Roy Halladay 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.
ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick checked in with 21 general managers, assistant GMs, player personnel people, and scouts to get their take on some of the biggest storylines of the winter. Here's a look at some of the highlights..
- Almost everyone sees Robinson Cano staying put with 19 votes for the Yankees, one vote for the Dodgers, and one for the Cubs. Nearly everyone sees Cano getting a seven- or eight-year deal worth $160MM-$230MM and no one expects him to approach the $300MM figure he was asking for from the Bombers earlier this year. It should be noted that the GM that picked the Cubs said that he has no inside info to support that pick.
- Nine execs see Masahiro Tanaka landing with the Dodgers while six chose the Yankees. All but a handful of those surveyed think his payout will exceed the $60MM Yu Darvish got from the Rangers. Tanaka is ranked as the top available pitcher by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
- Seventeen of the 21 participants in the survey say David Price will get traded this winter. Where will he land? The Rangers got nine votes and the Dodgers got four nods with one vote each for the Nationals, Cardinals, Angels, and Astros.
- Opinions were somewhat split on whether Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo fChoo will provide better value over the course of their next deals. Twelve execs said Ellsbury, eight voted for Choo, and one GM declined to vote, saying that neither one will match what they get.
- When asked to pick the best pitcher between Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez, ten execs chose Garza. Most seemed to agree that the lack of quality starting pitching available will lead to all three being overpaid. One American League scout seemed to like Jimenez on some level but was skeptical of him long-term. "Ubaldo has the best chance to give you impact in the short term, but I am not buying him over the course of 3-4 years," the scout said.
- When asked which former Yankees prospect has a better chance of succeeding elsewhere with a change of scenery, Phil Hughes was the overwhelming choice over Joba Chamberlain.
- Crasnick asked the execs which aging pitcher had the most left in the tank between Roy Halladay, Hiroki Kuroda, and Tim Hudson. Kuroda had the backing of 12 people surveyed, Hudson got eight votes, and Halladay had just one exec in his corner. "Maybe the chances of [Halladay] coming back aren't real good if you look at it objectively," a scout said. "But if the guy wants to [keep pitching] and be successful, I wouldn't put it past him."
The Blue Jays' decision to fire hitting coach Chad Mottola yesterday made him a curious scapegoat for the team's 2013 failures, opines Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Davidi points out that Colby Rasmus, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie (who hit .283/.346/.417 in the second half) all made positive strides under Mottola, who was in his first season as a Major League coach. Here's more on the Blue Jays...
- Sergio Santos' contract no longer looks as team-friendly as it once did, but the Blue Jays aren't missing Nestor Molina, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Molina has struggled with the White Sox since being sent to Chicago in exchange for Santos, and Santos' final two months were healthy and dominant. Santos tells Nicholson-Smith that his goal for 2014 is to stay healthy, which will be a key if he's to have any chance at seeing his $6MM option exercised.
- Starting pitching is still the team's top priority this offseason, but an upgrade at catcher has leapfrogged left field for the team's No. 2 priority, writes MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm in his latest Blue Jays Inbox. Chisolm notes that the free agent market will be expensive and competitive and adds that the Jays are interested in Wilson Ramos of the Nationals, though he would be an expensive trade target himself (in terms of prospects). Still, Chisolm writes that GM Alex Anthopoulos "seems determined" to make an upgrade behind the dish.
- Anthony Gose could slot into the fourth outfielder role that will open up with Rajai Davis' departure, but Chisolm notes that he's also one of the team's top trade chips. Gose could also move into a starting role should a starting outfielder be traded.
- The Blue Jays felt that Emilio Bonifacio couldn't handle playing the infield on the turf at the Rogers' Centre due to his poor footwork and limited range, writes Chisholm, which is why they essentially gave him to the Royals. He'd have been non-tendered this winter, Chisholm adds.
- Chisolm also addresses the free agent market, noting that the Jays aren't likely to break their policy of limiting free agent deals to five years this offseason and aren't likely to pursue a Roy Halladay reunion as they need more certainty in a starting pitching acquisition.
It's been a forgettable pair of seasons and a sharp fall from his status as arguably the game's best pitcher for Roy Halladay. Halladay will carry a 6.82 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9 in just 62 innings into free agency this offseason, but Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters, including Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News, that he hopes Halladay has a future with the Phillies:
"I try not to think in absolutes with him. If we think he’s going to be a viable possibility for us, we’d like to try to bring him back. I’d like to think it’s not the last we’ll see of Doc."
Halladay's struggles began in 2012, as he was limited to just 159 1/3 innings of 4.49 ERA ball by a strained lat muscle that cost him nearly two months of action. This season, after trying to pitch through shoulder pain and barely cracking 90 mph with his fastball, Halladay gave in and underwent surgery in May. The operation removed bone spurs in addition to repairing both his rotator cuff and labrum.
Lawrence notes that Amaro conceded any deal for Halladay would have to be one in which both parties share the risk, or in other words, an incentive-laden deal. The Phillies already face uncertainty in their rotation beyond aces Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels; Cuban righty Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez projects to occupy one spot but hasn't thrown a Major League pitch before, and Kyle Kendrick saw his own season come to an end due to a shoulder injury.
Heading into the offseason, we can be sure of seeing the usual collection of low-risk deals for formerly marquee free-agent starting pitchers. Last winter, the Pirates struck gold with a one-year, incentive-laden deal for Francisco Liriano, as he's generated 3.0 fWAR this season while making just $1MM. Though they'll require larger commitments, two starters hitting the free agent market this offseason, Josh Johnson and Roy Halladay, offer similar ace potential and are also likely to be had relatively cheaply. They're up next in our Free Agent Faceoff series.
When I asked last week in a poll, just 29 percent of you said the Blue Jays should extend Johnson a qualifying offer this offseason after an injury-marred 2013. This season was certainly a disappointing one for the right-hander, as his 6.20 ERA was the worst of his career if you ignore 2007, when he threw just 15 2/3 innings. However, I made the case that Johnson was among the most unlucky starters in baseball this season, as 18.5 percent of his fly balls went for home runs. That's likely to fall, as it's double his career mark of 8.2 percent. When Johnson's healthy, he can be as dominant as any starter in baseball, as his lifetime 3.40 ERA attests to. He's just rarely healthy for a full season. Any acquiring team will hope that the 29-year-old can recapture some of his 2010 magic, when he managed an acceptable 183 2/3 innings and led the NL in ERA.
Halladay's 2013 mark of 6.71 ERA in 61 2/3 innings was one of several troubling statistics for the right-hander in 2013, a year that also saw his average two-seam fastball velocity fall to just 88.7 mph. That's a concerning figure for a 36-year-old who missed significant time with a shoulder injury. Halladay's 5.0 BB/9 rate and 1.8 HR/9 rate were also his highest since 2000, when he was in his early 20s. At this point in Halladay's career, we may just be seeing the decline of a pitcher whose right arm logged more than 1,400 innings over a six-year period from 2006-2011. However, there's also no ignoring the fact that he has two Cy Young Awards to his name. If Halladay can prove that he's healthy, that sterling resume is sure to loom large in the evaluation process for many clubs.
In Johnson and Halladay, we have two starters who succumbed to injuries in 2013 but are likely to draw significant interest as former top-of-the-rotation starters. Johnson has dominated in the past when healthy, and though he hasn't had the career Halladay has, he has youth on his side at age 29. Halladay is a much older 36, but he was also among the best pitchers in baseball over that 2006-2011 span. Who would you rather have?
Catching figures to be a major priority for the Phillies this season with Carlos Ruiz eligible for free agency and top catching prospect Tommy Joseph having endured a lost season as a result of concussion issues. However, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com provides an in-depth look at the Phils' catching depth beyond Joseph, noting that Cameron Rupp has already reached the Majors. Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan tells Salisbury that he's also very excited about 2013 second-rounder Andrew Knapp, and a rival scout familiar with the Phillies' system was particularly enthusiastic about Dominican prospect Deivi Grullon. Here's more on Ruiz and the Phillies...
- Ruiz would like to return to Philadelphia, writes Salisbury in a separate piece, and the organization has taken note of his recent surge at the plate, with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. stating that Ruiz looks far more relaxed. Pitching coach Rich Dubee, who knows Ruiz quite well, feels that Ruiz is best limited to 100 games behind the plate at this point in his career, however.
- Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus writes that Darin Ruf is exceeding expectations of scouts and talent evaluators with his production at the big league level so far. Lindbergh's piece includes an excellent interview with Ruf, conducted last week, in which Ruf discusses what scouts thought of him, his limitations on the field and his journey from senior sign/20th-round pick to a potential long-term asset for the Phillies. "I’m probably a bad person to ask prospect-type questions because, I don’t know, I never was one," Ruf candidly replied at one point in the interview.
- Roy Halladay and Kyle Kendrick will force the Phils to make tough decisions this offseason, writes MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. The Phillies have four more starts to evaluate Halladay's progress from shoulder surgery, but as Amaro noted to Zolecki, it's possible that Doc won't be at full strength until next spring. Amaro and his staff will have to decide whether or not to bring Halladay back on an incentive-laden deal or seek a more certain commodity.
- Likewise, the decision on whether or not to tender Kendrick a contract that could approach $8MM via arbitration is no easy decision. Kendrick has never been on the disabled list, Zolecki noted in a different piece, a trait that would make him desirable to other teams should the Phillies non-tender him and try to sign him for less money. Dubee agreed: "If something doesn't happen here, I'm sure there's going to be plenty of seekers. He's durable. He hasn't missed a start all year. Those guys are highly sought."
- Zolecki also adds that left-hander John Lannan is likely to be non-tendered by the Phils this offseason following surgery on his left knee.
Last night, the Phillies added some pitching depth to their organization with the acquisition of minor league hurlers Rob Rasmussen and Nefi Ogando, in separate trades, for Michael Young and John McDonald, respectively. These are the first of many decisions the Phillies' front office will need to make in anticipation of 2014. Here's more on the Phillies and the rest of the NL East:
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has backed himself into corner where he may not be able to significantly upgrade the team's talent next year, which puts interim manager Ryne Sandberg in a shaky situation and may make him the wrong man at the wrong place at a very wrong time for his long-awaited turn at being a MLB manager, writes the Times of Trenton's Barry Federovitch.
- Another big decision the Phillies have to make is whether to re-sign Roy Halladay, who will be a free agent this winter. Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer opines the Phillies have taken too many risks, health and talent-wise, in recent years which did not work and should not keep another risky proposition like Halladay around even if the price seems right.
- FanGraph's Dave Cameron, in an ESPN Insider subscription-required piece, names Halladay and fellow NL East right-hander Dan Haren as part of an interesting free agent class: broken-but-perhaps-fixable formerly great pitchers.
- There is a "strong expectation" Terry Collins will continue as the Mets' manager in 2014, a source familiar with the situation told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The source added there is internal respect for how Collins has navigated this year's challenges. Rubin reasons, by not committing to Collins now, it protects the front office in case there is a serious swoon or an unforeseeable major event during the season's final month.
- Ike Davis may not be as fortunate. He will most likley miss the remainder of the year with a strained right oblique and is in jeopardy of being non-tendered this winter, writes Rubin in two separate articles. Rubin compares Davis' situation to that of right-hander Mike Pelfrey who was non-tendered last December when the Mets did not want to risk the raise on his $5.7MM salary. Davis is currently earning $3.125MM and Rubin sees a 2014 salary in the neighborhood of $3.5-4MM; but, with so much money coming off the Mets' books, it might be palatable to carry such a salary rather than non-tender him if no trade materializes.
In an interview with CSNPhilly.com's Leslie Gudel, outgoing Phillies manager Charlie Manuel spoke frankly about the talent he was given to work with over the last two seasons. Asked whether he had the pieces to win over 2012-13, Manuel left no question of his feelings: "No. I can straight-face tell you that." He says he "always figured we'd add the pieces and things like that," as the team had in years past. "They always went out and they always got pieces and they always put them on our team and gave us a good opportunity to win. They put us in a good position to win and it was up to us to do that." More out of Philly ...
- Starter Roy Halladay says that, while he respects Manuel, a change was needed. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, Halladay thinks that interim manager Ryne Sandberg will "bring back a little more of the Philly baseball style than we've had the last couple of years." According to the veteran righty, "We haven't had that whole team effort, that whole team hustle. ... Guys being at places on time; being on the field on time; taking ground balls; taking extra BP. All of those little things that nobody thinks makes a difference."
- Indeed, Sandberg has already announced his presence by calling out veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins, Gelb reports. "Is he stubborn or [has he] created habits that are hard to change?" queried Sandberg. "I've seen him practice. And what he practices, he takes into the game. I believe there is some tweaking there as far as practice habits and what he practices."
- Meanwhile, Halladay himself took the hill for an important rehab start tonight. Reviews were not promising, with CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reporting (via Twitter) that Halladay managed only 52 strikes in 90 pitches, allowing seven hits and three walks while striking out four. According to Salisbury, also via Twitter, Halladay "does not look ready." Gelb concurred with that assessment, though he noted that Halladay seems determined to start for the Phils on Sunday. (Twitter links.) For more details on Halladay's evening, see this piece from David Murphy, Gelb's colleague with the Inquirer.
- Another Philadelphia starter is headed in the opposite direction, with Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reporting that John Lannan will be shut down for the season and is likely headed for surgery. Assistant GM Scott Proefrock said that he believes Lannan "ruptured [a] tendon" in his left knee. Already a non-tender candidate, the 28-year-old struggled to a 5.33 ERA over 74 1/3 innings in his first year in Philadelphia and could be left looking for a minor league deal for 2014.
While first baseman Freddie Freeman has had an outstanding campaign for the Braves, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says that shortstop Andrelton Simmons has been the team's most valuable contributor. While Fangraphs values the two at the same level in terms of WAR, notes Bradley, Baseball Reference pegs Simmons as worth over a win more than Freeman. Regardless, the team will control both players at reasonable rates for the foreseeable future, with Freeman set to reach arbitration for the first time next year and Simmons not arb-eligible until 2016. Here are a few notes from around the rest of the National League East:
- The Esmailyn Gonzalez saga is not yet over for the Nationals, reports the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. In a lawsuit against the team's insurance company, the Nats have leveled the charge that former big-leaguer Jose Rijo received a $300k kick-back from the ill-fated $1.4MM signing bonus given to the supposedly 16-year-old Gonzalez (who, it was later learned, was actually four years older and named Carlos David Alvarez Lugo).
- More importantly for the team going forward is the long-term defensive position of third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Once a plus fielder, Zimmerman's throwing has deteriorated to the point that UZR rates him at a troubling 15 runs below average thus far in 2013. With even manager Davey Johnson implying that Zimmerman's "mental" issues could force a move across the diamond, MLB.com's Bill Ladson says he thinks the club could make the shift during the coming off-season.
- In addition to dampening the value of Zimmerman's long-term extension, of course, such a move would have wide-ranging considerations and repercussions for the Nats. In addition to raising the question of what would happen with first baseman Adam LaRoche, who is under contract for next season, the team would have to move rookie Anthony Rendon back to his natural position at third. The resulting void at second would presumably be filled by a free agent or one of the team's less-than-certain internal options (including Danny Espinosa, Steve Lombardozzi, and Jeff Kobernus).
- Roy Halladay could be starting for the Phillies sooner than expected, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that, if all goes well, Halladay could only take two rehab starts in the minors before rejoining the big club. With Halladay set to become a free agent, it will be fascinating to see how he bounces back from shoulder surgery (and generally poor results over 2012-13) before hitting the open market.
- If and when apparent Cuban defector Jose Dariel Abreu is made a free agent, he is expected to command a substantial contract from a MLB club. Based on scouting reports and other contracts given to international free agents, ESPN's Jim Bowden suggests that the big slugger could land a deal in the six-year, $54MM range. (For a detailed discussion of Abreu's prospect value, check out this recent podcast from Baseball America's Ben Badler and John Manuel.)
- As an "early guess," Bowden places the Marlins atop the list of Abreu pursuers. Reasoning that the club would be willing to overpay for a Cuban star after missing out on Yoenis Cespedes, Bowden writes that Miami is "expected to go all out on Abreu."
- In addition to a host of other possible landing spots, Bowden says that the Nationals could also be in on Abreu. He opines that the club would not find it difficult to deal first baseman Adam LaRoche to clear a spot.
As we turn to August, here's a look at the players who have vesting options for the 2014 season..
- Kurt Suzuki, Nationals: $9.25MM option vests with 113 starts in 2013. The Nats were relying on Suzuki during the first half of the season when Wilson Ramos was sidelined, but Ramos returned to action on July 4th, sliding Suzuki back down the depth chart. The 29-year-old is 45 starts shy of the needed mark with 52 games remaining, so Suzuki's chances aren't too strong. if/when the option doesn't vest, it'll become a club option worth $8.5MM with a modest $650K buyout.
- Jamey Carroll, Twins: $2MM option vests with 401 plate appearances. Carroll has 185 PAs in 53 games this season. The veteran has had more than his needed total in each of the last three seasons with 500+ plate appearances in each of the last two years, but he'll have his work cut out for him in 2013.
- Wilson Betemit, Orioles: $3.2MM option vests with 324 plate appearances (combined 700 between 2012 and 2013). Betemit underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on March 26th and he'll begin a rehab assignment on Tuesday. Needless to say, his option won't vest.
- Lance Berkman, Rangers: $13MM option vests with 550 plate appearances. Berkman has 282 plate appearances to his credit and the good news is that despite whispers that he might call it quits after his latest hip troubles, he pledges to return this season. Unfortunately for him, his rehab assignment isn't scheduled to get underway until the end of this week and 550 sounds like a longshot.
- Roy Halladay, Phillies: $20MM option vests with 259 innings pitched (combined 415 innings pitched between '12 and '13). This was a longshot to begin with, but shoulder surgery earlier this season makes this one impossible.
- Brett Myers, Indians: $8MM option vests with 200 innings pitched in 2013 and a passed physical after the season. After logging 21 and 1/3 innings in 2013, Myers was sidelined with tendinitis and a mild ligament sprain in his right elbow and has yet to return. When he does come back, it's possible that the Tribe will move him to the bullpen.
- Barry Zito, Giants: $18MM option vests with 200 innings pitched. Zito has racked up 111 and 1/3 innings through 21 starts this season. Zito probably won't get to lock in his sizable 2014 salary.
- Johan Santana, Mets: His $25MM option could have vested with 215 innings pitched or winning the 2013 Cy Young Award, but he won't have a chance at that thanks to a season-ending tear in his pitching shoulder.
It's also worth noting that Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano has a $8MM club option for 2014, but it can vest at any of three levels - $5MM, $6MM, or $8MM - based on the number of days he is not on the DL this year with a recurrence of his right arm injury. It's not known how many days the hurler must steer clear of right arm trouble in order to trigger each level of his option, however. The left-hander made his season debut on May 11th and has a 2.02 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 through 16 starts this season.