Philadelphia Phillies Rumors

Philadelphia Phillies trade and free agent rumors from

NL Notes: Posey, Cabrera, Phillies, Braves, Grandal

With Derek Jeter‘s retirement and the Giants playing in their third World Series in five years, Buster Posey should be the next face of baseball. That’s the theme of separate articles by ESPN’s Jayson Stark and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Starks believes Posey is comparable to Jeter in making his team a perennial World Series contender with an understated, but intently competitive manner, the flowing awards and accolades, and his ability to move merchandise. Sherman theorizes Posey hasn’t already assumed Jeter’s mantle because of the position he plays, the market in which he plays, and a lack of a seminal playoff moment.

Here’s more news and notes from the National League:

  • It will be tough for other teams to copy “the Giants Way” because the Giants themselves can’t explain their success, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. “That’s a tough question to answer,” General Manager Brian Sabean said. “Things develop over time.” Time has been on the Giants’ side, notes Shaikin, as Sabean is the longest-tenured GM in baseball and his top lieutenants (Dick Tidrow and Bobby Evans, who told Shaikin he has never been interviewed for a GM opening) have been with the organization for two decades.
  • Earlier today, MLBTR’s Zach Links predicted Nationals infielder Asdrubal Cabrera will land a three-year, $27MM contract in free agency. CSNWashington’s Mark Zuckerman posits Cabrera’s best days are possibly behind him, so the Nationals’ interest will be based on whether there are better options available either via free agency or on the trade market.
  • The Phillies should have at least $20MM in payroll space this offseason which should be enough for a major signing or a few mid-level signings, provided they are committed to winning in 2015, according to’s Corey Seidman. A.J. Burnett declining his $12.75 option and dealing Antonio Bastardo and/or Domonic Brown could increase that amount, Seidman adds.
  • Braves President John Schuerholz indicated to Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) the club’s first choice to be their full-time GM is John Hart; however, he will not force the timeline.
  • The first home run of the Dominican Winter League was hit by the PadresYasmani Grandal. Now a full season away from his 50-game suspension for an elevated testosterone level and knee surgery and possessing excellent plate discipline (13.1% walk rate in 2014), Grandal can become a breakout offensive force for the Padres in 2015, opines the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin.
  • The Dodgers are in good hands with Andrew Friedman aboard, writes Peter Gammons for Gammons Daily.

Phillies Outright Andres Blanco

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Phillies have outrighted Andres Blanco off the team’s 40-man roster, Philadelphia announced. Blanco, a 30-year-old utility infielder, saw just 53 plate appearances on the year in his first MLB action since 2011. He has seen time in seven big league seasons, but never made more than 185 plate appearances in one year. Blanco owns a composite .257/.301/.342 slash across 707 plate appearances.

NL East Links: Mets, Markakis, Phillies, Braves

Adam Rubin of recently looked at the Mets‘ payroll situation, noting that without any winter changes to the roster, the payroll should come in somewhere in the low-$90MMs (specifically, he pegged it for $93MM, though that was with some rough guesses on the team’s arb-eligible players). However, Rubin also writes that he feels some changes are likely — namely bringing in a shortstop and left fielder. He feels it’s likely that in the event the team does push the payroll north of $100MM by adding a free agent outfielder, a trade of Daniel Murphy or one of the club’s starting pitchers will offset that move. An official insisted to Rubin that there’s “upward mobility” in the payroll but did say the club is not yet ready to return to its previous heights of $130MM.

More on the Mets and more from the NL East below…

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post feels that Nick Markakis should be an offseason target for the Mets. While the Mets would like a corner outfielder that projects to have more power than Markakis, those are few and far between in this year’s free agent class, and Marakakis’ strong OBP skills and ability to grind out at-bats, could solve the team’s need for a leadoff hitter. Sherman speculates that Markakis will be looking for something similar to J.J. Hardy‘s three-year, $40MM contract.
  • Much has been written on the Phillies outfield situation of late, and David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News breaks it down piece by piece. Murphy notes that the decision not to trade Marlon Byrd this summer could “prove prudent,” as he now presents an alternative to an expensive contract for Melky Cabrera or Nelson Cruz. The team should be exploring Ben Revere trades if possible due to his lack of walks and power, and he feels that selling this low on Domonic Brown would be a mistake. Murphy’s colleague, Ryan Lawrence, thinks that it’s likely Brown is swapped for a change-of-scenery candidate and also looks at the complete void of outfield talent the Phillies have produced in recent years. Even Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino — two key outfielders Philadelphia showed little inclination to re-sign — were acquired from other organizations.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law reports (via Twitter) that Tom Battista — the scout responsible for signing Freddie Freeman and Tommy Hanson — has returned to the Braves organization as a crosschecker. In a followup tweet, Law tells a reader that he thinks the Braves have done an very good job in making additions since GM Frank Wren was dismissed. Atlanta has brought back former scouting director Roy Clark and plucked Yankees special assistant Gordon Blakeley.

Minor Moves: Jordany Valdespin, Tony Gwynn Jr.

Here are the day’s outrights and minor moves:

  • The Marlins have outrighted utilityman Jordany Valdespin, according to the transactions page. Valdespin, 26, slashed .214/.280/.347 last year after joining Miami on a minor league pact. He had been non-tendered by the Mets before reaching arbitration eligibility. Over parts of three seasons in the big leagues, Valdespin has spent time all over the outfield as well as at second base, in addition to a handful of appearances at short.
  • The Phillies announced that outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. has elected free agency after refusing an outright assignment. The 32-year-old slashed a meager .152/.264/.190 over 127 plate appearances on the year. He has seen big league action in parts of eight seasons, and at his best added value through stellar defensive ratings in the outfield.

Quick Hits: Tomas, Fulenchek, Royals, O’s, Pace, Rookies

Though it’s early in the process, the market for Yasmany Tomas is beginning to develop, tweets’s Jesse Sanchez. To this point, the Rangers, Phillies, Padres, Giants, Mariners and Dodgers have all shown strong interest in the young slugger. Most of those clubs are logical fits, though the Dodgers are a bit surprising given the logjam of outfielders the team already has under contract. The Dodgers are already unable to find regular at-bats for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Scott Van Slyke, so adding another outfielder to the mix would make a semi-surprising addition.

Some more news items from around the league…

  • Braves right-hander Garrett Fulenchek and his agent, Craig Rose, have joined MSM Sports, MLBTR has learned. The 18-year-old Fulenchek was selected with the 66th overall pick in this year’s draft and will join the same agency that is home to No. 8 overall pick Kyle Freeland and Josh Harrison of the Pirates.
  • The Royals and Orioles have built somewhat unconventional rosters, writes ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, pointing out that their meeting in the ALCS marks the first time in the divisional era (beginning in 1969) that two teams that ranked in the bottom five of the league in walks will meet in an LCS or World Series. Crasnick looks at each team’s emphasis on defense as well as the Orioles’ emphasis on power and aggression and the Royals’ emphasis on speed. Somewhat incredibly, Baltimore ranked first in the Majors in homers and last in steals, while Kansas City ranked last in homers and first in steals. Crasnick spoke with Adam Jones, Buck Showalter and the Elias Sports Bureau’s Steve Hirdt for the piece, the latter of whom opined that clubs have gone from undervaluing walks to overvaluing them.
  • Crasnick’s colleague, Jayson Stark, writes that players feel underrepresented as MLB experiments with new rules to increase the pace of play. No active players were included on the seven-man committee to look into the matter, though MLBPA executive director Tony Clark (a former Major Leaguer himself) is on the committee to serve as a voice for the players, commissioner-elect Rob Manfred explained to Stark via email. Nonetheless, players such as Curtis Granderson, Kevin Slowey and Brad Ziegler all went on the record with Stark, and a number of players who wished to remain anonymous brought up several issues they’ve taken with the endeavor. Some players feel that too much of the blame has been placed on them, when there’s been little talk of shortening commercial breaks or the consequences that an increasingly matchup-based game has brought about (i.e. more pitching changes). More than anything, players hope to have a voice in the matter before changes are implemented, Slowey and Granderson explained.
  • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy compiled an “All-Rookie Team” for the 2014 season, highlighting the excellent work of Travis d’Arnaud, Jose Abreu, Mookie Betts, Nick Castellanos, Danny Santana, Billy Hamilton, Kevin Kiermaier, George Springer, Kennys Vargas, Jacob deGrom, Collin McHugh, Marcus Stroman, Masahiro Tanaka, Yordano Ventura and Dellin Betances. Names such as Matt Shoemaker and David Peralta also earned mentions, and you can read Eddy’s rationale behind his selections in the full article.

Latest On A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett has a $12.75MM player option for the 2015 season, but he’s also debated retirement on multiple occasions over the past two seasons, so whether or not he picks it up remains uncertain. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears, however, that Burnett is leaning toward pitching again in 2015. Heyman spoke to people close to Burnett and got the sense that given the righty’s love of pitching and the solid $12.75MM payday, there’s a “good chance” that he’ll pitch in 2015.

The news may bring about mixed reactions among Phillies faithful, as Burnett unquestionably struggled this season. Though the 37-year-old posted his highest innings total since 2008 (213 2/3) and made an NL-leading 34 starts, he also posted a disappointing 4.59 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and a 50.6 percent ground-ball rate. Burnett posted an NL-worst 18 losses as well, though clearly that total is also reflective of his defense and a lack of run support. Beyond that, Burnett also pitched through a hernia for much of the season, an injury that, as Burnett told’s Todd Zolecki, will require offseason surgery.

However, the prospect of a healthy Burnett in 2015 would improve the Phillies’ outlook. Currently, the team has little certainty in the rotation beyond ace Cole Hamels and righty David Buchanan (117 2/3 innings of 3.75 ERA in 2014), as it’s impossible to know what to expect of Cliff Lee next season as he recovers from a flexor tendon injury. Kyle Kendrick and Jerome Williams, each of whom occupied a rotation spot late in the 2014 season, are both free agents. Aaron Nola, the team’s first-round selection from 2014, could eventually factor into the equation. Other in-house options include Jonathan Pettibone and Jesse Biddle, though the latter certainly figures to need some more time to develop in the minors, and the former missed much of 2014 following shoulder surgery.

NL East Notes: Stanton, Phillies, Braves

Marlins superstar Giancarlo Stanton projects to land a $13MM payday in his second run through arbitration, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz (via MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes). That figure would be double Stanton’s salary from last year, and sets the table nicely for the 24-year-old as the team prepares to open extension negotiations.

Here are the latest front office moves from the NL East:

  • The Phillies will hire Johnny Almaraz as their new head of scouting, tweets Jim Salisbury of Almaraz had served as the Braves‘ director of international scouting. He will take over for the departed Marti Wolever.
  • Also, the Phillies announced that they have hired Rafael Chaves away from the Dodgers to serve as their new minor league pitching coordinator. Chaves filled the same role with L.A. from 2009-13 before serving as a special assistant of player personnel this past season.
  • The Braves have announced a series of front office shifts, most of which were already reported. Gordon Blakely and Roy Clark were named special assistants to the general manager, Brian Bridges was promoted to scouting director, and Dave Trembley has been hired as director of player development. Trembley’s assistant will be Jonathan Schuerholz, the son of club president John. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recaps the action amongst the Atlanta brass.

Minor Moves: O’Sullivan, Jackson, Paterson, Wilson, Bianchi

As outrights pick up pace across the league, here are the latest minor moves:

  • After outrighting him yesterday, the Phillies have released righty Sean O’Sullivan, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. O’Sullivan was set to become a minor league free agent anyway, so this just moves up his appearance on the open market.
  • After seeing three players fail to clear waivers today, the Diamondbacks did manage to get another trio through. Per the PCL transactions page, outfielder Brett Jackson, lefty Joe Paterson, and catcher Bobby Wilson have all cleared and been outrighted to Triple-A. Jackson, a 26-year-old former top prospect, had another disappointing season at Triple-A, posting a .208/.299/.350 line in 271 plate appearances. Paterson, 28, again posted solid numbers in Triple-A (2.95 ERA over 42 2/3 frames) but failed to return to the regular MLB pen role that he had in 2011. And Wilson, 31, saw his first MLB action since 2012 with the Angels, but spent most of his time putting together a .267/.324/.341 slash over 299 trips to the plate at Triple-A.
  • Also clearing waivers and being outrighted was Jeff Bianchi of the Brewers. Bianchi, who turned 28 on Sunday, struggled in limited MLB action this year. The utility infielder owns a lifetime .534 OPS through 402 plate appearances in the bigs. Over three seasons at Triple-A, he has posted a more attractive .299/.349/.428 line.

Offseason Outlook: Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies fell to the basement of the NL East with a 73-89 record in 2014. Ominously, the club received decent performances from many over-the-hill veterans, suggesting the presence of additional downside. Youngsters and the rotation take most of the blame for the poor season. If there’s one bright spot (and there is only one), it’s the bullpen.

Guaranteed Contracts

Arbitration Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via Matt Swartz)

Contract Options

Free Agents

The Phillies entered the July trade deadline with few assets and an obvious need to retool. However, they opted to keep their most marketable pieces like Hamels, Papelbon, and Byrd. That trio were involved in a wide range of trade rumors, but a deal was never finalized. Philadelphia did swing a notable August trade, securing prospects Jesmuel Valentin and Victor Arano from the Dodgers for starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez. The Phillies also netted Gustavo Pierre for backup outfielder John Mayberry Jr.

GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may be on the hot seat due to a combination of bad contracts and a failure to turn veterans into future talent during the season. For example, several playoff-bound clubs like the Tigers, Giants, or Dodgers could have benefited from Papelbon, but Amaro was unable to unload him. For what it’s worth, former team president Dave Montgomery and interim team president Pat Gillick have issued multiple votes of confidence on behalf of Amaro. The club’s failure in 2014 should make it easier for the front office to accept a rebuilding process.

Philadelphia lacks near-ready position prospects beyond Maikel Franco. Their offense ranked 27th in baseball per wRC+, a context neutral advanced statistic. They barely outpaced the Padres, Reds, and Diamondbacks among the league’s worst offenses. A focus on finding new, long-term assets should be the top priority.

While it’s obvious the club should rebuild, the how of it is muddier. The outgoing free agents do not represent a substantial chunk of the payroll, so a Yankees-like spending spree isn’t a possibility. A quick turnaround will require shrewd moves on the free agent, trade, and waiver markets. When this club was last successful, they found Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth on the scrap heap. This time around Philadelphia needs to find even more hidden gems.

Before fixating on the Phillies myriad problems, let’s examine their biggest strength – the bullpen. Papelbon posted a fine season with 39 saves and a 2.04 ERA. His fastball velocity declined for a fourth straight season – now down to 91 mph. His peripherals are worrisome, especially his unusually low .247 BABIP and 2.7% HR/FB ratio. If both numbers regress to league average, we should expect a corresponding bump in ERA.

Papelbon found himself in the rumor mill this summer but ultimately stuck with the club. His contract, vesting option, and reputation as a distraction will make him difficult to trade. He can block deals to 17 clubs, but he’s said he will accept a trade to any contender who uses him as their primary closer. The emergence of Ken Giles – 1.18 ERA, 12.61 K/9, 2.17 BB/9, and 97 mph fastball – gives Philadelphia an alternative to their veteran star. However, Giles has struggled with command in the minors, so it may be prudent to confirm he can maintain a strong walk rate. Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal offers a cautionary tale.

Another reliever to emerge this season is Jake Diekman. The left-handed slinger dialed up the gas with an average fastball at 97 mph and the ability to touch triple digits. He improved throughout the season and finished with a 3.80 ERA, 12.68 K/9, and 4.44 BB/9. Diekman’s presence could make Bastardo expendable. The club’s longest tenured lefty reliever is entering his third and final season of arbitration eligibility and is expected to earn $2.8MM. The Phillies can also turn to right-hander Justin De Fratus to shorten games.

Papelbon is not the only player who should expect a swirl of trade rumors this winter. With several high profile players, the question is: will they return? Burnett may consider retirement rather than accept his side of the option (worth at least $12.75MM). Even if he does decide to continue playing, there’s no guarantee he won’t opt to serve with another franchise.

One reason Burnett chose Philadelphia was that he thought he could help them compete. Despite an 18-loss season, teams would probably be willing to bet on Burnett returning to a healthier and more productive state in 2015. He pitched nearly the entire season with a hernia and posted the highest walk rate of his career. A healthy Burnett could more closely resemble his strong 2012-13 seasons.

In many ways, it’s fortunate that outfielder Yasmany Tomas was declared a free agent last Thursday. The Phillies were the first club to organize a private workout with the Cuban and are said to have always preferred him over fellow countryman Rusney Castillo. The power hitter would fit the Phillies need of young talent without necessitating a trade. The outcome of the Tomas pursuit could accelerate the club’s rebuilding plans – assuming they can swallow a possible nine-digit price tag.

If payroll stays consistent around $175MM, Howard, Lee, and Hamels represent over 40 percent of expenditures. Currently, about $132.67MM is guaranteed in 2015 with another $10MM estimated through arbitration. Burnett’s $12.75MM player option will play a big role in available payroll. Depending on his decision, the Phillies appear to have about $20MM to $35MM to spend over the offseason. It’s possible declining attendance will lead to a lower payroll, or perhaps valuable opportunities like Tomas will lead to more spending.

Hamels is the club’s most valuable Major League asset. Amaro reportedly asked teams for their three top prospects in return for Hamels – a price at which many scoffed. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs confirmed that Hamels has some value with his current contract, but the financial cost does make it hard for another club to justify an exorbitant prospect fee.

As the Phillies’ most marketable trade commodity, the club will have trouble pulling the trigger on a Hamels deal. Most rebuilding franchises will conduct a fire sale and count on a quantity of well-regarded prospects to provide value down the road. The Phillies basically get to take one shot at finding their future. Prospect-rich teams like the Cubs, Red Sox, and Dodgers are expected to make a play for Hamels, who can block trades to 20 clubs.

The team has caught a lot of flak over the years for Howard’s contract, and the criticism seems well deserved. Since his current contract kicked in prior to 2012, Howard has provided -1.0 fWAR. That places him among the worst players over that time span despite collecting one of the highest annual salaries.

Philadelphia has tried to dump Howard to any AL franchise while assuming most of the remaining payroll. So far, the fish won’t bite. The club could opt to dismiss the former star and eat his salary, although that seems like a hasty measure without an alternative in place. Darin Ruf is the backup first baseman, with Franco in apparent need of more minor league seasoning.

Lee is another pricey player who might not live up to his contract. Whereas there is little hope of a resurgence from Howard, Lee could recover his past form if the flexor tendon in his left elbow heals over the offseason. This year, he pitched to a 3.65 ERA with 7.97 K/9 and 1.33 BB/9 in 81 innings while missing most of the second half.

Lee’s $27.5MM option for 2016 becomes guaranteed if he throws 200 innings next season without ending on the disabled list with a left arm injury. Otherwise, it becomes a club option with a hefty $12.5MM buyout. An offseason trade of Lee seems unlikely due to his injury, though it’s possible that a team like the Dodgers would be willing to assume some or all of the contract as a way to acquire a possible star at a minimal prospect cost.

With the Phillies’ top three starting pitchers uncertain to return and/or produce in 2015, rotation depth will be a priority for the club. Kendrick could be re-signed as a familiar face. He’s a reliable if unexciting option to absorb innings for a rebuilding club. Internal options include David Buchanan, 2014 draftee Aaron Nola, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, and Jonathan Pettibone. Prospect Jesse Biddle could figure as a mid-season addition.

Even if the Hamels, Lee, and Burnett remain in Philadelphia, the team may want to acquire two starters via free agency or trade. A top-flight free agent is an unlikely acquisition, and competition could keep them away from mid-market targets. Again, Tomas’ decision could affect the club’s direction in the rotation. It would be easier to justify signing a Brandon McCarthy if a quick path to contention was evident. Similarly, if Burnett declines his option, the Phillies may be more inclined to investigate other mid-market options.

The outfield is perhaps an area of consternation for the Phillies. Byrd performed as expected, as did Revere. However, Brown turned in a lousy season with just 10 home runs and a .235/.285/.349 line. The club may be ready to execute a change of scenery move. Certainly, Brown’s grasp on regular playing time has eroded.

The free agent market for outfielders is fairly thin, and trading for a notable outfielder could be difficult to balance with the club’s priorities. Philadelphia could still cash in on Byrd over the offseason to take advantage of the paucity of outfielders in free agency. As for depth pieces, the club received solid production from Sizemore and could consider another one-year deal. Perhaps they would consider recently designated outfielder Jose Tabata too. Most internal options like Cesar Hernandez and Gwynn are defense-oriented. The lone exception is prospect Kelly Dugan, but he’s struggled with injuries and has yet to show much in-game power.

On the face of it, the infield is stable. Howard, Utley, and Rollins have manned their respective positions since 2005 while Cody Asche or Franco will probably handle third base. If Howard isn’t back for 2015, the club has a few internal solutions. Utley could move to first base with either Asche, Hernandez, or Freddy Galvis serving at second base. Alternatively, Franco or Ruf could step directly into the first base job. Some speculate that playing first base could help Utley remain healthy and effective, although such claims are not accompanied by evidence.

While an external hire is unlikely, third base is an area of depth in free agency. If Philadelphia has its eyes on the postseason, Aramis Ramirez might be of interest – assuming he turns down his half of a mutual option. Ramirez is entering his age-37 season, which doesn’t appear to be a good fit for the Phillies. However, he could give Asche and Franco space to develop while improving the on-field product. He may come with a qualifying offer attached, but the Phillies’ first round pick is protected, meaning he would require forfeiture of a second-round selection.

Since he’s available to sign now, Tomas appears primed to be the first domino to fall in the free agent market. His decision may affect the direction of the Phillies offseason. If Philadelphia gambles on the Cuban, they might be more inclined to aim for a competitive roster in the next couple years. Unless they find a similarly high-ceiling youngster around which to build, the situation looks bleak.

Quick Hits: Maeda, Headley, Miller, Phils

26-year-old Kenta Maeda of Japan’s Hiroshima Carp is expected to become available through the posting system, making him an intriguing potential addition to the upcoming free agent market. Ben Badler of Baseball America has a report on Maeda’s last outing in the Nippon League, writing that he “flash[ed] three average or better pitches with good fastball command.” Though slight in build, Maeda steadily worked in the 90-94 mph range. Ultimately, Badler indicates that, while the righty is not viewed as a top-of-the-rotation arm at the MLB level, he should draw plenty of interest if he is made available.

Here are a few more stray notes from around the game:

  • The Yankees may be interested in re-signing mid-season acquisition Chase Headley, reports Jon Heyman of A move to bring back the third baseman would appear to be a strong indication that Alex Rodriguez is not expected to be an option there, Heyman explains.
  • The Tigers thought they were going to acquire then-Red Sox lefty Andrew Miller at the trade deadline after meeting Boston’s asking price, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But the Sox gave the Orioles one last chance, resulting in Eduardo Rodriguez heading north to a division rival. As Sherman notes, the eleven outs that Miller recorded in the ALDS for the O’s, rather than the Tigers, had an undeniable impact on Baltimore’s three-game sweep.
  • Looking ahead to Miller’s free agency, one executive tells Sherman that three years and $21MM is probably just the starting point for the southpaw’s market. The ability to deploy Miller in the way that the Yankees used Dellin Betances in his breakout year — often throwing multiple innings in winnable games — greatly increases his value, says Sherman.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says “there’s nothing that’s really off the table” for the team as it enters the offseason, as’s Todd Zolecki reports. Though he said he does not believe “this organization needs a philosophical overhaul as far as how we evaluate players,” Amaro said the team needs to get younger and more athletic while “looking for more long-term solutions” in the player market. Ultimately, the organization could put added emphasis on “speed and contact” given the lack of power bats available.