The Braves don’t seem to have interest in bringing Brandon Phillips back to his hometown team, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (Twitter link). Phillips spent the first five months of the 2017 season with the Braves, hitting .291/.329/.423 over 499 PA before his production fell off after an August 31 deal to the Angels. Atlanta is known to be looking for veteran stop-gap options at third base until prospect Austin Riley is ready, and Phillips already moved to the hot corner last season to accommodate Ozzie Albies’ promotion to the big leagues. There hasn’t been any hot stove buzz about Phillips this winter, as the 36-year-old looks to catch on for his 17th MLB season.
Some more news and notes from around the NL East…
- The Mets are still looking for help at second base, though they don’t appear to be close on some of the options on the trade market, Mike Puma of the New York Post writes. Team officials “indicated there was little momentum” in talks with the Phillies on Cesar Hernandez and the Pirates about Josh Harrison, while the Twins are giving the impression that Brian Dozier is unlikely to be dealt. The Brewers’ Jonathan Villar is available in the wake of his down year, though Villar isn’t seen “as a serious possibility” by the Mets for now. Looking at outside-the-box possibilities, signing shortstop Zack Cozart and switching him to second base seems like a “long shot” scenario, a source tells Newsday’s Marc Carig (Twitter link).
- In a full story from Carig, he reports that the Mets are more willing to take on salary than give up significant prospects in trades. This could lead them to Jason Kipnis, who both Carig and Puma cite as potentially the Mets’ top second base target. The Indians owe Kipnis $28MM over the next two season, plus a $16.5MM club option for 2020 that carries a $2.5MM buyout. Also from Carig, he reports that the Mets don’t seem to have much interest in another second baseman, the Athletics’ Jed Lowrie.
- It probably isn’t safe to rule out the Nationals on any Scott Boras client given the relationship between the team and the super-agent, and indeed, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link) hears from some in the industry that Washington could be a “dark horse” contender to sign J.D. Martinez. In this scenario, the Nats would obtain a long-term slugger that would help them withstand the potential loss of Bryce Harper to free agency next winter. Cotillo suggests that the Nationals could shop Michael Taylor if they signed Martinez, though I’d argue that Taylor is better served as an (overqualified) fourth outfielder for 2018 who could move back into a starting role in 2019 if Harper leaves.
- The Phillies announced the hiring of Jose Flores the team’s first base coach and baserunning/infield instructor. This is Flores’ first job on a Major League coaching staff, after spending the last five years as the Cubs’ minor league infield coordinator, and several teams coaching and managing in Puerto Rico, including two years as the manager of Puerto Rico’s national team.