- The Winter Meetings weren’t quite as busy for the Phillies, but as Ryan Lawrence of the Philly Voice notes, there’s still plenty time for some moves. GM Matt Klentak noted both that the flurry of moves creates “a ripple effect” and also that there’s plenty of information gathering which can “help you make decisions down the road.” In Philadelphia’s case, there’s “not a lot cooking” at the moment, per Klentak, but with “a lot of dialogue on a lot of different fronts” there’s always the potential for something to come together. Klentak notes that he expects at least one or two of the team’s 40-man spots to turn over between now and the start of Spring Training.
- Southpaw Sean Burnett will head to camp with the Phillies, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). If he can crack the roster, Burnett will receive a $1.25MM salary if and when he pitches in the majors, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter links). The deal also includes $1.75MM in available incentives along with a March 26 opt-out date, per Nicholson-Smith. Burnett, 34, returned to the majors in 2016 with the Nationals after missing time due to injury. He posted a 3.18 ERA with three strikeouts and a walk over 5 2/3 innings across ten appearances in his return to D.C., and figures to have a shot at earning a lefty specialist role in Philadelphia.
The Phillies have agreed to a minor-league deal with outfielder Daniel Nava, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports on Twitter. Nava, 33, spent last year with the Angels and (briefly) the Royals.
It has been some time since Nava was a productive major leaguer. He put up a roughly league-average batting line in 2014 with the Red Sox, one year after his breakout 2013 campaign, but owns a modest .208/.307/.268 slash in his 314 plate appearances since that time. Nava is a switch-hitter who is historically much better against right-handed pitching.
While the rebuilding Phillies have added one likely corner outfield piece in Howie Kendrick, and continue to feature Odubel Herrera up the middle, there’s still ample uncertainty in the outfield. Nava will likely join the hunt for work in a platoon or true bench role along with a number of other players — including both prospects and other veterans brought in from outside the organization.
As things stand, younger corner outfield possibilities include right-handed hitters Aaron Altherr and Tyler Goeddel as well as the switch-hitting Roman Quinn. There are a few southpaw-swinging outfield candidates, too, including highly regarded prospects Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens, but it’s not clear whether they’ll be deemed ready for a major role out of the gates.
Mariot, 28, pitched 21 2/3 innings with the Phils last year but limped to a 5.82 ERA with a 23-to-14 K/BB ratio and a 31 percent ground-ball rate in that time. Mariot has an ERA just shy of 6.00 in 49 2/3 big league innings over parts of three seasons, but he has a flat 3.00 ERA with 9.3 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 in parts of five Triple-A seasons over a total of 183 innings. That minor league track record should get Mariot some interest as a depth option elsewhere, but he’s out of minor league options so he’d have to break camp with a team next year or be exposed to waivers before he could be sent to the minors.
DEC. 6: The Phillies have announced the signing of Benoit.
DEC. 5: Gelb reports that Benoit will earn $7.5MM on his one-year deal — the same amount he earned in 2016 (Twitter link).
DEC. 4, 11:59pm: Benoit’s deal is a one-year contract and it will be finalized when he passes a physical, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
10:04pm: The Phillies are close to a deal with veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports. The contract is expected to be announced before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.
Benoit’s 15th big league season was really like two seasons in one, as he struggled with both the long ball and his control over 24 1/3 innings with the Mariners before being traded to the Blue Jays in late July. In Toronto, Benoit turned things around in spectacular fashion, posting an 0.38 ERA, 9.1 K/9, 2.67 K/BB rate and just one home run allowed over 23 2/3 IP as a Blue Jay. He missed out on the Jays’ postseason run due to a torn calf muscle suffered in a bench-clearing brawl with the Yankees in late September.
Assuming a deal is finalized, the Phillies would be the seventh team Benoit has suited up for during his long career. The 39-year-old has somewhat flown under the radar as one of the best relievers in baseball in recent years, posting a 2.40 ERA, 3.56 K/BB rate and an even 10.0 K/9 over 427 bullpen innings since the start of the 2010 season.
As Salisbury notes, Benoit does have some closing experience but for now likely slots in alongside Pat Neshek as the veteran setup options behind Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez. Salisbury speculates that Benoit could give the Phils added depth so the team could shop Neris or Gomez; Neris in particular would draw a lot of attention on the open market, though Philadelphia would want a lot in return.
- The Angels checked in with the Phillies about second baseman Cesar Hernandez at the start of the offseason but talks didn’t develop due to the Phils’ high asking price, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. While Hernandez doesn’t look like an option, Fletcher lists several other relatively inexpensive second base possibilities who could be available for the Halos in free agency or in trades.
- There is some speculation that the Phillies would be open to trading Odubel Herrera, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan tweets. It would surely take quite a bit to make a deal happen, as Herrera has gone from Rule 5 pick to an everyday contributor for Philadelphia who has hit .291/.353/.419 and 23 homers over his two big league seasons.
The Phillies announced that they’ve claimed lefty David Rollins off waivers from the Rangers and designated infielder/outfielder Cody Asche for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Asche, formerly one of the Phillies’ top prospects, has struggled in parts of four seasons and was a non-tender candidate prior to tonight’s 8pm ET deadline.
Philadelphia was hopeful at one point that Asche, now 26, could develop into a regular option at the hot corner, but his bat has never come around at the Major League level, and Maikel Franco’s arrival pushed him out to left field. The left-handed hitter owns a career .240/.298/.385 batting line with 31 homers in 1287 Major League plate appearances — a far cry from the .297/.359/.491 slash he’s compiled in 150 games across parts of four seasons at Triple-A.
Prior to the 2013 season, Baseball America rated Asche seventh among Phillies farmhands and noted that while he doesn’t have the prototypical power or high-level defense one would expect out of a regular third baseman, he had the potential to hit enough to land a role as a Major League regular. To this point in his career, that hasn’t panned out.
Rollins, 27 next month, has gone from the Mariners to the Cubs to the Rangers to the Phillies on waivers in a matter of two months. The former 24th-round pick has a 7.60 ERA in 34 innings with the Mariners across the past two seasons and has averaged 7.1 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 with a 41.9 percent ground-ball rate. He’s been rather unlucky, as evidenced by a .379 BABIP, but even the most optimistic ERA estimator pegs him in the mid-4.00s (4.41 SIERA). Rollins does have minor league options remaining, so the Phils could stash him in Triple-A next year if he doesn’t break camp with the club. Then again, the Phillies may try to pass Rollins through waivers themselves at some point with an eye toward keeping him in the organization but freeing up a 40-man roster spot. No team has been able to successfully do that this winter, however.
- Morosi also tweets that the Phillies are seeking a short-term outfield bat and have inquired with the Tigers about J.D. Martinez, but talks didn’t advance much, he notes. Martinez has been one of the most talked-about trade candidates of the offseason and seems to have a decent chance of landing elsewhere this winter, but the asking price on him is apparently quite high at the moment. Newsday’s Marc Carig reported yesterday that Michael Conforto’s name came up in talks with the Mets before New York re-signed Yoenis Cespedes. (Unsurprisingly, talks died quickly once Detroit mentioned Conforto, per Carig.)
The Phillies announced that they’ve hired former Twins general manager Terry Ryan as a special assignment scout. The move will reunite Ryan with team president Andy MacPhail, whom he knows well from the pair’s days together in Twins organization back in the 80s and early 90s, when Ryan came up through the Twins’ system and rose to the position of vice president of player personnel under then-GM MacPhail.
While Ryan’s Twins were an unequivocal disappointment in 2016 and many of his most recent free-agent signings haven’t panned out, he’s long been respected throughout the industry for his scouting acumen. A two-time Sporting News Executive of the Year, Ryan will bring more than three decades of scouting and front office experience to the Phillies’ front office and to their player evaluation process.
“I’m very happy to be joining the Phillies and have the opportunity to provide some impact and evaluation,” said Ryan in a press release announcing the move. “This is an exciting time for the franchise as they have what many in the industry consider to be one of the top farm systems in baseball.”
“I have known Terry for more than a decade and have enormous respect for all that he accomplished during his tenure with the Twins,” said GM Matt Klentak in the release. “Terry’s work ethic, loyalty and track record as a talent evaluator are simply unparalleled in our game. … “While we have made significant investments in our analytical endeavors over the past year, it is important to remember that quality talent evaluation is essential to making quality baseball decisions. We are thrilled to welcome Terry to the Phillies.”