The Phillies have reportedly shown interest in third baseman Mike Moustakas, who could be a fallback signing if they don’t win the battle for fellow free agent Manny Machado. But now, unless the Phillies miss out on both Machado and free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper, the chances of Moustakas joining the team appear especially slim. If Philadelphia signs Harper over Machado, “it seems unlikely” the club would also add Moustakas, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes. Rather, the Phillies would probably be content with a revamped lineup that would include Harper and other high-profile newcomers in J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen, Zolecki posits. In that scenario, Maikel Franco – who, at least offensively, was similar to Moustakas in 2018 – and Scott Kingery would be their top options at third base.
Here’s the latest on a pair of Philly’s division rivals:
- The Marlins intend to strengthen their bullpen from outside in the coming days, president of baseball operations Michael Hill told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald and other reporters Saturday. “Hopefully, we’ll get that taken care of before pitchers take the field [on Wednesday],” said Hill, who wants a “veteran bullpen piece to help with” the unit’s younger pitchers. There’s still a good amount of familiar free-agent relievers the low-payroll Marlins should be able to afford as they seek to bolster a relief unit that was among the majors’ worst in 2018.
- Outfielder Michael Brantley accepted Houston’s two-year, $32MM back in December, but the Braves came “very close” to matching the Astros’ offer, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports. A month after losing out on Brantley, the Braves brought back the less exciting Nick Markakis on a one-year, $6MM deal to fill their vacancy in the corner outfield. For the second straight year, Markakis, Ender Inciarte and young superstar Ronald Acuna are in line to accrue the lion’s share of playing time among Braves outfielders.
- As you’d expect, the Marlins are high on catcher Jorge Alfaro, one of the players they acquired from Philadelphia in Thursday’s blockbuster trade centering on Realmuto. Manager Don Mattingly raved about Alfaro’s arm Saturday, saying that “J.T. threw great” but “[Alfaro] throws better,” via Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Indeed, Realmuto finished second only to Alfaro in arm strength in 2018, according to Statcast, and the latter also beat out the former (and nearly every other catcher in the sport) as an overall defender, per Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average metric. But whether Alfaro succeeds offensively will help determine how well the Marlins did in this trade, of course, and Spencer points out the 25-year-old is no sure thing at the plate. Alfaro produced respectable bottom-line results from 2017-18, a 491-plate appearance span in which he slashed .275/.332/.432 (103 wRC+). At the same time, though, he struck out in nearly 35 percent percent of trips while walking just 4.3 of the time. Mattingly acknowledged that Alfaro has work to do in that area, but the skipper noted he has an “efficient” swing and improvement’s “just a matter of approach and thinking.”