Philadelphia Phillies Rumors
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.
The Phillies made an aggressive strike today, agreeing to a three-year, $26MM contract with catcher Carlos Ruiz. From the point of view of Ruiz and agent Marc Kligman, this is a clear win and an offer they were unlikely to beat if they waited. I felt that with Ruiz turning 35 in January, a third guaranteed year was unattainable unless they made a major sacrifice on average annual value. However, the $8.67MM AAV is strong and in line with what some thought Ruiz might get on a two-year deal. I am surprised to see Ruiz top Russell Martin's deal from last winter in both years and AAV, especially since Martin was five years younger and coming off a better year. It's too early to say whether the Ruiz contract is an anomaly, a trend toward rising salaries for catchers, or even a sign that most of the top free agents will beat expectations.
The contract is acceptable for the Phillies in terms of dollars per wins above replacement, as Ruiz is still at least an average regular. Dollars per WAR isn't the right metric on which to judge a free agent contract, however, especially since the free agent market generally doesn't pay full price for catchers. How far beyond the runner-up did the Phillies go? Ideally, you'd only go a little bit beyond the runner-up, especially with a player who had a strong preference to remain in Philadelphia. According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Phillies guaranteed the third year and hiked the AAV to get the deal done with Ruiz. If the Phillies were the only team willing to guarantee three years, and it does seem that way, then a hardline stance would have been with a reduced AAV, perhaps around $7.5MM. Something like three years and $23MM was probably possible, which would have made the third year less painful since Ruiz might have approached $20MM on a two-year offer from the Red Sox, Rockies, Blue Jays, or Yankees eventually.
It's easy to say Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. should have played hardball with Ruiz to save $3-4MM, and that might have been possible. Still, Ruiz is worth more to the Phillies because of his familiarity with their pitching staff, and Amaro would have faced limited alternatives had he tried to wait Ruiz out. Brian McCann would have required a much larger commitment, and it appears Jarrod Saltalamacchia will get more than $30MM. McCann, Saltalamacchia, and A.J. Pierzynski all bat left-handed, and the Phillies likely sought a right-handed bat for lineup balance even after signing Marlon Byrd. That basically leaves Dioner Navarro, a switch-hitter who hasn't been a regular since 2009. The trade market is even more questionable, and the Phillies don't have good internal options at catcher. The Phillies paid a premium to lock up Ruiz this early in the offseason, but the contract is still acceptable. The Winter Meetings are still three weeks away, and Amaro has already addressed two major holes in his lineup.
Wally Joyner has left his post as the Phillies' assistant hitting coach, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets that Joyner will head to Detroit, where he'll serve as the Tigers' new hitting coach under manager Brad Ausmus. Joyner served under head hitting coach Steve Henderson in 2013. Salisbury writes that the Phillies will stick with two hitting coaches in 2014. One possibility might be former big-league infielder Mickey Morandini, who managed in the Phillies system at Class A Lakewood in 2013. Here are more notes on coaches and managers.
- Joyner isn't the only Phillies coach heading to the Tigers. Also bound for Detroit is former Phillies catching coach Mick Billmeyer, who will serve as the Tigers' bullpen coach, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter). The Phillies announced in October that Billmeyer's contract would not be renewed.
- New manager Rick Renteria did a five-plus-hour interview with the Cubs while wearing sweatpants, MLB.com's Corey Brock writes. With Renteria recovering from hip replacement surgery, the Cubs -- along with the Mariners and Tigers, with whom he also interviewed -- traveled to talk to him, rather than the other way around. "At that point, I'm just wearing loose sweats," says Renteria of his interview with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer. "They started asking me different questions: How do you deal with players? How I would handle different situations."
Here's a quick look around the majors..
- Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News surveys the Rangers' options when it comes to their crowded infield. Trading Elvis Andrus or Ian Kinsler would give Texas some financial flexibility. Andrus is due $6.75MM in 2014 and $120MM guaranteed from 2015 through 2022. Kinsler, meanwhile, is due $62MM over the next four seasons.
- The Phillies would like to retain free agent catcher Carlos Ruiz, but what happens if he signs elsewhere? Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com sizes up some of the possibie alternatives, including Dioner Navarro and Ryan Hanigan. The switch-hitting Navarro isn't in the same stratosphere as Brian McCann or in that second tier with Ruiz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski, but he resides all by himself in that third tier of available catchers this winter.
- In an interview with Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (Twitter link), Rangers manager Ron Washington confirmed that the club has been discussing all of the big name free agents including Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury.
The posting system standoff between MLB and Japan's NPB could temporarily benefit the Red Sox if Masahiro Tanaka is kept away from the Yankees, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The dispute over the posting system could drag on long enough for Tanaka to not make it over to the U.S. in 2014. The Bombers are going to improve one way or another and upgrade their rotation, but Tanaka is the one potential addition they consider to be an elite pitcher. Here's more from today's column..
- The Blue Jays need at least two starting pitchers and dealing Jose Bautista could land them one. “It’s a name we’re hearing through backchannels right now, but wouldn’t be surprised if he’s available,” said an NL general manager. Red Sox skipper John Farrell is a fan of Bautista from his days in Toronto, but it’s doubtful the Blue Jays would deal within the division, even though Boston has pitching to spare.
- Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval can be had in a deal, but his weight issues are of concern to clubs. The Giants have tried everything to get Sandoval to slim down and it's worked at some points, but not last season. Cafardo notes that Sandoval can also play first base and may have a market at either position.
- For Jacoby Ellsbury to re-sign with the Red Sox, he would have to be willing to accept a five-year deal that likely would not surpass $100MM. The Mariners, Rangers, Yankees, Tigers, Giants, and Phillies seem to have some level of interest, but whether they dive into the 6-8 year range at $20MM plus per year remains to be seen.
- The Orioles likely won’t deal Matt Wieters unless it’s in a blockbuster that would improve their pitching.
- Even though there’s been talk about an extension, there's growing sentiment that the Padres will trade Chase Headley this offseason to improve in a couple of different areas. New CEO Mike Dee says that he's willing to spend in order to strengthen the club long-term.
- Alfredo Aceves re-hired agent Tom O'Connell to represent him recently, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database. According to O'Connell, the pitcher called and apologized for firing him in the first place. There's now a "good possibility" that the pitcher will land with the Mets.
Here's today's look at the National League East..
- Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson insisted in a pair of interviews that he fully intends on making a notable move this offseason and isn't just sticking his toe in the water, writes Marc Carig of Newsday. Alderson said next season will be "a new day" for the franchise, but questions persist about whether the Mets can afford meaningful upgrades, either through free agency or the trade market.
- Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that the $125MM deal signed with Ryan Howard in 2010 is making the Phillies cautious this winter. GM Ruben Amaro has spent on a big-ticket item in each of the last three seasons but he does not sound like a man willing to splurge this winter. With that said, Gelb notes that Amaro's public face tends to differ from his true intentions.
- Jordan Hall of CSNPhilly.com sizes up Paul Maholm and Jason Vargas as possible targets for the Phillies.