Philadelphia Phillies Rumors

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

AL East Notes: Orioles, Matsui, Drew, Red Sox

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy spoke with MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko about the extension he signed last October, explaining that he told agent Mike Seal he enjoyed Baltimore and wanted to remain there due to the club’s winning ways. Wondering where he was going to play the 2015 season did weigh on him throughout the season, Hardy said, and he was happy to agree to terms on a deal to keep him with the O’s. However, Hardy also discussed the departure of Nick Markakis, noting that the move didn’t necessarily sit well with him or franchise cornerstone Adam Jones“Adam and I have both thought about that,” Hardy told Kubatko. “I know Adam thinks about it a lot. I mean, losing Nick was big. He was one of the guys out there every single day with us. Obviously, we want to win and the reason we signed our extensions is because we like it here and we like the guys who were around, so if everyone starts leaving, I don’t know.” Hardy said he hasn’t voiced any concerns to executive vice president/general manager Dan Duquette or manager Buck Showalter and that, when signing, he trusted that the Orioles would do everything possible to keep their players. Hardy also discussed teammates Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, pointing out that each has Scott Boras as an agent. “[Boras] kind of does a lot more decision-making,” Hardy said, adding that he hopes to see both Wieters and Davis stay in Baltimore.

More from the AL East…

  • The Yankees announced that Hideki Matsui has been hired as a special adviser to GM Brian Cashman. Per ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand, Matsui will work closely with Cashman and vice president of player development Gary Denbo, and he’ll spend much of the 2015 season visiting minor league affiliates to work with their managers, coaches and players, focusing on aspects of hitting.
  • Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News spoke to Cashman about why the Yankees re-signed Stephen Drew. The GM explained that the team believes Drew’s rapid offensive deterioration in 2014 to be an aberration, and there’s little concern about the defensive en of the equation despite a change of positions. Andrew Miller, newly signed with the Yankees but a teammate of Drew’s last year in Boston, also weighed in with Feinsand, stating that he doesn’t envy the situation Drew entered in 2014. “Missing spring training and trying to come in with that weight on your shoulders, for it to be such a big story, have a team act so excited to see him, it was a little unfair to him,” Miller explained. “I can’t imagine missing that time and then trying to go to game speed.” Drew himself adds that the missed time hurt him quite a bit, and he’s pleased to be getting reps on schedule this year with the rest of the league.
  • The Phillies scouted both the Yankees and Red Sox today, via Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter links). Of course, having a senior scout in attendance doesn’t necessarily indicate that anything eventful is on the horizon in terms of trade activity, as scouts are frequently watching multiple teams over the course of Spring Training. Still, Abraham notes that the Phils have taken quite a few looks at Boston third base prospect Garin Cecchini.

NL East Notes: Olivera, Lee, Scherzer

We have not heard much today on Hector Olivera after a busy run the last few days, but the Braves are still “monitor[ing] his market,” per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Atlanta’s comfort level on cost seems to land in the $30MM to $40MM range, per the report.

Here are a few more notes from the NL East:

  • Phillies veteran Cliff Lee did not experience any improvement in his bullpen session today, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports“I got through it,” he said. “There’s still something there. Same as yesterday.” Lee will throw again Thursday, and says he will keep trying to work through the discomfort so long as it does not get worse. The situation has wide-ranging implications, of course, one of them simply on the remainder of the club’s staff. Ryan Lawrence of the Daily News breaks down the latest on some of the team’s next men up, including Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang, and Miguel Gonzalez.
  • Nationals starter Max Scherzer says that there really was a mystery team (other than his former club, the Tigers) that pursued him over the winter, as James Schmehl of MLive.com reports (Twitter links). Scherzer added that he was surprised that Detroit went public regarding the significant extension offer he signed last spring.

Amaro: Lee Injury Doesn’t Change Stance On Hamels

Cliff Lee‘s season — and possibly his career — is in jeopardy due to a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow, effectively eliminating him as a trade chip for the Phillies and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. The Philadelphia GM told ESPN’s Jayson Stark, however, that losing one of his two ace-caliber trade chips won’t change his approach to his healthy ace, Cole Hamels.

“No reason to change it,” said Amaro. “I don’t know what our ‘stance’ on Cole is. Others have ‘stances,’ I guess, for us. I guess other people must think we have a ‘stance.’ Our ‘stance’ is that we’re open-minded. And that hasn’t changed one bit.”

Amaro sees little comparison between the two pitchers, noting that in Lee, the team had a pitcher that was hurt in 2014 and is still hurt now. With Hamels, he finished the season healthy and is healthy now in camp. There’s no “lesson” to be learned from Lee’s situation, said Amaro, because any pitcher can get hurt at any time. “Is there a lesson learned from Yu Darvish?” Amaro rhetorically asked Stark. “All pitchers can get hurt. All players can get hurt. It can happen any time. That has nothing to do with the way we go about our business, (by) planning for a player to get hurt. That doesn’t make any sense.”

Amaro pointed out that other teams’ top pitchers are equally likely to get hurt, which could present new trade opportunities this summer. On whether or not he feels he should have trade Lee when Lee was healthy in 2012 or 2013, the GM said the Phillies were still trying to win at that point. Said Amaro: “I think (team president Pat Gillick) made a statement the other day that we maybe waited one year too long to go into rebuild mode. Maybe we did. But we’ve got to look forward now. We can’t do anything about it now.”

The quotes from Amaro likely shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the GM has already stated this spring that he expects Hamels to open the season with the Phillies, and he has repeatedly stated that he’s under no pressure from ownership to move Hamels.



Cliff Lee Will Attempt To Pitch With Torn Flexor Tendon

6:02pm: ESPN’s Jayson Stark spoke extensively with Lee, Amaro and head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan about the injury. Lee said he will play comfortably with the injury for as long as he can, but it no longer makes sense to play past the point of severe discomfort “where something bad can potentially happen.” Lee threw lightly today and said he felt “normal,” but he was also able to do that the day after initially reporting the discomfort.

Lee admitted that he’s debated retirement in the wake of this news. “I’ve got a family at home and I’ve been away from them for a long time, so that is part of the equation,” said Lee. “If I were to have the surgery, am I going to go through all that to try to pitch again, or am I going to shut it down? That’s a decision that I’ll have to make once that time comes, if that times comes.” Unsurprisingly, Stark did add, on Twitter, that he can’t envision Lee foregoing the remaining $37.5MM that he is owed.

12:25pm: After a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, Cliff Lee will attempt to pitch through a torn flexor tendon for the Phillies, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters including Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News (links to Twitter). A surgical option (not Tommy John) would be the next step if Lee experiences discomfort.

Amaro says that the team is “not terribly optimistic” that such a surgical result can be avoided. If he goes under the knife, Lee would be expected to miss six to eight months. Obviously that would mean a lost season, which would presumably also bring an end to his contract with the Phillies. Lee is under control for 2016 through a vesting/club option, but it would not be triggered if he misses the year and the club would be unlikely to pick it up at $27.5MM (against a $12.5MM buyout).

At this point, it is difficult to foresee a way for the Phillies to recover any value for the veteran lefty. A deal this spring is all but unimaginable, of course. And looking ahead to the trade deadline or beyond, the risk may be too great to support a market. Even if Lee can somehow perform at his historical standards and a 200-inning pace — the best case scenario — the vesting clause (it hits at 200 innings pitched) would loom as a potentially massive obligation. Regardless of trades scenarios, it is unfortunate to see as great a player as Lee struggle to stay on the field at this stage of his career.


Orioles Notes: Howard, Davis, Joseph

Let’s take a look at the latest out of Baltimore:

  • The Orioles are “keeping an eye” on Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. Baltimore is one of nine teams as to which Howard does not enjoy no-trade protection. The Orioles’ level of interest is far from clear, of course, especially since there is no indication that the team has seriously pursued Howard to this point.
  • One player whose present and future would presumably weigh on the addition of someone with Howard’s profile is slugger Chris Davis, who is entering his final year of team control (along with ten other current Orioles). As Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun reports, Davis is keeping a close eye on how Baltimore proceeds in considering his future. You’ll want to give this piece a full read, as it has several interesting quotes from Davis, who expressed how much he likes playing for the O’s while also making clear that he thinks the team will need to make new investments to keep pace in the AL East.
  • Baltimore has obviously achieved significant value from its lower-profile acquisitions in recent years, with Davis himself being perhaps the prime example. One player who has been a surprising contributor is backstop Caleb Joseph, as Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. Before breaking in at the big league level last year, the 28-year-old spent every offseason as a wage laborer. Joseph is not alone in that, of course, and Encina discusses the hard work put in by several other Orioles in an interesting look at that side of the game.

Phillies Notes: Lee, Hamels, Greene

Left-hander Cliff Lee is disheartened by his recent elbow injury but told reporters, including MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, that he takes solace in knowing that he did everything he possibly could this offseason to prevent a relapse of the injury that ended his 2014 season. Lee is dealing with elbow soreness that he described today as “just what it felt like at the start of when I started feeling it last year.” The Phillies are sending the images from Lee’s ultrasound and MRI to Dr. James Andrews to take a look, and Lee is hoping to hear that it’s merely scar tissue that formed around his old injury, and the pain is normal. However, he’s bracing for surgery that he knows could sideline him for six to eight months. “So basically if I have the surgery this season will be done, possibly my career, I guess,” said Lee.

On that somber note, here are a few more Phillies items…

  • Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com was also on hand to speak with Lee and offers an additional quote in which Lee said that Andrews, doctor David Altchek and Phillies team physician all agreed last year that there was something in the vicinity of a 90 percent chance that rest and rehab would heal his elbow as opposed to surgery.
  • None of what has transpired with Lee should impact the way the Phillies approach the Cole Hamels situation, opines David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News. Hamels is five years younger and in his physical prime, and even in a worst-case scenario where he blows out his elbow in the first half, he could be back on the mound after Tommy John with two-plus years of his contract remaining at a below-market rate. Murphy disagrees with assessments that Hamels isn’t worth the package sought by Amaro, positing that there’s no true way to define what a player is worth; rather, that is determined by demand and by the utility that a team projects itself to gain from the added wins Hamels will provide. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. wasn’t able to land the package he sought in a market with top-of-the-rotation alternatives, but Murphy implies that the summer trade market may be a better opportunity for the Phillies to sell. I’m inclined to agree; I don’t buy the notion of some fans that the Phils have botched this situation and should merely take the best offer presented. The potential reward of waiting until July to move Hamels is greater than the more minimal risk that he incurs some kind of significant injury in the interim.
  • Also from Zolecki, the Phillies have confirmed that former supplemental-round pick Larry Greene (No. 39 overall in 2011) will not be reporting to camp and does not appear to want to play baseball anymore (as first mentioned on the Phoulballz Phillies blog). Greene, now 22, had a solid enough pro debut at short-season Class-A in 2011, but he never advanced beyond the Class-A South Atlantic League and has a .224/.318/.321 batting line in 989 career plate appearances.

Quick Hits: McFarland, Hamels, Olivera

Many players grow up as fans of the game, but once they sign with a pro team, the nature of their fandom changes, FanGraphs’ David Laurila writes. “Once you sign a contract, you have a team of your own,” says Orioles reliever T.J. McFarland, who grew up a fan of the White Sox. “My family still roots for the White Sox, but I went from being a fan to an employee – an actual worker – within the profession.” Of course, the associations they had with veteran players they rooted for as kids don’t just disappear. McFarland says he took pride in playing opposite Mark Buehrle and Paul Konerko, and says he found it “surreal” when he faced Derek Jeter. Here’s more from throughout the league.

  • Earlier today, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that the Yankees had come closer than any other team to acquiring Phillies star Cole Hamels. If that’s true, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes, that might mean the Phillies haven’t come close to dealing Hamels to any team, because the two sides have not had discussions recently and never were near a deal. The Phillies are fans of Yankees prospects Luis Severino and Aaron Judge, but the Yankees likely don’t want to trade Severino in a Hamels deal. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have refused to deal Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart for Hamels. The Rangers are another possibility, but they too appear disinclined to trade their top prospects, including Joey Gallo and Jorge Alfaro.
  • Cliff Lee‘s recent bout of elbow soreness demonstrates the risk the Phillies are taking with Hamels, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. Each time Hamels pitches, he could get injured, causing his trade value to decrease or simply vanish.
  • It’s wise to be skeptical of reports suggesting Cuban infielder Hector Olivera will get $70MM or more, FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel writes. That says more about Olivera’s representative Rudy Santin’s use of the media than about Olivera’s actual market. Finding comparables for a Cuban player with no MLB experience is difficult, so it’s hard for the U.S. media to be appropriately skeptical of reported offers for a player like Olivera, McDaniel argues. McDaniel says he would be surprised if Olivera topped $50MM.

NL East Notes: Papelbon, Gee, Mets

Of all the Phillies vets on the block, Jonathan Papelbon probably has come the closest to getting shipped out. The Phillies and Brewers were in talks for some time, but the closer says he wasn’t in the loop with regards to how close a deal actually was.

I don’t know if I was ever going to be a Brewer,” Papelbon said, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. “Nobody ever said a word to me about it. I read about it, but I guess it never got far along enough for my agents or the team to let me know something. As far as I know I’m a Phillie and everyone else is, too. Nobody’s getting traded, as far as I know. This is actually a good group of guys. Best I’ve been around since I’ve been here.”

More from the NL East..

  • A Mets source told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter) that the team has not received any calls from the Rangers in the last 24 hours.  Rangers ace Yu Darvish might need Tommy John surgery, but it appears that they have yet to call on Dillon Gee.  On Saturday night night, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Rangers did not seem inclined to try to acquire Gee.  The right-hander, who is currently slated to be in the bullpen thanks to the Mets’ crowded rotation, will turn 29 in April.
  • In a chat with reporters, including Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com, union chief Tony Clark offered no objection to the Mets‘ “voluntary” offseason workouts and declined to criticize the team’s payroll.  The Mets’ payroll has actually risen to $100MM for this season and Clark wouldn’t say whether he has spoken to the Mets specifically about their spending.
  • Clark also spoke about the hiring of former Mets GM Omar Minaya for a union role earlier this winter, as Rubin writes.  “We were looking for additional support in the area of international as well as baseball ops and player development. And for those of you who know Omar, that’s right up his alley,” Clark said. “So he’s providing us support in a few different areas that will invariably help the players as we sit down and discuss any number of issues tied to all three moving forward.”
  • The Phillies are trying not to act desperate when it comes to the trade talk surrounding them, but it’s hard to pull that off since everyone knows they have to make a deal, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes.  Silverman touched on the speculation regarding both Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, but as we learned earlier today, Lee could be sidelined for a while thanks to his sore elbow.

Cliff Lee Experiencing Elbow Soreness

Cliff Lee has been heavily talked about in trade rumors, but now it might be a while before the Phillies can find a deal for him.  Earlier today, the Phillies announced to the press that the veteran is once again dealing with a sore elbow.

The Phillies, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets, were probably more motivated to deal Lee than any other player this spring.  Now, they’ll have to wait until Lee has a clean bill of health to find a taker.

It will take a couple of days to get the fluid out of the area from the MRI and Cliff will likely begin to throw again on Monday.  He will progress his throwing program as tolerated. He will not make his scheduled start on Tuesday and his next start is TBD,” GM Ruben Amaro said in the release. “In the meantime we will have the MRI read as a second opinion by Dr. James Andrews. He will likely see the images on Monday or Tuesday.  We will determine Cliff’s continued progressions accordingly.”

Lee battled elbow soreness last year and made just 13 starts in 2014 as a result.  Amaro told reporters, including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com (on Twitter), that Lee’s MRI showed an issue with his flexor pronator – previously the culprit of his elbow soreness – and not his UCL.  Amaro says that if Lee undergoes surgery for the issue, it will take him out of action for 6-8 months, according to Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News.

Late last month, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Rangers and Padres were among the teams to at least “kick the tires” on Lee earlier this winter.  Since their inquiries, however, the Padres added James Shields and the Rangers also added to their pitching depth.  Heyman speculated that Boston could be a logical landing spot for Lee, but there are no indications that the two sides discussed him.

Lee is owed $25MM for the coming season and can be controlled for another year through a $27.5MM option that comes with a hefty $12.5MM buyout.  Prior to his elbow acting up in 2014, Lee boasted a streak of six straight seasons with 200+ innings.  Over that stretch, he carried a 2.89 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against just 1.3 BB/9. The 36-year-old (37 in August) has a no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to twenty teams per year.


Yankees Have Come Closest On Cole Hamels

Many teams have called on ace Cole Hamels, but so far one club has enticed the Phillies more than the others.  Of the teams that have expressed interest in Hamels, the Yankees have come closer than anyone, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  The Bombers have offered a package of prospects for the 31-year-old that at least has given the Phillies a baseline for future talks.

Trading Hamels, who pitched two strong innings in his spring training debut Friday against the Yankees, would help the Phillies kickstart their rebuilding efforts in earnest.  However, they continue to insist that another team should take on the entirety of Hamels’ salary as well as part with top level prospects.  Last month, Cafardo wrote that the Phillies seemed willing to wait it out for the right deal, perhaps even taking things up until the trade deadline.

The Red Sox have been heavily connected to Hamels this winter but Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported recently that talks have actually been dormant for weeks.  Meanwhile, Cafardo hears that Cliff Lee could actually wind up changing uniforms before Hamels does.