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Philadelphia Phillies Rumors
Who will catch for the Braves in 2015? It’s liable to be a question of interest all offseason long as several roster moves could depend on the outcome. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution explores the conundrum. We’ve previously seen speculation that the Braves will deal Evan Gattis to an AL club so defense-first prospect Christian Bethancourt can start. Alternatively, the club could deal an outfielder and move Gattis to left field. While there are a lot moving parts to consider, it’s hard to ignore both Jason Heyward and Justin Upton are set to become free agents following the season and will be expensive to re-sign. Meanwhile, Gattis will earn around $600k next season and is club controlled through 2018.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. cited changes in Jerome Williams‘ approach and rotation depth as reasons for yesterday’s contract extension, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Depth is certainly an issue for the Phillies rotation. Cliff Lee ended the season on the disabled list, Kyle Kendrick is a free agent, and only Cole Hamels and David Buchanan finished the season healthy. Another possible factor, A.J. Burnett, is weighing a mutual option. When asked about Burnett, Amaro said, “my inclination is that he’s going to want to pitch. He’s a competitive guy.”
- Yasmany Tomas makes a lot of sense for a number of teams, but insiders are pointing to the Phillies as the current front runners, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino spoke with a rival executive who noted the Phillies have the money to reach a deal with Tomas – which could possibly reach nine figures. More to the point, they have a thin farm system and a desire to turn around quickly. That could make the Cuban market more attractive for the club. Another source said to Martino, “don’t count out the Tigers.”
The Phillies have signed righty Jerome Williams to a one-year, $2.5MM contract extension that will keep him off the free agent market in advance of the 2015 season, the club announced. The contract includes incentives that could boost its value to $4MM, per Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter).
Williams, who is nearing his 33rd birthday, was quite productive in a short stint with the Phillies this year. Over nine starts for Philadelphia, he logged 57 1/3 frames of 2.83 ERA ball. Of course, that was his third MLB club on the year, and Williams did not put up very attractive numbers in his first two stops with the Astros and Rangers, combining for a 6.71 ERA over 57 2/3 frames.
All said, Williams finished 2014 with 6.4 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9, while posting a cumulative 4.16 FIP, 4.09 xFIP, and 4.03 SIERA. Those numbers provide some reason for optimism, though the Phillies may hope that five better rotation arms emerge from the spring, allowing them to stash Williams as a long man.
With Derek Jeter‘s retirement and the Giants playing in their third World Series in five years, Buster Posey should be the next face of baseball. That’s the theme of separate articles by ESPN’s Jayson Stark and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Starks believes Posey is comparable to Jeter in making his team a perennial World Series contender with an understated, but intently competitive manner, the flowing awards and accolades, and his ability to move merchandise. Sherman theorizes Posey hasn’t already assumed Jeter’s mantle because of the position he plays, the market in which he plays, and a lack of a seminal playoff moment.
Here’s more news and notes from the National League:
- It will be tough for other teams to copy “the Giants Way” because the Giants themselves can’t explain their success, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. “That’s a tough question to answer,” General Manager Brian Sabean said. “Things develop over time.” Time has been on the Giants’ side, notes Shaikin, as Sabean is the longest-tenured GM in baseball and his top lieutenants (Dick Tidrow and Bobby Evans, who told Shaikin he has never been interviewed for a GM opening) have been with the organization for two decades.
- Earlier today, MLBTR’s Zach Links predicted Nationals infielder Asdrubal Cabrera will land a three-year, $27MM contract in free agency. CSNWashington’s Mark Zuckerman posits Cabrera’s best days are possibly behind him, so the Nationals’ interest will be based on whether there are better options available either via free agency or on the trade market.
- The Phillies should have at least $20MM in payroll space this offseason which should be enough for a major signing or a few mid-level signings, provided they are committed to winning in 2015, according to CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman. A.J. Burnett declining his $12.75 option and dealing Antonio Bastardo and/or Domonic Brown could increase that amount, Seidman adds.
- Braves President John Schuerholz indicated to Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) the club’s first choice to be their full-time GM is John Hart; however, he will not force the timeline.
- The first home run of the Dominican Winter League was hit by the Padres‘ Yasmani Grandal. Now a full season away from his 50-game suspension for an elevated testosterone level and knee surgery and possessing excellent plate discipline (13.1% walk rate in 2014), Grandal can become a breakout offensive force for the Padres in 2015, opines the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Dennis Lin.
- The Dodgers are in good hands with Andrew Friedman aboard, writes Peter Gammons for Gammons Daily.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: A.J. Burnett | Andrew Friedman | Antonio Bastardo | Asdrubal Cabrera | Atlanta Braves | Brian Sabean | Buster Posey | Domonic Brown | John Schuerholz | Los Angeles Dodgers | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Washington Nationals | Yasmani Grandal
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- The Phillies have outrighted Andres Blanco off the team’s 40-man roster, Philadelphia announced. Blanco, a 30-year-old utility infielder, saw just 53 plate appearances on the year in his first MLB action since 2011. He has seen time in seven big league seasons, but never made more than 185 plate appearances in one year. Blanco owns a composite .257/.301/.342 slash across 707 plate appearances.
Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com recently looked at the Mets‘ payroll situation, noting that without any winter changes to the roster, the payroll should come in somewhere in the low-$90MMs (specifically, he pegged it for $93MM, though that was with some rough guesses on the team’s arb-eligible players). However, Rubin also writes that he feels some changes are likely — namely bringing in a shortstop and left fielder. He feels it’s likely that in the event the team does push the payroll north of $100MM by adding a free agent outfielder, a trade of Daniel Murphy or one of the club’s starting pitchers will offset that move. An official insisted to Rubin that there’s “upward mobility” in the payroll but did say the club is not yet ready to return to its previous heights of $130MM.
More on the Mets and more from the NL East below…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post feels that Nick Markakis should be an offseason target for the Mets. While the Mets would like a corner outfielder that projects to have more power than Markakis, those are few and far between in this year’s free agent class, and Marakakis’ strong OBP skills and ability to grind out at-bats, could solve the team’s need for a leadoff hitter. Sherman speculates that Markakis will be looking for something similar to J.J. Hardy‘s three-year, $40MM contract.
- Much has been written on the Phillies outfield situation of late, and David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News breaks it down piece by piece. Murphy notes that the decision not to trade Marlon Byrd this summer could “prove prudent,” as he now presents an alternative to an expensive contract for Melky Cabrera or Nelson Cruz. The team should be exploring Ben Revere trades if possible due to his lack of walks and power, and he feels that selling this low on Domonic Brown would be a mistake. Murphy’s colleague, Ryan Lawrence, thinks that it’s likely Brown is swapped for a change-of-scenery candidate and also looks at the complete void of outfield talent the Phillies have produced in recent years. Even Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino — two key outfielders Philadelphia showed little inclination to re-sign — were acquired from other organizations.
- ESPN’s Keith Law reports (via Twitter) that Tom Battista — the scout responsible for signing Freddie Freeman and Tommy Hanson — has returned to the Braves organization as a crosschecker. In a followup tweet, Law tells a reader that he thinks the Braves have done an very good job in making additions since GM Frank Wren was dismissed. Atlanta has brought back former scouting director Roy Clark and plucked Yankees special assistant Gordon Blakeley.
Here are the day’s outrights and minor moves:
- The Marlins have outrighted utilityman Jordany Valdespin, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Valdespin, 26, slashed .214/.280/.347 last year after joining Miami on a minor league pact. He had been non-tendered by the Mets before reaching arbitration eligibility. Over parts of three seasons in the big leagues, Valdespin has spent time all over the outfield as well as at second base, in addition to a handful of appearances at short.
- The Phillies announced that outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. has elected free agency after refusing an outright assignment. The 32-year-old slashed a meager .152/.264/.190 over 127 plate appearances on the year. He has seen big league action in parts of eight seasons, and at his best added value through stellar defensive ratings in the outfield.
Though it’s early in the process, the market for Yasmany Tomas is beginning to develop, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. To this point, the Rangers, Phillies, Padres, Giants, Mariners and Dodgers have all shown strong interest in the young slugger. Most of those clubs are logical fits, though the Dodgers are a bit surprising given the logjam of outfielders the team already has under contract. The Dodgers are already unable to find regular at-bats for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson and Scott Van Slyke, so adding another outfielder to the mix would make a semi-surprising addition.
Some more news items from around the league…
- Braves right-hander Garrett Fulenchek and his agent, Craig Rose, have joined MSM Sports, MLBTR has learned. The 18-year-old Fulenchek was selected with the 66th overall pick in this year’s draft and will join the same agency that is home to No. 8 overall pick Kyle Freeland and Josh Harrison of the Pirates.
- The Royals and Orioles have built somewhat unconventional rosters, writes ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, pointing out that their meeting in the ALCS marks the first time in the divisional era (beginning in 1969) that two teams that ranked in the bottom five of the league in walks will meet in an LCS or World Series. Crasnick looks at each team’s emphasis on defense as well as the Orioles’ emphasis on power and aggression and the Royals’ emphasis on speed. Somewhat incredibly, Baltimore ranked first in the Majors in homers and last in steals, while Kansas City ranked last in homers and first in steals. Crasnick spoke with Adam Jones, Buck Showalter and the Elias Sports Bureau’s Steve Hirdt for the piece, the latter of whom opined that clubs have gone from undervaluing walks to overvaluing them.
- Crasnick’s colleague, Jayson Stark, writes that players feel underrepresented as MLB experiments with new rules to increase the pace of play. No active players were included on the seven-man committee to look into the matter, though MLBPA executive director Tony Clark (a former Major Leaguer himself) is on the committee to serve as a voice for the players, commissioner-elect Rob Manfred explained to Stark via email. Nonetheless, players such as Curtis Granderson, Kevin Slowey and Brad Ziegler all went on the record with Stark, and a number of players who wished to remain anonymous brought up several issues they’ve taken with the endeavor. Some players feel that too much of the blame has been placed on them, when there’s been little talk of shortening commercial breaks or the consequences that an increasingly matchup-based game has brought about (i.e. more pitching changes). More than anything, players hope to have a voice in the matter before changes are implemented, Slowey and Granderson explained.
- Baseball America’s Matt Eddy compiled an “All-Rookie Team” for the 2014 season, highlighting the excellent work of Travis d’Arnaud, Jose Abreu, Mookie Betts, Nick Castellanos, Danny Santana, Billy Hamilton, Kevin Kiermaier, George Springer, Kennys Vargas, Jacob deGrom, Collin McHugh, Marcus Stroman, Masahiro Tanaka, Yordano Ventura and Dellin Betances. Names such as Matt Shoemaker and David Peralta also earned mentions, and you can read Eddy’s rationale behind his selections in the full article.
A.J. Burnett has a $12.75MM player option for the 2015 season, but he’s also debated retirement on multiple occasions over the past two seasons, so whether or not he picks it up remains uncertain. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears, however, that Burnett is leaning toward pitching again in 2015. Heyman spoke to people close to Burnett and got the sense that given the righty’s love of pitching and the solid $12.75MM payday, there’s a “good chance” that he’ll pitch in 2015.
The news may bring about mixed reactions among Phillies faithful, as Burnett unquestionably struggled this season. Though the 37-year-old posted his highest innings total since 2008 (213 2/3) and made an NL-leading 34 starts, he also posted a disappointing 4.59 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and a 50.6 percent ground-ball rate. Burnett posted an NL-worst 18 losses as well, though clearly that total is also reflective of his defense and a lack of run support. Beyond that, Burnett also pitched through a hernia for much of the season, an injury that, as Burnett told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, will require offseason surgery.
However, the prospect of a healthy Burnett in 2015 would improve the Phillies’ outlook. Currently, the team has little certainty in the rotation beyond ace Cole Hamels and righty David Buchanan (117 2/3 innings of 3.75 ERA in 2014), as it’s impossible to know what to expect of Cliff Lee next season as he recovers from a flexor tendon injury. Kyle Kendrick and Jerome Williams, each of whom occupied a rotation spot late in the 2014 season, are both free agents. Aaron Nola, the team’s first-round selection from 2014, could eventually factor into the equation. Other in-house options include Jonathan Pettibone and Jesse Biddle, though the latter certainly figures to need some more time to develop in the minors, and the former missed much of 2014 following shoulder surgery.
Marlins superstar Giancarlo Stanton projects to land a $13MM payday in his second run through arbitration, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz (via MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes). That figure would be double Stanton’s salary from last year, and sets the table nicely for the 24-year-old as the team prepares to open extension negotiations.
Here are the latest front office moves from the NL East:
- The Phillies will hire Johnny Almaraz as their new head of scouting, tweets Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Almaraz had served as the Braves‘ director of international scouting. He will take over for the departed Marti Wolever.
- Also, the Phillies announced that they have hired Rafael Chaves away from the Dodgers to serve as their new minor league pitching coordinator. Chaves filled the same role with L.A. from 2009-13 before serving as a special assistant of player personnel this past season.
- The Braves have announced a series of front office shifts, most of which were already reported. Gordon Blakely and Roy Clark were named special assistants to the general manager, Brian Bridges was promoted to scouting director, and Dave Trembley has been hired as director of player development. Trembley’s assistant will be Jonathan Schuerholz, the son of club president John. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution recaps the action amongst the Atlanta brass.
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.