Todd Zolecki Rumors

Phillies Expect To Trade Papelbon; Nationals “Making Progress” On Deal

2:44pm: Talks between the Nationals and Phillies are “very complicated” and the sides still have plenty to work out, Jim Bowden of tweets. Papelbon is still likely to be sent to D.C., but there are “hurdles” to be dealt with, Jayson Stark of tweets.

11:53am: A source tells Jim Salisbury of that Papelbon “will be traded” at the deadline.

10:31am: The Nationals are making progress on a deal that would bring closer Jonathan Papelbon to D.C. from the rival Phillies, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. It’s unclear how far off the teams are from reaching agreement, let alone what kind of return is under contemplation.

There had been indications that Papelbon’s market was cooling, but it seems that action has kicked back into gear in recent days. Jim Salisbury of tweets that he’s been left with the impression that the team is confident in getting some kind of deal done involving the controversial closer.

With Philadelphia reportedly amenable to covering some of Papelbon’s costs — which include a $13MM salary this year and a $13MM option for 2016 that will soon vest — he’s a good fit for a Nationals team that is said to be disinclined to absorb salary in the middle of the year. But Philly’s willingness to pay down some obligations also makes Papelbon palatable to other clubs.’s Todd Zolecki noted yesterday that the Blue Jays and Cubs have also expressed keen interest in the veteran righty.

Phillies Notes: Rollins, Herrera, Oliver, Aumont

Former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins viewed the Dodgers as his number one choice for a new club, writes Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. But if a deal hadn’t been reached, Rollins would have considered a trade to the division rival Mets. Rollins said, “I considered the Mets to be No. 2. They have some arms over there.” Rollins clarified that he’s unsure if he would have ultimately accepted a trade to New York. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweets that the Mets inquired about Rollins in November but were told he would not accept a trade.

  • The Phillies are working quickly to evaluate Rule 5 picks Odubel Herrera and Andy Oliver, Jim Salisbury of writes. Herrera will start in the outfield and Oliver will pitch an inning of relief as the Phillies take on the University of Tampa in an exhibition Sunday. Neither Herrera, who posted good on-base percentages in the Rangers system, nor Oliver, a hard-throwing but wild lefty from the Pirates organization, expected to wind up with the Phillies. “This is a good opportunity for me,” says Oliver. “I feel like I’m in a better place than where I came from.”
  • In addition to Oliver, Phillippe Aumont and non-roster invitee Jeanmar Gomez could make the opening day bullpen due to transactional reasons, writes Todd Zolecki of The Phillies acquired Aumont in 2009 as part of the haul from the Mariners for Cliff Lee. He’s the lone remaining asset from that trade and is out of options. If he does not make the club, he’ll be subject to waivers. Gomez, 27, would have to earn a spot on the 40-man roster, but the club isn’t in a position to pass on viable major league pitchers. He has a 3.28 ERA in 78 appearances over the last two seasons, although his peripherals suggest we should expect something closer to a 4.00 ERA.

Rumor Royalty: Todd Zolecki (Phillies)

Todd Zolecki is our Rumor Royalty recipient for the Phillies.  Todd covers the team for the Philadelphia Inquirer and also keeps a blog, the soon-to-be-renamed Zo Zone.  Todd has kindly agreed to answer a handful of reader questions for the series.

MLBTR: Does signing Ryan Howard to a long term contract make sense for the Phils?

Zolecki: It depends what price we’re talking about. Before and after winning $10 million in arbitration, Howard is seeking major money. Maybe in the $200 million range. The Phillies are not the Yankees or Red Sox, so if they commit that type of money to one player, it almost certainly would cost them elsewhere. That could mean Cole Hamels going elsewhere. Or Brett Myers. Or others. I’m not sure the Phillies want to do that, and get stuck in a contract they hate like the Rangers and A-Rod.

MLBTR: For many years, the Phillies’ farm system has been lackluster with respect to pitching.  Why is this the case, and do you think the farm system is improving in this respect?

Zolecki: There’s no question it’s been a source of frustration. The Phillies haven’t had a homegrown 20-game winner since Chris Short in 1966. That’s remarkable. There are millions of theories out there, but lately it seems like they’ve had better success. Hamels. Myers. Kendrick. They like Carlos Carrasco, Joe Savery, Josh Outman and Kyle Drabek (who’s recovering from Tommy John) in the minors. Will these guys pan out? We’ll see. But it seems like they are turning some things around. Of course, things would be easier if they spent a little more money to sign players in the draft.

MLBTR: Do the Phillies have the goods to acquire Joe Blanton without hurting the ’08 team?

Zolecki: I don’t think so. The Phillies are very hesitant to give up some of their top talent because they don’t have much at the moment.

MLBTR: What was your opinion of the Brad Lidge trade?  Do you think he can handle Philly?

Zolecki: I like it. They got him relatively cheaply — Geoff Geary, Michael Bourn and Mike Costanzo. If Lidge pitches like they think they can, the Phillies improved their bullpen and rotation with one move. That’s tough do. Fortunately for them, Myers is versatile and should transition back into the rotation.

Rumor Royalty: Todd Zolecki (Phillies)

Todd Zolecki is our Rumor Royalty recipient for the Phillies.  Todd covers the team for the Philadelphia Inquirer and also keeps a blog, the soon-to-be-renamed Zo Zone.

Todd has kindly agreed to answer a handful of reader questions for the series.  Please leave your Phillies hot stove queries in the comments and I’ll choose the best three or four.