Philadelphia Phillies Rumors
Earlier this weekend, ESPN.com's Jim Bowden suggested that the Rays would promote outfielder and top prospect Wil Myers sometime in the next 10 days. The Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin, though, says Myers wouldn't have a place to play. Kelly Johnson, Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist have all performed well at the corner outfield spots for the Rays this year. The Rays could drop Luke Scott and create a rotation of players for the DH spot in order to clear space for Myers, but if they don't, Myers is a man without a position. Topkin also says that Rays manager Joe Maddon has not recently had discussions about Myers with executive vice president Andrew Friedman. The 22-year-old Myers was the key player acquired from the Royals in the James Shields trade last offseason. Myers is hitting .286/.359/.515 for Triple-A Durham. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- One reason for the Red Sox's success this year, as compared to last, is improvements in their advance scouting, says Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Manager John Farrell was hired earlier in the offseason than his predecessor, Bobby Valentine, had been, and so Farrell had a stronger pool of coaches from which to hire. Farrell and GM Ben Cherington both say interest in advance preparation was an important criterion as they hired their coaching staff. Brian Butterfield, the Sox's third base coach, prepares the team's infield shifts and is a key figure in the team's advance-scouting efforts.
- Veteran pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies in mid-May, does not enjoy relieving, Mike Still of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. "I signed here to be a starter," says Zambrano. "Last year was miserable when I went to the bullpen, I didn't enjoy it." Still notes, however, that Zambrano is willing to pitch in any role with the Phillies. Youngsters Tyler Cloyd and Jonathan Pettibone have helped keep the Phillies' rotation steady in the absence of Roy Halladay, and the Phils also have a rehabbing John Lannan waiting in the wings. Their plans for Zambrano are unclear. Zambrano has a July 1 opt-out date.
The Diamondbacks got a great value by picking Nevada pitcher Braden Shipley with the No. 15 pick in the first round of this weekend's draft, Keith Law of ESPN says in his NL draft roundup (Insider-only). He also praises the Phillies for their first several picks (which began with California high school shortstop J.P. Crawford at No. 16), and says the Giants (whose draft class was headlined by Florida high school shortstop Christian Arroyo) had his least favorite draft of any team this year. Be sure to check out the rest of Law's post for his analysis of other NL teams' picks this weekend. Here are more notes on the draft.
- The Indians took Georgia high school outfielder Clint Frazier with the fifth overall pick this year, and made what might turn out to be an excellent pick when they took Francisco Lindor in the first round in 2011. But right now, they don't have any of their former first-rounders on their 25-man roster, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer points out. C.C. Sabathia (1998) and Jeremy Guthrie (2002) are currently on other teams' rosters, however.
- In the 34th round on Saturday, the Diamondbacks selected Arizona State center fielder Cory Hahn. Hahn was paralyzed from the chest down while attempting a stolen base in a Sun Devils game in 2011. The pick was a meaningful one, both for the Diamondbacks and for Hahn, MLB.com's Tyler Emerick reports. "It's something that you can't really put into words, it was very humbling that they wanted to do this for me," says Hahn. "It's something I'll always cherish. No one made them do it, so the fact that they did -- I'll be forever thankful."
In the aftermath of a 20-inning loss to the Marlins, the Mets designated Rick Ankiel for assignment and recalled Kirk Nieuwenhuis. However, the team's biggest concern was the health of young ace Matt Harvey, who left the game with stiffness in his lower back. But as Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports, Harvey is apparently fine and will make his next scheduled start on Friday. Here's more news from around MLB's East divisions:
- The Phillies' recent hot streak may have turned the club from sellers to buyers, argues Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Brookover notes the discussion just last week was about which top players would be unloaded, whereas now it is about what pieces could be added to the young core.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo downplayed Bryce Harper's visit to orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion regarding the bursitis in the outfielder's left knee, according to MLB.com's William Ladson. "There's no worry," Rizzo said. "It is our protocol that players get a second opinion on any part of the body that we feel is a disabled list-type of injury. Guys get second opinions all the time here, and every guy that we put on the disabled list has gotten a second opinion." Harper is eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday and is expected to rejoin the team then.
- Chris Marrero may be up to stay, although the first baseman is temporarily serving as the Nationals' 26th man for today's doubleheader reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The former first rounder may help the Nationals' disappointing offense get going, as Marrero has hit for a .306/.355/.502 line in 228 plate appearances.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Alex Rodriguez saga hurts Robinson Cano in his negotiations with the Yankees in a way you might not expect. While Rodriguez’s record deal looks like it has soured from a value perspective, Sherman argues that the negative attention the contract has gotten has been even more detrimental. Cano is the top ranked free agent on MLBTR'S 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
A few notes as the 2013 Amateur Draft winds down on Saturday ...
- In their draft, the Phillies cut against the grain by focusing on offense, Ryan Lawrence of Philly.com reports. The Phils drafted eight hitters in their first 11 picks, including shortstop J.P. Crawford in the first round and outfielder Cord Sandberg, who has already agreed to terms, in the third. "I think [the draft] was fairly deep in the pitching board and not real deep on the offense board for high school or college, so we tried to focus on that and get as much as we could done," says assistant GM Marti Wolever.
- The Phillies also took Craig Biggio's son Cavan in the 29th round. The draft Twitter account notes that Cavan Biggio (a second baseman) and another 29th rounder, Rockies selection Kyle Serrano (a righty pitcher), are likely to be tough signs. Biggio has committed to play for Notre Dame; Serrano is committed to play for his father Dave, who is the coach at the University of Tennessee. Craig Biggio told Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle on Saturday that his son would not sign with the Phillies, and would head to Notre Dame instead. "He had some options on the first day (of the draft). He is excited about college," Craig Biggio says.
- Longtime big-league outfielder Lee Mazzilli says his son L.J. Mazzilli, who was drafted in the fourth round by the Mets on Friday, is "a better player than I was," Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes. The elder Mazzilli was also drafted by the Mets, in the first round in 1973. "I am so excited to have the opportunity that my dad had 40 years ago, and looking forward to making my own name out there and carrying my last name with a lot of pride," L.J. says.
- And speaking of big-league bloodlines, the Astros chose Roger Clemens' son Kacy Clemens in the 35th round, the draft Twitter account notes. Clemens, a pitcher like his father, is committed to the University of Texas, and is unlikely to sign.
The Phillies have agreed to terms with third-round pick Cord Sandberg, the outfielder told John Lembo of his hometown Bradenton Herald.
Sandberg, who was selected 89th overall, will receive a $775K signing bonus plus the monetary equivalent of a full scholarship to Mississippi State, where he was committed to attend college. He had been offered a full scholarship as a quarterback recruit for the Bulldogs. The assigned pick value for the No. 89 overall selection was $593,400, per Baseball America, so Sandberg will be signed well above slot value.
Sandberg, who is being advised by Excel Sports Management, has until July 12 to officially sign a contract, though that appears to be little more than a formality at this point. He ranked 40th on Baseball America's Top 500 draft prospects, 53rd on Keith Law's Top 100 and 56th on Jonathan Mayo's Top 100. He projects to have good power from the left side of the plate and has enough speed to be a defensive asset in the outfield.
Cliff Lee said yesterday that he wouldn't be surprised if he was dealt between now and the deadline, but he stated today that his first choice is to remain in Philadelphia, write Bob Brookover and Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The hurler also noted his desire to win, which is part of what drew him to Philadelphia in the first place as a free agent.
"Yeah, this is where I signed as a free agent and this is where I want to be," said Lee. "But I definitely want to win, there's no doubt about that. That's the main thing...I don't think anyone could have expected the way we played last year and being under .500 this year. I think it's a surprise to a lot of people, myself included. But there is still a lot of season left."
Lee, of course, has a no-trade clause that can allow him to block deals to 20 teams. While the Yankees, Orioles, and Rangers are among the clubs that are on his no-trade list, that doesn't necessarily mean that he won't OK a deal to those teams. The full list is not known, but the Cardinals are not among the clubs that the left-hander can turn down. While St. Louis wouldn't appear to be in need of pitching, it's not out of the question that they could get in the mix.
5:09pm: The Cardinals aren't on Lee's no-trade list, Morosi reports. Lee has some interest in playing for the Cards (they're close to his Arkansas home, in the NL and consistent winners), but he didn't cite him on his list since he doesn't think the pitching-rich Cardinals would need to trade for an ace. "It's not out of the question" that the Cards could pursue Lee due to his postseason record, Morosi writes, though they aren't in the market for pitching at the moment.
7:54am: As with most partial no-trade clauses, Cliff Lee and his agents at Frontline had the opportunity before the season to restructure his. Lee can block trades to 20 teams, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, and Orioles. Most of the 20 are projected trade deadline buyers, a source tells Morosi. Keep in mind that the presence of these teams does not mean Lee will automatically block a trade to them; it just means he has leverage if the Phillies strike a deal with one.
Lee, 34, has been dominant for the Phillies in 2013. His 88 1/3 innings rank second in the National League, his 2.45 ERA ranks eighth, and his 5.69 K/BB ratio ranks second. The Phillies, winners of two in a row, are 7.5 games back in the NL East and faring about the same in the wild card. Nonetheless, Clay Davenport's projections give them a 15.6% chance of making the playoffs. On May 11th the Phils were five games back, and around that time, a "Phillies insider" told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, "Every time I hear a Lee rumor, I don’t believe it. Don’t think we’d be that dumb unless what we got back in return was so overwhelming that we’d be dumb to pass it up. Will that happen? My gut is it won’t." By Sunday, however, a couple dozen executives, scouts, and players polled by Cafardo named Lee the best starter expected to be available at the trade deadline this year.
Lee signed a five-year, $120MM deal with the Phillies in December 2010. At the deadline he'll be owed about $6.25MM this year plus $62.5MM covering 2014-15, for a total of $68.75MM. That's if the record-setting $12.5MM buyout is paid on his 2016 club option, which becomes guaranteed if Lee is not on the disabled list at the end of 2015 season with an injury to his left elbow or shoulder, and has 200 innings in 2015 or 400 in 2014-15 (according to Cot's Baseball Contracts). If the option vests, it will probably be a good thing, but then the commitment would become $83.75MM through 2016.
At any rate, Cliff Lee needs to start checking MLB Trade Rumors. A Lee quote from Morosi: "Every time I’ve been traded, before that every organization would say, ‘You’ll be the first one to know if we’re ever going to move you,’” Lee said, recalling that he learned of each trade while watching television. “I was the last one to know every time." It's been an odd career for Lee since becoming an ace in 2008, as he's been traded three times since. The difference this time is that he comes with a market-value financial commitment.
The Orioles would like to add a veteran starter, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but it doesn't appear they'll be a player on what many assume will be the biggest names on the trade market. Heyman says the Orioles spending $25MM per year on Cliff Lee is "out of the question," nor would they consider trading Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman. Additionally, the O's "appear to have little to no interest" in the Cubs' Matt Garza.
Orioles pitching coordinator Rick Peterson "very much likes" the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo from Peterson's time as that team's pitching coach, says Heyman, yet Baltimore's interest in Gallardo "doesn't seem strong at all right now."
Heyman speculates on a few other lower-tier names, such as Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris, and Jason Vargas. I'll add Scott Feldman, Carlos Villanueva, Jake Peavy, Jason Marquis, Kevin Correia, Kevin Slowey, Kyle Lohse, Erik Bedard, Joe Saunders, Edinson Volquez, Lucas Harrell, Mark Buehrle, Shaun Marcum, Aaron Harang, and Mike Pelfrey as a slew of others working for teams that aren't contending now or may not be come July. Ian Kennedy is one other name to watch, should the D'Backs decide they can spare him.
It's draft week! On Thursday, the first 73 players will be chosen in MLB's first-year player draft. Draft order can be found here. The latest info:
- Need a refresher on MLB draft basics? Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca has you covered.
- How about a fresh mock draft from ESPN's Keith Law? Law is hearing high school righty Phil Bickford at #8 to the Royals, though he doesn't seem a fan of the idea. Law's mock draft requires a subscription, but is chock full of info and is well worth it.
- Baseball America editors John Manuel, Jim Callis, Conor Glassey, and Nathan Rode participated in an expert draft, taking turns making picks for teams.
- The Mets are targeting a college hitter in the draft, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He suggests D.J. Peterson, Hunter Renfroe, Austin Wilson, and Aaron Judge as possibilities. The Mets draft 11th, and Law went with high school first baseman Dominic Smith.
- The Phillies pick 16th, their earliest since Gavin Floyd was chosen fourth overall in '01. Assistant general manager of amateur scouting Marti Wolever told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, "One guy in particular I saw last year and I thought he was one of the best position players I saw last year. I think maybe there is a chance we can snag him this year. I hope so. I have my fingers crossed."
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if George Brett is being groomed to be the Royals' next manager now that he has committed to being with the team every day as hitting coach. Dennis Gilbert, who represented Brett as an agent and who has fallen short in bids to purchase the Dodgers, Padres, and Rangers, would have installed Brett as manager had he landed one of those clubs. Brett could very well be Ned Yost’s eventual replacement if he boosts Kansas City's offense, but there’s also a lot of sentiment for Jim Fregosi, who has ties to GM Dayton Moore. Here's more from today's column..
- Cafardo spoke to a couple dozen executives, scouts, and players over the past few days about who the top player on the trade block will be and the consensus was Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee. The Red Sox, Orioles, Indians, Angels, and Rangers would really like to have Lee and there are many more clubs who could be in the mix, including the Dodgers and the Yankees, who say they can’t swing it but have the means to do it. One American League exec indicated there would be 20 teams lined up for Lee. Lee might be the last guy Ruben Amaro Jr. wants to trade, but he'd yield the greatest return.
- The Phillies have another interesting piece in Jonathan Papelbon and if they decide they are retooling, they probably don’t need a top closer. Several baseball people say the Tigers would be a tremendous fit for Papelbon since pairing him with that starting rotation would be rather formidable. He would also be an option for the Angels and Red Sox, but the Sox want to give Andrew Bailey every chance to do the job. The Indians would also be a possibility.
- It shouldn’t be long before a long list of teams start to inquire about free agent Grady Sizemore. Sizemore has begun baseball activities after being sidelined by knee surgeries and so far he’s had no setbacks. Cafardo suggests the Mets could be a fit as they are in need of outfield help.
- The White Sox, Blue Jays, and Twins might hold some of this year's top trade chips. “Alex Rios, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and you can add Justin Morneau, are definitely the major guys scouts are focusing on,” said one AL GM.
- After Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole five bases Thursday night against the Phillies, it started to dawn on people — including some in the Philadelphia organization — that Ellsbury would be a nice piece in the Phillies’ lineup next season. However, he also hurt his groin during the game, and the injury question popped up.