Philadelphia Phillies Rumors

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

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 CBSSports.com. 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 MLB.com’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.


Minor Moves: Corey Hart, Sean O’Sullivan

With teams in preparation for the upcoming offseason, there will be numerous minor outrights over the coming weeks. We’ll run down today’s outrights and other minor moves in this post…

  • After being designated for assignment late in the year by the Mariners, first baseman/DH Corey Hart has elected free agency after clearing outright waivers, MLB.com’s Greg Johns tweets. Though it may or may not have any practical import, Hart will be eligible to sign a new deal now, rather than waiting until until after the World Series for the official onset of free agency.
  • The Phillies announced that they have outrighted Sean O’Sullivan off the 40-man roster. The right-hander will be eligible to become a minor league free agent. O’Sullivan made three appearances (two starts) for the Phils this season, yielding nine runs on 15 hits and a pair of walks with seven strikeouts in 12 2/3 total innings. In parts of five big league seasons, the 27-year-old O’Sullivan has a 5.91 ERA in 231 1/3 innings with 4.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 40 percent ground-ball rate.

East Notes: Sandoval, Burnett, Shields, Mets

The AL East champion Orioles are looking for their first playoff sweep since they eliminated the A’s in the 1971 ALCS as they face the Tigers in Game Three of their ALDS. The NL East champion Nationals, meanwhile, will look to avoid being swept by the Giants tomorrow in their NLDS.

Here’s the latest from baseball’s East divisions:

  • Pablo Sandoval, with his personality and left-handed bat, would be a good fit for the Red Sox, opines the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Despite Sandoval’s weight issues and a declining OPS over the past four seasons, Cafardo hears the third baseman will command a five-year, $100MM pact with the Yankees and Dodgers joining Boston in the bidding.
  • A.J. Burnett‘s decision whether to exercise his $12.75MM player option will dictate how the Phillies‘ offseason unfolds, according to CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman. If Burnett declines the option, the Phillies will have the financial flexibility required to make impactful free agent signings and begin the necessary roster overhaul, Seidman writes.
  • The James Shields-Wil Myers trade between the Rays and Royals is still under evaluation, notes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. At this point, who “won” the trade depends on whom you ask.
  • The Mets don’t need a spending spree to improve for 2015, posits Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Of course, it would be nice if they could spend the necessary money to sign free agent catcher Russell Martin, but there are cheaper ways they can upgrade their offense. One idea Sherman has is calling the Red Sox to inquire on a Bartolo Colon for Shane Victorino deal.

Latest On The Phillies’ Ownership

The Phillies have issued a statement refuting a FOX 29 report from last night which claimed president and CEO David Montgomery was forced out of his position in order for partial owner John Middleton to become the team’s majority owner. Via CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury (Twitter link), here is the Phillies’ statement:

“Contrary to the FOX 29 report last night, David Montgomery’s leave of absence from the Phillies is entirely due to his medical condition, as previously announced. There is absolutely no other reason for his leave from active involvement in the Phillies management. Over the life of the Phillies partnership no one entity or family has owned a majority of the partnership, and we do not foresee this changing in the future.”

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer also spoke to multiple unnamed sources that “strongly” refuted the notion that Montgomery was forced out (Twitter link). But, in a full article, Gelb writes that not all of what FOX 29’s Howard Eskin reported can be refuted. While the notion that Montgomery was forced out appears decidedly incorrect, Gelb confirmed with two sources that Eskin was correct in reporting that Middleton now has a 48 percent share of the team. It’s not clear how long he’s held such a large share, according to Gelb, but it does appear to be unusual for a Phillies minority owner to have such a large stake in the team.

According to Gelb, Middleton is not expected to make a push for majority ownership, even if he is technically positioned to do so. Additionally, Gelb spoke with multiple sources who said that were it not for Montgomery’s battle with cancer, he would still be assuming his duties as team president. He adds that the Phillies are expecting Montgomery to make a full recovery and return to his post, though a timetable is unclear.

Should the Phillies make a move for a permanent replacement for Montgomery, Gelb continues, senior vice president of marketing and advertising sales Dave Buck is viewed as one of the top internal candidates. Middleton himself told someone with whom Gelb spoke that Montgomery’s situation would not be evaluated until at least January. For the time being, interim president Pat Gillick has “unilateral control of the franchise,” and has deferred day-to-day business matters to senior VP of administration and operations Mike Stiles.


Rule 5 Draft Roundup

With the regular season in the books, it’s worth assessing how things ultimately shook out from last winter’s Rule 5 draft. Only nine players were taken in this year’s draft. Here’s where things stand:

Remember, players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren’t on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed. If a team makes a selection, it pays the former team $50K and must keep that player on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25K. (Note that Rule 5 selections can change hands like any other player, with an acquiring team stepping into the shoes of the original selecting club. Click here for more details.)

  • Patrick Schuster, LHP (taken first overall by the Astros from the Diamondbacks): Returned to Arizona. But not before a somewhat eventful tour. He was first dealt to the Padres, then placed on waivers and claimed by the Royals before finally being sent back. He never ended up throwing a big league inning, and ultimately struggled to 4.50 ERA in 18 frames at Triple-A once back with the D’backs.
  • Adrian Nieto, C (taken third overall by the White Sox from the Nationals): Retained by Chicago. The switch-hitting, 24-year-old backstop hung on all year, posting a .236/.296/.340 line in his first 118 MLB plate appearances. He is now White Sox property.
  • Kevin Munson, RHP (taken fourth overall by the Phillies from the Diamondbacks): Returned to Arizona. Munson never made it onto the active roster, and was sent back in mid-March. Though he never saw MLB action this year, he did post a rather dominant campaign at Triple-A: 2.60 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9.
  • Tommy Kahnle, RHP (taken eighth overall by the Rockies from the Yankees): Retained by Colorado. The 25-year-old was an oft-used bullpen piece for the Rockies, posting a 4.19 ERA in 68 2/3 frames with 8.3 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9. Colorado owns his rights moving forward.
  • Brian Moran, LHP (taken ninth overall by the Blue Jays from the Mariners): Still in limbo after season-ending surgery. Moran was dealt by Toronto to the Angels on the day of the draft, and opened the season DL’ed on the active roster. But his left elbow ultimately required Tommy John surgery, meaning that he ended up on the 60-day DL. The Halos do not yet own Moran’s rights permanently: to keep him, the club will need to carry him on the active roster without a DL stay for at least 90 days.
  • Seth Rosin, RHP (taken tenth overall by the Mets from the Phillies): Returned to Philadelphia. Dealt immediately after the draft to the Dodgers, Rosin was claimed by the Rangers late in the spring and made three appearances before his roster spot was needed and he was returned. Back at Triple-A with the Phillies, he worked to a 3.86 ERA over 58 1/3 rames.
  • Wei-Chung Wang, LHP (taken eleventh overall by the Brewers from the Pirates): Retained by Milwaukee. It took some doing, but a contending Brewers club was able to hold onto Wang for the entirety of the season. Though he did miss 45 games with a DL stint, Wang ultimately made only 14 appearances for the club. The 22-year-old will presumably be stretched out as a starter again as he returns to his development track in the lower minors.
  • Marcos Mateo, RHP (taken fifteenth overall by the Diamondbacks from the Cubs): Returned to Chicago. Mateo was the first player to be returned, heading back in mid-March. The 30-year-old threw to a 3.86 ERA in 37 1/3 innings upon his return to Triple-A with his original team.
  • Michael Almanzar, 3B (taken sixteenth overall by the Orioles from the Red Sox): Returned to Boston … but ultimately traded back to Baltimore. Shelved with injury for much of the year, Almanzar was returned to the Red Sox in the middle of the summer after a rehab stint. But the O’s obviously wanted him back, and added him as part of the Kelly Johnson deal. Over 233 minor league plate appearances on the year, Almanzar posted a .245/.322/.389 slash.

NL Notes: Burnett, Hamels, Niese, Mets, Padres, Johnson

Here’s the latest from the National League:

  • Phillies starter A.J. Burnett seems more likely to retire (and forgo his $12.75MM player option) than many people believe, observes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com in an offseason preview piece. Meanwhile, the club will listen on Cole Hamels but continue to demand a ransom in return, while Philadelphia could be more open to dealing not only veteran Marlon Byrd but also arb-eligible outfielders Domonic Brown and Ben Revere. As Salisbury notes, the rotation has plenty of question marks and openings.
  • While Salisbury says he believes the Phillies will ultimately hang onto the 30-year-old Hamels, for better or worse, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki argues that the organization must view Hamels (and his fellow core veterans) from a pure baseball perspective. Attendance is plummeting in spite of the continued presence of numerous pieces of the team’s run of success, he notes, and the only way to rebuild the fan base is through winning.
  • Neutral talent evaluators believe that lefty Jon Niese is the Mets‘ best trade chip among the club’s veteran starters, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday. Niese, 27, threw to a 3.40 ERA over 187 2/3 frames in 2014. He is owed $16MM over the next two seasons and has a pair of options ($10MM and $11MM, with respective $500K buyouts) thereafter.
  • The Mets are expected to replace hitting coach Lamar Johnson, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. That move is still not official, however, and New York is in the early stages of assessing who they might bring in.
  • Padres GM A.J. Preller is about to get his first taste of open market action from the seat of power, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Preller said that he anticipates a lot of trade attention on the team’s slate of arms, and indicated that he would be open to discussing any players if there’s a way to improve the club.
  • One interesting player who remains under the Padres‘ control is starter Josh Johnson, whose injury-shortened year left the club with a $4MM team option. Preller said that he hopes to have Johnson in the fold next year, though left unclear whether the team is interested in a straight exercise of the option. “With Josh, he’s a guy that everyone has a positive feel for,” said Preller. “We’ll try to go down the road with him and try to present something to him that makes sense to him.”

NL Notes: Zimmermann, Stanton, Roenicke, Phillies, Rockies

For the second consecutive year, MLB has a no-hitter to close out the regular season. The Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann threw the first no-hitter for the franchise since their move to Washington, D.C., but needed a diving, over-the-shoulder grab by leftfielder Steven Souza, who entered the game as a defensive replacement for Ryan Zimmerman in the top of the ninth, to preserve the 1-0 gem. “No-doubt double and [Souza] comes out of nowhere. Whatever he wants, I’ll buy him anything,” Zimmermann said (as tweeted by the Washington Post’s James Wagner). As for his defensive wizardry, Souza (as quoted by Paul White of USA Today) “knew it was over my head. I was just hoping I had a prayer of laying out. Anything can happen when you hit the ground. I came down like a football catch and that thing wasn’t getting out.Henderson Alvarez, who tossed last year’s season-ending no-hitter, was the victim today.

Elsewhere in the National League:

  • The Marlins will discuss a contract extension with Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, reports Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. “That is our plan, to talk with him about extending him beyond his arbitration years,” said Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill. “We have to hear from them and what their goals are, and what they hope to accomplish. We have some ideas we’ll streamline and tighten up as have those meetings. And hopefully we’re on the same page and can get something done.” Stanton is represented by the Wasserman Media Group, per MLBTR’s Agency Database.
  • Earlier today, Marlins manager Mike Redmond received a contract extension. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, meanwhile, is still awaiting his fate. “Yeah, I don’t know where we stand,” Roenicke told reporters, including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “Yeah, it’s always uncomfortable when you’re not sure what’s going to happen. You do the best you can do, and you know when you’re a manager, that sometimes if it doesn’t go well, that you’re the guy that’s going to get blamed for it.” The Brewers lost to the Cubs to finish the year at 82-80 and 9-22 since August 26.
  • Ryan Howard is just as unclear about his 2015 status with the Phillies, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. “Whether it’s going to be here or not, I don’t know. But I’ll be playing baseball. So my future is certain in that aspect,” said Howard, who went so far as to ask reporters if they think he has played his last game as a Phillie. 
  • Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett, who will undergo hernia surgery next week, remains undecided about exercising his $12.75MM player option, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. “It’s ultimately going to come down to me,” Burnett said. “I had the same thoughts last year. Then I woke up and I wanted to compete. So I can’t just shut that down if it’s still there. But then again, my youngins, they have a say in it.
  • Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines losing has taken such a toll throughout the Rockies organization that players, coaches, and other staff members are wondering if there is a vision to right the franchise.
  • Wally Backman will not be added to the Mets‘ coaching staff in 2015, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.

NL East Notes: Phillies, Gattis, Marlins

The Phillies are expected to add depth this offseason in the hopes that increased rest will help the production of Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, and Marlon Byrd, writes Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Both manager Ryne Sandberg and interim team president Pat Gillick have hinted that more rest could help the performance of their elder statesmen. The team has received almost no production this month from it’s aging core. The club is also eager to add younger players.

  • Utley is disappointed with his year, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. He also seems to imply that the daily grind of the season is to blame for the club’s disappointing finish. He points to full seasons from Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and an elite bullpen as reasons for optimism in 2015. On the subject of a Hamels trade, he’s firmly against the idea.
  • Today might be Evan Gattis‘ last game with the Atlanta Braves, says David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Christian Bethancourt is viewed as the catcher of the future in Atlanta and appears ready for regular work. Since Gattis is not yet arbitration eligible, the Braves could keep him to split time with Bethancourt and serve as a cheap outfielder. Any outfield with Gattis would be a defensive liability since either Justin Upton or Jason Heyward would need to man center field. Gattis is thought to fit best with AL clubs.
  • The Marlins have added two experienced scouts in Dominic Viola and David Keller, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Since the front office was reorganized following the 2013 season, the club has focused on adding experience to its scouting department. Those moves helped to shape two midseason trades which netted Bryan Morris, Jarred Cosart, and Enrique Hernandez.