Despite the fact that he’s left without a clear role on the Phillies, Tommy Joseph turned away “serious interest” from teams in Japan and Korea this offseason, reports Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Joseph consulted with his former teammate, Darin Ruf, who spent the 2017 season playing with the Samsung Lions of the Korea Baseball Organization and raked at a .315/.396/.569 clip. Ruf recommended to Joseph that he should make the jump, but Joseph wasn’t ready to make that move just yet. “You never want to give up the opportunity to play in the major leagues,” said Joseph. “…I want a chance to be here and play in the big leagues.”
The Phillies signed Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60MM contract this offseason, pushing Rhys Hoskins to the outfield and rendering Joseph without an opportunity outside of a bench role. Phils skipper Gabe Kapler has been playing Joseph in the corner outfield this spring to enhance his versatility, but Joseph still faces an uphill battle when it comes to securing even semi-regular at-bats in a crowded first base/outfield mix with the Phils.
Here’s more out of the NL East…
- Erick Fedde made his first appearance of the spring this week, taking the mound for the first time since suffering a flexor strain that ended his season last summer. MLB.com’s Jamal Collier spoke with the promising Nationals right-hander, stating that he felt no lingering effects in his previously problematic forearm. Collier notes, too, that Fedde’s velocity looks to be back to normal after dipping last summer before the right-hander was shelved for the remainder of the year. While the 25-year-old Fedde, a former first-round pick and longtime top prospect in the organization, comes with plenty of upside and hopes to break camp with the club, Collier notes that his remaining minor league options could make that difficult. Right-hander A.J. Cole is the current favorite for the fifth spot in the Nats’ rotation, perhaps in part due to the fact that he’s out of options.
- Jacob deGrom’s availability for Opening Day is in question, writes Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. While the back stiffness that’s been hampering deGrom in the past few days isn’t believed to be serious, the Mets would prefer deGrom to make five starts to ramp up for the regular season. In order to make that schedule, he’d need to start a game by Sunday, and he’ll likely need to complete two bullpen sessions before he’s cleared to do so. The New York Post’s Mike Puma takes things a bit further, suggesting that deGrom may not be ready for the first week or so of the season (Twitter link). It’s understandable that the Mets would prefer to proceed with caution after the rampant injuries that ran through their pitching staff last season, though, and it doesn’t sound at present that deGrom is in danger of missing any significant time once the regular season rolls around.
- Marlins CEO Derek Jeter was largely dismissive of the grievance filed by the MLBPA against his team (as well as the Rays, A’s and Pirates), per Barry Jackson, Clark Spencer and Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. “As we have done since the day we took over in October, we will continue to do everything we can to build a foundation for sustained success and improve this organization — which has not made the postseason since 2003 and has gone eight seasons without a winning record,” Jeter said in response to the grievance, which alleges that the four teams listed are not properly reallocating their revenue-sharing profits to improving their clubs.
- Sticking with the Marlins, Craig Davis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes that non-roster invitee Scott Van Slyke has impressed manager Don Mattingly early in camp as he vies for a job. Mattingly, of course, knows Van Slyke well, having also managed him during his best years with the Dodgers. Van Slyke, Davis notes, changed his hitting mechanics this offseason at the behest of his father Andy — a two-time Silver Slugger winner and three-time big league All-Star. Of some note, Davis adds that Van Slyke’s minor league deal with the Fish does not contain an opt-out at the end of Spring Training, so even if he doesn’t make crack the 25-man roster, he could very well be ticketed for Triple-A New Orleans, where he’d serve as a depth option with a strong track record against left-handed pitching and experience in all three outfield slots.