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Philadelphia Phillies Rumors
In a follow-up to his piece last night analyzing the Phillies’ options with regard to a possible Cole Hamels deal, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark provides a series of interesting notes, all via Twitter. The overall picture that emerges is one in which Philadelphia remains willing and ready to be engaged, and is perhaps more flexible in its thinking than many believe.
- A team source rejected the prevailing view that Philadelphia is asking potential trade partners for two or three of their best prospects. Instead, the team has been in a stance of asking for offers on their star lefty.
- At present, however, only one team has actually made an offer. Interestingly, the offeror is a team that has not been mentioned publicly as of yet. Philly felt it was a “good” offer but “not good enough,” per Stark’s source.
- Ultimately, the Phillies have yet to reach a point in any discussion in which they have made a “formal ask” of a return for Hamels, says Stark. The reason is simply that talks have never progressed far enough to warrant a firm proposal.
- MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes discussed Hamels’ value on today’s podcast (at about the 27:50 mark), arguing that Hamels would probably take down a bigger contract than Jon Lester were he on the open market. In that view, Dierkes opines, there is plenty of value to be achieved in trading for the Hamels contract, even if it is not a bargain. If Hamels ends up being dealt, it will be fascinating to evaluate how the clubs involved valued his deal.
The Yankees called the Phillies to ask about the availability of Jimmy Rollins, reports ESPN’s Jayson Stark, but the asking price was deemed too high and the Bombers have since moved on (All Twitter links). GM Ruben Amaro Jr. wouldn’t comment to Stark on the Yankees’ interest, but he tells Stark that Rollins is still one of the best shortstops in baseball and would therefore want a lot in return. Amaro adds that Rollins would be “very hard to replace” and is someone the Phillies want on their team. According to Stark, Rollins was never even approached by the team to ask if he would waive his no-trade clause to accept a trade to New York. Throwing even more cold water on the idea of a match, Stark reports (Twitter links) that the Yankees were offering only a “utility player” and that Rollins was not interested in playing in New York.
Here are some more notes pertaining to shortstops from around the league…
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that while the thought of Troy Tulowitzki heading to the Yankees in a trade has long been considered a long shot, there are “recent, strong indications” that there’s absolutely no chance of such a trade. The Yankees are showing a real reluctance to take on another significant contract, and the six-year, $114 commitment Tulowitzki has remaining has no appeal.
- Not only that, Martino hears from executives with interested teams that over the past two weeks, the Rockies have given the impression that Tulowitzki is simply unavailable.
- The Dodgers are in the market for a stopgap to serve as a bridge to top prospect Corey Seager, reports MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. The team feels that while whoever mans shortstop for them in 2015 won’t have the offensive talent of Hanley Ramirez, he will provide a marked defensive difference that offsets some loss of offense. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and several Dodgers decision-makers watched Seager in the Arizona Fall League, and Friedman disagreed with scouts who feel that Seager will have to move to third base. Said Friedman: “I’m convinced that I would not move him off shortstop right now — his hands work really well, and we have a number of guys who think he has a real chance to stick there.”
- In a video blog, ESPN’s Buster Olney notes that while three big-market teams — the Yankees, Mets and Dodgers — have a need at shortstop, the perception among executives is that there just isn’t much to be had. Executives feel that they could “absolutely” call the Mariners about Brad Miller, says Olney, but he’s been inconsistent at the plate. Stephen Drew hasn’t hit consistently over the past three seasons, either. Rollins has 10-and-5 rights and hasn’t given an inclination that he wants to approve a trade. And free agent Jed Lowrie is viewed by many teams as more of a second baseman than a shortstop.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark took a look at the Cole Hamels trade market and spoke to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about the possibility of trading the ace. Amaro took a familiar stance, stating that he’s not under any pressure to move Hamels, whom he rightly deemed one of baseball’s best starters. Rival execs tell Stark that Amaro is still asking for two premium prospects plus another piece or two in addition to the acquiring club taking on Hamels’ entire contract. As Stark notes, it’s unfortunate that a rebuilding club’s best chip is an ace in an offseason where free agency and the trade market are both pitching-rich. With next season shaping up to be a buyer’s market for pitching as well, Stark wonders if July will be the best time for Amaro to move Hamels, as few aces are ever available at the deadline. Multiple clubs have told Stark that Amaro is holding out for “the deal of the century,” as Stark terms it.
Two items of particular note from Stark are that the Blue Jays are said to have very strong interest in Hamels and that reports of Hamels’ no-trade clause are not entirely accurate. Hamels can indeed block trades to eight clubs, but previous reports listed the Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Nats, Braves, Padres, Yankees and Rangers as teams to which Hamels cannot veto a deal. Stark hears that list is outdated, and at least one club has been changed since season’s end.
Some other late-night NL East notes…
- Reports have indicated that the Marlins are serious about adding pieces to contend in 2015 this offseason, and while the focus has been more on bats for the lineup, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Fish have reached out to the Tigers to inquire on David Price and Rick Porcello. Talks aren’t serious at this time, he adds, but the fact that the Marlins are even kicking the tires on a pair of high-priced arms (Price and Porcello project to earn $18.9MM and $12.2MM next year, respectively) suggests that they’re willing to take on some significant payroll.
- The Braves are interested in a reunion with backstop David Ross, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien reported yesterday (Twitter link). Ross spent four seasons as Brian McCann‘s backup in Atlanta from 2009-12, enjoying some of the most productive seasons of his career as a Brave. He could serve as an excellent mentor to Christian Bethancourt, who figures to take the reins as Atlanta’s everyday catcher with Evan Gattis moving to the outfield full time.
- MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports another potential catching target for the Braves, tweeting that they have interest in A.J. Pierzynski. The soon-to-be 38-year-old Pierzynski has never had Ross’ defensive chops, though he’d give the Braves a left-handed bat to insert in the lineup when they prefer to rest Bethancourt against tough right-handers.
- The Mets are interested in lefty reliever Craig Breslow, tweets Morosi. The Mets are thin on left-handed relief, and Breslow should represent a low-cost option. The 34-year-old picked a poor time to have a career-worst season, pitching to a 5.96 ERA this past season in a contract year. However, he entered the 2014 campaign with a career 2.82 ERA in 402 innings. Breslow doesn’t dominate lefties the way many specialists do (.671 OPS), but he’s also more effective against right-handed hitters than a number of his southpaw brethren (.680 OPS).
The Phillies have reached agreement on a minor league deal with infielder Chris Nelson, according to a tweet from Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Nelson, 29, now joins his sixth organization since the start of 2013.
Nelson has seen his opportunities at the MLB level diminish since a highly productive 2012 season with the Rockies in which he slashed .301/.352/.458. But that line was BABIP-driven and inflated by playing in Coors Field, and Nelson has fallen well shy of that pace since. Over the last two seasons, Nelson has carried a .229/.279/.313 line acrosss 308 plate appearances.
Nelson would seem likely to provide Philadelphia with a utility bench option. Though he has seen only scant time at short, he does have a good number of innings at second and, especially, third base.
Earlier today we heard that the Giants have shown interest in Jon Lester, and that interest may now increase with Pablo Sandoval reportedly set to join the Red Sox. San Francisco would make another entrant in a Lester race that has begun to take clearer shape over the past week or so. And, of course, the connection to the Phillies‘ trade market for Cole Hamels cannot be ignored, with several reports suggesting that the two southpaws’ fates are intertwined.
Here are today’s Lester and Hamels rumors…
- Two NL GMs told Peter Gammons over the weekend that Lester is nearing a deal with the Red Sox. However, Gammons writes that the info doesn’t appear to be accurate at this time, as Lester is set to meet with the Cardinals sometime next week. According to Gammons, Lester might wish to have a deal in place in advance of the Winter Meetings, which begin Dec. 7 in San Diego. WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford echoes that there’s nothing close between the Red Sox and Lester at this time (Twitter link).
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox and Lester are still “very much engaged” and it does appear possible for the Sox to add Lester, Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez (who agreed to a four-year, $88MM pact with Boston earlier today).
- The Red Sox and Cubs are interested in Hamels, and both could “jump” at the chance to acquire him if they miss on Lester, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Boston has had the “most serious talks” with Philadelphia, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), with Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeting that the Phils are confident in striking a deal if Lester does not return to his former club.
- The Dodgers are also in on Hamels, according to a tweet from Nightengale. Los Angeles represents a potentially powerful new entrant to that market, of course, and could shake up the pursuit if it decides to commit significant resources to adding a third stellar lefty to its rotation.
We’ll keep track of any Yasmany Tomas-related rumors here, with the newest items at the top.
- The Braves‘ pursuit of Tomas is unrelated to the progress of any trades involving Justin Upton or Evan Gattis, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. The Braves feel comfortable that they can get good value for Upton or Gattis whether or not they sign Tomas.
- The Braves, Padres and Giants have extended offers to Tomas, with the Mariners, Phillies and Diamondbacks still lingering as possibilities, Peter Gammons tweets. That all makes sense — a report late last week indicated that the Braves and Padres were the favorites to sign Tomas, and another indicated that the Giants would turn their attention to Tomas if Pablo Sandoval were to leave for another team.
MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian and Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group cleared out their inbox this weekend answering readers’ questions about possible moves for the Indians this offseason. Here are the highlights:
- Bastian downplays a Nick Swisher-Ubaldo Jimenez swap of bad contracts. Cleveland could afford the move (Jimenez is due $38.75MM through 2017 while Swisher is owed $30MM through 2016 with a 2017 vesting option worth $14MM), but Bastian feels the odds of Swisher rebounding in 2015 is a better bet than three years of Jimenez.
- If the Indians are looking to shed a bad contract, Hoynes thinks Michael Bourn would be easier to trade, but adds that doesn’t mean Cleveland wants to deal him.
- Bastian and Hoynes both agree the Indians have interest in Justin Masterson on a one-year pillow contract, but feel the right-hander will find a multi-year pact elsewhere.
- Trading for Cole Hamels is an interesting thought, according to Bastian, because the left-hander is cheaper ($90MM through 2018) than the top free agent rotation arms on the market and the Indians have the type of prospects the Phillies covet. Ultimately, though, Bastian sees Hamels’ annual salary and the potential prospects lost will be too steep of a price for the franchise to pay.
- While noting manager Terry Francona’s penchant for strong bullpens, Hoynes doesn’t see the Indians investing in any of the high profile free agent relievers, especially with Zach McAllister waiting in the wings.
- Does Francona’s new contract extension contain the same opt-out clause allowing him to leave if President Mark Shapiro or GM Chris Antonetti are fired? Antonetti did not provide details when asked that question, but Hoynes imagines the opt-out provision is included in the extension.
- Bastian expects right-handers Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer to have break out seasons for the Indians in 2015.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe asked about a dozen GMs in Phoenix about the Yankees’ situation and not one of them thought the Bombers would stay away from a major signing. For all the talk about the Cubs being a major player for Jon Lester, the Red Sox are still fearful that it’ll be the Yankees that swoop in and grab him. More from today’s column..
- Both center fielder Dexter Fowler and catcher Jason Castro are available in a deal and the Astros wouldn’t mind dealing for bullpen help. Fowler had a decent year and enjoyed more success as a right-handed hitter. The 28-year-old (29 by Opening Day) slashed .327/.419/.467 as a right-handed hitter but hit just .260/.361/.376 from the other side of the plate. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has heard that the asking price is high on Castro and that there aren’t any contract talks currently taking place between the two sides.
- Jason Hammel’s agent, Alan Nero, told Cafardo that teams have called on his client but no great advancements have been made on a contract. Nero figures the secondary pitching market may take a while to develop.
- Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley has become a popular trade target of a few teams, and while Arizona will listen, it will take a haul to get him.
- Free agent catcher David Ross wonders whether his status with the Red Sox hinges on whether they sign Jon Lester. Lester and Ross had a great run together in 2013 and the catcher tells Cafardo that the two will get together after Thanksgiving. Ross says that he’s begun to field interest from other teams in the interim.
- The Phillies will shop Carlos Ruiz and while plenty of teams need catchers, his age (35) and his contract will be a problem. Ruiz has two years left on his deal at $8.5MM per year plus a $4.5MM option for 2017 that can bought out for $500K.
The Dodgers might be more likely to deal Matt Kemp than is commonly believed, Jon Heyman of CBS writes. If the Dodgers did trade Kemp, they could rid themselves of a significant portion of the remainder of his contract. Also, the possibility that Joc Pederson will start the season in center field means that Kemp will have to play left, which isn’t his preference. The Dodgers will “certainly” trade at least one outfielder, Heyman writes, and it’s increasingly likely that it will be Kemp. Here are more notes from the National League.
- The Padres are reportedly involved in the bidding for Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas, but their history suggests they aren’t likely to sign either, Kirk Kenney of the Union-Tribune writes. Decades ago, the team came up short in bidding for Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson and Pete Rose, and Kenney writes that the Friars haven’t signed a significant free agent since Goose Gossage in 1983. Players like Greg Vaughn (who re-signed with the Padres as a free agent after the 1996 season) and Brian Giles (who did the same after 2005) might have something to say about that, but there’s little doubt that big free agent signings aren’t the Padres’ usual way of doing business.
- A recent report indicated the Phillies‘ level of interest in Tomas might now be diminished due to worries about his defense. But defense should be a secondary consideration if Tomas shows he has the bat to produce runs in today’s pitching-dominated game, Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com writes. There are plenty of good defenders available, Seidman argues, but few dominating hitters.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- A number of additional minor league signings have been reported on the MLB.com transactions page. Among the more notable moves: The Reds added first baseman Josh Satin along with second baseman Ivan De Jesus. Righty Logan Kensing and shortstop Juan Diaz have agreed to terms with the White Sox. And five catchers are off the board: Griff Erickson (Padres), Koyie Hill (Phillies), Sebastian Valle and Miguel Perez (Pirates), and Guillermo Quiroz (Giants).
- Other signings, via MLB.com: righty Caleb Clay and outfielder Nick Buss (Diamondbacks); lefties Ryan Verdugo and Jim Fuller (Athletics); third baseman Jefry Marte (Tigers); righty Daniel Turpen, third baseman Heiker Meneses, and shortstop Argenis Diaz (Twins); righty Bryce Stowell and first baseman Allan Dykstra (Rays); first baseman Travis Mattair and righties Justin Jackson, Jairo Heredia, and Jake Brigham (Braves); outfielder Javier Herrera (Giants); righty Leuris Gomez (Rockies); righty Michael Lee (Blue Jays); third baseman Jonathan Galvez (Yankees); righty Paul Clemens (Phillies).
- The D’Backs have agreed to terms on a minor league deal and a Spring Training invite with infielder/outfielder Jamie Romak, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweeted today. The 29-year-old Romak, a client of Taurus Sports’ David Sloane, made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 2014 and collected his first hit in the Majors. The former fourth-rounder is a lifetime .258/.324/.474 hitter at Triple-A.
- The Orioles announced the signings of infielder Paul Janish, right-hander Terry Doyle and outfielder Quincy Latimore to minor league contracts and invitations to big league Spring Training. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo was the first to tweet Janish’s agreement, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com had previously reported that the team was working on a deal with him. Janish is the only one of the bunch that comes with MLB experience; the 32-year-old defensive specialist is a career .214/.284/.288 hitter in 1206 plate appearances between the Reds and Braves.
- The Nationals announced that they have signed right-hander Bruce Billings to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training. The 29-year-old Billings pitched four innings for the Yankees last season and split the season between the Yankees and Dodgers organizations. Overall, the veteran posted a 5.27 ERA with 6. K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings.
- Outfielder Xavier Avery has inked a minor league deal with the Tigers and will receive a Spring Training invite as well, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The 24-year-old Avery spent last season with the Mariners after being acquired from the Orioles in the 2013 Mike Morse trade. Avery hit .275/.344/.413 with 10 homers and 31 steals, appearing at all three outfield spots for Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in 2014.
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