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Philadelphia Phillies Rumors
The Phillies have added some innings to their rotation, announcing the signing of right-hander Aaron Harang to a one-year, $5MM deal. Harang, a client of ACES, can earn more through performance incentives and awards bonuses, per the team.
The 36-year-old Harang enjoyed a very nice rebound campaign with the Braves in 2014, pitching to a 3.57 ERA with 7.1 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 39.4 percent ground-ball rate in 204 1/3 innings. Harang’s 3.57 FIP felt that his ERA was a perfect indicator of his skill set, although other metrics such as xFIP (4.03) and SIERA (4.18) felt that he was the beneficiary of some good fortune. Interest from Philadelphia was first noted last week by CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury.
For the Phillies, Harang will provide a much-needed stabilizing force in the rotation, and he comes at a price tag that isn’t prohibitive. While the Phillies don’t expect to contend in 2015 — they’ve already traded away Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo — they still need someone to soak up innings in the rotation. Harang can do just that for manager Ryne Sandberg. He’ll join Cliff Lee and possibly Cole Hamels (depending on whether or not he is traded) in an otherwise thin rotation. Jerome Williams figures to lock down one spot, with David Buchanan the likely occupant of another. Beyond that, the fifth spot figures to be a competition between the likes of reported non-roster invitee Wandy Rodriguez, right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and eventually 2014 first-round pick Aaron Nola.
Harang’s peak came in the 2006-07 seasons with the Reds when he hurled a combined 466 innings of 3.75 ERA ball in the very hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park. Harang posted a 124 ERA+ in each of those seasons and even finished fourth in the NL Cy Young voting in 2007. He was off to a solid start in 2008, but many Reds fans will point to a four-inning, 63-pitch relief stint on two days’ rest (in an 18-inning marathon game) on May 25 of that season as the day in which things took a turn for the worse for Harang. Though he fired four scoreless innings that day, Harang wound up on the DL with a forearm strain and posted a 5.88 ERA over the remainder of the year. He never fully regained his form as a Red, although he’s had relatively successful stints with the Padres, Dodgers and Mets (in terms of ERA, anyhow) since leaving Cincinnati.
Harang’s contract is affordable enough that the Phillies should be able to flip him at the trade deadline if he’s pitching well. We at MLBTR agreed that a two-year deal could be possible for Harang based on his strong 2014 (as Zach Links mentioned in his free agent profile), but the market for Harang’s services never gained too much steam. The large number of quality arms on both the free agent and trade markets likely prevented that from happening, but Harang still managed to pull in a guarantee five times larger than the $1MM sum paid to him by the Braves a year ago.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported that a deal was in place (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Reports over the weekend indicated that Dan Haren has informed the Marlins of his desire to pitch for another club, and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports looks at the situation a bit further. Morosi reports that Haren has begun a throwing program and has yet to inform the Marlins that he plans to retire if he’s not traded. While his West Coast preference is very well known, Haren will consider other clubs on a case-by-case basis if the Marlins are able to facilitate a trade elsewhere, he adds. As Morosi notes, the Marlins have little incentive to desperately shop Haren; the Dodgers included $10MM in the trade that Miami will be able to keep even in the event that Haren retires. In a poll conducted by MLBTR’s Brad Johnson, the majority of respondents expect Haren to retire.
Here’s more from the NL East…
- Little has changed on the Mets‘ shortstop front, writes ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin, who hears from team insiders that Wilmer Flores is still likely to have the Opening Day job. The Mets’ remaining offseason additions could simply come in the form of minor league deals for a few more lefty relievers as the club looks to find a complement to southpaw Josh Edgin. The last significant move could be to move a starter, with Dillon Gee being the most likely name to go. Rubin also notes that the Mets believe continued offseason agility training will help make Flores a passable defender at short. Flores hit .322/.365/.556 with six homers in 25 games (90 at-bats) in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason.
- The latest from Fangraphs’ Mike Petriello is an attempt to find a new home for Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. Petriello points to previous comments made by GM Ruben Amaro Jr. on 97.5 The Fanatic in Phildelphia in which Amaro admits to having told Howard “it would probably bode better for the organization not with him but without him.” As Petriello notes, Howard has always been a better hitter to the opposite field — never more than in 2014. He concludes that three AL clubs whose parks favor power to left more than to right could conceivably fit him in as a DH: the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays. I’d personally wager that the Phillies may have to eat as much as $50MM of the remaining $60MM on Howard’s deal to move him.
- The Marlins like James Shields, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but they (unsurprisingly) aren’t comfortable paying him in the five-year, $110MM range. Last night, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Shields is fielding offers in that neighborhood.
Here are highlights from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal‘s latest:
- The Braves‘ offseason has been quietly criticized throughout the industry, with other teams wondering about Atlanta’s signing of Nick Markakis and about its trades, including getting injured pitching prospect Max Fried as the co-headliner (along with Mallex Smith) in the Justin Upton deal.
- The Phillies, meanwhile, did well in getting Ben Lively in return for Marlon Byrd and cash. The Phillies didn’t get marquee names for Byrd, Jimmy Rollins or Antonio Bastardo, but they weren’t expected to. A Cole Hamels deal would clearly be a different story, and Rosenthal names the Red Sox and Cardinals as interesting potential trade partners.
- Ben Zobrist is likely to receive a qualifying offer next winter if the Rays deal him this offseason, and the possibility of getting a draft pick would likely make him even more valuable to some interested teams.
- The Orioles are interested in Colby Rasmus despite his perceived makeup issues because Buck Showalter believes Rasmus can adjust to the Orioles’ clubhouse, just as Delmon Young did. The Orioles also already possess plenty of good clubhouse players who can set strong examples. The Orioles have yet to sign Rasmus, though, and it’s not yet certain they will — Nori Aoki is also available, along with a variety of outfield trade possibilities. (Showalter met with Rasmus yesterday.)
- Wil Myers is excited about the possibility of playing center field for the Padres, Rosenthal writes. Myers has only played a handful of games at center in the Majors.
- Other teams aren’t willing to give the Rockies much for Wilin Rosario right now, so the team’s best course might be to allow Rosario to play some first base and outfield this season and hope he improves his stock after declining offensively in each of the last two seasons.
The return of Alex Rodriguez headlines the top ten baseball storylines in 2015, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. With the 39-year-old Rodriguez and his two degenerating hips returning after serving a 162-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, Cafardo posits the best-case scenario for the Yankees would be if A-Rod cannot hold up physically or the team and/or MLB come up with more damaging material to keep him out of baseball for good. Also making Cafardo’s list, the start of Rob Manfred’s tenure as Commissioner and Pete Rose testing the waters of reinstatement in the wake of the retirement of Bud Selig, a staunch opponent of allowing the all-time hits leader back into the game.
In other tidbits from Cafardo’s Sunday Notes column:
- It has been hard to gauge the market for James Shields because his negotiations have been private. However, a MLB source tells Cafardo the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Giants have had discussions or shown interest in the right-hander. Cafardo adds the Giants have cooled on Shields after re-signing Jake Peavy, but remain open-minded.
- The Giants, Nationals, Angels, and Cubs are seriously pursuing Ben Zobrist with the Rays‘ asking price being at least one top prospect and a mid-level one.
- Dan Uggla is confident in returning to his former self after being diagnosed with oculomotor dysfunction (poor motion vision when moving the head or body), which was caused by being hit in the head by a pitch on two separate occasions. After a two-week exercise regimen, doctors have declared the second baseman’s motion vision normal. The Nationals, who signed Uggla to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite the day after Christmas, have prior experience in dealing with oculomotor dysfunction, as Denard Span suffered through it in 2013. The Orioles and Rangers also expressed interest in Uggla.
- Despite his less-than-stellar reputation, Cafardo finds it hard to fathom a team would not trade for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Cafardo notes Papelbon has found a way to keep getting batters out with diminished velocity as evident by his 106 saves over the past three seasons, including 39 (with just four blown saves) for a bad Phillies team last year.
- Clubs are only offering outfielder Nori Aoki two-year deals. The Orioles have definite interest in Aoki, who also has some appeal to the Giants.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Rodriguez | Baltimore Orioles | Ben Zobrist | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Dan Uggla | James Shields | Jonathan Papelbon | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | New York Yankees | Norichika Aoki | Philadelphia Phillies | San Francisco Giants | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals
Ubaldo Jimenez‘s first year with the Orioles was a struggle, but with three years left on his contract, the O’s are hoping for better in 2015, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com writes. Jimenez walked 5.5 batters per nine innings en route to a 4.81 ERA after signing a four-year, $50MM deal last February. The Orioles have tried to trade him, but other teams don’t to take on the rest of his contract. Still, Dubroff notes that Jimenez struck out the side in his last appearance of the year and pitched decently in two starts immediately before that (albeit with too many walks), and Orioles manager Buck Showalter sounds hopeful about Jimenez for next season. “I’m going to be surprised if he doesn’t come in and be ready to pitch like he’s capable of consistently,” says Showalter. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Trading Cole Hamels could result in a Cliff Lee-type trade for the Phillies, but they still need to take the risk, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. The Phillies as currently constituted aren’t strong enough to win with Hamels, so they need to take a chance by trading him for multiple players who can help them win later. Zolecki adds that it’s unlikely the Phillies would deal Domonic Brown or Ben Revere at this point, since the team needs outfielders and both players are relatively young.
- Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller should be able to handle the late innings in the Yankees‘ new-look bullpen, and there are a number of options for middle relief, Mark Townsend of Yahoo! Sports writes. The newly acquired David Carpenter could play a key role in the sixth and seventh innings, with Adam Warren and Justin Wilson also helping out in important spots. (One would think lefty Chasen Shreve, who pitched brilliantly in the Atlanta system last year, could be a good matchup option at some point as well.) All that depth means the Yankees don’t have to lean too hard on reclamation projects Andrew Bailey and Esmil Rogers.
The Yankees are making the right moves to build their bullpen by adding inexpensive depth, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Chasen Shreve, acquired from the Braves in the Manny Banuelos deal, gives the Yankees another hard-throwing lefty to go with Andrew Miller and Justin Wilson, and David Carpenter, the Yankees’ other acquisition in that deal, should be tough on righties. Miller, of course, was very expensive, but he was one of baseball’s best relievers last season. The Braves, meanwhile, got a project in Banuelos, and they could try to continue developing him as a starter, hoping his velocity rebounds after missing most of 2012 and all of 2013 due to injury. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Yankees are comfortable with their current rotation of Masahiro Tanaka, C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and Chris Capuano, but they’re still likely to add pitching before Spring Training, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch writes in a Q+A. The team still says it will not add a big contract by signing Max Scherzer or James Shields, however.
- The Phillies have traded Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd, but their rebuild can’t begin in earnest until Ryan Howard departs, Bob Brookover of the Inquirer writes. Howard blocks top prospect Maikel Franco, who played well down the stretch at Triple-A Lehigh Valley and in winter ball in the Dominican. Having Franco at first and Cody Asche at third makes the most sense for the Phillies going forward, Brookover argues.
Here are a few notes from around the game to round out the evening:
- The Athletics appear well-situated to make a run at Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera, writes Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com. Oakland has some financial freedom after its run of divesting veteran assets, and has the flexibility to wait and see if and when Olivera becomes eligible to sign.
- The Phillies have made some significant trades in recent weeks, but must part with Ryan Howard to fully enter a rebuild, opines Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Maikel Franco is ready for a big league roster spot, says Brookover, and Howard should not be allowed to stand in his way.
- Trading away corner outfielders Jason Heyward and Justin Upton was the right decision for the Braves, opines MLB.com’s Terence Moore. The roster was not good enough to be a serious postseason threat, says Moore, and moving those pieces brought back important future assets.
With the arrival of a new year comes a new season in Blue Jays manager John Gibbons’ contract, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca writes. The new year guarantees Gibbons’ deal through 2016 and also adds a new option for 2017. Every new year adds a new season in Gibbons’ contract, and GM Alex Anthopoulos created the deal so that Gibbons would never have a lame-duck season on the horizon. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported in September that the Jays would retain Gibbons, who is 157-167 in two seasons on the job. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Nationals acquisition Trea Turner (who will be the PTBNL in the Wil Myers trade) was the best prospect dealt between the Winter Meetings and Christmas, writes John Manuel of Baseball America. Manuel mentions that Padres vice president of scouting operations Don Welke, a close associate of new GM A.J. Preller, came from the Blue Jays organization, which preached that shortstops must have excellent arms. Turner doesn’t, so the Padres probably didn’t view him as a shortstop in the long term (although Manuel does).
- The Phillies hope to help Rule 5 pick Andy Oliver with his control, Jim Salisbury writes for Baseball America. Oliver posted a very high 6.6 BB/9 in 64 innings of relief for the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis last year, but with 12.0 K/9 and excellent velocity. “There aren’t many lefthanders sitting between 94 and 97 (mph) with a good slider,” says pro scouting director Mike Ondo. “Obviously strike one is going to be important, but he’s got two big weapons. If some things come together, we hope we have something.” Ondo adds that the Phillies will use their other Rule 5 pick, Odubel Herrera, primarily as an outfielder.
- Trading Byrd could open the door for some young guys in Philadelphia, writes CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury. In particular, Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf, and Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera stand to benefit the most. Brown’s role is uncertain after a difficult 2014, and Ruf has rarely received consistent work at the major league level. Herrera has some interesting upside if he can stick for the season. Other outfielders under contract include Grady Sizemore, Jeff Francoeur, Xavier Paul, and Brian Bogusevic. Ben Revere‘s role is far more solidified.
- The trade was also about adding pitching depth, says Salisbury. Along with the Rollins deal, Philadelphia has added three solid pitching prospects to the upper minors in Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, and Tom Windle. That sort of depth is important, especially with Cole Hamels on the trade block. Presumably, Cliff Lee just needs to demonstrate health before joining Hamels on the block.
- The Phillies could be on the verge of adding two starting pitchers, writes Salisbury in a separate piece. One of those names is likely Wandy Rodriguez, who reportedly reached an agreement pending a physical late last week. The other could be Aaron Harang, who Salisbury tweeted about earlier today. As with the pitching prospects listed above, it’s important for a rebuilding club to have enough arms to absorb the roughly 1,450 innings thrown in a major league season. Players like Rodriguez and Harang can also serve as additional trade bait. Roberto Hernandez filled that role last season.
Earlier today, we witnessed what might be the last trade of 2014. The Phillies swapped outfielder Marlon Byrd and $4MM to the Reds for pitching prospect Ben Lively. Here’s the latest related to the move:
- Trade talks were initiated during the GM Meetings in November, writes MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. GMs Walk Jocketty and Ruben Amaro continued to work closely on the deal over the last couple weeks. Philadelphia’s decision to include $4MM likely played a large role in netting a strong return.
- Reds manager Bryan Price praised Byrd’s intangibles, reports Sheldon. According to Price, Byrd will fill a much needed role of run producer, but he can also help the club build a professional culture. Jocketty also acknowledged Byrd’s work ethic and leadership.
- ESPN’s Keith Law likes the trade for Philadelphia. They continue the much needed mission of rebuilding, and the return is about as good as can be expected for Byrd. The Reds perspective is a lot harder to support. They’re walking a fine line between rebuilding and contending, but it seems like they’re getting the worst of both worlds. For what it’s worth, I suspect the Reds plan to re-sell Byrd at the trade deadline. If he’s not performing well enough to be traded, they can bench him to avoid the vesting option (which triggers in 550 plate appearances).
- Jocketty says the Reds will focus on adding to the bullpen and bench, writes C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Byrd deal crosses left-fielder off the club’s to-do list. I would add rotation depth as another area of concern.