The Phillies are hiring away Astros minor league field coordinator Josh Bonifay as their new farm director, reports Matt Gelb of The Athletic (subscription link). The 40-year-old Bonifay is the son of former Pirates general manager Cam Bonifay (1993-2001) and has spent nearly a decade working as a manager or coach in the Astros’ system with the exception of a 2017 stint as the Rangers’ minor league field coordinator. The Phillies parted ways with previous farm director Joe Jordan and several minor league hitting coaches in September, and Bonifay will be tasked with helping to implement a systemic change in the manner in which data is presented to minor league coaching staffs.
Here’s more from the NL East…
- Tanner Roark heads into a contract season with the Nationals in severe need of a rebound campaign, writes Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com. As Zuckerman explores, Roark has now posted an ERA north of 4.30 in three of the past four seasons, making what previously looked like outlier campaigns perhaps the new norm. There’s no mention of a possible non-tender or trade in Zuckerman’s piece, though it’s fair to wonder if the Nationals will feel comfortable committing a hefty salary to the 32-year-old Roark given his run of largely pedestrian results; MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz pegs him for a $9.8MM payday in 2019 — his final season of arbitration eligibility. While the Nats have a clear need for starters behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg, Roark is becoming a relatively pricey option, although to his credit, he’s been a durable rotation cog (30+ starts in three straight seasons).
- Gabe Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at the Braves’ need for some help atop the rotation and the means by which they could acquire said help, though he notes that recent comments by GM Alex Anthopoulos caution against the possibility of an expensive splash. “If there’s a deal that makes sense for us, and it’s a good asset to have, we’ll do it,” said Anthopoulos. “I think the one where you scratch and really push, and you want to call it overpay in years or dollars, you feel like that’s the one final piece. … I don’t think we’re there yet right now.” Atlanta does have plenty of intriguing arms in the upper minors, some of whom have already debuted in the Majors. It’s possible that a few prominent contributors could yet emerge from within or that those pieces could be packaged for some high-end, cost-controlled help. A free-agent splash for someone like Patrick Corbin, however, seems decidedly less likely.