Philadelphia Phillies Rumors
It's been a busy day in the coaching ranks. Here's the latest:
- The Mariners have fired pitching coach Carl Willis, reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle TImes. After being permitted to interview for other vacancies, but failing to land one, Willis says that Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik told him "it would be too awkward" to keep him on board. According to Baker, that statement was made in reference to the departure of manager Eric Wedge, who Willis was close with. The club also re-assigned bullpen coach Jaime Navarro to a minor league post.
- The Phillies hired Bob McClure as their new pitching coach yesterday, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reported. The Phils would later confirm the signing themselves. McClure, 61, served as the Royals pitching coach from 2006-11 and filled the same role with the Red Sox in 2012. "Bob brings a wealth of experience to our staff," manager Ryne Sandberg said in a statement released by the team. "We talked to many good candidates and couldn’t be more pleased to add ‘Mac’ as our pitching coach."
- The Cubs announced that pitching coach Chris Bosio, bullpen coach Lester Strode, catching/strategy coach Mike Borzello and staff assistant Franklin Font will all return to the coaching staff in 2014.
- New to the Cubs staff will be bench coach Brandon Hyde, third base/infield coach Gary Jones, hitting coach Bill Mueller, assistant hitting coach Mike Brumley and quality assurance coach Jose Castro. Mueller, of course, played 11 seasons at the MLB level recently and won the 2003 AL batting title with the Red Sox.
- The Diamondbacks announced that Dave Duncan will serve as a special assistant to GM Kevin Towers and a Major League pitching consultant. The 68-year-old is best known for his recent work as the Cardinals pitching coach from 1996-2011. He will assist the big league coaching staff's work with pitchers and catchers during Spring Training, evaluate the team's farm system and assist in evaluating draft prospects.
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports (via Twitter) that the Angels have brough back 2013 hitting coach Jim Eppard as a roving hitting coordinator and hired Terry Francona's son, Nick, as their new coordinator of MLB intelligence. Francona will work closely with Rick Eckstein to prepare scouting plans for each series, Gonzalez adds.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
For his latest Rumblings & Grumblings piece, ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with several executives about the ultimate destination of Robinson Cano. One NL executive said: "I keep hearing there's no interest. I don't believe it." Stark agrees and hypothesizes that the lack of a market for Cano has been well-crafted by the Yankees leaking their own seven-year, $168MM offer in reaction to Cano's $310MM demand. One AL exec told Stark: "If you had a situation where everyone remained objective and everyone played it smart and you had teams that thought they could sign Robinson Cano for $120 million, you'd probably have five or six teams in on it. Then you'd set $120 million as the starting point and start the bidding, and see how much higher it gets." Stark feels that by starting the bar high, the Yankees have set the early market to a market of one. The same NL exec who didn't buy the lack of interest said that eventually teams who are chasing Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Brian McCann will say, "Wait a second. Cano's a much better player than those guys," and change direction. Stark runs down some possible late-emerging suitors. Here's more from his excellent piece...
- Stark reports an unknown wrinkle in the David Price trade saga. Price signed a one-year, $10.1125MM contract to avoid arbitration last January, but $5MM of that sum comes in the form of a signing bonus that is deferred to next year. While it was presented as a tax-related issue at the time, Stark notes that the Rays can use it as leverage in a trade, agreeing to take a slightly lesser package if the acquiring team pays that additional $5MM.
- The Phillies upped the ante and guaranteed Carlos Ruiz a third year because they were convinced that he would sign with the Red Sox if they didn't. The Phils looked hard at alternatives but were highly uncomfortable with the prices on other targets. For that reason, other teams haven't been as critical of the deal, though they've all offered high praise to Ruiz's agent, Marc Kligman.
- The Ruiz contract helps both McCann and particularly Jarrod Saltalamacchia, agents and an AL executive told Stark. Stark has heard that one reason the Red Sox were so interested in Ruiz was that they don't want to commit more than two years to a catcher, suggesting that Saltalamacchia is a goner in Boston.
- The Tigers' search for a closer has begun to lean more in favor of Brian Wilson than Joe Nathan, but Wilson's agent, Dan Lozano, may want to wait out the market, which isn't GM Dave Dombrowski's style, Stark points out.
- Bartolo Colon and agent Adam Katz aren't rushing into one-year contracts as they wait to see if someone will tack on a second guaranteed year in the wake of Tim Hudson's two-year, $23MM deal.
The Blue Jays discussed a trade for Matt Kemp with the Dodgers at the GM meetings, reports Shi Davidi of SportsNet.ca. Those discussions appear to have gone nowhere, but Davidi says they are indicative of a trend throughout MLB -- teams are entertaining ideas of big trades (like the recent Prince Fielder / Ian Kinsler blockbuster) rather than diving into a free agent market that's become increasingly expensive. Here are more notes from around the East divisions.
- The Nationals are hunting for a starting pitcher, but they don't want to sacrifice their 2014 first-round draft pick (no. 20 overall) in the process, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. That could make Matt Garza or Ricky Nolasco, who did not receive qualifying offers because they were traded in-season, more attractive options than Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana or Hiroki Kuroda.
- The Marlins have made contact with free agent infielder Yuniesky Betancourt, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. The Marlins are looking for a third baseman, and Betancourt played 59 games there in 2013, a season in which he hit .212/.240/.355. One would think that the Marlins would be interested only on a minor-league deal, though it's worth noting that Betancourt has received near-regular playing time for most of his career despite not posting an on-base percentage above .300 since 2007.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledges the risk involved in signing soon-to-be-35-year-old catcher Carlos Ruiz to a three-year deal, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury writes. "Clearly this is a commitment that will be scrutinized," Amaro says. "Is it a risk to put three years into a catcher at this stage of his career? It can be, yes. But I think every signing is a risk and we hope that he remains productive throughout the three years and perhaps more." Ruiz hit .268/.320/.368 in a weak offensive season in 2013.
The Phillies had a hole to fill at catcher, and they've filled it with the most familiar face possible. The Phillies and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. officially announced today that Carlos Ruiz has re-signed with the team on a three-year, $26MM contract that contains a club option for a fourth season.
Ruiz will reportedly earn $8.5MM annually, and the club option was reported to be worth $4.5MM with a $500K buyout. The longtime Phillie can also earn an additional $500K each season by appearing in more than 125 games behind the plate. He is able to block trades to four teams.
Ruiz, also known as "Chooch," is represented by agent Marc Kligman. The 34-year-old began the season with a 25-game suspension for amphetamine usage and was limited by a hamstring injury upon his return. As such, the .268/.320/.368 batting line produced by Ruiz doesn't tell the whole story of his season. Over the season's final two months, the Panamanian backstop slashed .288/.343/.444.
Ruiz caught just 25 percent of runners attempting to steal against him last season -- an area in which he's been unable to consistently post an above-average mark throughout his career. Fangraphs estimates that he saved 1.8 runs blocking pitches in the dirt, though there have been studies done on pitch framing by catchers that indicate he is below-average in that department.
Ruiz's $26MM guarantee eclipses the two-year deal that MLBTR's Tim Dierkes projected in his free agent profile. Ruiz reportedly had offers in the two-year $15-20MM range, and Kligman looks wise to have waited for a three-year offer to trump those proposals.
At season's end, Ruiz told the Philadelphia Inquirer's Ryan Lawrence that he hoped to spend his entire career with the Phillies, and he may have the opportunity to do just that with this deal, as it will run through his age-37 season with an option for his age-38 campaign. In parts of eight big league seasons with the Phils, Ruiz is a .274/.358/.412 hitter with 57 home runs.
With Ruiz off the market, the top remaining free agent catchers are Brian McCann, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski. Ruiz's surprising guarantee is good news for Saltalamacchia and Pierzynski in particular, as they, like Ruiz, are in a lower tier than McCann.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that Ruiz would re-sign with the Phillies (on Twitter). Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the deal was for three years and $26MM with a club option (Twitter links). ESPN's Jayson Stark provided the financial details and reported the limited no-trade clause (on Twitter), and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweeted the incentives.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Midnight tonight is the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from being selected in next month's Rule 5 Draft. There should be no shortage of players being added, and we'll run them down here in this post...
- The Brewers announced that they've added first baseman Hunter Morris, first baseman/outfielder Jason Rogers and right-handers Brooks Hall and Kevin Shackelford to their 40-man roster.
- The Braves announced that they've added left-hander Carlos Perez, right-hander Luis Vasquez and infielder Elmer Reyes to their 40-man roster. MLB.com's Mark Bowman tweets that the Braves had only recently signed Vasquez, 27, to a minor league deal. His entire career to this point has come in the Dodgers' minor league system.
- The Reds have added catcher Tucker Barnhart, right-hander Chad Rogers and outfielders Juan Duran and Ryan LaMarre to their 40-man roster, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- In addition to McGuire, the Blue Jays announced that outfielder Kenny Wilson has been added to the 40-man roster as well (Twitter link).
- Catcher Tommy Joseph, left-hander Rob Rasmussen and outfielders Aaron Altherr and Kelly Dugan have been added to the Phillies' 40-man roster, the team announced.
- Right-hander Kirby Yates and southpaw C.J. Riefenhauser have been added to the Rays' 40-man roster, according to their agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council (Twitter link). The Tampa Tribune's Roger Mooney reports that infielder Vince Belnome and righty Jesse Hahn have been added as well (also on Twitter).
- In addition to Aguilar, the Indians announced that they've added right-handers Bryan Price and Austin Adams, infielder Erik Gonzalez and outfielder Carlos Moncrief to the 40-man roster (Twitter link).
- The Red Sox announced that right-hander Anthony Ranaudo, outfielder Bryce Brentz and third baseman Garin Cecchini have been added to the 40-man roster. Ranaudo (No. 79) and Cecchini (No. 82) each rank among the Top 100 prospects in the game, per MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
- The Twins have added left-hander Logan Darnell, outfielder Max Kepler, middle infielder Jorge Polanco and first baseman Kennys Vargas to their 40-man roster, the team announced via press release.
- The Rangers announced that they have added right-handers Lisalverto Bonilla and Ben Rowen to the 40-man roster as well as infielder Luis Sardinas. Bonilla was acquired from Philadelphia in exchange for Michael Young last offseason. Sardinas currently ranks as the No. 70 prospect in baseball according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
- Badler tweets that the White Sox have added second baseman/shortstop Carlos Sanchez to their 40-man roster. Sanchez batted just .241/.293/.296 in his first full season at Triple-A this year, but he did so as one of the league's youngest players, as he didn't turn 21 until late June. The White Sox also announced that outfielder Trayce Thompson has been added to the 40-man roster.
- John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group tweets that the Athletics have added right-hander Raul Alcantara to their 40-man roster. Alcantara had a tremendous rebound campaign in 2013, pitching to a 3.11 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 156 1/3 innings between Class-A and Class-A Advanced. Alcantara is one of the players they received along with Josh Reddick in the Andrew Bailey trade, which I profiled in retrospect prior to the season.
- Badler tweets that the Rockies have added 20-year-old Jayson Aquino to their 40-man roster. Though Aquino has just 64 innings of full-season ball, all coming at Low-A, Badler feels he's a good arm to protect. The left-hander posted a 4.34 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.
- The Blue Jays have added right-hander Deck McGuire to their 40-man roster, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportnet. The 2010 first-rounder has struggled in since reaching the Double-A level last season, though he improved in 2013 to post a 4.86 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. The Jays now have 38 players on their 40-man roster, Nicholson-Smith adds.
- The Pirates have added top prospects Gregory Polanco and Alen Hanson to their 40-man roster, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America (on Twitter). Polanco currently ranks 13th on MLB.com's list of Top 100 Prospects, and Hanson comes in at No. 39 on the list.
- The Indians have added first baseman Jesus Aguilar to their 40-man roster, tweets Badler. The 23-year-old slashed .275/.349/.427 with 16 homers at Double-A Akron in 2013 and is enjoying a strong showing in the Venezuelan Winter League, according to Badler.
- The Tigers announced that they have added left-hander Kyle Lobstein, right-handers Justin Miller and Jose Valdez, first baseman Jordan Lennerton, shortstop Eugenio Suarez, center fielder Daniel Fields and right fielder Steven Moya to their 40-man roster. As MLB.com's Jason Beck points out, this places their 40-man roster at 39 players (Twitter link).
Here's today's look at the various coaching hirings and vacancies around the Majors...
- The Indians announced that they have hired Matt Quatraro as their new assistant hitting coach (Twitter link). Quatraro, 40, was an eighth-round pick of the Rays in 1996 and posted a career .286/.343/.416 batting line in eight minor league seasons. He has served as the Rays' minor league hitting coordinator for the past four seasons.
- It's been 52 days since Rich Dubee informed the Phillies that he would not return as the pitching coach, and Philadelphia's list of replacement candidates includes 12 names at this point, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Among the candidates are Bob McClure, Randy St. Claire and Rafael Chaves.
The Phillies announced that they have signed infielder Reid Brignac to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
Brignac, 28 in January, split last season between the Rockies and Yankees, batting a combined .185/.219/.261 in 98 plate appearances. Brignac was once one of the game's most highly regarded prospects back in his days as a Rays farmhand, ranking 17th on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospect List heading into the 2007 season. He cracked the Top 100 in each of the next three offseasons but has yet to be able to piece together his talents at the Major League level.
A client of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, Brignac owns a career .272/.334/.430 slash line in nine minor league seasons and has experience at shortstop, second base an third base.
Joe Nathan agreed with Jim Bowden's suggestions of the Tigers, Angels and Yankees as good fits for his services, the veteran closer told Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM. Nathan said that finding a winning team was more important to him than location, he's prepared to be patient and see how his market develops, and he revealed that his old teammate Torii Hunter was trying to recruit him to come to Detroit. Tip of the cap to MLB.com's Jason Beck for providing an audio link to Nathan's interview and a partial transcript.
Here's some more news as we wrap up a busy day around baseball...
- The Phillies have a long-standing interest in Peter Bourjos and would love to have him, but they don't have the young pitching the Angels would want back in a trade, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. The Phils would have to get a third team involved to work out a deal, or forget Bourjos entirely and focus on other outfield candidates; Rosenthal suggests Grady Sizemore as a bench possibility.
- Also from Rosenthal, rival scouts figure the Yankees will make a big push to sign international talent since they're already over the bonus pool limit for international signings and will be penalized anyway. It's worth noting that Joe Pawlikowski of the River Ave Blues blog believes Rosenthal may have miscalculated some figures and is actually saying the Yankees will overspend during the next international signing period, which opens on July 2, 2014.
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez lists 10 teams who could possibly be trade partners for the Angels in their search for young, controllable pitching.
- Ruben Tejada's possible grievance against the Mets is just the latest sign of strained relations between the shortstop and the team, and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News figures the two sides are close to parting ways.
- The Rays plan to rotate Wil Myers, Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce and David DeJesus at DH this season, a move that will help keep the players fresh and also allow the club to save money on signing a designated hitter, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune writes.
- Five teams have shown interest in Yuniesky Betancourt as a second or third baseman, agent Alex Esteban tells Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith (Twitter link).
- The White Sox aren't used to picking as high as third overall in the amateur draft, MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes, but the club is hoping to use the high pick and larger draft bonus pool to fuel GM Rick Hahn's plan to restock the farm system.
Now that Tim Hudson has signed with the Giants, executives around baseball think the pitching market will begin to open up, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan tweets. One GM predicts Josh Johnson will be the next hurler to sign, and there has been no shortage of interest in the right-hander, as agent Matt Sosnick claimed that he'd spoken to nearly every team about his client. The Rangers and Royals have both been linked to Johnson, and the pitcher himself reached out to the Padres and Giants to express his interest.
Here's the latest about some of the offseason's available starters...
- One team that doesn't appear to be in the mix for Johnson are the Blue Jays, his most recent club. The Jays haven't made any progress with Johnson, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports, and there aren't any signs that they're even continuing negotiations. Johnson was open to returning to Toronto though his contract demands seem to be higher than the Jays are willing to pay.
- Bronson Arroyo listed the Giants, Twins, Phillies, Angels, Dodgers and "maybe" the Orioles as teams he thinks have called to express their interest in his services, the veteran righty said during an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. Arroyo discussed what he's looking for in a team and what his contract expectations are during the interview; MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has a partial transcript and an audio link to the full interview.
- The Braves offered Hudson a two-year contract earlier this week but it wasn't enough, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The Braves' previous offer to Hudson was a one-year deal worth less than $9MM (his annual salary in each of the previous four seasons) which clearly wasn't enough with so many other teams in the mix. O'Brien says the Braves could add another veteran to replace Hudson.
- The Athletics were second in the Hudson race behind the Giants, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Twitter link). That's a bit of a surprise for the low-payroll A's but Hudson would've made sense on a short-term deal, plus he has long-time ties to the franchise.
- If the A's had signed Hudson, they would've ended their pursuit of Bartolo Colon, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Hudson would "probably more trustworthy" an option than Colon in the Oakland rotation, though the A's still have interest in re-signing Colon at a "price they deem reasonable."
- In an interview with Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Scott Feldman said his agent had heard from "15 teams or so" but "it's been a slow-developing market so far" (Twitter links).
- The Twins still haven't made a formal offer to Ricky Nolasco, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson tweets. This is no change from the last update about Nolasco and the Twins, though the club is definitely interested in the free agent righty.
Earlier today it was reported that the Phillies have re-signed Carlos Ruiz to a three-year, $26MM contract. The deal is significantly costlier than many pundits predicted, so let's check in with some reactions and related news...
- ESPN's Jayson Stark reports that the Red Sox were in on Ruiz until the very end, which is what caused Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to guarantee the third year and give a slight boost in terms of average annual value (Twitter link).
- The Rockies topped out at two years and $15MM plus a club option for the third year, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. (on Twitter). Ruiz's priority was to secure a three year deal. Renck praises agent Marc Kligman for securing a larger guarantee than Russell Martin.
- Chooch's deal sets the bar even higher for free agent backstops, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. BN-S adds that the three-year, $26MM pact makes Martin’s two-year, $17MM contract with the Pirates look even more team-friendly.
- ESPN's Keith Law feels that (Insider subscription required and recommended) "giving a 35-year-old catcher with platoon problems who's coming off a PED suspension a three-year deal is absolute lunacy." The Phillies continue to create a bigger mess for themselves going forward, writes Law.
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs takes the opposite stance from Law, opining that the deal isn't nearly as bad for the Phillies as most initial reactions make it out to be. Cameron points out that most free agent contracts at this point are intended to deliver value up front before declining at the end, and Ruiz's floor is roughly that of a 2 WAR player in 2014, which is a bargain at $8.5MM.
- ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett discusses the Ruiz deal with B.B. Abbott, Brian McCann's agent. “There are certainly teams that are probably looking at the deal and think it has to impact what they’re going to do in this market,” Abbott said. “It doesn’t change what we think of him. But it’s significant in that another catcher is off the market. It’s another puzzle piece that isn’t out there.” Abbott also noted that he is willing to be patient to find a good deal for McCann.
- MLBTR's own Tim Dierkes called the contract "a clear win" for Ruiz and Kligman "and an offer they were unlikely to beat if they waited." While Dierkes is surprised at the size of Ruiz's contract, the deal is a reasonable one for the Phillies.