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The Phillies are supposed to be one of the major sellers in this season’s trade market. The club has declined steadily in recent years. They currently sit in the cellar of the NL East with a 42-54 record. The decision makers in Philadelphia have talked about trying to climb back into the race, but it’s probably too late to escape the inevitable – the glory days have passed.
Despite a poor record, the team possesses plenty of veteran talent to sell as mercenaries to the highest bidder. Cliff Lee returns from the disabled list on Monday. A.J. Burnett may be headed to the Orioles. Cole Hamels is perhaps too valuable to trade – just in case a rebuild goes faster than expected. Jonathan Papelbon wants to play for a competitor, but Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins prefer to exercise their 10-and-5 rights to remain in Philadelphia. Carlos Ruiz is recovering from a concussion. Marlon Byrd can block trades to four teams, one of which is the team that wants him. Those are just the most notable names among a plethora on offer.
As outside observers, we’re trained to look at this situation through a very simplistic lens. A bad team is supposed to trade it’s veterans for young players. A good theory, but it’s not always easy to put into practice. As we discussed earlier tonight, a guy like Lee might be hard to trade given his recent injury and contract status. The Phillies have to decide if a prospect package is worth more than Lee in a Philadelphia uniform. Even though the club isn’t competitive in the general sense, they’re still playing for a slice of their fans’ attention. Ratings and attendance will be better with Lee (and Hamels) on the roster.
With the exception of Hamels, none of the Phillies assets appear capable of returning the Grade-A type prospects needed for a quick turnaround. Mostly, they’ll have to acquire upside plays – guys who have potential, but haven’t yet actualized their skills. The front office has an iffy track record with such players; see the returns from Lee and Hunter Pence as examples.
Most of the veterans will still be Philadelphia property in the offseason, so the club isn’t under extreme pressure to make a deal. Their players will only be depreciated another half season. In some cases, a shorter contract could help their trade value. It’s probably a bad idea to play it fast and loose with players over 30, but it might be necessary if the right return isn’t out there.
Ultimately, trade talks are an issue of supply and demand. If those factors align, the Phillies will probably make at least one trade. If not, they may choose to stand pat, if only so some fans will continue to watch their few remaining stars. So…
The Phillies and Orioles have had “very preliminary” talks about a trade involving starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. Morosi further emphasizes that there has not yet been much progress toward a deal.
Burnett, who is making $7.5MM this year with a $7.5MM signing bonus, has a complex player/mutual option that guarantees him at least $7.5MM in 2015 if he wants to pitch (a guarantee that will increase as Burnett makes starts down the stretch). Burnett also has limited no-trade protection. Although Burnett has said he wants to remain with the Phillies, his no-trade clause likely does not include Baltimore, since Burnett’s family resides in Maryland. The Orioles were rumored to be interested in Burnett last offseason.
Burnett, 37, has posted a 4.08 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 this season for the Phillies. Both his ERA and his peripheral numbers have taken a step backward after a strong 2013 season in Pittsburgh.
The Mets haven’t decided whether they’ll be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, Mike Puma of the New York Post writes. “I think the last 10 games were important because they make the next 10 games relevant to what happens at the [July 31] trade deadline,” said GM Sandy Alderson before Friday’s win over the Padres. “[C]ertainly the last 10 games have to make us a little more optimistic.” The Mets are seven games back in the NL East and 6 1/2 games out of a Wild Card spot after taking nine of their last 11. Here are more notes from the NL East.
- Alderson seems to be leaning more towards buying, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo tweets. “Sometimes you’ve gotta believe, right? This is a time,” Alderson says.
- The Braves aren’t actively trying to upgrade their starting rotation right now, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. That means they probably won’t pursue Rays ace David Price.
- The Braves are desperate to rid themselves of outfielder B.J. Upton, a GM tells Peter Gammons (via Twitter). Upton has hit .215/.277/.343 in 388 plate appearances this season, and the Braves still owe him over $50MM through 2017.
- The Braves will continue to pay recently released infielder Dan Uggla through 2019, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes (via Twitter). Uggla has a deferred signing bonus that means he’ll be paid $250K per year between 2016 and 2019. Of course, they also owe him $13MM in 2015.
- Cliff Lee will rejoin the Phillies‘ rotation Monday night against the Giants, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. “I feel strong and I feel good and I’m ready to try to help the team win,” says Lee. That will only give Lee two starts before the end of July, but if the Phillies are going to move him, Salisbury points out that they could trade him in August as a waiver deal, or after the season. In any case, Salisbury writes that the Phillies want a serious return for Lee.
- The Marlins say they won’t trade “key pieces,” Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald writes. It’s unclear exactly what that might mean, but the Marlins’ key pieces surely include Giancarlo Stanton. Spencer believes the Marlins are very concerned about avoiding last place, which likely also means that any number of other players could be off-limits as well.
It has been a busy day as the league returns to action out of the All-Star break. Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball …
- First baseman Carlos Pena has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports on Twitter. Pena, 36, was designated for assignment yesterday after a rough start to his tenure in Texas.
- Veteran backstop Yorvit Torrealba has requested and been given his release from the Cubs, MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports on Twitter. The 35-year-old has a .256/.315/.379 career MLB triple-slash over 13 seasons of work. He has only seen time at the Cubs’ rookie-league affiliate this year since signing last month.
- The Angels have signed hurler Chris Volstad to a minor league deal, according to the MLB transactions page. Volstad, a towering righty, has a 4.94 ERA over parts of six MLB seasons, working mostly as a starter until a stint last season with the Rockies. He had been pitching for the Korean Doosan Bears this season, working to a 6.21 ERA over 87 frames with just 3.3 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9.
- Free agent righty Jeremy Berg has signed a minor league pact with the Cardinals, also via the MLB transactions page. Berg, 28, has yet to pitch in the big leagues and owns a 4.43 ERA in 256 innings at the Triple-A level. He had spent his entire career in the Angels organization.
- The Phillies released right-hander Barry Enright today, according to the International League transactions page. The 28-year-old has struggled mightily in his most recent stints at the major league level, and carries a 5.58 ERA through 101 2/3 Triple-A innings this season with 5.7 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9.
- The Brewers have inked catcher Hector Gimenez to a minor league deal and assigned him to Double-A Huntsville, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (on Twitter). The 31-year-old Gimenez spent some time as the White Sox’ backup catcher in 2013 but posted just a .191/.275/.338 batting line in 80 trips to the dish. He’s a lifetime .216/.280/.330 hitter in 100 big league plate appearances and is a veteran of 12 minor league seasons. He’ll provide some minor league catching depth for Milwaukee.
- Outfielder Casper Wells has signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Bridgeport Bluefish, the club announced on its web site. Once a nice fourth outfielder for the Mariners, Wells’ stock has dropped after hitting just .126/.186/.147 for the White Sox, A’s and Phillies in 2013. He began the year with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate but batted just .197/.290/.230 in 69 PA with Iowa before being released.
- The Brewers have also acquired outfielder Josh Fellhauer from the Reds in exchange for cash considerations, the team’s player development department announced (on Twitter). A former seventh-round pick, the 26-year-old Fellhauer was hitting .239/.338/.313 in 155 PA between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He’ll also report to Double-A Huntsville with the Brewers.
FRIDAY: Taijuan Walker‘s name is once again at the center of trade talks surrounding Price, reports Heyman. He adds that Tampa has also expressed interest in the likes of corner infield prospect D.J. Peterson and James Paxton, neither of which is particularly surprising; Peterson and Paxton are two of the top young players in Seattle’s system.
The two sides are discussing various iterations of deals for Price, Zobrist or both. Heyman adds that Seattle might be willing to include Brad Miller in a deal as well, given the emergence of Triple-A shortstop Chris Taylor. The M’s, however, have said they won’t deal Mike Zunino.
THURSDAY, 9:51pm: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Mariners’ talks with the Rays have been more focused on Zobrist than Price, and the two sides have been discussing Zobrist “for weeks.” Nick Franklin‘s name has frequently come up in talks, he adds.
Heyman also reports that the Mariners have spoken to the Twins about Josh Willingham and the White Sox about Dayan Viciedo, and he notes that he, too, has heard Byrd’s name in learning of the Mariners’ trade talks. One big league source tells Heyman, however, that a deal for Byrd is now “less than likely” due to his no-trade clause.
He also adds that the Mariners’ ownership group is very big on bringing in players who want to be in Seattle. Offseason comments by Price’s agent about his client not wanting to sign a long-term deal in Seattle seem to indicate that Price doesn’t fit that description. However, the team’s status as a legitimate postseason contender may have changed Price’s thinking on that front.
2:10pm: Though no deal is imminent, the Mariners have been engaged in ongoing discussions with the Rays regarding lefty David Price and utilityman Ben Zobrist, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Meanwhile, talks have stalled with the Phillies regarding Marlon Byrd.
Needless to say, Price and Zobrist both represent potential impact to contenders. Either player could presumably add value to just about every roster in baseball. That holds particularly true for Seattle, which could not only pair Price with current ace Felix Hernandez but would be able to play Zobrist at shortstop, outfield, or even first base.
Of course, the return for either — and, especially, both — would figure to be substantial. (It is not clear from Morosi’s report whether the two would be joined in any potential deal, or indeed whether the sides have progressed that far.) Tampa is said to be interested in beating the return that the Cubs received for Jeff Samardzija, if it deals Price at all. Certainly, a hypothetical pairing of Price and Zobrist (both under control for next season) would require a bigger return on paper than was commanded by Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
Meanwhile, the news on Byrd makes sense in light of last night’s report from ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden, which indicated that Byrd would ask the Mariners to guarantee his $8MM option for 2016 in order to waive his no-trade clause. Seattle is one of just four teams on Byrd’s no-trade list.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
10:25am: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes that the Phillies’ preference is to deal Cliff Lee rather than Hamels, though his current injury complicates that matter. Those familiar with the team feel that Lee would prioritize a winning team over remaining in Philadelphia, and that he would therefore be more likely to waive his no-trade clause. The same cannot be said for Hamels at this time, whose preference is to remain in Philly, Heyman writes.
Lee should be able to make at least two, if not three starts prior to July 31 after he is activated from the disabled list. That’s not a huge sample, but it should be enough time for him to prove his health, to an extent.
8:33am: While some recent rumors have circulated regarding the Red Sox and Cole Hamels, the Phillies aren’t currently inclined to deal him, a Major League source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. The Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber suggests a similar notion (Twitter links). A source tells him that while the Sox are open to adding front-line starting pitching as insurance in case they cannot retain Jon Lester, there’s nothing in the works with Hamels, and acquiring him is more of a concept than a reality at this point.
Recently, it was reported that Hamels could block trades to 20 teams. The nine teams to which Hamels cannot block a trade are the Dodgers, Angels, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Padres. Bradford writes that the Red Sox are believed to have checked in on Hamels earlier this season, but the two sides haven’t engaged in any recent trade discussions.
Hamels’ availability — or lack thereof — will be a defining point on this summer’s trade market. The 30-year-old is owed $90MM through 2018 — a reasonable sum in today’s market given his track record of excellence — and his contract contains a $20MM club option that can vest at $24MM if Hamels is healthy and throws 200 innings in 2018 (or 400 innings from 2017-18). Should he be made available in the next 13 days, Hamels would join David Price (and perhaps teammate Cliff Lee, depending on his health) as one of the most desirable arms on the open market.
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp doesn’t necessarily want to be traded, but he would welcome a deal that would allow him to man center field on an everyday basis with a new team, agent Dave Stewart told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports yesterday. Rosenthal notes, however, that GM Ned Colletti is a bit hesitant to part with Kemp’s right-handed bat, as that would leave the team with just one surefire right-handed power threat in the everyday lineup in 2015: Yasiel Puig. (Hanley Ramirez, of course, is a free agent at season’s end.) Another major roadblock is the roughly $107MM remaining on Kemp’s contract through the 2019 season.
Here’s more on the Dodgers and the rest of the NL West…
- Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles now debunks one of his own reports, tweeting that he’s been told the Dodgers are not interested in Jonathan Papelbon. Yesterday, a baseball source told Saxon he expected the club to pursue the Philadelphia closer.
- Rockies owner Dick Monfort appeared on 850 KOA-AM radio with Dave Logan and Susie Wargin, and MLB.com’s Thomas Harding provides some highlights from the discussion. Most notably, after Monfort defended GM Dan O’Dowd by saying he judged O’Dowd’s success on more than just the club’s win-loss record, he was asked who should take the blame for the record: “You would have to say it’s [Rockies senior vice president of Major League operations and assistant GM] Bill Geivett,” said Monfort. “He’s responsible for the Major League team. Now, the talent that gets into the Major League team, [that] is the responsibility of scouting and development.” Monfort declined to comment when asked if all of the club’s decision-makers would return next season, but he did say he “stand[s] by the job that everybody does.”
- The San Diego Union-Tribune’s staff runs down the list of each Padres GM candidate and explains the reasons that they have a chance at the job as well as the reason that each could lose out to another candidate. Since the publishing of that article, four candidates have already been eliminated, and the finalists now are Red Sox AGM Mike Hazen, Rangers AGM A.J. Preller, Yankees AGM Billy Eppler and MLB senior vice president of baseball operations Kim Ng.
- Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Kevin Towers could join the Padres front office as a senior advisor if he his dismissed from his post with the D’Backs. Padres CEO Mike Dee now tells Rosenthal (Twitter links): “Any new hires in the front office will be up to the new GM. Kevin Towers is not a candidate for that position. Thus, any speculation about Kevin rejoining the Padres is just that, speculation.”
Here’s the latest out of the National League:
- The Dodgers could potentially look to acquire Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, according to a tweet from Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. A source tells Saxon that he expects Los Angeles to pursue the 33-year-old righty, who is carrying a 1.21 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 in his third year in Philly. Long considered one of the worst contracts in baseball, Papelbon’s deal is actually looking less onerous as he continues to produce results and its timeline shortens. On top of his $13MM salary this season, Papelbon is owed $13MM next year and comes with a vesting option at that same rate for 2016. The option would become guaranteed if he finishes 55 games next year or 100 total between 2014-15. He has topped 50 games finished in each of the last seven years and is on pace to do so once again.
- Did the Mets waste star third baseman David Wright‘s best years? That is the question posed by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who notes that the 31-year-old has battled injuries and is hitting well off of his career pace even after a hot streak. Though the club’s young talent has real promise of delivering a rebound for the franchise, Sherman wonders if everything will congeal while Wright is still a top-end contributor.
- For that reason and many others, Mets GM Sandy Alderson finds himself in something of a delicate position heading out of the All-Star break, as David Lennon of Newsday writes. While the club has pulled itself into shouting distance of the post-season picture, neither does it look like a prime time to buy. Selling players like Daniel Murphy and Bartolo Colon would not only run some public relations and attendance risks, but could lessen the club’s chances in 2015. On the other hand, standing pat might mean foregoing an opportunity to bolster the team’s talent base and opening payroll space for the coming offseason.
- While the Cubs appear to have a surplus of top position prospects, along with a few talented younger bats at the MLB level, that does not mean that there is any rush to move pieces around, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Not all prospects transition to the big leagues, of course, and in any event most of the team’s better pre-major league pieces appear to offer sufficient positional flexibility that Chicago will have plenty of options in the unlikely event that they all pan out.
ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required and recommended) offers a bounty of information on the trade market as we draw to within two weeks of the deadline. While you’ll want to give the piece a full read, here are some of the many highlights:
- The Rays are in no hurry to deal ace David Price, and some possible trade partners increasingly believe that he will not change hands before the deadline. The club still wants to see if a post-season run remains possible; though the club sits 9.5 games back at the break, the division does still look somewhat vulnerable. If Tampa does look to move Price, arguably the best potential trade chip in baseball, it will demand more in return than the Cubs received for Jeff Samardzija — who, you may recall, was the key piece in a package that brought back one of the game’s elite prospects in Addison Russell. Needless to say, Price is a rare commodity, especially given his additional season of control, and his potential absence from the market (combined with the A’s early strike for two other top starters) could have interesting repercussions.
- One player whose trade attention would potentially rise if Price stays put is Cole Hamels of the Phillies, who of course has plenty of value regardless. Bowden says that GMs around the league get the sense that Philadelphia will be very hesitant to move their star lefty, however. (Fellow top southpaw Cliff Lee, meanwhile, looks more and more a potential August trade piece.)
- Ultimately, while the Phillies will not conduct a true fire sale, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated through conversations with his peers that the club is prepared to sell. Outfielder Marlon Byrd is the most likely to go, says Bowden, though his contract presents some complications. While the Mariners are interested in him, Bowden says that the recent free agent signee will ask that the club guarantee his $8MM option for 2016, which Seattle is not currently willing to do. The Royals could also make sense as a partner, but also appear on Byrd’s four-team no-trade list and do not want to take on that level of mid-term commitment. It would appear that Byrd’s representatives at ACES advised their client well in selecting the relatively paltry number of teams to which he could refuse a trade.
- Angels owner Arte Moreno has enabled GM Jerry Dipoto to be aggressive in trade talks, says Bowden. In addition to Huston Street and Ian Kennedy (read more on them here), the Halos have asked the Padres about righty Tyson Ross, though the Super Two hurler is unlikely to be moved. Indeed, now in the midst of his second consecutive season of high-end production, the 27-year-old starter (and his three remaining years of control) would require a significant return.
- The Athletics remain aggressive on the second base market, with GM Billy Beane also said to be exploring more creative means of improving his club. Oakland is not inclined to deal away shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson after moving their top prospect, says Bowden, with the club’s internal evaluators believing that he could have as much future value as the more-hyped Russell.
- The Reds are still looking to add a hitter, with Ben Zobrist of the Rays making a perfect match on paper given his positional flexibility and the club’s current injury situation. (Of course, the same could be said of several other clubs.) With Josh Willingham of the Twins set to hit free agency, he has also been looked at by Cincinnati.
- Bowden provides several other interesting notes. Among them: the Braves have canvassed the market for a southpaw reliever and could be interested in James Russell of the Cubs and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers will likely add a starter. The Cardinals are planning to scout Twins‘ catcher Kurt Suzuki as they assess things behind the plate. And the Giants remain interested in a second base addition in the event that Marco Scutaro cannot stay healthy and productive.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Ben Zobrist | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | David Price | James Russell | Josh Willingham | Kansas City Royals | Kurt Suzuki | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Minnesota Twins | Newsstand | Oakland Athletics | Oliver Perez | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Tyson Ross
The Angels and Padres don’t match up on a deal for right-hander Ian Kennedy, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but the two sides are still discussing closer Huston Street (Twitter link). Rosenthal notes that the Padres are still listening to offers from other clubs with interest in Kennedy.
The Angels have been connected to Street several times, and the pitcher himself even said he would welcome a trade to the Halos when asked by Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. That’s not to say that Street wants to be traded to Anaheim — he’s said multiple times that he loves San Diego — but rather that if he is traded, he’d prefer it to be to a contending team. Street also told Shaikin how exciting the concept of playing alongside names like Mike Trout and Albert Pujols would be, and he offered high praise for manager Mike Scioscia.
According to Shaikin, the Angels prefer Street to Jonathan Papelbon and Joakim Soria. Street, who has pitched to a 1.09 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 33 innings this season, is earning $7MM and has a $7MM club option on his contract for 2015. As such, the price tag on him is likely to be fairly substantial, though not as steep as the presumed price tag on Kennedy.
As far as Kennedy goes, it’s not entirely surprising that the two sides don’t match up. The Angels’ weak farm system has been well documented, and there’s been a great deal of speculation that they could have trouble landing significant upgrades on the trade market. In a second piece, Shaikin spoke with GM Jerry Dipoto, who said that he doesn’t want to deal any pieces from his big league roster in trades.
That, of course, implies that a young player who could be of interest to a rebuilding club, such as slugging first baseman/DH C.J. Cron, isn’t likely to find himself as part of a trade. As Shaikin writes, Dipoto knows that means he doesn’t have the pieces to acquire David Price, but the team is still in active pursuit of pitching upgrades. Based on all of these reports, it seems that Street is the primary target for the time being, though I’d expect the Angels to cast a wide net over the next few weeks.