MM remaining on his $5MM contract and is a free agent following the season. The Cubs and Pirates are among the contenders in need of rotation depth, but it’s unclear if either team would view him as an upgrade over internal options. It doesn’t seem as though the Phillies could acquire much more than some financial relief or a non-prospect in a deal. As such, a trade may be unlikely.
  • Former number one prospect Jurickson Profar could work his way back onto the Rangers roster, writes Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The 22-year-old is rehabbing from multiple shoulder injuries. He won’t play the field this fall. However, he could help the club after rosters expand as a pinch-hitter or runner while working directly with the major league training staff.
  • Brewers prospect Nathan Kirby is likely to undergo Tommy John surgery, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The 40th overal pick of the 2015 draft led the University of Virginia Cavaliers to the 2015 World Series. An undisclosed medical issue -presumably the elbow issue – led the club to reduce the lefty’s signing bonus from $1.545MM to $1.25MM. Kirby will miss the entire 2016 season.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Farrell, GM Changes, Wright, Dodgers

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a trio of videos on FOX Sports:

  • Red Sox manager John Farrell, who is battling lymphoma, has completed the first of three rounds of chemotherapy. He’s visiting the Sox each day they’re at Fenway and holding video chats with interim manager Torey Lovullo and his coaching staff when the team is away. New Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has not said whether Farrell will return next season, however, regardless of his health.
  • Following what’s been a tumultuous month in many team front offices, the Phillies and Reds could be among the next teams to make GM changes, Rosenthal says. There could be up to ten manager changes as well.
  • Rosenthal also interviews Mets third baseman David Wright, who recently returned to the lineup after missing almost four months due to a hamstring injury and an ongoing back issue. Wright discusses what it’s like to deal with a lingering condition. Some days are better than others, he says, and a player needs to be honest, because if he tries to play on a bad day, he’ll be hurting his team.
  • The Dodgers‘ massive $300MM payroll may be a one shot deal. They’re paying a large chunk of change for players who aren’t even on the roster like Matt Kemp, but they were able to acquire additional talent by doing so. This year, they’re paying a 40 percent tax on overages beyond the roughly $189MM soft cap. Next season, the penalty will increase to 50 percent. However, prospects like Corey Seager and Julio Urias are expected to be on hand to reduce the luxury burden.
  • Marlins manager Dan Jennings is a potential candidate for the Mariners open GM job. He has past experience working for Seattle as a scout and crosschecker. Most teams allow their employees to interview for promotions with other clubs, but the situation is tricky with Jennings. He’s the Miami manager, but he’s also currently under contract as a GM. As such, it’s not clear if Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria would allow Jennings to interview.
  • Sources have told Rosenthal that Padres ownership is “frustrated” with GM A.J. Preller. However, chairman Ron Fowler insists the only frustration is related to the club’s 2015 performance. He believes Preller will be the GM for a long time to come. Preller was originally hired to improve the farm system via the draft and international scouting. Obviously, the club used most of their minor league ammunition in a bold bid for contention this year, but the original plan remains intact.
  • Rosenthal’s colleague Jon Paul Morosi hears that the Reds may wish to replace GM Walt Jocketty. His contract expires after the 2016 season. It’s Rosenthal’s opinion that owner Bob Castellini is unlikely to fire Jocketty outright. Instead, they may move him into a consultative role like the Brewers did with Doug Melvin. That would allow the club to then hire a new GM in time for 2016.

Heyman’s Latest: Castro, Shapiro, Davis, Anderson, Brewers, Phils

Within his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that displaced Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro has joined Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez as struggling former stars that have cleared waivers. (The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo first reported that Ramirez and Sandoval cleared waivers.) The Cubs had a few trade discussions pertaining to Castro prior to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, per Heyman, and they’ll likely revisit trade talks this winter. As for Sandoval, Heyman hears that there are not active discussions at the moment, although one can easily imagine new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski exploring ways to shed that sizable commitment this offseason.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s latest column…

  • Indians president Mark Shapiro has been given permission to meet with the Blue Jays about their opening, per the report. The veteran Cleveland executive is “believed” to sit atop Toronto’s wish list, and Heyman says there’s an increasing expectation that he’ll end up moving over to the Jays.
  • Chris Davis is in line for a significant payday this offseason, but the Orioles aren’t likely to be the ones writing the check. Heyman hears that two years ago, following Davis’ brilliant 53-homer campaign, agent Scott Boras was eyeing Joey Votto’s 10-year, $225MM contract as a comp. Granted, Davis’ reduced production since that time has almost certainly lowered the asking price, but I personally agree with the assessment of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes in his latest Free Agent Power Rankings: Davis is in line for a nine-figure contract, which seems beyond Baltimore’s traditional comfort levels.
  • Though some were surprised to see Brett Anderson land a $10MM guarantee from the Dodgers due to his injury history, Heyman hears that the Dodgers may be considering an even more surprising move: extending a qualifying offer to the injury-prone hurler. Anderson, in my eyes, would be a risky candidate for such an offer, but there’s reason enough that the Dodgers could make that call. For one, the team can afford a $16MM investment in an injury-prone pitcher, and Anderson’s worth close to that kind of cash when healthy. Secondly, Anderson’s coming off one of the lone healthy seasons of his career and may see this as his best chance to cash in on a multi-year deal. He could see the only downside as another one-year deal worth $10MM+, meaning he’d be risking around $6MM for a chance at quite a bit more.
  • The Brewers are expected to take “well into next month” in their search for a new general manager and are interested in pursuing non-traditional candidates. We’ve heard several possibilities batted around, and Heyman says he’s heard at least some chatter about Athletics assistant GM Dan Kantrovitz and Red Sox special assistant Jerry Dipoto.
  • While the Phillies could have their own front office changes to make, Heyman says it’s still possible that Ruben Amaro Jr. could not only stay in the organization in some capacity, but keep the GM chair.
  • In a separate piece, Heyman also takes an interesting look at the thirty best deals made over the last year. There’s certainly a good case to be made for his top choice: the Blue Jays’ acquisition of Josh Donaldson.


NL East Notes: Phillies, Papelbon, Nats, Storen, Marlins

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick looks at the future of the Phillies‘ front office, noting that industry insiders mention Royals assistant GM J.J. Picollo and former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington as possible successors to Ruben Amaro Jr. in the event that president-to-be Andy MacPhail makes a change. Interim president Pat Gillick, who’s stepping down after the season, tells Crasnick that he’s not sure if he’ll remain with the club in some capacity. Though the Phillies are one of the worst clubs in baseball this season and have long been on the downswing, there’s hope in the future due to Maikel Franco, Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford and others, to say nothing of a favorable payroll and television deal. “That organization is a gold mine,” one rival exec opined to Crasnick. “Look at the ballpark. Look at the spring training facility. Look at the television deal. This is a goose that’s going to lay a golden egg. No wonder Andy MacPhail came out of retirement.”

Elsewhere in the NL East…

  • Jonathan Papelbon has thrown just eight innings since being acquired by the Nationals a month ago, and James Wagner of the Washington Post spoke to the D.C. closer about how he handles long bouts of inactivity. “For me, it’s about mentally staying prepared,” said Papelbon. “Staying mentally focused on the task at hand and not losing sight of that even though you’re not pitching. It’s easy to get out of that mode.” Papelbon says he feels he’s adjusted well to his new team and that his lack of usage is part of the “ebb and flow” of a season, Wagner writes. However, plenty have been critical about manager Matt Williams’ bullpen usage and his reluctance to use his top relievers in anything other than traditional save/hold situations.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo tells the Post’s Thomas Boswell that August has been his “worst month ever.” Rizzo notes to Boswell that the Nats have a group of star players that combined for 28.5 wins above replacement in 2014 but are collectively negative in 2015. “That’s a swing of 29 wins,” said Rizzo, likely in reference to struggles from Anthony Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond and Jayson Werth (among others). Rizzo referenced that swing as a means of defending Williams, stating: “It’s injuries. It’s coming back without your timing and not hitting for a while. It is bad years [for good players]. It’s everything. Twenty-nine lost wins [in player production] — and that’s on the manager?”
  • Within his piece, Boswell also notes that the Nationals are unlikely to pursue any top starting pitchers this winter and that Drew Storen wants a trade “that he’ll almost certainly get this winter.” Storen, of course, was reportedly unhappy to be displaced from his ninth-inning role by Papelbon in the midst of a strong season.
  • Jose Fernandez‘s most recent bullpen session for the Marlins was described as a “wow” by manager Dan Jennings, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Jennings called mid-September a realistic return date for Fernandez, whom the Marlins previously feared might not pitch again in 2015.
  • Mike Morse spoke to the Herald’s Barry Jackson about his disappointing tenure with the Marlins, expressing that he wishes he’d have gotten a longer leash to sort things out at the plate. “I came out really bad [but] I wish they would have given me more at-bats just to prove myself,” said Morse. “…When you sign as a free agent, you expect to play on that team those years and you expect to get at least some time to play. But I got this opportunity to come to an amazing ball club [Pittsburgh]. It’s a gift and a curse.” Morse said he was very appreciative that owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson took the time to personally call and inform him of his trade out of Miami, however. Morse is hitting a much-improved .310/.394/.379 with the Pirates, albeit in a minuscule sample of 33 plate appearances.

NL Notes: Brewers GM, Francoeur, Braves, Urias

There’s been a good deal of speculation surrounding the Brewers‘ GM opening, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick hears (Twitter link) two more names making their round of speculation: Braves assistant GM John Coppolella and Rays director of player personnel Matt Arnold. Coppolella has long been speculated to be Atlanta’s GM of the future, but John Hart is currently serving as the team’s president of baseball operations. Arnold has moved up from Rays pro scouting director to his current position over the past few seasons.

A few more late-night notes pertaining to the National League…

  • Jeff Francoeur is open to a return to the Phillies even in another rebuilding season, he tells MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki“I like where we’re going right now,” Francoeur explained. “Hell, we have the [fourth]-best record in the National League in the second half. At the same time, I’m not saying I’ve got to play every day, but I would want an opportunity to play if I’m playing well. I’m not saying every day, though.” A potential return for Francoeur, of course, will depend largely on the team’s impending front office decisions, which the outfielder acknowledged. Zolecki adds that he, too, hears that the Phillies pulled Francoeur back off waivers when he was claimed, adding that the Pirates were possibly the team.
  • Five young Braves prospects were injured in a bus accident in the Dominican Republic over the weekend, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes. Fortunately, most of the injuries were minor, though 18-year-old Luis Martin Severino Galvan is said to have suffered a broken leg.
  • Dodgers top prospect Julio Urias is not under consideration for a call-up in early September, manager Don Mattingly told reporters, including Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles“He probably would not be one of the guys we see right away,” said Mattingly. However, the team hasn’t entirely ruled out the possibility of Urias — a consensus Top 5 prospect — debuting later in the month and pitching in relief, Saxon writes. Urias only turned 19 years old earlier this month, but he’s already pitching at the Double-A level, where he has a 3.03 ERA with 10.3 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings (12 starts).

Phillies Pulled Back Jeff Francoeur After Waiver Claim

The Phillies pulled back outfielder Jeff Francoeur from waivers after he was claimed by an unknown team, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Philadelphia was evidently unable to work out a deal with the club that claimed him and preferred to hold onto the veteran, who now cannot be moved unless Philadelphia exposes him to waivers irrevocably.

It may seem curious at first glace that the rebuilding Phils would not have taken whatever they could get for the 31-year-old, who’ll be a free agent after the season. But he’s playing on a cheap, $950K salary this year and Philadelphia reportedly values his clubhouse presence with an increasingly youthful roster. Without knowing what (if anything) was offered, it’s hard to criticize the decision.

Since signing a minor league deal and making the roster out of camp, Francoeur has enjoyed his best season at the plate in some time. Over 265 plate appearances, he’s put up a .271/.298/.474 slash with 12 home runs. He’s actually done much of his damage against right-handed pitching this year, though he’s been more successful against opposing southpaws historically.


NL East Notes: Amaro, Eickhoff, Ichiro

If Padres GM A.J. Preller is the “rock star GM,” then Phillies GM Ruben Amaro may be the “pincushion GM,” writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Amaro has received plenty of criticism and scorn for signing veterans to prohibitive contracts that exacerbated the club’s current woes. It’s now widely believed that the Phillies will not renew his contract at the end of the season. However, Amaro does deserve some credit for leveraging his few assets as fully as possible. In addition to the return for Hamels, players acquired by trading Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley, Ben Revere, Marlon Byrd, and Jimmy Rollins are now among the club’s top 20 prospects. The Phillies are also “battling” for the first overall pick in the 2016 amateur draft.

  • For over a year, Cole Hamels has been a popular subject of our posts. Starting pitcher Jerad Eickhoff was the first of the five prospects to make his debut with the Phillies, writes Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. As you’re aware, the Phillies finally traded Hamels along with Jake Diekman at the July deadline for five Rangers prospects and injured veteran Matt Harrison. Among prospect afficionados, the names of Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, and Jake Thompson were recognizable. Eickhoff may have flown under the radar, but his debut was encouraging. Over six innings, he shut out the Marlins with five hits, five strikeouts, and one walk. Eickhoff’s command and stuff suggest he may successfully support the rotation for years to come. Now Phillies fans will hope the name brand prospects also live up to the hype.
  • The Marlins are open to bringing Ichiro Suzuki back next season as he chases the 3,000 hit milestone, reports Craig Davis of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscription required). Ichiro, 41, was originally signed as a backup outfielder. With 111 games played, he’s appeared more often than any of the incumbent starters. He’s now 77 hits from the milestone. He won’t get there this season, but it could be within reach early next year. Given the publicity that comes with the achievement, other clubs may have interest in him.

Brewers Claim Cesar Jimenez

12:59pm: Philadelphia has announced that the Brewers have claimed Jimenez.

12:43pm: The Brewers have claimed left-handed reliever Cesar Jimenez off outright waivers from the Phillies, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). Jimenez was designated for assignment by Philadelphia last night.

The waiver claim of Jimenez may indicate that Milwaukee feels confident that it can work out a trade of fellow southpaw reliever Neal Cotts, who has reportedly been claimed on revocable trade waivers by an unknown club.  Or, Milwaukee may simply want to add some depth in the event that Cotts is dealt elsewhere. If assigned to Triple-A, Jimenez could join the big league club in short order, as rosters are set to expand on Sept. 1. In announcing the claim, the Brewers did note that Jimenez’s assignment is still TBD.

Jimenez, 30, has been up and down with the Phillies over the past three seasons despite solid bottom line results. Though he does have some control issues, he’s delivered a 2.48 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 36 1/3 innings with Philadelphia dating back to 2013. In particular, he’s been tough on lefties in that span, holding them to a .148/.233/.231 line (over a span of 60 plate appearances).

Jimenez has three years of big league service already under his belt, so if he joins the big league roster now or in September, he’ll have some time to audition for the 2016 roster and convince Milwaukee that they want to go through the arbitration process with him his offseason.


NL East Notes: Utley, Phillies, Olivera, Stanton

Following Chase Utley‘s departure from the Phillies, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com pays tribute to one of the greatest and most beloved players in franchise history. Salisbury recalls the draft-day dilemma the Phillies faced, weighing the decision between Utley and Rocco Baldelli (though the Rays made the decision easier by selecting Baldelli nine picks before Utley). The selection reshaped the Phillies’ history, leading to the emergence of a player that Salisbury calls a “100 percent pure ballplayer” and whom Salisbury believes played through more pain and injury as a member of the Phillies than anyone in recent history. Meanwhile, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News spoke to a number of Phillies players about their favorite Utley memories and what it meant to have him as a teammate.

More on the Phillies’ transition and the rest of their division…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that while the Phillies may have waited too long to begin their rebuilding process, they deserve credit for making their sixth trade in the past eight months that has bettered the organization. The Phillies did well to include more than $24MM in cash considerations to improve their returns (to say nothing of taking on the remaining $32MM of Matt Harrison‘s contract), and as Rosenthal points out, nine of their top 16 prospects at MLB.com have been acquired in the past year’s trades. One rival exec to whom Rosenthal spoke praised the Phillies for ultimately doing what needed to be done — “[they] sold everyone they could get value from.”
  • Hector Olivera‘s debut with the Braves could come as soon as next Monday, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The infielder, acquired from the Dodgers in a 13-player trade last month, had his minor league rehab assignment moved up to Triple-A on Thursday. O’Brien spoke to Freddie Freeman about the acquisition of Olivera, and Freeman candidly admitted that it was tough, as a player, to see the team give up so many players to acquire a hitter who has never played a Major League game. However, Freeman also saw Olivera while the two were rehabbing together and did come away impressed with the infielder’s skills — particularly his power. As O’Brien notes, Olivera has defensive versatility, but the Braves plan to make him their everyday third baseman.
  • Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton is hopeful that he can return to the roster by early September, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Stanton says he’s still feeling weakness when turning over his wrist, but he has progressed to hitting 95 mph pitches in the batting cage on back-to-back pain-free days. Stanton has been on the shelf since June 26, when he broke his hamate bone upon being hit by a pitch. He underwent surgery two days later.

Phillies Designate Cesar Jimenez For Assignment

The Phillies announced after tonight’s loss that they have designated left-hander Cesar Jimenez for assignment in order to clear a spot on the active roster for right-hander Jerad Eickhoff, who will make his big league debut this weekend.

The DFA is probably particularly difficult news for Jimenez, who just tossed 2 1/3 innings of scoreless, one-hit relief with three strikeouts. He’d previously appeared in just two games with the Phils this season and tossed a scoreless inning.

The 30-year-old Jimenez has been up and down with the Phillies over the past three seasons despite strong bottom-line results. Including tonight’s scoreless appearance, he’s worked to a 2.48 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings, although his 17 walks in that time are a bit troublesome. Jimenez has been designated for assignment in the past and accepted multiple outright assignments, so the Phillies will hope that he does the same in order to remain with the organization. However, he will of course have the option of declining an outright assignment in favor of free agency if he once again clears waivers.

Eickhoff, 25, was acquired by the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade with the Rangers. In three Triple-A starts since joining the organization, he’s notched a 2.49 ERA with a 19-to-3 K/BB ratio in 21 2/3 innings. Overall, Eickhoff, who will make his Major League debut this weekend, has a 3.85 ERA with 8.5 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 in 133 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level this season.