Philadelphia Phillies Rumors

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

Which Rule 5 Picks Are Still With Their New Teams?

There were 13 players selected in the Major League phase of the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, and nearly halfway through the year, a surprising percentage remain with their new clubs. Here’s a look at each of the Rule 5 picks, where they’re currently playing and if they have a chance to remain with their team…

  • Oscar Hernandez, C, Diamondbacks: Selected out of the Rays organization despite never having appeared above Class-A, Hernandez broke his hamate bone in Spring Training and has been on the DL all season.  As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted at the time, that actually made it a bit easier to get some time to evaluate Hernandez, as the D-Backs can see him on a Minor League rehab assignment and don’t have to roster such an inexperienced bat all season. Hernandez is on his rehab assignment now, and the early returns at the plate aren’t good (.200/.259/.280 in nine games). Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s hit poorly, though, so perhaps the team will prefer Hernandez’s big arm for that spot.
  • Mark Canha, 1B/OF, Athletics: Selected by Rockies out of the Marlins organization, Canha was immediately traded to Oakland for right-hander Austin House and cash. Canha hasn’t been great for the A’s, but he’s provided league-average production at the plate to go along with passable corner defense. At this point, it would be a surprise if Canha didn’t finish the season with the team.
  • Delino DeShields, Jr., OF, Rangers: The Rangers plucked the former No. 8 overall pick out of the Astros organization, perhaps hoping that DeShields could be a speedy bench piece. DeShields, like the Rangers club as a whole, has been far better than most expected, hitting .269/.358/.386 and going 13-for-15 in stolen base attempts. A hamstring injury has had him on the DL for much of June, but he’s on a rehab assignment right now and should return to the team in short order. DeShields’ .368 BABIP will likely regress, but he’s been the game’s second most-valuable baserunner, per Fangraphs, despite his limited playing time. He certainly seems likely to remain with the Rangers.
  • Jason Garcia, RHP, Orioles: The Astros were the team to technically select Garcia out of the Red Sox organization, but Houston quickly traded him to Baltimore for cash. Garcia pitched poorly in 13 innings to open the season before landing on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that has since seen him transferred to the 60-day DL.
  • J.R. Graham, RHP, Twins: A former top prospect with the Braves, Graham was selected by the Twins on the heels of an injury-shortened 2014 season. He’s seen a lot of time in mop-up duty, but Graham has delivered a solid ERA, albeit with less encouraging peripherals. In 35 2/3 innings, hs has a 3.03 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 39.1 percent ground-ball rate. The Twins have said they plan to retain Graham, who’s averaging better than 95 mph on his fastball.
  • Jandel Gustave, RHP: Gustave was selected by the Red Sox out of the Astros organization, then traded to the Royals. Kansas City tried to put him through waivers this spring but lost him to the Padres, who ultimately returned him to Houston. He has a 2.54 ERA but a 17-to-13 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings with Houston’s Double-A affiliate.
  • Taylor Featherston, INF, Angels: The Angels acquired Featherston for cash considerations after the Cubs selected him from the Rockies. The Halos seem committed to keeping Featherston, as he’s still on their roster despite just 60 plate appearances this season. The 25-year-old hasn’t hit — .127/.169/.218 — but he’s provided sound defense at three positions late in games and in his rare starts.
  • Odubel Herrera, CF, Phillies: The Phillies nabbed Herrera out of the Rangers’ organization after a strong Double-A showing in 2014, and the infielder-turned-outfielder has seen the bulk of time in center for the Phils. He’s hitting just .251/.282/.359, but the Phillies are the exact kind of team that can afford to give a Rule 5 pick regular at-bats as opposed to costing him valuable reps via limited usage. He’ll remain with the team.
  • Andrew McKirahan, LHP, Braves: The Marlins were the team to select McKirahan, but the Braves claimed him off waivers in Spring Training. McKirahan cracked the Opening Day roster with the Braves, but he pitched just 4 1/3 innings before being suspended 80 games for a positive PED test. The Braves will get a second look at him on a rehab stint in the minors before they have to make a call.
  • Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Mets: The Mets took Gilmartin out of the Twins organization and converted the former first-round pick (Braves, 2011) from a starter into a reliever. The result has been a 1.88 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 3.8 B/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate in 24 innings. Curiously, Gilmartin has significant reverse platoon splits in his first taste of big league action.
  • Daniel Winkler, RHP, Braves: Winkler was the Braves’ actual selection out of the Rule 5. Winkler is recovering from 2014 Tommy John surgery and has yet to pitch in 2015 at any level. He’s on Atlanta’s 60-day DL.
  • David Rollins, LHP, Mariners: Seattle took Rollins out of the Astros organization, and the lefty made a strong case in Spring Training to break camp with the team’s bullpen. However, he was suspended 80 games for PED usage and wound up on the restricted list. Rollins is on a rehab assignment now and could still pitch with the Mariners in 2015.
  • Logan Verrett, RHP: The only other player to be returned to his team at this point, Verrett was selected by the Orioles out of the Mets organization. Baltimore lost him on waivers to the Rangers, who carried him on the roster briefly before eventually returning him to the Mets. Since being returned, Verrett has debuted with his original organization at the big league level.

NL East Notes: Braves, Mets, Phillies

Braves assistant GM John Coppolella tells MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that the club is still working to put a winner on the field at present, though it won’t lose focus of its longer-term needs. “We don’t want to lose 100 games or put our fan base through any type of extended suffering,” he said. “We are trying to walk two parallel roads: making this team better and building for the future. So, it’s one eye on the present and two eyes on the future.” While that means that the club will weigh present needs in considering trades this summer, it still appears unlikely that Atlanta will be a significant buyer. Instead, it seems, the club may not be aggressive in moving veterans if it’s still in playoff contention — an easier decision, perhaps, given that the Braves moved their best shorter-term assets before the season. “When we get to the Trade Deadline, we won’t look to ship out everyone who is on a free-agent contract or everybody who is over the age of 30,” he said. “We’re going to look to make good solid baseball trades that will be made in the best interest of this franchise. I don’t know if we’ll be as active as we have been previously. We’ll see what comes up at the Deadline, but by no means will we totally gut this team.”

  • The Mets‘ long-term plans at short probably will not involve Wilmer Flores, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com suggests on Twitter. New York will either fill that slot via trade or turn to 24-year-old Matt Reynolds, who is currently in his second stint at the Triple-A level. Of course, it’s worth noting that the organization has an even younger option in Gavin Cecchini. The 21-year-old is enjoying his best season as a professional at the Double-A level, where he’s slashing .285/.340/.423 over 262 plate appearances.
  • The Phillies‘ front office announcement today also revealed something about the club’s ownership situation, Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. John Middleton — who owns the single largest stake in the club (48%) — was front and center during today’s press conference, putting a new face on the organization. “We spent $18 million buying our initial interest in this team,” Middleton explained. “We’re a long way from $18 million now, so you have to take a greater role in the team. You have to.”
  • Phillies president-to-be Andy MacPhail emphasized that he is prepared infuse analytics into the organization’s decisionmaking, as Nick Suss of MLB.com reports. With Middleton noting the importance of updating the club’s use of data, including a customized system that the club expects to bring on line in September, MacPhail indicated that his aim is to harness statistical analysis with a focus on the people performing and utilizing it. “The more experience you have with it and the more you get a better sense of which formulas really are predictors of performance and which ones aren’t, it’s something that knowledge accrues over time,” MacPhail said. “But I think it’s absolutely essential that you marry that with the best human intelligence you can. Bodies change. Weaknesses get exposed and they get exploited. People make adjustments. So you need to look at every single facet that is possible when you’re making player evaluations.”

Phillies Hire Andy MacPhail As Pat Gillick’s Successor

5:15pm: Gillick tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (links to Twitter) that Amaro will retain full authority at least through the end of the season. “Ruben is going to be the GM through the end of the season,” said Gillick. “He’s going to make any of the deals that we make. He still has that authority. That’s his job — to change personnel. That’s not going to change.”

1:38pm: The Phillies announced that they have hired MacPhail, who will serve as a special assistant to Gillick for the remainder of the season before assuming the role of president at the end of the year. The team’s official statement is as follows:

“The Phillies announced today the hiring of Andy MacPhail to succeed Pat Gillick as president of the club following Gillick’s retirement shortly after the season ends. As president, MacPhail will oversee the entire organization, both its business and baseball operations. For the remainder of the season, MacPhail will serve as a special assistant to Gillick, during which time he will work closely with Gillick and chief operating officer Michael Stiles to become acclimated with the club’s operations and its personnel.”

Phillies principal owner John Middleton praised MacPhail’s blend of traditional baseball acumen and his prowess with analytics in a statement issued with today’s press release:

“Andy brings an uncommon blend of old school experience and new age thinking. … In 1986, Andy was the youngest GM in the history of Major League Baseball when he served in that role for the Twins. The following year, he became the youngest GM to win a World Series title. When the Orioles hired him eight years ago, Andy became the first president of baseball operations in Major League Baseball. During his tenure in Baltimore, he greatly expanded the use of statistical analysis in player evaluations. That’s the new age thinking.”

10:16am: The Phillies have called a press conference at 2:30pm ET to “announce new Phillies leadership.” As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki indicates, the presser will announce the widely expected hiring of Andy MacPhail to head the team’s baseball operations department (Twitter links). However, he adds that no new manager will be named this afternoon, and Ruben Amaro will remain in the GM’s chair, for now.

Last week, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that MacPhail would be hired within the week to fill a role similar to that of interim president Pat Gillick. Reports of the club’s interest in MacPhail date back to mid-June, when CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury first broke the news.

By bringing MacPhail on board, the Phillies will hire an executive with experience in leading three franchises. MacPhail was the Twins’ GM during the team’s 1987 and 1991 World Series victories. He served as the Cubs’ president for more than a decade from the mid-90s into the mid-2000s, including the team’s 1998 and 2003 postseason berths. MacPhail moved from Chicago to Baltimore, where he served as president of baseball operations and helped lay the foundation for the perennial contender that is now in place in Baltimore. MacPhail acquired Adam Jones and Chris Tillman in a lopsided trade that sent Erik Bedard to Seattle, and he also acquired Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter from the Rangers in exchange for Koji Uehara. J.J. Hardy‘s presence in Baltimore is also MacPhail’s doing; he acquired the shortstop from the Twins (alongside the remaining money on Brendan Harris‘ contract) in exchange for relievers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson.

By coming on board with more than a month until the trade deadline, MacPhail will be in position to do some evaluation and weigh in on what is expected to be a franchise-altering month for the Phillies. Names like Aaron Harang, Jonathan Papelbon and Ben Revere could all find themselves traded within the month, but the most impactful expected move, is of course, a potential trade of Cole Hamels. The longtime Phillies ace is the type of elite arm that can command a package significant enough to single-handedly reshape the team’s future, and the veteran executive will now be in place to have some input on that critical trade.

Additionally, MacPhail will be able to evaluate internal matters, including Amaro’s position with the team and, potentially, the hiring of a new manager to oversee the club in the wake of Ryne Sandberg’s resignation.



Quick Hits: Heyward, Segura, Giants, Joseph

Jason Heyward got off to a slow start with the Cardinals but he posted a .960 OPS and five home runs over 100 plate appearances from May 27 to June 27.  As Heyward tells Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the improvement came in no small part due to intensive work on his swing, and it seems like things are finally clicking for the right fielder.  If Heyward can keep this hot hitting going throughout the season, it will send his free agent value soaring; MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes has speculated that if Heyward could land a $200MM contract if he delivers a big season and proves he can be a consistent force at the plate.  Here’s some more from around baseball as we head into the new week…

  • The Brewers haven’t told inquiring clubs that they’re not trading Jean Segura, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes, but the team would clearly want a lot in return for the shortstop.  Haudricourt ranks Milwaukee’s roster in terms of likely trade targets, and the only seeming untouchables being Jonathan Lucroy and young arms like Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers, Jimmy Nelson and others.
  • Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle believes that the Giants‘ top priorities heading into trade season are fixing the bench, improving the outfield if Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki have longer-term injuries, and addressing the rotation.  He adds that while it seems like San Francisco needs to dabble in the market for a front of the rotation starter, it might be too tall of an order.  Over the weekend, Giants GM Bobby Evans acknowledged that it could be hard to pull off a deal for a high-end starter given the team’s glut of pitchers with limited trade value.
  • Phillies prospect Tommy Joseph is being shifted from catcher to first base, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports.  Multiple concussions and a wrist injury limited Joseph to just 63 total games in 2013-14, and after suffering another concussion this season, the decision was made to end Joseph’s catching career for the sake of his health.  The Giants drafted Joseph in the second round of the 2009 draft and he came to Philadelphia as part of the Hunter Pence trade package.
  • The Padres may “take a more measured approach” to their spending when the July 2 international market opens, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes.  The Padres are already scouting the 2016-17 international class and may be looking to spend more heavily next year when several big-market teams will be under bonus penalties and out of the market for the top prospects.

Astros Targeting Cueto Over Hamels

In recent weeks, the Astros have been connected to Phillies ace Cole Hamels, but it doesn’t sound as though he’s their top pitching target.  Instead, it’s Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto that is atop Houston’s wish list, according to sources who spoke with Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle.

One of the main reasons for their preference of Cueto over Hamels is that the Astros are seeking out a 2015 rental or possibly someone whose contract runs for one more year.  With a hefty contract that runs through 2018, Hamels simply doesn’t fit the bill.  Cueto, meanwhile, is only owed the prorated portion of his 2015 salary of $10MM, which is a little over $5MM the rest of the way.  Hamels, meanwhile, is set to earn the balance of his $22.5MM salary for the remainder of this season, $22.5MM in the next three seasons, and a $20MM option/$6MM buyout that can vest with good health and a certain number of innings pitched.

For his part, Hamels recently indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team, including the Astros.  Instead, it sounds like Houston has their attention focused on the Reds’ pitching, where other suitors include the Dodgers, Yankees, and Blue Jays, a source tells Drellich.  All in all, Drellich hears that the Phillies have been pumping up the perception of the Astros’ interest as negotiating leverage in talks about Hamels.

The Astros are casting a wide net in their effort to add a solid starter to their rotation to go with Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, Vincent Velasquez, and Lance McCullers.  In addition to Cueto and Mike Leake, the Astros are doing their homework on A’s lefty Scott Kazmir, Brewers right-handers Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse, and White Sox right-hander Jeff Samardzija.


Cafardo On Buchholz, Samardzija, Cueto, Hamels

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pit Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts against Tigers shorstop Jose Iglesias.  Of course, Boston once had both, but Iglesias was shipped out in 2013 in a three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Fenway.  Bogaerts offers more potential as a hitter, but Iglesias clearly has the superior glove.  That difference in the field never made Bogaerts doubt himself, however.

No, that’s just a guy who’s really gifted beyond anyone else,” Bogaerts said. “I just paid attention to trying to get better. I never compared myself to him because you can’t compare anyone to him. He’s a great defensive player and flashy.”

More from today’s column..

  • The same teams that are pursuing Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz are going after White Sox hurler Jeff Samardzija.  That list of teams includes the Royals, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers, according to Cafardo.  Late last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Astros are also interested in Samardzija.  Meanwhile, at this time, the Red Sox reportedly are not interested in moving Buchholz.
  • The Astros are a team to watch in July as they could get very aggressive in their pursuit of a starter.  Cafardo hears that the Astros have been evaluating Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake quite a bit.  Cole Hamels obviously stands as one of the biggest prizes out there, but Cafardo feels he likely wouldn’t sign off on a trade to Houston.  Over the weekend, Hamels indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team.
  • Giants GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that his club is out of the starting pitching market for now thanks to the upcoming returns of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy.
  • The Phillies would like to sell off their pieces little by little rather than make a ton of deals right at the deadline.  However, Cafardo hears that teams aren’t coming to the table with actual offers yet, leaving the Phillies frustrated.
  • Baseball execs who spoke with Cafardo say the Mets are still the best match for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  A package for Tulo could start with left-hander Steven Matz, who makes his big league debut today.
  • Even at his advanced age, one NL evaluator feels that Phillies veteran Carlos Ruiz is still “a better option than “more than 50 percent of the catchers in the league.”
  • Some teams are concerned with Hamels’ poor performance in interleague play while others see it just as a fluky thing.  Hamels has a career 4.73 ERA across 31 interleague starts.

Cole Hamels Would Consider Trade To Any Team

Phillies ace Cole Hamels is “open-minded” to being traded to any team, including the Blue Jays and Astros, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. “I have not been approached,” says Hamels. “When I’m approached, then I can make a decision and provide an answer about a team. But I’m open-minded on everybody and everything.”

Hamels’ contract allows him to block trades to all teams except the Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, Padres, Rangers, and Yankees. Previous reports had suggested he would block trades to the Blue Jays and Astros if given the chance, but that apparently isn’t the case.

Hamels adds that he didn’t foresee the Astros’ strong performance this year when he failed to mark them for inclusion on his list of approved teams. “They just didn’t make the nine-team list,” he says. “When I made the list in October –- who knew?

The Phillies owe Hamels about $86MM guaranteed through 2018, including a $6MM buyout on his vesting/club option for 2019. As Salisbury notes, the absence of certain teams (such as the Red Sox, although it now appears less likely that the Red Sox would acquire him after their underwhelming start) from Hamels’ approved-trade list could give him leverage to ask the team acquiring him to pick up his option. Hamels has lately been connected to the Yankees and Rangers as well as the Blue Jays.


East Notes: Phillies, Marlins, Red Sox

Ryne Sandberg’s sudden resignation raises questions about who, exactly, is charge of the Phillies, David Murphy of the Daily News writes. Team president Pat Gillick said “I can’t really comment on that” yesterday in response to a question about who would be in charge of hiring the next Phillies manager. The team will reportedly hire Andy MacPhail for a front-office position, but it’s unclear whether that’s Gillick’s idea or ownership’s, and even if it’s the latter, it’s not clear who speaks for the ownership. Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • The Marlins‘ loss of Giancarlo Stanton to a broken hamate bone has led to speculation that the team could become sellers at the trade deadline, but the team is unlikely to make wholesale changes, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. In the past few months, team president David Samson has repeatedly spoken about the organization’s need for “stability,” so while it’s possible the Marlins could trade a few older players (possibly including Dan Haren or Mat Latos), they won’t make dramatic moves, as they did in 2012 when they shipped Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers.
  • The Red Sox are mistaken in their apparent belief that they’re contenders, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. They’re currently nine games below .500 and eight games out of first in the AL East. They do have plenty of interesting young players in Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart and Eduardo Rodriguez, but the Red Sox’ recent choice to place Justin Masterson, rather than young lefty Brian Johnson, in their rotation suggests that they’re not yet focused on the future, as Lauber believes they should be.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Market, Phillies, Byrd, Toussaint

As we continue to read the tea leaves on the coming trade market, here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

  • With the Reds and Athletics playing winning baseball of late, the trade market is “tightening,” Rosenthal tweets. “No one is available, really,” a GM tells him. That jives with comments earlier today from Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who noted that very few clubs are truly out of the race at this juncture. Of course, much can change in a matter of weeks.
  • Nobody would suggest that the Phillies are anything but sellers, but the club seems to be in something of a “holding pattern” in discussing transactions while it waits to finalize its reported front office moves, Rosenthal further reports on Twitter. That is understandable, given that Andy MacPhail is expected to be installed in a critical oversight role in short order. He’ll presumably desire a chance to evaluate the situation and have a role in any significant decisions.
  • Some in the game aren’t sure whether MacPhail is the right executive to bring the Phillies up to speed with the analytical developments in the game, Rosenthal writes. But Rosenthal says that he believes that the organization and MacPhail are well aware of the need to modernize and will make that a priority.
  • Reds outfielder Marlon Byrd may now be a more valuable trade piece because of his recent DL stint, Rosenthal notes. Byrd’s $8MM option would vest next year if he makes it to 550 plate appearances, but he’s racked up only 205 thus far. Of course, he’d still reach the mark if he stays in a lineup on an everyday basis.
  • Rosenthal adds one interesting note on the Braves‘ recent acquisition of Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks. Atlanta’s current director of baseball operations, Billy Ryan, was Arizona’s assistant GM at draft time last year, and actually was heavily involved in getting Toussaint to sign.

Ryne Sandberg Resigns As Phillies Manager

Ryne Sandberg has resigned his role as the manager of the Phillies, he announced today. The Hall-of-Fame second baseman was hired late in the 2013 season after Charlie Manuel lost his job. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by Pete Mackanin.

Jun 13, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg (23) enters the dugout before playing the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

“With some leadership roles coming up, I think it was important for me not to be in the way,” said Sandberg, “but to allow the organization to go forward.” He explained that he “felt it was better now than later” that he hand over his role, citing the “accumulation of … losses” as the major factor in his decision.

Sandberg went on to reiterate that he was making the move now in part due to the team’s apparent decision to make changes in the front office, apparently alluding to the reportedly pending hiring of Andy MacPhail. “With some changes at the top looming,” he said, “I did not want to be in the way of anything happening and the progress going forward.”

GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and president Pat Gillick indicated that the move came as a surprise. While Mackanin will take over for the time being, the front office decisionmakers indicated that the process of filling the vacancy in the long term is still in the early stages. When asked when the upper-level changes would go through and who would decide on a new manager, Gillick declined to comment.

Discussing the matter on the broadcast of the team’s game tonight, Amaro said that the decision came “out of the blue” from the organization’s perspective. He said that he and others tried “to push [Sandberg] to stay with us,” but that he felt the outgoing skipper “had made up his mind.”

Expectations for the club were obviously quite low coming into the year, and it has not been pretty. The Phillies sit at 26-48 entering today’s action. It would be impossible to lay all (or even much) of the blame at Sandberg’s feet for the results, of course, as the organization all but declared itself in the early stages of rebuilding over the winter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.