Philadelphia Phillies Rumors
Here's the latest from the City of Brotherly Love...
- The Phillies intend to avoid more expensive free agents like Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Brian McCann in favor of "mid-level" free agents, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports. The Phillies are wary of how much it would cost to sign Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran or Curtis Granderson even though they like all three players.
- Also from Salisbury, the Phillies have discussed signing Franklin Gutierrez, Marlon Byrd, Joaquin Benoit, Joe Smith and Bronson Arroyo.
- GM Ruben Amaro told reporters (including Salisbury) that the team could wait to see what kind of a market there is for Roy Halladay's services before deciding whether or not to pursue the former Cy Young Award winner. “We’re keeping our eyes open on him. We’re not sure how the market is going to develop for him. But we haven’t ruled out bringing him back," Amaro said.
- The Phillies have "long-standing interest" in Mike Morse and see Morse as "a potential Jayson Werth-like late bloomer," CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman writes. Despite this interest, Morse could just be a backup plan for the Phillies if they can't sign a more higher-profile hitter.
- Carlos Ruiz could make a decision about his next contract soon, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter link). We heard earlier this week that the Phillies wanted a quick decision from Ruiz so they could figure out their catching situation.
- If Ruiz doesn't re-sign, Morosi tweets that John Buck could be a more realistic backup plan for the Phillies than A.J. Pierzynski. Not only would Buck be cheaper, Philadelphia is in need of right-handed bats.
- Trading Domonic Brown and bringing back Ryan Madson are two of the topics addressed by MLB.com's Todd Zolecki as part of a Phillies-centric reader mailbag.
Few front offices have more pressure to deliver this offseason than the Mets, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. After all, this has been the winter they have been targeting to catapult themselves into contention. Unfortunately, with Matt Harvey sidelined, spending $30-$40MM on new acquisitions might not get them there. Here's more out of the AL and NL East..
- The Yankees need an injection of youth on their roster, opines Barry Federovitch of the Star-Ledger. Brian McCann, who turns 30 in February, seems like an ideal candidate to man the catcher position with a swing that is seemingly built for Yankee Stadium, but signing him doesn't address the overall lack of youth the Bombers have in the infield.
- Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com looks at outfield bench bats that the Phillies might target this winter. Options include Rajai Davis and Chris Young. Young is more accomplished and sound defensively, but he bottomed out after being traded by Arizona.
- The Rockies can turn around their bullpen if they're willing to spend serious money this winter, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post. That seems to be the gameplan in Colorado as they're chasing all kinds of power arms from Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour to Joe Smith and LaTroy Hawkins.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe offers up a primer for this week's GM Meetings. Cafardo's first rule for the meetings is to never believe a GM when he says that a player will not be traded. New Marlins GM Dan Jennings has said that Giancarlo Stanton won't be moved, but everyone has a price. Cafardo also cautions not to buy into the notion that the Tigers won't find a way to enhance the team and also keep Max Scherzer after next season. Here's more from today's column..
- If the Red Sox don’t re-sign Mike Napoli, the 27-year-old Mark Trumbo will be on their list of players to pursue. Trumbo, who would come at half Napoli’s price, is under club control until after the 2016 season and boasts tremendous right-handed power. The Angels could use a third baseman and a pitcher and Cafardo wonders if Will Middlebrooks and Felix Doubront might suit them. The Pirates and Rays could also be fits for the Halos slugger.
- One or both of Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp could be dealt this offseason thanks to the Dodgers' surplus. The Mets, Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, and Blue Jays are among the clubs that could have interest.
- The Phillies are among the clubs that have shown interest in Bronson Arroyo, but no offer has been made just yet. The Giants and Twins have also been reported to have interest in the durable veteran, but none of the interested teams have put an offer on the table just yet.
- While the Blue Jays have other priorities, they’ll also dip into the outfield market if they feel Melky Cabrera can’t give them what they expected. Cabrera recently had a spinal tumor that was causing him leg pain removed.
- Despite having a glut of pitchers, the Red Sox are still high on Tim Hudson. To make room for the 38-year-old, the Red Sox could move Jake Peavy or Ryan Dempster if they have to. However, teams seem more interested in John Lackey since he'll earn the minimum salary in 2015. A clause in Lackey's contract called for him to get the minimum in '15 if he underwent Tommy.John surgery.
- The Red Sox probably won't offer more than a couple of years to retain Stephen Drew with his market rapidly expanding. The Yankees could be a fit with Derek Jeter being in the final year of his contract and likely to see more DH time.
- A few GMs are already lamenting the cost of free agent pitching with possible $80MM-$100MM price tags on the likes of Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco. That's why the Yankees' pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka, a potential No. 2 starter, makes more sense than paying big bucks for a No. 3 or 4 type.
- The Blue Jays picked up Adam Lind's option, but don't be surprised if Toronto tries to move him.
Matt Eddy at Baseball America has a nice writeup on recent minor league transactions, noting that the Braves use various pro scouting channels to amass cheap bullpen talent. Recent additions to the team's 40-man roster include 29-year-old Wirfin Obispo, who was signed as a minor league free agent in 2012 and reaches the upper 90s with his fastball. The Braves also added lefty Ryan Buchter, whom they acquired in 2011 in a trade for another minor league arm. Buchter, 26, was one of just four pure relievers in the minor leagues in 2013 to record 100 strikeouts. Here's more from baseball's Eastern divisions:
- Jim Salisbury of Comcast Sportsnet examines free agents Edward Mujica and Joaquin Benoit as potential eighth-inning options for the Phillies. The club may be looking for a setup man again after last winter's acquisition, Mike Adams, missed much of 2013 with shoulder surgery.
- Marc Carig of Newsday offers an early look at the Mets' strategy in free agency. With more than $40MM in payroll space opening up this offseason, the Mets could be major players, and a club official tells Carig that only Robinson Cano will be too expensive. With holes in the outfield, at shortstop and in the rotation, the team also figures to be active in trade discussions, Carig writes.
- David Wright is working to sell free agents on the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports. "I’ve talked to a few players, but I expect I’ll do more of it as we have a better idea of who we’re going after," Wright says. The star third baseman adds that he doesn't believe players are concerned about the club's financial situation, though Matt Harvey's Tommy John surgery has emerged as a topic.
- Rays GM Andrew Friedman tells the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin that the team remains in the early stages of its offseason planning. "I think every October and into early November we're overwhelmed and not feeling all that confident that we'll be able to execute on our plan, and this year is no different," Friedman says. The Rays are expected to listen on lefty David Price this offseason and must also address openings at first base, DH and closer.
- Writing for WEEI.com, Alex Speier says the Red Sox's decision not to extend Jarrod Saltalamacchia a qualifying offer likely stems from the fact that the team couldn't risk three players accepting the one-year, $14.1MM deal in the same offseason. The Sox ultimately opted to extend the offer to Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury, with Ellsbury expected to decline. Speier provides a breakdown of the Sox's 2014 payroll, concluding that Boston likely has around $32MM to spend.
- Mike Napoli is such a good fit for the Red Sox and in Boston that the club needs to re-sign him, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald opines. It was reported earlier today that Napoli will test the market, though the Sox have already offered him a multiyear deal.
- If the Red Sox signed Carlos Beltran, however, they wouldn't necessarily need Napoli, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes. Beltran could play left field, causing a few lineup shifts that would settle on Daniel Nava as Napoli's replacement at first base.
- Center field is the most logical place for the Phillies to add offense, according to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News, so the Phils should pursue someone like Curtis Granderson as an upgrade over Ben Revere.
- Giancarlo Stanton is a "pie-in-the-sky target" for the Phillies, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury writes. A somewhat more realistic trade option could be Mark Trumbo, though Salisbury notes that the Phils lack the young pitching that the Angels want in return. The Halos have been linked to Kyle Kendrick in the past, so Salisbury opines that Kendrick could be part of a Trumbo trade package.
- Speaking of Stanton, Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill again reiterated that the slugger isn't available for trade offers, Hill tells MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. Hill says the team is having "an ongoing discussion" about approaching Stanton with a long-term extension offer.
- The Marlins' maximum payroll is expected to be in the low-to-mid-$40MM range, Frisaro reports. This is a slight increase over Miami's $38MM payroll from 2013.
- The Blue Jays haven't been very active in free agency under Alex Anthopoulos' watch but the Toronto general manager tells Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca that this could change this winter. "It seems like with all the different things we’re looking to do, half of the scenarios are in free agency, half of the scenarios are in trade," Anthopoulos said. He feels the Jays also still have enough minor league depth to offer in trades, though the farm system was thinned by last offseason's blockbuster deals.
- It doesn't make sense for the Orioles to shop J.J. Hardy, MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski argues, since Hardy's importance to the O's is even greater in the wake of Manny Machado's injury.
- In East division news from earlier today, MLBTR's Matt Swartz broke down Chris Davis' arbitration case, the Nationals could use their minor leaguers to acquire a starting pitcher, ESPN's Buster Olney discussed the Red Sox and the David Price trade market, the Yankees aren't interested in Ervin Santana but are prioritizing Masahiro Tanaka,
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that the club has "already made offers to several players," reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Though no specific offer targets are identified in the piece, it seems that Amaro intends to act aggressively. As Zolecki notes, that is what happened back in 2011, when the Phils moved fast on Jonathan Papelbon.
One player that could be feeling the heat from Amaro is longtime Phils catcher Carlos Ruiz. Amaro said he feels there are "several candidates that could be our catcher next year," Zolecki reports. And the Philly GM also made clear that he had no interest in a prolonged dalliance with Ruiz, as occurred with Jimmy Rollins in 2011.
"There will be very little chance of bringing Chooch back" if that kind of delay takes place, Amaro told Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News, because the club "can't afford to miss out on other opportunities." Though Amaro indicated that he believes Ruiz is still a fit with the club, he says his front office is "perusing the landscape of catching right now."
Philly may need to make a sizeable commitment to get Ruiz to commit early. He seems to have had his fair share of interest and would be a solid fallback for teams that miss on Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, or prefer a more reasonably priced alternative. Most recently, we learned that the Rockies are expected to dangle multiple years at the veteran over the coming days.
Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Phillies have kicked around the idea of making an offer for David Price, but it's unlikely to happen because GM Ruben Amaro Jr. knows he has multiple needs to address and one big splash won't fix the team. Here's more on the Phils...
- The Red Sox, according to sources, are quietly doing their due diligence on Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. While there are other free agent catchers available, Ruiz is the guy that the Phillies want and the guy that the pitchers want. The Phillies need to prioritize right-handed hitting and both Brian McCann and A.J. Pierzynski are left-handed hitters. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter, but he struggles from the right side. The Rockies are also known to be pursuing Ruiz and are reportedly planning to offer him a multiyear deal this week.
- GM Ruben Amaro says that he has already made offers on "several" free agent players, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. While Amaro declined to name names, Zolecki suggests that Nelson Cruz, Carlos Beltran, and Mike Morse could be among their targets.
- The Phillies hired Scott Freedman from Major League Baseball's Labor Relations Department to help the club incorporate analytics into their personnel decisions, Zolecki writes. "I don't know if it's going to change the way we do business, necessarily," Amaro said. "We still plan to be a scouting and player development organization, but I think it's important to get all the information and analyze not just what we're doing, but how other clubs are evaluating players."
The Nationals are looking to add an "elite" starting pitcher via trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and they're in luck, as both Max Scherzer and David Price have been rumored to be available this winter. Rosenthal explains his reasons behind believing that Scherzer could be a better fit, highlighted by the fact that Nats GM Mike Rizzo drafte Scherzer in the first round when he was the Diamondbacks' scouting director. Rosenthal's sources maintain that the Tigers aren't shopping Scherzer at this point but rather just listening to offers. Here's more from a jam-packed column from Rosenthal...
- The Phillies have kicked around the idea of trading for Price, but it's unlikely to happen. The Phils would likely have to include top prospect Jesse Biddle in a potential package and perhaps Domonic Brown as well. Also, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. recognizes that his club has multiple needs and that he will need to make multiple additions rather than going "all-in" on one big splash like Price or free agent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
- While many will argue that Tim Lincecum's deal doesn't impact the free agent markte for starting pitchers because it was the Giants paying to keep one of their own, Rosenthal points out that other starters and their agents will argue the direct opposite -- "that the Lincecum contract was merely the outgrowth of supply-and-demand economics." In particular, he feels that it hurts the Pirates in their quest to retain A.J. Burnett. Rosenthal wonders how the Bucs can possibly retain Burnett after Lincecum got $17.5MM per year when they didn't even want to offer Burnett a $14.1MM qualifying offer.
- The Rangers are once again pondering their infield logjam and whether or not to trade one of Elvis Andrus or Ian Kinsler. Kinsler could also be moved to first, though it may be less appealing that moving Kinsler and his salary ($57MM through 2017). Kinsler's contract makes him the easier of the two to trade. Figuring out the middle infield and securing some salary relief could be the key to the Rangers' offseason, he adds.
- The Mariners consider right-handed pop their biggest need, and Rosenthal wonders if they'll take a second run at Mike Napoli, who they tried to land last offseason.
The Phillies' possible offseason targets include Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran, CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman notes. Seidman suggests that signing Cruz to a two-year deal for $30MM might make sense. He notes that, while the Phillies shouldn't be trying to get older at this stage, and with $120MM already committed to other players in 2014, they won't have a ton of money to spend. A power-hitting outfielder appears to be the Phillies' greatest short-term need, however. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson says it's "safe to say" the loss of a draft pick won't prevent them from signing a free agent who has received a qualifying offer, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets. The Mets' first-round pick in next year's draft, the tenth overall, is protected. If they sign a free agent, they could lose their second-round pick, but not their first.
- Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders if the Orioles can afford to extend both Chris Davis and Matt Wieters without stretching themseles too thin. Dubroff notes that if Wieters were a free agent this year, he’d probably more coveted than Atlanta’s Brian McCann, who is ranked as the fourth-best free agent available by Tim Dierkes.
- The Rays' biggest obstacle in finding a deal for ace David Price might be their own sky-high expectation for a return, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Tampa Bay will want to beat out their return for James Shields by a vast margin, but they may have to accept a little less than what they have in mind.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Here are some National League notes to round out the evening ...
- The Marlins are not going to trade star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton in the offseason, newly minted GM Dan Jennings emphatically asserted. As ESPN's Jim Bowden reports (via Twitter), Jennings said that "Mr. Stanton is not available" and that the team is "building around him."
- The Rockies are making a run at free agent catcher Carlos Ruiz, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Incumbent Wilin Rosario would presumably get some or all of his playing time at first or in the outfield if Colorado were to land Ruiz. The soon-to-be 35-year-old backstop landed at number 29 on the list of MLB's top fifty free agents compiled by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes, who sees a return to Philadelphia as the most likely scenario.
- Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers said yesterday that he was "curious" about free agency but "open-minded going into the off-season," Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reported. He also expressed some frustration with the recent reports that he turned down a $300MM deal from the club. Now, says Hernandez's colleague Steve Dilbeck, the team may be facing something of a catch-22: the team surely must sign him at some hard-to-fathom rate, but the risks are enormous.
- Though the Cardinals' future remains unquestionably bright given the organization's array of young talent, says Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the club faces some significant questions. If Carlos Beltran can be brought back on a reasonable deal, Miklasz writes, it is possible that the club will use super-prospect Oscar Taveras in center with a combination of Beltran, Allen Craig, Matt Adams, and Matt Holliday at first base and the corner outfield. But if Beltran leaves, he says, it is not unrealistic to think the club might pursue Jacoby Ellsbury.
- The club's greatest hole, of course, is at shortstop. GM John Mozeliak needs to make a proactive move at this point, says Miklasz, either by signing a player like Stephen Drew or Jhonny Peralta or by trading from the team's pitching depth. Fellow Post-Dispatch writer Rick Hummel looks at some possible trade targets for the team.
- For the Phillies to return to contention, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the club must spend big in free agency. Gelb says the club has ample room to increase spending above the $189MM luxury tax line if it wants, though GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has expressed hesitation. "Obviously, we had a lot less people coming to the ballpark this year," Amaro said at season's end. "We have to be cognizant of that. We have been greatly supported - our payroll was, what, $165MM? That should be enough to put a contender on the field." Dierkes sees the Phils as the front-runners for Nelson Cruz, Ricky Nolasco, Ruiz, and Edward Mujica, though he notes that it all depends whether the team is willing to tack on $40MM+ to its 2014 obligations.