Philadelphia Phillies Rumors

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

Rangers Acquire Cole Hamels In Eight-Player Deal

JULY 31: The deal is official, as the teams have announced the swap.

JULY 30, 9:35pm: Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the league has officially approved the trade, meaning an official announcement shouldn’t be too far off.

JULY 29: After months of rumors, Phillies ace Cole Hamels has reportedly been traded to the Rangers in an eight-player deal.  The Rangers acquired Hamels, reliever Jake Diekman, and $9.5MM in cash for veteran lefty Matt Harrison, pitching prospects Jake Thompson, Alec Asher, and Jerad Eickhoff, catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, and outfield prospect Nick Williams.

Jul 10, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) throws to the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of their MLB baseball game at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s win left the Rangers four games out in the AL Wild Card, but the Hamels deal was likely completed with future seasons in mind as well.  Hamels is signed through the 2018 season and is guaranteed $82.1MM through the end of his contract, plus a 2019 club/vesting option.  Hamels finished his illustrious Phillies career with a flourish, pitching a no-hitter against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Saturday.  The Phillies had drafted Hamels out of high school in the first round in 2002, and he won 114 games for them with a 3.30 ERA, three All-Star Game appearances, and four top-eight Cy Young finishes.  The 31-year-old also sports a 3.09 ERA across 13 postseason starts and was NLCS and World Series MVP when his Phillies won it all in 2008.

Hamels will pair with Yu Darvish, who is presently recovering from Tommy John surgery, atop the Rangers’ rotation, thereby giving Texas a formidable one-two punch to compete in the AL West next year. Joining that pair will be some combination of Martin Perez, Derek Holland, Chi Chi Gonzalez and Nick Martinez.

The Giants, Red Sox, Astros, Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Yankees had also been linked to Hamels in recent days.  According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the lefty wielded his no-trade clause to reject a deal to the Astros.  The Phillies did not need Hamels’ consent to trade him to Texas.  With the Royals adding Johnny Cueto on Sunday, teams still seeking an ace in advance of Friday’s trade deadline may turn to the Tigers’ David Price.

Thompson and Alfaro, each top 50 prospects in the game depending on who you ask, are the best pieces coming back to the rebuilding Phillies.  Originally a second-round pick by the Tigers in 2012, Detroit traded Thompson to the Rangers a year ago in the Joakim Soria deal.  Thompson, currently pitching in Double-A, was labeled a “potential No. 2 or 3 starter” by Baseball America prior to the season.  Alfaro, also last seen at Double-A, was labeled “one of the minors’ best catching prospects” recently by ESPN’s Keith Law despite a significant ankle injury suffered in June.  Williams is known for an “explosive tool set,” per BA, and he’s currently hitting .300/.357/.480 at Double-A.  The Rangers got quantity in this deal too, as MLB.com says Eickhoff could become a No. 3 starter and BA says Asher profiles as a potential No. 4 starter.

Harrison’s inclusion has a financial element, since the 29-year-old southpaw is owed more than $32MM through 2017.  The Phillies will be on the hook for all of that, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Phillies taking him back may have improved their prospect return, as Harrison has made only nine starts since 2013 due to injuries.  Most recently, he had spinal fusion surgery in his lower back in June of last year and returned to a big league mound this month.

Diekman, a 28-year-old southpaw, has struggled out of the Phillies’ bullpen this year with a 5.15 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.  He has posted strong strikeout rates throughout his career, but this year his walks ballooned and his batting average on balls in play jumped to .381.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News first noted that the Rangers and Phillies were moving closer to a Hamels agreement, and MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan said the two sides were getting close.  Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Grant, and Sullivan added further details.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the amount of money going to the Rangers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Orioles Weighing Gerardo Parra, Ben Revere; Discussing Tommy Hunter With Cubs

The Orioles are looking at a pair of left-handed hitting outfielders in Gerardo Parra of the Brewers and Ben Revere of the Phillies, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. The club was talking about a deal involving minor league hurler Zach Davies (in addition to other pieces). Baltimore already has Travis Snider and David Lough as left-handed options in the corner outfield, but has long been said to be looking at new options.

Confirming and building on that report, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Baltimore is indeed pursuing talks on both Parra and Revere (Twitter links). Baltimore is also working on a deal with the Cubs involving reliever Tommy Hunter, per the report. The team would look to save some cash (around $1.5MM) while adding a minor leaguer from Chicago. The 29-year-old has been a steady contributor in the pen, though he failed in an early stint as the team’s closer last year.

The O’s would presumably put some of the savings achieved on Hunter, should that deal come to fruition, towards a new outfielder. Parra ($6.24MM annual salary) and Revere ($4.1MM) would both cost Baltimore a fairly tidy sum to field the rest of the way, in addition to whatever the acquisition cost would be from their respective clubs. Both are different players who represent different kinds of assets: Parra is a better defender with decent pop (particularly this year), and is a pure rental, while Revere is a singles hitter with outstanding speed who can be controlled for two more seasons.


Reactions To The Jonathan Papelbon Trade

The Nationals entered the trade market yesterday to add Jonathan Papelbon from the division-rival Phillies. Before moving on Papelbon, the Nationals looked into both Craig Kimbrel of the Padres and Aroldis Chapman of the Reds, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. But the team moved on when it was quoted an asking price of two top young players (from among Trea Turner, Michael Taylor, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, and Joe Ross). It’s no surprise, then, that the team moved on to Papelbon — who was a “backup” trade target, per the report.

Here’s more on the deal:

  • In exchange for Papelbon (and for keeping $4.5MM of his contract), the Phillies will get righty Nick Pivetta. Per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs, the righty has a good arm and frame that bodes well, though he has the upside of a back-of-the-rotation starter. If he can’t reach that level, though he figures to be a middle relief piece down the line. ESPN.com’s Keith Law largely concurs in that assessment, noting that Pivetta lacks significant upside. It’s easy to see, then, how the deal made sense for both clubs: the Phillies could use a mediocre starter at the back of their rotation, while the Nationals have enough current and future options to make that a largely unnecessary luxury.
  • The move generated some controversy, owing to the fact that the club reportedly promised to use Papelbon as its closer despite the presence of high-performing reliever Drew Storen. The thrice-deposed 9th-inning man declined to say much about the move, but did indicate that he and his agent are having ongoing discussions with GM Mike Rizzo. As Svrluga writes in an even-handed take on the matter, it’s clear that Storen did not deserve to be demoted out of the ninth inning. But the club also had a valid desire to bolster its late-inning relief corps, and adding Papelbon was a good piece for the team to add. As he notes, teams have increasingly recognized the value of filling high-leverage innings with quality arms, regardless of who actually takes the closer role.
  • Jonah Keri of Grantland writes that the trade checks plenty of boxes for the Nats at a reasonable cost. In spite of the off-field risk involved with replacing Storen, it seems to Keri like a worthwhile gamble.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues that the Nationals have shown a lack of confidence in replacing Storen. He says that the move might be more palatable had the club added a clearly superior pitcher, such as Aroldis Chapman or Craig Kimbrel, but suggests that bringing in a similarly effective reliever was something of a slap in the face to a player that the Nats drafted and developed.
  • From my perspective, adding Papelbon says less about how the Nationals feel about Storen than it does the club’s desire to maximize the impact of a bullpen addition with a minimal expenditure of resources. As Rosenthal has observed (Twitter link), Washington seemed reluctant to add significant salary obligations to this year’s payroll at the deadline. It likely would have cost more in salary, prospects, or both, to add a different arm that could simply be slotted into a set-up role. And the team may well have ascribed some value to adding a player with Papelbon’s late-inning and big-game experience, whether or not that was tied to Storen’s own spotty track record in very limited postseason innings. It’s true that Storen did not “deserve” to lose his role, of course, and that he’ll sacrifice some earning capacity through arbitration with the lack of save opportunities. But we see such moves happen all of the time from clubs looking to save money, make upgrades, and otherwise improve their short and long-term position. While the clubhouse aspect and Storen’s feelings certainly should factor in the team’s decisionmaking, then, I’m not sure there’s a compelling fairness point to be considered.


Latest On Padres: Baez, Kimbrel, Deadline Strategy

2:15pm: The Padres have engaged in at least some discussions with the Cubs regarding young infielder Javier Baez, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Chicago is said to be pursuing pitching, and we heard last week that they had exchanged ideas with San Diego.

Meanwhile, the Friars seem increasingly likely to hold onto Craig Kimbrel, reports Heyman. The team lost a significant suitor when the Nationals got Jonathan Papelbon, and San Diego has been unable to convince the Yankees to give up shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo in a deal.

11:40am: The Padres continue to explore a wide array of options on this year’s trade market, though they’ve yet to make a move. Multiple reports suggest that the team is still weighing its ultimate approach, perhaps considering major moves while also preparing for a more modest sell-off.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hears that rival teams expect San Diego to be “super active” and pursue a “huge deal” of some kind (via ESPN.com’s trade deadline page), with the team said to be considering deals on controllable rotation pieces such as James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and even Tyson Ross.

[RELATED: Rangers Discussing Ross, Cashner With Padres]

The inclusion of those names on the market could even reduce the Phillies’ leverage with regard to Cole Hamels negotiations, executives with other clubs tell Stark. The Phillies, of course, are said to be asking teams with interest to get their bids in on the lefty today.

Meanwhile, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Padres GM A.J. Preller could “take a more measured approach” in selling than he did in compiling assets over the winter. San Diego wants “substantive” value in its deals, per the report.

Efforts to move Shields have not resulted in promising offers of yet, says Lin, and he could become an August trade piece. And while San Diego is indeed discussing both Cashner and Ross, it seems hesitant to part with them. There is some belief within the organization that larger-scale moves could wait for the winter.

The club does still appear likely to move its short-term assets, per the Union-Tribune. There is still at least some possibility, though, that it will hold onto Justin Upton and make him a qualifying offer, with talks not yet having produced a substantial enough return, though it seems rather likely that something with come together on the slugger. Other pieces fairly likely to be dealt include Ian Kennedy, Joaquin Benoit, and Will Venable.


Cole Hamels Rumors: Wednesday

7:44pm: Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area tweets that one scenario which was discussed between the Giants and Phillies was centered around young catcher Andrew Susac as well as right-hander Tyler Beede and two more minor leaguers. Clearly, that’s a sizable ask, but the much ballyhooed Susac would be a logical target for the Giants, as he’s blocked in San Francisco by Buster Posey, and the Phillies are in need of a long-term solution behind the plate.

2:07pm: A deal on Hamels is not likely to come together until tomorrow or possibly Friday, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets.

12:12pm: The Giants are “fading” back of the pack chasing Hamels, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. San Francisco has not communicated with the Phillies on a deal in the last 24 hours, he adds.

It’s not entirely surprising to hear that San Francisco could fall out of the running. The club does have plenty of options in its rotation, so the immediate need is not pressing. And the Giants arguably lack the same stable of high-upside minor leaguers that other teams with interest can dangle.

8:51am: The Red Sox appear unlikely to land Phillies lefty Cole Hamels, according to a report form Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Boston’s pursuit of the veteran has been complicated throughout by his no-trade clause, per the report.

While the Red Sox have seemed more an outside contender to add Hamels in recent weeks, the report provides interesting insight into how the Phillies will handle their decision. Philadelphia reportedly asked teams to submit their best offers on Hamels today, and presumably will move to work out a deal with the preferred suitor in relatively short order.

Bradford says there are indications that the Phillies may be devoting more attention to working with interested teams that do not appear on the list of teams over which Hamels has veto power. That may suggest that the clause is a significant barrier — and one, perhaps, that the Phillies do not want to deal with in finalizing an agreement.

As Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com recently tweeted, Hamels can be dealt to two American League clubs (the Yankees and Rangers) or seven National League clubs (the Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, Padres, Dodgers, Cubs, and Mets) without his consent. Of those teams, of course, Texas and Los Angeles have been most heavily tied to Hamels, with the Yankees and Cubs also mentioned at times as teams with possible interest.


Minor MLB Transactions: 7/29/15

We’ve got some catching up to do on the minor moves front after a busy couple of days:

  • Reds outfielder/first baseman Chris Dominguez has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. Dominguez has seen short big league stints in each of the past two seasons, but the 28-year-old has played mostly in the upper minors. He owns a .216/.264/.368 slash over 221 plate appearances on the year at Louisville.
  • The Pirates outrighted infielder Steve Lombardozzi to Triple-A after recently designating him for assignment, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). Following two seasons as a significant utility piece for the Nationals, Lombardozzi has received only 85 big league plate appearances over the 2014-15 campaigns. He owns a .303/.362/.352 slash in his 291 turns at bat for Triple-A Indianapolis.
  • After he, too, cleared waivers, Pirates third baseman Brent Morel elected free agency, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link). The 28-year-old has spent at least some time in the big leagues in every season since 2010, putting up a .601 OPS in 712 plate appearances. In 326 times coming to bat at Triple-A this year, he owns a .266/.322/.441 batting line.
  • As expected, Astros outfielder Alex Presley has accepted an outright assignment with the organization, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports on Twitter. He previously agreed to an outright assignment in order to preserve his $1MM arbitration salary, and chose to do the same once again.
  • The Mariners acquired righty J.C. Ramirez from the Diamondbacks, Seattle announced. Ramirez, 26, made it up to the big leagues for the second time this year, throwing 15 1/3 innings of 4.11 ERA ball from the Arizona pen. He’ll return to his first professional team, which shipped him to the Phillies in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade.

Nationals Acquire Jonathan Papelbon

8:05pm: Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports (via Twitter) that the Nationals will receive $4.5MM from the Phillies in 2015, which covers all but about $400K of Papelbon’s remaining salary. Papelbon’s 2016 salary will indeed be $11MM, he adds, but $3MM of that will be deferred and paid in the 2017 season.

7:12pm: The Nationals announced on Tuesday evening that they have acquired closer Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies in exchange for Double-A right-hander Nick Pivetta. Not only has the team acquired Papelbon, though, they also announced that they have signed him through the 2016 season. Papelbon and the Nationals have reportedly agreed to restructure the pre-existing club/vesting option on his contract, reducing the value from $13MM to $11MM in exchange for having the option immediately exercised. The Phillies also announced the move, adding that they sent cash considerations to Washington along with Papelbon.

Jonathan PapelbonAmong the roadblocks that needed to be resolved prior to finalization of a complicated trade were Papelbon’s no-trade clause, his vesting option for the 2016 season and his adamant desire to remain a closer upon a trade to a new team.

The Nationals, of course, have Drew Storen pitching exceptionally well in the ninth inning this season, but the trade was reportedly contingent upon Papelbon becoming the team’s closer. As such, Storen will slide back to the eighth inning and return to a setup role which he has handled with aplomb in the past. This season, Storen has saved 29 games and worked to a 1.73 ERA, averaging 10.9 strikeouts and just 2.2 walks per nine innings pitched.

A need for a late-inning reliever, then, might not appear to be a strong one for the Nationals, but the rest of the bullpen has been suspect. When subtracting Storen’s 36 1/3 dominant innings, the Nationals’ other relievers have combined to post a considerably less dominant 3.68 ERA.

Papelbon will unquestionably deepen the team’s bullpen, though he may not necessarily be an improvement over Storen in the ninth inning. However, his acquisition will allow Nationals manager Matt Williams more flexibility when using Storen. Williams has deployed Storen, his best reliever, in the eighth inning just once this season, and he’s never used him for more than three outs. Whether or not Storen will be available in multi-inning (or at least four- and five-out situations) remains to be seen, but the Nats will now have a pair of relievers with sub-2.00 ERAs to close out the final two innings of the game.

For all the talk about Papelbon’s diminished velocity, he remains an elite reliever. He’s pitched to a 1.87 ERA dating back to Opening Day 2014, averaging 8.7 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 in 106 innings of relief. Though he’s now averaging just over 91 mph on his heater, Papelbon has improved his control and become a significantly more ground-ball-oriented pitcher. His 51.9 percent ground-ball rate is the highest of his career and comes in a full 13 percent above his career mark of 38.9 percent. The result of his new approach on the hill has been a 1.59 ERA that would represent the second-best mark of his career and his best since 2006, were the season to end today.

Papelbon is earning $13MM in 2015, and about $4.9MM of that sum remains through season’s end. Papelbon was just 21 games finished shy of seeing his 2016 option vest anyway, but by agreeing to the restructured deal he’s traded a bit of financial upside for financial security and the opportunity to join a winning team. While Papelbon’s option was long viewed as a detriment to his trade value and, in the end, still proved to be that, he would almost certainly have been in position to receive a much more sizable commitment on the free agent market, so there’s some value in the deal for the Nats as well.

Turning to the Phillies’ side of the deal, Baseball America ranked the 22-year-old Pivetta as the Nationals No. 10 prospect on their midseason update. Per BA, the Canadian hurler’s 6’5″ frame allows him to throw a low-90s fastball with downward plane. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis ranked Pivetta 12th among Nats farmhands, noting that he can reach 96 mph with his heater and giving him a chance to start in the big leagues while noting that he’s somewhat of a project.

In 101 1/3 innings split between Class-A Advanced and Double-A this season, Pivetta has a 3.02 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9. He’ll join Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Tom Windle and Joely Rodriguez as arms acquired by the Phillies dating back to the offseason’s trades of Jimmy Rollins, Antonio Bastardo and Marlon Byrd.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that there was a deal in the works, but both Jim Bowden and Jayson Stark of ESPN reported that there were hurdles to be cleared before a deal was struck. Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reported (on Twitter) that a deal was close. Bowden reported that a Double-A pitcher was headed to the Phillies (Twitter links). Rosenthal reported (Twitter links) that the trade was contingent upon Papelbon becoming Washington’s closer and restructuring his option. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported Pivetta’s inclusion (via Twitter). Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted the new terms of Papelbon’s 2016 salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Dodgers Prioritizing Cole Hamels In Search For Pitching

The Dodgers are prioritizing Cole Hamels in their search for rotation upgrades, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Los Angeles “wants to exhaust” the option of acquiring Hamels before moving onto a “Plan B” like Yovani Gallardo. Per Sherman, the Dodgers continue to insist that they will not part with top prospects Corey Seager and Julio Urias, however.

Refusal to move either Seager or Urias will certainly work against the Dodgers, who face steep competition in the market for Hamels. The Giants are said to be making a “strong push,” and the Astros are also pushing for the Philadelphia ace. The Rangers have been discussing prospects with the Phillies recently, and the Diamondbacks have emerged as somewhat of a surprise candidate in the Hamels sweepstakes as well. The Cubs are said to merely be “on the periphery” of the Hamels market.

The Phillies have asked that teams make their best offers for Hamels by tomorrow, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark, and his previously scheduled Thursday start has been pushed back to Friday — after the trade deadline — so as not to risk an injury and to potentially make him immediately available to start for an acquiring team. Over the weekend, Stark characterized the Dodgers as one of the favorites for Hamels.


Phillies Asking Clubs For Best Offers On Hamels By Tomorrow

3:46pm: MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports (via Twitter) that Hamels will not start for the Phillies Thursday, as had been scheduled. Hamels’ start has been pushed back to Friday, though that game comes after the trade deadline. This prevents a disastrous scenario in which Hamels suffers an injury and also makes him available to start immediately for his team either Friday or Saturday if he’s traded on Thursday or Friday.

11:32am: The Phillies are notifying teams with interest in lefty Cole Hamels that they would like to receive their best offers tomorrow, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. It’s unclear what the team’s decisionmaking process or timeline would be from that point, but there is at least some possibility of a deal occurring before Hamels makes his scheduled start on Thursday.

It makes sense, of course, that Philadelphia would look to strike a deal just ahead of Friday’s deadline. He is fresh off of a no-hitter, after two rough starts before it, so there’s only downside in putting him back on the hill in a Phillies uniform. And handing off another outing won’t hurt his trade value, either.

As for the suitors, we’ve heard of late movement from the Giants as well as from the Astros and Diamondbacks. Stark lists those clubs, along with the Dodgers, Rangers, Cubs, Yankees, and Red Sox, as organizations known to have had ongoing discussions with Philadelphia.

As he notes, however, “about half of that group” is participating because the Phillies have sought “to reopen discussion” of names that were previously deemed off limits. And one source says that there’s “nothing happening” with San Francisco, per the report.


Phillies Expect To Trade Papelbon; Nationals “Making Progress” On Deal

2:44pm: Talks between the Nationals and Phillies are “very complicated” and the sides still have plenty to work out, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets. Papelbon is still likely to be sent to D.C., but there are “hurdles” to be dealt with, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets.

11:53am: A source tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that Papelbon “will be traded” at the deadline.

10:31am: The Nationals are making progress on a deal that would bring closer Jonathan Papelbon to D.C. from the rival Phillies, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. It’s unclear how far off the teams are from reaching agreement, let alone what kind of return is under contemplation.

There had been indications that Papelbon’s market was cooling, but it seems that action has kicked back into gear in recent days. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that he’s been left with the impression that the team is confident in getting some kind of deal done involving the controversial closer.

With Philadelphia reportedly amenable to covering some of Papelbon’s costs — which include a $13MM salary this year and a $13MM option for 2016 that will soon vest — he’s a good fit for a Nationals team that is said to be disinclined to absorb salary in the middle of the year. But Philly’s willingness to pay down some obligations also makes Papelbon palatable to other clubs. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki noted yesterday that the Blue Jays and Cubs have also expressed keen interest in the veteran righty.