The Phillies last lost 99 games in 1969, writes Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer. It took seven more seasons for the club to return to the postseason, but it only takes a couple lucky moves to set the ball rolling. In the 1971 draft, Philadelphia gambled that they could snag Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt with their second round pick (30th overall). It worked out. Even better, they traded pitcher Rick Wise during the next offseason for another Hall of Famer – Steve Carlton. Today’s Phillies have better odds of returning to the postseason quickly – now one-third of teams reach the playoffs. They’ll still need to find a few diamonds in the rough in the interim.
- The Nationals aren’t expected to pick up Casey Janssen’s $7MM club option, reports Bill Ladson of MLB.com in an analysis of the Washington roster. Janssen appeared in 48 games for Washington, throwing 40 innings of 4.95 ERA ball with 6.08 K/9 and 1.80 BB/9. The fly ball pitcher is best known for his command. He was the Blue Jays closer for parts of three seasons prior to joining the Nationals.
- Closer Jonathan Papelbon is “all but gone,” per Ladson. Papelbon was embroiled in the late-season scuffle with franchise star Bryce Harper. While it’s hard to get a read on the situation from the outside, it’s not surprising that the club could prefer to end the story for good. Ladson also views fellow closer Drew Storen as a change of scenery candidate. Storen pitched to a 6.75 ERA after Papelbon was acquired. If both relievers are traded (or cut in the case of Papelbon), the Nationals will need to acquire a new closer.
- Daniel Murphy’s days with the Mets are almost certainly over, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. However, it would be a mistake if the club didn’t extend a qualifying offer. Based on input from agents and executives, Sherman thinks Murphy will sign a three-year deal in the $30MM to $40MM range. Sherman also has a “strong sense” that the Mets won’t extend a qualifying offer. New York has developed a reputation for penny pinching despite playing in a huge market. The biggest risk is that they pay Murphy $15.8MM for one season. Per Sherman, it’s a rate that a New York club should be able to easily afford, especially when the alternative is a still unproven youngster like Wilmer Flores or Dilson Herrera. Murphy was worth over $20MM this season according to FanGraphs.