Ruben Amaro Jr. Rumors

NL Notes: Phillies, Reds, Rockies, Figgins

As players, coaches, and front office personnel begin to arrive in Florida and Arizona for Spring Training 2013, let's take a look at the news and notes from the National League:


Phillies Notes: Halladay, Kendrick, Hairston, Stanton

The Phillies saw their streak of five consecutive NL East titles ended by the Nationals in 2012. But, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes there is optimism since the Phillies won 60% of their games after July 31 despite the health issues of Roy Halladay and Carlos Ruiz, trading away Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence, and not having a reliable setup man for Jonathan Papelbon. The Phillies, however, enter the new year with several question marks which Zolecki says centers around the health of Halladay and Chase Utley, the continued recovery of Ryan Howard, and how much offense new acquistions Michael Young and Ben Revere will contribute. For more news and notes on the Phillies, Zolecki opened his inbox

  • Zolecki, when asked about the health of Halladay, quoted GM Ruben Amaro Jr. who recently said, "He's going to start throwing off the mound here very shortly. I guess he's working down there with Kyle Kendrick pretty extensively. He's doing well, but we don't know what kind of Doc we're going to get until Doc's down firing in Spring Training."
  • Speaking of Kendrick, Zolecki believes he's a lock for the starting rotation as long as he remains healthy.
  • Scott Hairston would be the best fit to fill one of the corner outfield vacancies. Zolecki notes the Phillies have tried to acquire Hairston in the past. Zolecki also mentioned Alfonso Soriano, who he thinks would slot in nicely hitting behind Utley and Howard.
  • If the Phillies acquire a right-handed outfield bat, look for Darin Ruf to open the season at Triple-A.
  • The Phillies don't have have enough top-tier talent to tempt the Marlins into trading Giancarlo Stanton to the City of Brotherly Love.

Amaro On Outfield Market

Even after trading for Ben Revere, the Phillies could add another established outfielder. But GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the asking prices of the top free agent outfielders are a deterrent (Twitter link). 

"We feel like the demands are north of where we want to be,'' Amaro said. 

Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and Cody Ross are the top free agent outfielders available, and presumably Amaro is alluding to some or all of these players. The Phillies, who have Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr. and Darin Ruf as internal outfield candidates, are also eyeing trades. They’ve been linked to right-handed hitting trade candidates such as Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells.



Phillies Notes: Young, Roster Needs, Zach Miner

Earlier today, MLB approved the Michael Young trade making the deal between the Phillies and Rangers official. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is pleased Young is a Phillie telling reporters, including MLB.com's Paul Hagen, "Clearly, this brings a wonderful package to what we're trying to do here in Philadelphia. He has a tremendous track record. He has all the elements we're looking for." Rangers manager Ron Washington seconded that notion, as quoted by Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News, "This is a very, very tough situation. Michael's been my go-to guy since I've been here. If there was crying in baseball, I guess I'd cry." There is definitely no crying in baseball, especially in Philadelphia, so put away the hankies and enjoy some more news and notes from the City of Brotherly Love. 

  • The Phillies believe Young will benefit from playing the field again and at just one position, tweets FOXSports.com Ken Rosenthal.
  • Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer disagrees with that assessment citing Young's advanced defensive metrics and that his wins above replacement in 2012 was among the worst in modern baseball history.
  • Also in that same piece, Gelb writes the Phillies are $20MM below last season's payroll, so the club has plenty of financial flexibility to add offense to their outfield. 
  • Amaro stills wants to add a veteran presence to the bullpen, do a "little bit more" to improve their outfield, and is open to acquiring a "low-risk, high-reward type of guy" for the back of the rotation, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links).  
  • The Phillies have signed right-hander Zach Miner to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. Miner, who pitched for Detroit from 2006-09, spent last season in the Tigers' organization pitching to a 2.79 ERA, 4.9 K/9, and 4.7 BB/9 in 42 innings (including three starts) across three levels.

Amaro On Phillies, Upton, Bourn, Marlins

The Phillies haven’t made any major additions to their team to this point in the offseason, but they continue working to address their biggest needs, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. “We’ve had some good discussions, some fruitful discussions, with agents as well as other clubs,” Amaro said. “There are some situations where we’re waiting right now on someone to say ‘yes,’ and other situations where other teams are waiting for us to say ‘yes.’ It’s an interesting dynamic right now.” Here’s the latest on the Phillies, who are looking to contend again following an 81-81 season in 2012:

  • Amaro still wants to add at least one outfielder and a veteran reliever for the eighth inning. The club could also pursue help at third base, though that could depend on the team’s search for outfielders.
  • Reading between the lines, Salisbury suggests the Phillies have reached out to the Marlins to see if they’d trade Giancarlo Stanton in a follow up to Miami’s recent blockbuster trade with the Blue Jays. “We’ve made some inquiries about a lot of players that went in that trade, both to Toronto and to Miami,” the GM acknowledged. “But nothing imminent so far.”
  • Amaro said he has not received any indication that former Phillies closer Ryan Madson is opposed to pitching in a setup role. Madson underwent Tommy John surgery before the 2012 season and is now a free agent.
  • While B.J. Upton appears to be the Phillies’ top target, Amaro also mentioned free agents Angel Pagan, Michael Bourn and Shane Victorino as other potential center field options. “We can’t put all our resources in one area and not address others,” Amaro said. He added that the Phillies are more likely to add an outfielder or two in free agency than via trades.
  • Earlier this month I previewed the Phillies’ offseason.

Amaro: Manuel To Return In 2013

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. confirmed to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that Charlie Manuel will return as the team’s manager in 2013. Manuel will remain in place next year and the sides will re-evaluate following the ’13 season. Amaro said he’s pleased with Manuel’s performance but acknowledged that the two disagree at times, as most GMs and managers do.

Here are some more highlights from Amaro’s Q&A with Salisbury:

  • Amaro said Ryne Sandberg has been great as the organization’s Triple-A manager. The GM declined to call Sandberg the successor to Manuel, but said he’s worthy of consideration for MLB managerial jobs. Amaro added that he is hopeful Sandberg gets the chance to manage in the Major Leagues and said he would like to keep him in the organization.
  • Chase Utley is an option at third base for the 2013 Phillies, Amaro said. The decision depends on Utley’s comfort level at the position. If the Phillies look outside of the organization for third base help they could seek a left-handed hitter to platoon with Kevin Frandsen.
  • The Phillies aren’t impressed by the free agent options at the hot corner. “There are no third basemen out there,” Amaro said. “Very, very few. The options are very, very small. It’s no secret that that’s one of the things we were looking for at the deadline and the availability of third basemen was basically zero. And the ones that were available, the prices on them were enormous.”
  • The Phillies may find their setup relievers from within the organization, Amaro said. Pitchers such as Antonio Bastardo, Phillippe Aumont, Justin De Fratus and Josh Lindblom are options. However, the Phillies were disappointed with Bastardo’s performance this year and he’s an unknown going forward.

Boras, Amaro Discuss Madson Deal

Ryan Madson has agreed to sign with the Reds, but it wasn’t so long ago that he and the Phillies seemed close to a four-year, $44MM deal. It’s not clear what happened between Madson, agent Scott Boras, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and Phillies president David Montgomery, but Boras and Amaro have different accounts of the process. Boras says the sides agreed to a four-year, $44MM deal at which point the Phillies moved on.

"It's very simple," Boras told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. "We never rejected any offer from Philadelphia at four years and $44 million. We advised Philadelphia that we would agree to such a proposal. And Philadelphia decided upon hearing that to go in a different direction." 

Amaro has a different account of what happened leading up to the Phillies’ deal with Jonathan Papelbon. He told Crasnick that Madson and the Phillies never agreed to a deal.

"There's no question we had discussions with Ryan about bringing him back,” Amaro said. “We had several discussions about it. But no agreement was made. If we had come to an agreement, we would have signed him.''

Amaro has said Montgomery knew where discussions between Madson and the Phillies stood all along. However, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has heard that the sides were discussing details such as incentives when Amaro explained that he’d need to run the deal past Montgomery. Boras told Crasnick Madson had "numerous offers" on the table before agreeing to terms with Cincinnati.


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Roberts, Giles, Amaro

On this date nine years ago, the Astros signed Richard Hidalgo to a four-year, $32MM contract. At the time, it was the third-richest contract in franchise history, behind only Jeff Bagwell's five-year, $85MM deal and Craig Biggio's four-year, $33MM deal. Hidalgo would go on to hit .266/.342/.475 with 87 home runs during the life of the deal, though he was dealt to the Mets mid-way through the 2004 season.

Here's a look at what's been written around the web…

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.


GM Trade Histories: NL East

Brendan Bianowicz is back with a bunch of updates to the GM Trade History series.  The Excel spreadsheets linked below cover each GM's trades, free agent signings, and top draft picks via tabs along the bottom.  It's interesting to see each GM's most frequent trade partner – for example, Omar Minaya has matched up with Larry Beinfest and Mark Shapiro most often in his career.


Odds & Ends: Oliver, Amaro, Scheppers

Links for Thursday…

  • ESPN's Keith Law has the latest on the battle between Andy Oliver and the NCAA over whether players can have agents and still be eligible for the draft.
  • Yahoo's Gordon Edes writes about the ascension of Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.  Edes notes that the Phils still do not have a full-time statistical analyst.
  • Former D'Backs pitching coach Bryan Price landed a minor league consulting gig with the Phillies, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
  • Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says it's "believed though not confirmed" that Tanner Scheppers has granted the Pirates permission to draft him again if they choose.  The Pirates did not sign him last year due to health concerns, but now he's looking like a top-ten pick.
  • A couple of powerful prospects got the call: Nolan Reimold with the Orioles and Mat Gamel with the Brewers.  For the Brewers, Brad Nelson now has to decide whether to accept a Triple A assignment.  The Orioles and Brewers are risking Super Two status with these call-ups, but only if the players are not sent back down.