Philadelphia Phillies – MLB Trade Rumors Fri, 20 Jul 2018 05:17:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Phillies Notes: Machado Talks, Other Targets Thu, 19 Jul 2018 18:43:48 +0000
  • Though many Phillies fans are disheartened to see Machado head to the Dodgers, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes that the club will remain active on the trade market. Salisbury lists Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar, another impending free agent in the midst of a strong season, as a potential target for the Phils. Escobar, 29, is hitting .271/.327/.507 with 14 homers and an MLB-leading 35 doubles to this point in the 2018 season. He’s better at third base than at shortstop but has substantial experience at both positions. On the pitching side of things, Salisbury suggests that Jeurys Familia, Felipe Vazquez and J.A. Happ could all emerge as targets for the Phils. Adding Happ could allow the team to move Vince Velasquez or Nick Pivetta to the ’pen, Salisbury adds.
    • It’s not entirely clear what the Phillies were offering in their efforts to acquire Manny Machado prior to the trade that sent him from Baltimore to L.A., but Jayson Stark of The Athletic tweets that the Orioles did “extensive background work” on right-hander Adonis Medina, outfielder Adam Haseley and left-hander JoJo Romero. Ultimately, though, the Orioles believed that the Phillies couldn’t (or perhaps weren’t willing to) match the upside that existed in headliner Yusniel Diaz, which prompted the O’s to ship Machado to the Dodgers.
    • Though many Phillies fans are disheartened to see Machado head to the Dodgers, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes that the club will remain active on the trade market. Salisbury lists Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar, another impending free agent in the midst of a strong season, as a potential target for the Phils. Escobar, 29, is hitting .271/.327/.507 with 14 homers and an MLB-leading 35 doubles to this point in the 2018 season. He’s better at third base than at shortstop but has substantial experience at both positions. On the pitching side of things, Salisbury suggests that Jeurys Familia, Felipe Vazquez and J.A. Happ could all emerge as targets for the Phils. Adding Happ could allow the team to move Vince Velasquez or Nick Pivetta to the ’pen, Salisbury adds.
    Trade Rumblings: Hand, Dodgers, Dozier, Heaney, Skaggs Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:00:10 +0000 Though the Phillies lost out to the Dodgers in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, they’re far from done looking for upgrades to their ballclub. Dennis Lin of The Athletic tweets that the club is interested in Padres reliever Brad Hand. As Lin notes, there are certainly many other clubs in competition for the lefty’s services; he’s easily one of the most talented bullpen arms in the game. As one might expect, however, San Diego’s asking price for Hand remains very high, as he can be controlled through the 2021 season at a very reasonable cost. The Yankees, Indians and Cubs are among the other teams who’ve been connected to Hand, who owns a 3.03 ERA and 13.20 K/9 on the season.

    More rumors and rumblings from around the league…

    • The Dodgers aren’t done yet, either, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports, as they’ll now pursue a reliever to help closer Kenley Jansen at the back end of their bullpen. It’s worth noting that Los Angeles will sit just a few million dollars below the luxury tax threshold following the acquisition of Machado, so any bullpen additions will likely come cheap, or send a player (such as Logan Forsythe) back to a trade partner in order to offset some of financial burden involved. In addition to Hand, Jeurys Familia, Zach Britton, Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen and Raisel Iglesias are just a few names who could be available.
    • Also in the aftermath of the Machado sweepstakes, the Brewers are left looking to acquire an infield upgrade. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that they’re expected to explore trading for Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. With Minnesota all but out of the the AL Central race already and Dozier set to become a free agent at season’s end, he makes plenty of sense as a potential trade target for the Brewers, despite a down season so far. The Brewers are also expected to explore pitching upgrades, Rosenthal adds.
    • Also from Rosenthal, the Angels aren’t likely to trade young starters Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs, despite previous reports that the club might consider doing so. The Angels see the two young southpaws as key components during a 2019 season in which they hope to contend. Rather, Rosenthal notes, the club is more interested in trading some of their relievers (he lists Jose Alvarez, Blake Parker, Cam Bedrosian and Justin Anderson), though they’d want a good enough return to justify giving up controllable players.
    Minor MLB Transactions: 7/18/18 Wed, 18 Jul 2018 15:40:40 +0000 Here are the latest minor moves from around the game, all via Matt Eddy of Baseball America unless otherwise noted:

    • A few right-handed hurlers with some MLB experience have found new homes. Casey Coleman has returned to the Cubs on a minors deal after opening the year in indy ball. He has appeared previously in parts of four MLB seasons and thrown 177 1/3 total frames at the game’s highest level, mostly for the Cubs. Coleman has a lifetime 5.72 ERA in the majors and hasn’t seen time there since 2014. Meanwhile, Mike Broadway will go to the Rays after being released by the Royals. The 31-year-old has struggled in the upper minors of late after making 25 appearances in the bigs with the Giants in 2015 and 2016.
    • Another righty, Jeff Ames, has been announced as the newest member of the Brewers organization. The 27-year-old was a sandwich-round selection in the 2011 draft but has yet to make it to the majors. He had worked to a 5.70 ERA with 12.9 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 over 23 2/3 Double-A innings this year in the Nationals organization.
    • Eddy lists a variety of players who were cut loose, none more prominent than infielder Alexi Amarista. The 29-year-old, a seven-year MLB veteran, had been with the Phillies but slashed just .238/.285/.288 in his 173 plate appearances at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Amarista has a lifetime 68 OPS+ in 702 games of MLB action, so the lack of offensive production is hardly a surprise. He’s obviously valued primarily for his glovework.
    • Also released were outfielder Rymer Liriano (Angels) and lefty Jairo Labourt (Tigers). Both were in the not-too-distant past considered intriguing enough players to make it into the majors and then bounce around a bit via waiver claims. Liriano had posted a robust .268/.343/.523 slash in his 65 games of action at Triple-A with the Halos organization. But he had not yet been given a shot at the big league level this year and will now go looking for a better opportunity elsewhere. The 24-year-old Labourt, on the other hand, only made it into five rookie ball games with the Chicago organization, recording 11 strikeouts over 5 2/3 one-hit innings but also issuing nine free passes and allowing six runs (three earned).
    Dodgers, Orioles Reportedly In Agreement On Manny Machado Trade Wed, 18 Jul 2018 05:08:37 +0000 12:08am: Michael Duarte of NBC Sports L.A. tweets that right-handed pitching prospect Dustin May, long reported to be a target of the O’s, is expected to change hands in the deal. Double-A infielder/outfielder Errol Robinson is also believed to be included, per Duarte.

    That said, Heyman casts doubt on the inclusion of May, tweeting that the Dodgers’ unwillingness to part with him was the driving factor for structuring a deal around Diaz.

    11:22pm: Heyman tweets that the players in the deal are agreed upon, though there could yet be some medical reviews to be finalized. Notably, he suggests that there are “believed to be” five minor leaguers going to the Orioles, though obviously the quality of those five will vary. It’s still unclear who, outside of Diaz, is going to the Orioles in the deal, but Heyman adds that there’s no cash changing hands in the trade. That won’t yet put Los Angeles over the luxury tax line, however. Machado is owed about $6.45MM through season’s end, and the Dodgers were about $15MM south of the luxury tax line prior to this agreement.

    9:15pm: Rosenthal tweets that Machado to the Dodgers is indeed happening. Diaz will go back to the Orioles as one of the pieces in the deal. It’s not yet clear which other players are involved or how much money (if any) the O’s are sending to the Dodgers along with Machado.

    Meanwhile,’s Roch Kubatko cautions that he hears a deal isn’t “done,” though that seems to be largely a matter of semantics. Kubatko notes that the All-Star Game has been a significant impediment to the deal’s completion. He adds that upon inquiring as to whether the deal could be completed tomorrow, one source replied: “It could have been tomorrow for the last 2 weeks.”

    While any deal can unexpectedly crumble before it’s formally announced — Baltimore axed a deal that would’ve sent Zach Britton to the Astros at the last minute last July, for instance — the overwhelming consensus at this point seems to be that Machado will be a Dodger by the time the regular season resumes on Friday.

    6:17pm: The Orioles’ return from the Dodgers is expected to consist only of prospects, Rosenthal further tweets. L.A. won’t send anyone from its Major League roster to the O’s barring a last-minute change. As such, if the Dodgers are going to move a big league asset such as Forsythe for luxury tax purposes, that’ll come in a separate trade, it seems.

    5:08pm: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that “several” other clubs who’ve been involved in the bidding are expecting the Dodgers to land Machado. The Dodgers are “increasingly likely” to acquire Machado, per Rosenthal. Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times, meanwhile, tweets that the Dodgers are believed to be close on a Machado deal.

    4:16pm: Machado tells reporters that he has not heard anything today from either the Orioles or his agent regarding a trade (Twitter link via Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times).

    12:48pm: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Dodgers are the club with the framework of a deal in place. But the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scott Lauber tweets that the Phillies are still “aggressively motivated” and optimistic of landing Machado.

    11:10am: The Dodgers have indeed offered to include Diaz, Heyman tweets.

    10:17am: Heyman provides a few more hints regarding the possible connection (Twitter links). One chip to keep an eye on is Dodgers outfielder Yusniel Diaz, he suggests. Working out the money may also mean that an expensive veteran player could head back to Baltimore in a potential deal, Heyman adds. On paper, at least, Logan Forsythe would seem the obvious player to utilize in that regard. Sending salary back to Baltimore would obviously mean that Los Angeles would need to sweeten the return.

    8:05am: The Dodgers “appear to be the leading contender” to acquire Orioles infielder Manny Machado, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter link). That said, there’s still no deal in place and Heyman adds that “the situation is fluid.”

    As we’ve traced this key trade deadline story in recent weeks, multiple teams have emerged at one point or another as supposed “favorites” or “leaders” to add Machado. All along, we’ve also heard reporters caution that many clubs aren’t yet sure just when the O’s will make a decision. And with two weeks yet to go, it’s still plausible to imagine that they’ll continue to wait.

    Thus, while Heyman says a “deal should be done this week,” he adds an important proviso (“barring turnabout”). And while this latest report indicates the Dodgers are homing in on Machado, it was reported late last night that the Phillies were surging into the lead by dangling one of their best pitching prospects.

    Before that, the Brewers were reputedly part of a trio of leaders, and Heyman tweets that the Milwaukee organization remains a possibility. He adds that the Diamondbacks — another team once deemed the favorite by some — are also still on the periphery. And who could forget that, less than a week ago, we were learning of a surprise Yankees surge. Perhaps it should not surprise if other teams manage to vault back into the conversation, too.

    There are plenty of ways to interpret all this, of course. It could be that the Dodgers are indeed lining up to get Machado. Or, maybe it’s the Phils that are doing so. Perhaps the Orioles really are preparing to strike a deal coming out of the All-Star break, a seemingly sensible approach that would avoid further injury risk. Or, it might be that the steady stream of horse racing metaphors is an indication that the Orioles are seeing how far they can push the bidding, comfortable in the knowledge that they can still move the finish line back a few more times.

    From Machado’s perspective, as Roch Kubatko of writes, it’s hard to play through the “distractions.” The longtime O’s star says he wishes he knew more about where he might be headed, but adds that VP of baseball ops Dan Duquette “has been doing a really good job of trying to keep us informed as much as he can.” Machado also gave something of a preview of his anticipated approach to free agency this coming winter, saying he’ll be looking to figure out where he and his family will be “happy” rather than maximizing his earnings.

    Report: Orioles Working Through Medicals On Machado Deal Tue, 17 Jul 2018 14:40:52 +0000 The Orioles are “going through the medicals/paperwork” in an effort to finalize an agreement with an unknown team, per’s Buster Olney (Twitter link). While the “structure of a deal [is] in place,” Olney also stresses that “this in [sic] not finished yet.”

    Despite the cautionary language, it’s obviously quite notable that the Baltimore organization has reached this point with another club. While numerous past arrangements have blown up at this stage — the O’s, especially, are notorious for finding health concerns — the exchange of medical information represents a significant step that would not take place without a clear path to a completed transaction.

    Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun had tweeted this morning that a deal was likely to be wrapped up by the end of the All-Star break. But it seems talks may be rather more advanced than that. It’d be quite a surprise, needless to say, if anything is finalized before Machado appears in his O’s uniform in today’s All-Star Game. But it now seems we’ll watch a fascinating trade situation unfold on a major stage for the game.

    We heard last night that the Phillies were coming forward with a big offer. Then, it emerged this morning that the Dodgers appeared to be the favorite. Meanwhile, it seems the Yankees are largely bowing out of the process, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

    That mix of reporting provides the most recent series of clues as to just where the Machado sweepstakes may be headed. It’s unclear which organization is best situated to land him, let alone for what package of players, but it now seems reasonable to expect that we’ll learn the answers to those questions in relatively short order.

    Phillies Considering Attempt To Acquire J.A. Happ Tue, 17 Jul 2018 04:15:24 +0000 The Phillies are at least internally weighing pursuit of Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The southpaw has emerged as one of the best rental starters available on this summer’s trade market.

    Of course, there are also a few other names we’ve seen connected to the Phillies of late, and it’s not clear that Happ is a particular priority for the rising organization. While there’s “definite interest,” per Salisbury’s source, two particular players from another division rival remain bigger targets.

    Multiple other contenders have been tied to Happ of late, as well, and it stands to reason that the Jays will let the market develop unless they’re bowled over by an offer. Happ’s recent malaise has certainly dinged his stock, though, and it seems that all involved have reason to see how his next few outings go before a deal is struck.

    The 35-year-old Happ got his start with the Phillies but spent only one full season at the MLB level with the organization. He has been quite productive in recent campaigns, but has allowed a few more home runs (1.40 per nine) thus far in 2018 than he ever has before in the big leagues.

    Ultimately, there’s value in Happ’s 109 innings of 4.29 ERA pitching this year. Looking forward, too, teams will be intrigued by the fact that he’s sporting 10.0 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9. Those numbers are backed by a career-high 10.1% swinging-strike rate and average fastball velocity that has trended up a bit over the course of the season.

    With $13MM in salary this year, Happ isn’t particularly cheap, though there are no future entanglements since he is a rental player. That’s ultimately a reasonable sum for a pitcher who carries his recent track record. Some suitors may ask the Jays to keep some of the contractual obligation, though it seems reasonable to guess that the Phils would prefer to take on the remaining salary rather than upping the prospect return. Toronto’s preferences are not really clear at this stage.

    The Phillies’ rotation has had some strong overall performances and is not exactly begging for an upgrade — particularly if Zach Eflin is able to return quickly from the DL with no ill effects, as seems to be the expectation. But depth is always key down the stretch and every game will count in a tight division race. Adding a multi-inning lefty to a possible postseason roster would surely also hold appeal.

    Latest On Manny Machado Tue, 17 Jul 2018 03:03:12 +0000 10:03pm: The Phillies “would include” young righty Adonis Medina in a deal for Machado, per’s Jon Morosi. Medina, a top-100 prospect, is a player the Orioles have long been rumored to have interest in. If he’s in the package, it could make the Phils “well-positioned” to land Machado, writes Morosi, though surely there’s still time for other organizations to boost their offers as well.

    3:55pm: The Orioles are getting “very close” to reaching an agreement on a Manny Machado trade, reports Roch Kubatko of (via Twitter). However, despite a report of a “handshake agreement” between the Orioles and Phillies by Barstool Sports, Kubatko adds that there’s no deal between the two teams in place. To the contrary, Kubatko notes that both the Brewers and the Dodgers remain involved in the Machado market. Brittany Ghiroli of agrees, tweeting that “numerous” sources tell her that rumors regarding an agreement with the Phillies are “untrue.”

    To be sure, it’d be strange for any club, especially one in the Orioles’ position, to effectively close off bidding 36 hours in advance of completing a trade when a better offer could come floating in at any time. An arrangement of that nature would come with little in the form of precedent. The inevitable Machado trade will be a franchise-altering moment for the Orioles, and cutting off negotiations this far in advance would be a downright bizarre means of going about it. By agreeing to a delayed agreement, they’d leave no room for the Dodgers, Brewers or any other club — the Yankees, D-backs, Braves, Indians and others have been involved to varying extents — to top whatever is currently being offered by the Phillies.

    That said, it’s true that the league generally frowns on news of this magnitude breaking during All-Star festivities. It’s certainly possible that both sides are optimistic about something coming together shortly after the All-Star Game, and none of this is to say that the Phils won’t ultimately come away as the “winners” of the Machado sweepstakes, so to speak. But for the time being, it’s only logical to assume that the bidding for Machado remains open as the the Orioles seek to extract the best possible package of young talent.

    Regardless of where Machado ultimately lands, the timeline depicted this lengthy saga may indeed reach its end shortly after the All-Star Game. Reports over the past week have indicated that the O’s are loath to trade Machado prior to the Midsummer Classic, where he’ll represent them in Washington D.C. as the American League’s starting shortstop. Jim Bowden of The Athletic took matters a bit further this morning, tweeting that Machado is “expected to be traded” after Tuesday’s All-Star Game and before the regular season resumes play on Friday.

    As one can imagine, the rumor cycle is beginning to wear on even Machado himself. Speaking to reporters during the media hour for today’s events, Machado said that if he is ultimately going to be traded, he “100 percent” hopes it is over with sooner rather than later (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Jayson Stark). “To not answer these questions anymore, that would be good,” said Machado. The infielder also once again acknowledged that he has “no say” in where he plays following a trade (Twitter link via Fancred’s Jon Heyman), but his preference in free agency will be to pursue opportunities where he’s able to play shortstop (Twitter link via Ghiroli).

    Phillies, Dodgers, Brewers Reportedly In Lead For Manny Machado Sun, 15 Jul 2018 19:59:20 +0000 JULY 15, 2:59pm: The Phillies, Dodgers and Brewers are indeed in the lead for Machado, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, but a source tells him “it’s too close to call” whose offer is the best. The Braves are still alive, adds Encina, who writes that “the strength of the Yankees’ offer appears to have been exaggerated.”

    2:32pm: The Yankees are still “serious” about acquiring Machado, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe hears.

    1:37pm: The Orioles continue progressing toward a deal, tweets Olney, who echoes Heyman in suggesting the Phillies, Brewers and Dodgers are the three most likely clubs to acquire Machado. Olney omits the Yankees and Indians, however.

    9:06am: The Brewers have made a “good offer” for Machado, Heyman tweets, adding that they “appear” to join the Phillies and Dodgers as the most likely landing spots for the shortstop. The Yankees and Indians are also still alive, Heyman suggests.

    JULY 14, 5:44pm: The Orioles are “definitely motivated” to get a deal done as soon as possible, Olney adds, citing an evaluator who is familiar with trade discussions.

    5:14pm: The Orioles are “making progress and narrowing their focus” in Machado trade talks, Buster Olney of ESPN tweets. The Phillies and Brewers are said to be among the finalists; it isn’t clear who the other finalist(s) might be at this time.

    1:19pm: The Phillies are “thought to be” ahead of the Yankees “and maybe most others” in the Machado derby, Heyman tweets. The Brewers, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Indians remain in the mix, though, per Heyman.

    JULY 13, 6:30pm: Rosenthal adds on Twitter that the O’s are taking a closer look at the Philadelphia farm. And Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets that there has been “some progress” between the sides

    That said, there’s some uncertainty among teams pursuing Machado as to when the O’s intend to make a decision, according to’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links). While the club is said to “have a pretty good idea what [Machado] can bring” back in a trade, it seems that some suitors are wondering if the Orioles won’t wait to act until the deadline gets closer.

    12:55pm: The Phillies have improved their offer to the Orioles for star infielder Manny Machado, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter links). In recent days, the Brewers, Dodgers and Yankees have been categorized as the favorites to land Machado. However, Rosenthal suggests that while the Dodgers and Yankees have the strongest offers on the table, the Brewers are beginning to fade from the mix, while the Diamondbacks are, at this point, “on [the] periphery” of the market.

    Regarding the Yankees’ interest in Machado, some have considered it a questionable fit given the presence of Miguel Andujar and Didi Gregorius on the roster. Rosenthal, though, echoes recent suggestions from’s Jon Morosi that it’s at least possible that Andujar could be utilized as the centerpiece of a trade to acquire a controllable piece in the rotation, thus opening a spot for Machado. There are questions about Andujar’s defense, Rosenthal notes, which is borne out in defensive ratings (-12 Defensive Runs Saved, -7 Ultimate Zone Rating).

    Suffice it to say, there are plenty of moving parts on the Machado front. Baltimore has been said to be keen on acquiring controllable starting pitching, and the Phillies have plenty of options in that regard, as do the Brewers, Yankees and Dodgers.

    It’s not yet clear what, precisely, the Phillies (or any team) is willing to offer up, though the Phils have intriguing young rotation pieces in the form of Zach Eflin and Enyel De Los Santos, each of whom has already pitched in the Majors this season (extensively so, in Eflin’s case). Right-handers Sixto Sanchez and Adonis Medina are each considered to be among the game’s top 75 or so prospects, and the Phils have a number of MLB-ready back-of-the-rotation options on the 40-man roster who could be secondary pieces (e.g. Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Drew Anderson, Mark Leiter Jr.)

    Regarding the Yankees’ scenario, while some fans would undoubtedly bristle at the very notion of moving Andujar, third base is a position of depth for the Yanks, who still have Brandon Drury as an option who could step onto the big league roster following the season, should that scenario ultimately play out. Of course, the Yankees also figure to be prominent players in the offseason market to acquire Machado this winter, and if they’re successful in that regard, Andujar would’ve potentially been viewed as an expendable piece anyhow. As ever, it’s worth emphasizing that that’s one of numerous scenarios that’s likely being kicked around at this juncture.

    As for the Brewers, they’ve previously been said to be among the most aggressive suitors, but right-hander Corbin Burnes, one of the Orioles’ targets, could prove to be a sticking point in those talks. Tom Haudircourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel took a lengthy look at the fit between the Brewers and Machado earlier today, calling him an “absolutely perfect” fit given the team’s deficiencies in the lineup — particularly at shortstop. Milwaukee, according to Haudricourt, still views struggling Orlando Arcia as its shortstop in 2019 and beyond, but Machado would give them a potentially overpowering top of the order, joining Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich, Jesus Aguilar, Travis Shaw and Eric Thames/Ryan Braun.

    Phillies, Giants Among Teams Interested In Jeurys Familia Sun, 15 Jul 2018 19:40:56 +0000 Mets soon-to-be free-agent closer Jeurys Familia is drawing trade interest primarily from National League teams, Buster Olney of ESPN reports. The Phillies and Giants are among those clubs, per Olney, who notes that Philadelphia might wait to see whether it acquires Manny Machado and Zach Britton from the Orioles before embarking on an earnest pursuit of Familia.

    Familia was one of the game’s best relievers from 2014-16, a stretch in which he pitched to a 2.20 ERA and saved 99 of 114 opportunities, but he took steps backward during an injury- and suspension-shortened 2017. The 28-year-old now looks closer to his top form, having recorded a 2.88 ERA/2.52 FIP with 9.52 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 50.5 percent groundball rate in 40 2/3 innings this season. Along the way, Familia has saved 17 of 21 opportunities for the out-of-contention Mets.

    The Phillies, as an NL East rival of the Mets, are quite familiar with Familia, and they’ve seen their bullpen turn in a middle-of-the-pack performance during a first-place season. The Phillies only lead their division by a game and a half, though, and their relievers entered Sunday 17th in the majors in ERA and 15th in fWAR. However, they have received strong production from youngsters Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos.

    The Giants, on the other hand, are out of the playoffs right now, sitting three games back of a wild-card spot and 3 1/2 behind NL West-leading Los Angeles. Statistically, the Giants’ bullpen has outdone the Phillies’, ranking 10th in ERA and an even more impressive sixth in fWAR. Familia would further strengthen a group that has seen Will Smith, Tony Watson and Reyes Moronta, among others, turn in absolutely great showings. San Francisco’s bullpen did lose closer Hunter Strickland to a fractured hand less than a month ago, but he should be back within a few weeks.

    Any team acquiring Familia would be taking on a rental, as mentioned earlier. He’s owed the balance of a $7.925MM salary.

    Phillies Notes: Eflin, MacPhail Sun, 15 Jul 2018 13:41:30 +0000
  • Emergent Phillies righty Zach Eflin has come up in Machado trade rumors, but the hurler’s now on the 10-day disabled list. The Phillies sent Eflin to the shelf Saturday with a blister on his right middle finger, per Max Goodman of Eflin indicated it’s not a serious problem, and with the All-Star break set to take up most of the upcoming week, it doesn’t seem he’ll miss much action. The 24-year-old excelled in the first half of the season with a 3.15 ERA/3.02 FIP, 8.78 K/9 and 1.83 BB/9 in 68 2/3 innings.
  • Sticking with the Phillies, president Andy MacPhail discussed the first-place team’s fast start with Goodman and other reporters Saturday, saying the club has exceeded his expectations after missing the playoffs from 2012-17. “We’re in a different situation that we anticipated, and I think we have to react accordingly,” MacPhail said. “We’re in a position where we need to augment our current group to try to preserve our place in the standings for as long as we can.” The Phillies could “augment” their club by acquiring Machado, of course. On the subject of potentially dealing for a star rental player such as Machado, MacPhail noted, “You have to have some belief that you have a chance at advancing, and those are the things you’re going to measure against the cost “
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    Rays Acquire Hoby Milner From Phillies Sun, 15 Jul 2018 01:48:39 +0000 The Rays have acquired lefty reliever Hoby Milner from the Phillies in exchange for cash considerations, the club has announced. Milner was designated for assignment by Philadelphia earlier this week. The Rays designated right-hander Ryan Weber for assignment to create roster space for Milner.

    One might have thought Milner would have a longer leash with the Phillies after his excellent rookie season with them last year. He managed a 2.01 ERA across 31 1/3 innings in 2017, though with unsightly peripherals including 6.32 K/9 against 4.60 BB/9. Furthermore, he benefited from a likely unsustainable 91.1% strand rate that helped his run prevention totals greatly.

    This season, Milner made ten appearances in the majors spanning 4 2/3 innings. He allowed four earned runs, with three of them coming in one appearance. At the Triple-A level in 2018, Milner has outpitched his peripherals much in the same manner as he did last season; he’s managed at 2.39 ERA despite a 4.78 BB/9. Again, that can partially be credited to his 87.7% strand rate. He’ll now serve as depth for the Rays, who have been known for unusual (and effective) bullpen usage this season.

    This is the second time that Weber has been designated by the Rays, with the first occasion (back in April) resulting in an outright assignment to Triple-A.  Weber has tossed just 5 1/3 MLB innings for Tampa this year, and nine Major League innings total over the last two seasons.  A groundball specialist who doesn’t miss many bats, Weber has posted a very strong 2.12 ERA over 241 2/3 career Triple-A innings.

    Latest On Manny Machado Sun, 15 Jul 2018 00:49:47 +0000 As a whirlwind of rumors continues to surround Manny Machado, suitors for the All-Star seem to fall in and out of the mix by the day, and frontrunners seem to emerge and recede like horses at the racetrack. Last we heard earlier today, the Orioles were beginning to narrow their search, with the Phillies and Brewers among the finalists. But a flurry of whispers have given the situation a slightly different outlook over the past hour. Here’s what we’ve heard…

    • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the Dodgers remain in the mix for Machado, while the Brewers and Phillies continue to be in “consistent contact” with the Orioles. The Yankees, however, reportedly seem “less involved”. Rosenthal notes that the situation is hardly predictable considering the politics of Baltimore’s front office at present. Last we heard, the Orioles were targeting Dustin May and Gavin Lux in talks with the Dodgers, neither of whom figured to be available.
    • Correspondingly, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports tweets that rival executives believe that the Dodgers will acquire Machado, though the wording of his tweet is somewhat confusing and leaves room for interpretation.
    • In talks with the Phillies, the Orioles showed some interest in recently-promoted starter Enyel De Los Santos, Jon Heyman of Fancred hears. Unsurprisingly, Philadelphia prefers not to include him (probably in part because he’s now contributing in the majors). Heyman quotes Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports as listing Adonis Medina, Jhailyn Ortiz, Ranger Suarez, Arquimedes Gamboa and Franklyn Kilome as other names of interest to the Orioles.
    • In a video for FOX Sports, Rosenthal says the Orioles would prefer to separate Machado and reliever Zach Britton in trade discussions, believing they can maximize their return by moving them in separate deals. That could be in part because the Astros (who are not likely suitors for Machado) have interest in Britton.
    Manny Machado Trade Rumors: Thursday Thu, 12 Jul 2018 22:38:15 +0000 The number of rumors surrounding Manny Machado seems to increase by the day, with the Yankees now not only joining a previously reported field of seven teams, but moving toward the forefront of the teams most prominently linked to Machado. The Dodgers, Brewers, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Braves, Indians, Cubs and Red Sox have all been at the very least linked to Machado — though Boston’s interest has been heavily downplayed, and the same is largely true of the Cubs. We’ll track today’s Machado chatter here until more significant developments arise…

    • The Dodgers, Brewers and Yankees have “separated themselves from the pack” with their current offers to the Orioles, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, though he notes that there’s no clear favorite among those three just yet. That’s largely a continuation, then, of previous rumblings surrounding Machado. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported this weekend that the Dodgers and Brewers were the two most aggressive clubs in pursuit, and Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported last night that the Yankees had emerged with a “strong” offer — though Roch Kubatko of added the important context that New York had yet to offer up pitching prospect Justus Sheffield.
    • Not only has Sheffield not been included in an offer to date, he’s been effectively made off limits entirely, per Jim Bowden of The Athletic and MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link). The Orioles, Bowden hears, “have been told [Sheffield] will not be included in any potential deal” for Machado. Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Philadelphia all remain in the mix for Machado, he adds, noting that offers are continually improving.
    • Meanwhile, Heyman writes in his latest notes column that the D-backs are definitely interested in Machado, but there’s a belief that they may ultimately end up prioritizing pitching upgrades. Unlike the top three teams linked to Machado, the Diamondbacks have a fairly thin farm system, so perhaps there’s some concern that there’ll be difficulty in adding both Machado and a meaningful upgrade to the pitching staff — though that’s just my own speculation.
    • Buster Olney and Keith Law of ESPN talk extensively about the Machado rumor mill on today’s Baseball Tonight podcast (audio link, with Machado talk beginning around 15:20). Both suggest Sheffield to be too steep a price to pay, with Law stating that he’d be “floored” to see Sheffield moved in nearly any trade — let alone for a rental — given his proximity to the Majors and the potential to develop into a viable No. 2 starter. Olney questions how strongly the Yankees are pursuing Machado, noting that it only helps the Orioles for those rumors to circulate and put pressure on other clubs. Ultimately, both feel it to be likelier that Machado lands with an NL club — with both the Dodgers and Brewers standing out as plausible destinations.
    Phillies Among Teams With Interest In Zach Britton Thu, 12 Jul 2018 13:54:58 +0000 The Phillies have joined a growing list of clubs with interest in Orioles lefty Zach Britton, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. It does not appear, however, that there’s any particular momentum toward a deal.

    Quite a few organizations surely see Britton as a potential deadline target. We’ve heard recently that the Red Sox and Yankees are among them. There has also been quite a lot of chatter surrounding the possibility that he’ll be included in a deal involving Orioles star Manny Machado, another player that the Phillies have interest in.

    There’s no reasonable way to handicap the chase for Britton at this point. After all, most contenders need relief pitching and the southpaw has a history of high-leverage excellence. He’s a rental player earning a hefty $12MM salary, which certainly limits his value but hardly means a trade can’t be sorted out.

    The real question in the pursuit of Britton is how teams will truly evaluate his present ability level. He dealt with injuries for much of last year and only recently returned from offseason surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon, meaning the recent track record is relatively thin.

    Through 13 appearances this season for Britton, there have been some worrying indications. He’s handing out about five free passes per nine innings while recording a pedestrian 7.8 K/9 and has allowed six earned runs through 12 2/3 frames. The O’s have only asked Britton to work back to back days on two occasions, and only once went to him for more than three outs, so they are handling him with some care.

    On the other hand, he’s surely still getting his feet back under him. All of the earned runs have come in just two appearances, with three of his seven walks attributed to his first time taking the hill this year. Britton’s sinker is still drawing grounders, though he’s “only” getting them at a 60.6% rate — a figure that’s well above league average but isn’t quite to par for a hurler who generated worm burners on more than three of every four balls in play for the preceding four seasons. His swinging-strike rate is up to 12.9%. Most intriguingly, Britton’s velocity has trended upward over his month of MLB action this year.

    Notably, the market is not exactly loaded with alternatives. There are some high-end lefty relievers with future control rights that might be had, but only at huge prices. The best alternative rental pieces are pitchers like Zach Duke of the Twins, Jake Diekman of the Rangers, and Jerry Blevins of the Mets, none of whom has an established ceiling nearly so lofty as Britton’s.

    Yankees Reportedly Make “Strong” Offer For Machado; Other Clubs Still In Play Thu, 12 Jul 2018 03:00:25 +0000 10:00pm: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic also hears that the Yankees’ interest in Machado is “serious,” though he describes the interest of both the Dodgers and Brewers the same way (Twitter link). The Diamondbacks and Phillies, he adds, are still “keeping in touch” regarding Machado but don’t appear to be as aggressive as the others.

    6:07pm: Roch Kubatko of reports that Sheffield is not in the Yankees’ current offer for Machado (Twitter link).

    5:53pm: The Yankees have made a “strong” offer for Manny Machado to the Orioles, tweets Fancred’s Jon Heyman. While he notes that he’s yet to receive indication that the Yankees are the favorites to land Machado, they very much look to be a serious player in the vast field of teams vying to acquire his services.

    It’s not clear just what the Yankees have put forth, though earlier today, Jon Morosi of reported that the Orioles would be willing to send Machado to the Bronx if the Yankees would be willing to part with top left-handed pitching prospect Justus Sheffield.

    Exactly where Machado would line up with the Yankees isn’t clear at the moment. The left side of the infield has been a strength in the Bronx, with Miguel Andujar stepping up as a respectable contributor at the hot corner while Didi Gregorius enjoys a solid overall season himself (even if he’s slumped since a torrid April showing). Morosi has previously speculated that Andujar could be utilized as a piece in attempting to acquire a controllable arm for the rotation, though to this point there’s no indication that that sort of multi-layered scenario is at play. It also seems unlikely that the Yankees would send Andujar to the Orioles as part of a trade to acquire a few months of Machado.

    That said, New York has slipped to 3.5 games back of the division lead in the AL East as the Red Sox have ridden an eight-game winning streak to one of their most comfortable leads in recent memory. With the Red Sox pulling away while also scouring the trade market for a significant boost to their bullpen, the Yankees could, in theory, feel that a proactive strike to upgrade the roster is prudent — even if the upgrade in question doesn’t serve to fill a glaring area of need.

    Furthermore, it stands to reason that the Yankees are unlikely to be the only club to make a formal offer to the Orioles at this point. Machado has been widely known to be available for weeks, and trade talks surrounding him reportedly began to accelerate last week. As such, it’s likely that the Yankees’ offer is one of multiple packages being mulled over by the Baltimore front office at present.

    Phillies Select Trevor Plouffe, Designate Hoby Milner For Assignment Tue, 10 Jul 2018 21:17:17 +0000 The Phillies announced a series of roster moves today, revealing that in addition to the previously reported promotion of right-handed pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos, they’ve selected the contract of Trevor Plouffe. In order to create space for both De Los Santos and Plouffe on the 40-man roster, the Phils designated left-hander Hoby Milner for assignment and moved Pedro Florimon from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL. Additionally, outfielder Dylan Cozens was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to create 25-man roster space.

    Plouffe, 32, turned in the worst season of his career between the A’s and Rays last season, hitting just .198/.272/.318 in 313 plate appearances. However, the long-time Twins third baseman has shown signs of a rebound this season in Triple-A, hitting a combined .242/.371/.488 with a dozen homers and 15 doubles through 256 PAs between the Rangers and Phillies organizations. Plouffe has extensive experience at both infield corners, and his right-handed bat has long been a thorn in the side of left-handed pitching.

    As for Milner, the lefty will be either traded, placed on outright waivers or released in the next week now that he’s been designated. The 27-year-old allowed four runs in 4 2/3 MLB innings this season but was considerably better in Triple-A, where he’d worked to a 2.39 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 4.8 BB/9 and 0.68 HR/9 with a 46.8 percent ground-ball rate. Milner has a pretty solid track record in Triple-A over the past three seasons and has multiple minor league option years remaining, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a club in need of a left-handed bullpen option take a look.

    Phillies To Promote Enyel De Los Santos Mon, 09 Jul 2018 20:58:28 +0000 The Phillies are set to promote promising young right-hander Enyel De Los Santos, as first reported by James Clark of the East Village Times (via Twitter). He’ll make his Major League debut when he starts Tuesday’s game. The promotion will require the Phillies to formally select De Los Santos’ contract, so Philadelphia will need to make a 40-man roster move, though they have a clear 60-day DL candidate in Pedro Florimon, who has already been out since May 30 due to a broken foot and has yet to begin a minor league rehab assignment.

    De Los Santos, 22, was acquired from the Padres in the offseason trade that sent Freddy Galvis to San Diego. It seemed a fairly steep price for the Padres to pay in exchange for Galvis at the time, as De Los Santos is a generally well-regarded arm and was coming off a solid 2017 season in Double-A. This season, De Los Santos entered the year ranked as the Phillies’ No. 11 prospect, per, and all he’s done since that time is elevate his stock.

    Though De Los Santos is roughly four years younger than the average player in the Triple-A International League, he’s currently sporting a league-leading 1.89 ERA through 95 1/3 innings of work. He’s averaged 8.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and 0.94 HR/9 to go along with a 42.1 percent ground-ball rate through his 16 starts, and he was recently named to the MLB Futures Game.

    Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of note in their free scouting report on De Los Santos that the righty sits 94-95 mph on his heater and can reach 97-98 mph at times. De Los Santos thrives on missed bats and weak contact with that fastball and a plus changeup, though his curveball is a less-effective third pitch and still needs work to be considered Major League average.

    De Los Santos will step into the MLB rotation for now alongside Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin and Nick Pivetta, though it’s not immediately clear if he’ll simply be making a spot start or if he’ll receive further chances beyond Tuesday’s outing while Vince Velasquez mends from a forearm contusion. The Phils are playing a doubleheader against the Mets today, and threw rookie Drew Anderson in his own MLB debut on Sunday, so their pitching mix is currently a bit jumbled.

    7 Teams Have Made Offers For Manny Machado Sun, 08 Jul 2018 17:38:10 +0000 SUNDAY: The Dodgers and Brewers are at the forefront of the Machado derby, and the Indians are also “in the mix,” Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets.

    SATURDAY: It’s possible Manny Machado’s tenure with the Orioles will come to an end as early as this weekend, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Eduardo A. Encina, who reports that seven teams have made offers for the soon-to-be free agent. The Dodgers have put forth the most enticing proposal, Encina hears, with the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Phillies, Braves, Indians and Cubs (in that order) coming in behind them. But the offers are “very close” in value, per Encina, so any of those other six clubs could leapfrog Los Angeles to land Machado prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

    Roch Kubatko of passes along slightly different information than Encina, suggesting the Indians are currently in last place among the previously mentioned seven teams in the race for Machado. Cleveland has made an offer, Kubatko reports, but a source tells him other clubs are “more active” in the sweepstakes. Interest in Machado goes beyond the seven teams mentioned, Kubatko adds, as several others have at least “checked in” on him.

    It “seems unlikely” Baltimore will deal Machado this weekend, Encina writes, but it’s all but guaranteed to happen sometime this month. After all, the Orioles (24-64) own the majors’ worst record, and they’ll either have to trade the 26-year-old Machado in the next three-plus weeks or watch him leave for draft-pick compensation in free agency. The superstar shortstop/third baseman is sure to reel in one of the richest contracts in the history of the sport once he hits the open market, and he has helped his future earning power by batting a healthy .310/.381/.560 with 21 home runs and nearly as many walks (40) as strikeouts (50) in 375 plate appearances this season.

    If the Dodgers are the team that upgrades at short with Machado this summer, it may come at the expense of either outfield prospect Alex Verdugo or young pitcher Yadier Alvarez. The Orioles have shown interest in both of those farmhands – two of the finest talents in the minors – though the Dodgers’ offers so far have not included either player, Encina relays, and Kubatko writes that LA has not made Verdugo available. Considering their wealth of offensive talent, it’s arguable the Dodgers won’t even need Machado as they seek a sixth straight National League West title and a second consecutive NL pennant. But acquiring him would still be a boon to them and a blow to the rival Diamondbacks, who lead LA by one game in the NL West and haven’t gotten high-end production from their shortstops this year.

    Like the D-backs, none of the Brewers, Phillies or Braves have fared well at short. The Indians and Cubs have, on the other hand. But Machado could be a third base solution for the Indians, who have the great Francisco Lindor at short and would be able to shift fellow superstar Jose Ramirez from the hot corner to second base to make room for Machado. In doing so, the Tribe would presumably relegate struggling second baseman Jason Kipnis to a bench role. The Cubs, meanwhile, have an impressive-looking setup at second (Javier Baez), short (Addison Russell) and third (the currently injured Kris Bryant), so it’s unclear where Machado would fit, though there has long been speculation about Russell going to Baltimore in a deal. However, Russell is under affordable control through 2020 and would be a lot to give up for a rental player – albeit one who’d serve as an upgrade for a Chicago team which trails NL Central-leading Milwaukee by 1 1/2 games.

    Phillies Notes: Merrifield, Eickhoff, Int’l Scouting Sat, 07 Jul 2018 21:56:06 +0000 Here’s the latest from the City Of Brotherly Love…

    • The Phillies have interest in Royals utilityman Whit Merrifield,’s Jon Paul Morosi reports.  Merrifield has mostly played second base in K.C. this season, though he has also seen time at first base, center field, and right field, plus he’s seen time in left field and third base in past seasons.  As Morosi notes, this makes him an ideal fit on a Phillies team that values multi-position players.  The Royals have already begun trading veterans prior to the deadline, though Merrifield would command a noteworthy price tag since he’s under team control through the 2022 season.
    • Jerad Eickhoff experienced more numbness in his fingers during a throwing session, NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury reports (Twitter link), and is undergo more tests to try and determine the problem.  Eickhoff’s last set of examinations “ruled out a lot of bad stuff” in the words of Phillies GM Matt Klentak, though it obviously isn’t a good sign that Eickhoff’s problems are continuing after another month.  Eickhoff has yet to pitch this season, initially beginning the DL due to a lat strain before his rehab was shut down by the numbness issues.
    • The Phillies have put a lot of focus on expanding their international scouting operations, including going beyond the usual set of countries to find players, The Athletic’s Meghan Montemurro writes (subscription required).  The piece includes a look at some of the international names in Philadelphia’s farm system, including Russian left-hander Anton Kuznetsov, New Zealander right-hander Kyle Glogoski, and Australian lefty Josh Tols.
    Manny Machado Trade Rumors: Friday Fri, 06 Jul 2018 22:45:30 +0000 5:45pm: If the O’s are to strike an early deal involving Machado, it seems they may not be able to do so with the Phillies. Per’s Mark Feinsand, via Twitter, the Philadelphia organization has “moved on from Machado for now, as [the] Orioles’ asking price is too high.” Of course, a change of heart on either side could take place at any moment, so there’s no reason to think the match is off the table at this early stage of the summer trade period.

    12:38pm: Though Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently reported that trade talks surrounding Manny Machado have “accelerated” this week, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that teams still aren’t offering anything close to what the Orioles are hoping to obtain for Machado. That sounds like a similar situation to the one Baltimore encountered in the offseason, when its front office sought a pair of MLB-ready rotation pieces in exchange for the final year of Machado’s contract but could not find a taker at that exorbitant price tag.

    Controllable pitching has reportedly been among the Orioles’ top priorities once again, and they’re also said to be interested in landing some type of replacement for Machado in the infield. But, with Machado set to hit free agency at season’s end, extracting multiple MLB-ready assets from a rival club is a difficult, if not borderline unrealistic goal for the Orioles.

    As Crasnick notes, the rental market, in general, has proven less fruitful for sellers in recent seasons, and talented as Machado may be, he’ll be a free agent at season’s end. While many fans have wishfully speculated about negotiating windows and extension scenarios that could prevent Machado from reaching the market, the reality is that he’s going to explore free agency in search of a record-setting contract this winter.

    [Related: MLBTR Poll — Which Team Will Land Manny Machado?]

    To that end,’s Jon Morosi wrote yesterday that the Phillies would be reluctant to part with either top prospect Sixto Sanchez or big league right-hander Zach Eflin in order to acquire Machado. While Eflin’s success in the Majors is limited — he struggled greatly in 2017 — he’s looked legitimately impressive through 63 2/3 frames so far in 2018. In 11 starts, Eflin has a 2.97 ERA with 8.9 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.71 HR/9 and a 37.1 percent ground-ball rate. His 2.90 FIP helps to support that ERA, and he’s sporting career-bests in swinging-strike rate (10.8 percent) and average fastball velocity (94.2 mph). Eflin has moved away from his two-seamer/sinker in favor of a vast increase in four-seam fastballs and sliders, and the results, to this point, have been outstanding.

    Morosi also discusses potential reluctance on Atlanta’s behalf, though it’s not clear what prompts the specific scenarios he explores; the Braves haven’t been rumored to have significant interest in Machado — to the contrary, they’re rumored to have limited funds available — and Morosi’s specification of Ian Anderson and Max Fried appears to be a purely speculative package which one source deemed too rich. (For that matter, it’s unclear why the column focuses solely on the NL East.) That shouldn’t come as any real surprise, given that the O’s weren’t able to acquire to arms of that caliber for a full season of Machado this past offseason and are now marketing just two to three months of his talents.

    Meanwhile, Fancred’s Jon Heyman writes that the Brewers have “checked in” on Machado, largely echoing Rosenthal’s previous assessment that the Brew Crew has done “due diligence” on Machado but isn’t likely to meet the Orioles’ asking price. That meshes with today’s report from Heyman, who cites a person “with Brewers ties” in stating that the Brewers check in on virtually every player available (as one would expect from contending clubs).

    Perhaps more interestingly, Eno Sarris of The Athletic recently endeavored to see just what exactly can be made of the metrics that suggest Machado’s defense at shortstop to be so unsightly (subscription link). In an excellent exploration of Machado’s glovework, Sarris notes that Machado’s season at shortstop rates among the worst ever recorded by measure of Ultimate Zone Rating. However, UZR doesn’t include plays on which a defender is shifted to the opposite side of second base. Beyond that, 80 percent of the balls hit to Machado this season have been routine plays that are made 90 to 100 percent of the time, and Machado, accordingly has converted about 97 percent of those plays.

    Subtracting the given outs and the shift plays, Sarris concludes that data suggesting Machado has been a historically bad defender is based on a matter of roughly 56 plays — and that small of a sample may not be a fair means of judging a player who is re-acclimating himself to a position he hasn’t played this frequently in more than a half-decade. Of course, there’s little evidence to suggest that Machado has been an especially good (or even average) shortstop, either, but the extent of his deficiencies remains difficult to accurately evaluate.

    East Notes: Ramos, Phillies, Wade Thu, 05 Jul 2018 18:59:19 +0000 Here are the latest notes from the game’s eastern divisions:

    • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times checks in on Rays catcher Wilson Ramos, writing that the veteran seems likely to be playing elsewhere within the next few weeks. The burly receiver acknowledges that change is likely coming, though he says his focus is on putting his head down and “trying to do my job.” Topkin notes that there’s at least an argument to be made for the Rays to consider an early deal for Ramos, as there are a few other catchers that could potentially change hands this summer. A deal seems possible at any time, though we haven’t really heard all that much to this point regarding interest in Ramos, who’s slashing a robust .291/.340/.468 with a dozen home runs through 285 plate appearances.
    • There are a pair of interesting subscription pieces in The Athletic regarding the rising PhilliesMatt Gelb examines the team’s approach to the deadline, explaining how the changing state of affairs in the NL East — particularly, the recent fall-off of the Nationals — will impact things in Philadelphia. With the Nats now needing to climb out of a significant hole, the opportunity for the Phils to take a division title could certainly increase the appeal of buy-side moves. As the article covers, third base and right field stand out as potential areas for improvement. The club could certainly always look into pitching improvements as well. Meanwhile, Meghan Montemurro documents the Phillies’ efforts to unearth talent in non-traditional countries. It’s all about maximizing limited available resources in the international realm, where the focus has long been on a few Latin American and Asian nations.
    • The Yankees will bring up Tyler Wade to take the roster spot created when Gleyber Torres hit the DL, Jack Curry of the YES Network tweets. Wade, 23, has struggled mightily in limited MLB action over the past two seasons. And he has not exactly knocked the cover off of the ball at Triple-A despite carrying good numbers there last year. As Curry notes (via Twitter), however, Wade has been much better in recent weeks. That said, the infielder likely won’t get much of a shot in his return to the majors, as Neil Walker figures to remain ahead of him on the depth chart at second base. Brandon Drury is also a potential option at second, though he has yet to play there in New York.
    Phillies Acquire International Bonus Space From Cardinals For Elniery Garcia Thu, 05 Jul 2018 16:03:42 +0000 The Phillies announced today that they have acquired international bonus pool availability from the Cardinals. In exchange, lefty Elniery Garcia heads to the St. Louis organization.

    While the value of the bonus availability isn’t known, it’ll obviously boost the Phils’ international spending capacity for the July 2nd signing period that just began. Having inked two qualified free agents, which cost $500K in international space apiece, the club only had $3,983,500 to work with at the outset.

    On the other side of the ledger, it’s no surprise to see the Cards move some dollars. Owing to prior excess spending — no longer permitted under the new signing rules — the Cardinals are not permitted to use more than $300K on any given player in this year’s class.

    As for Garcia, he has at times been viewed as a prospect of some note, even getting some organizational top-ten billing entering the 2017 campaign. But he sat out eighty games last year after testing positive for banned PED boldenone.

    Since returning, the 23-year-old has not been quite as impressive. He did not thrive in the Arizona Fall League and has struggled this season in a repeat of the Double-A level. Through 42 1/3 innings in 2018, Garcia carries a 6.38 ERA with just 6.2 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9.

    Phillies Recently Scouted Nathan Eovaldi's Start Thu, 05 Jul 2018 02:50:40 +0000
  • Evaluators from the Red Sox, Phillies, Cubs, and Braves were on hand to watch Nathan Eovaldi’s Monday start for the Rays,’s Bill Chastain writes.  Of course, several other players on the Rays or Marlins were also likely under observation, though Eovaldi represents an interesting low-cost option for teams in need of rotation help — of the teams listed, only the Cubs wouldn’t appear to be in need of starting pitching depth.  After missing all of 2017 recovering from Tommy John surgery and then missing time due to minor elbow surgery and a rib muscle strain at the beginning of this season, Eovaldi has returned to post a 3.92 ERA, 49.6% grounder rate, 7.6 K/9, and a minuscule 1.3 BB/9 rate over his first 41 1/3 frames.  He has received some significant help in the form of a .211 BABIP, a 79.6% strand rate and a .285 wOBA that is well under his .321 xwOBA, though ERA indicators (4.75 FIP, 3.59 xFIP, 3.57 SIERA) are largely in line with his real-world ERA.  Eovaldi is also averaging 97mph on his fastball.
  • ]]>
    Phillies Notes: Klentak On Deadline, Hamels Rumors Wed, 04 Jul 2018 14:32:30 +0000 Phillies GM Matt Klentak discussed his approach to the coming trade deadline with reporters including’s Todd Zolecki. He emphasized a need “to understand how we got here and why we got here, and it’s because of our young players developing not only in the minor leagues, but at the major league level.” At the same time, he said he’ll be looking to “upgrade the team in the short term or long term via trade.” The Phils’ baseball ops point man indicated that he will indeed be willing to pursue pure rental options, though the organization will also need to “make sure that whatever trades we’re contemplating are appropriately balancing now with the future.”

    • It’s still unknown just how aggressive the Phillies will be in their first season of contention under the current front office regime. The club is one of the most interesting buy-side organizations to watch. Jon Heyman of Fancred dangles one intriguing possibility, tweeting that he’s “hearing some chatter” regarding the possible pursuit of Rangers lefty Cole Hamels. That said, Heyman also notes that he’s “unsure how serious the chatter is.” The long-time Philadelphia hurler is a clear trade candidate, though his big remaining guarantee, 2019 option, and 20-team no-trade protection figure to complicate things from the Rangers’ perspective. And it’s fair to wonder if the Phillies would set their sights on a more significant addition if they try to add to their rotation.
    Manny Machado Trade Talks Have Reportedly Accelerated Wed, 04 Jul 2018 04:12:59 +0000 Though there’s still four weeks until the 2018 non-waiver trade deadline, trade talks surrounding Manny Machado have “accelerated” in recent days, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link). The Orioles, according to Rosenthal, would prefer to move Machado “sooner rather than later,” as they can extract more in a trade if the acquiring team controls Machado for three months as opposed to two months.

    To this point in the summer, the teams most connected to Machado have been the Dodgers, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Indians. The Brewers and Cubs have been more loosely tied to Machado on the rumor mill, though Rosenthal reports that while Milwaukee is doing its due diligence, the team is unlikely to meet Baltimore’s asking price.

    That, it seems, could be true of the Phillies as well.’s Todd Zolecki reports that the Phillies should be considered “longshots” in the Machado trade sweepstakes. Zolecki writes that while the Phillies “love” Machado and plan to make a serious run at him in the offseason, the team doesn’t feel itself to be one piece away from a World Series. That, of course, makes it considerably more difficult to meet what is likely a rather lofty asking price from the O’s.

    Rosenthal suggests that the D-backs and Indians could be the “most motivated” teams in the Machado market, and Zolecki, too, specifically lists the D-backs as a club likelier to acquire Machado than the Phillies.

    USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, meanwhile, tweets that the Dodgers continue to “aggressively” pursue Machado, adding that the Orioles have been scouting L.A.’s system heavily and are particularly interested in Class-A Advanced right-hander Dustin May. There’d obviously be more at play than a mere one-for-one swap, but May, a third-round pick in 2016, is generally considered to be among the Dodgers’ more promising young arms. He’s off to a strong start in 2018 as well, having pitched to a 3.18 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and a 54.1 percent ground-ball rate through 65 innings (12 starts).

    Of course, there could still be other organizations involved in discussions. Jim Bowden of The Athletic tweets that eight teams have had at least some engagement with the O’s regarding Machado within the past ten days. That would suggest that there are at least a few mystery teams hanging around the periphery of talks.

    Phillies To Sign Ryan Goins Wed, 04 Jul 2018 01:21:46 +0000 The Phillies have signed infielder Ryan Goins to a minor-league pact, per Matt Gelb of The Athletic (via Twitter). He’ll head to the team’s Triple-A affiliate.

    Goins joined the Royals over the winter after wrapping up a five-year run with the Blue Jays. He ended up seeing 41 games of action before being designated for assignment, turning in a .226/.252/.313 slash in 120 turns with the bat.

    While the thirty-year-old has long earned plaudits for his glovework, that offensive output is all too familiar. Goins is a .228/.274/.333 hitter through over fifteen-hundred MLB plate appearances.

    Shane Victorino To Sign One-Day Contract, Retire As Member Of Phillies Tue, 03 Jul 2018 17:33:06 +0000 Shane Victorino hasn’t played since the 2015 season, but the 37-year-old has now formally announced his retirement as a player to Rob DeMello of KHON-TV (Twitter link with video). He’ll sign a one-day contract with the Phillies on Aug. 3 — the date of their Alumni Weekend — to retire as a member of the organization with which he established himself as a big leaguer, per Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Shane Victorino | Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

    The “Flyin’ Hawaiian” will officially wrap up his career as a two-time World Series champion and one of the more notable success stories in the history of the Rule 5 Draft. Originally a sixth-round pick of the Dodgers back in 1999, Victorino was twice taken in the Rule 5 — first by the Padres in 2002 and again by the Phillies in 2004. While the Padres returned Victorino after a rough stretch of 86 plate appearances, the Phillies stuck with him and were handsomely rewarded for their faith.

    Victorino went on to make two All-Star teams, win three Gold Gloves and hit a postseason grand slam off CC Sabathia in 2008 that will forever be remembered by Phillies fans. He batted .279/.345/.439 in total over parts of eight seasons with the Phils, hitting 88 homers, 181 doubles and 63 triples along the way. Victorino was also both prolific and efficient when it came to stealing bases, swiping 179 bags in 218 tries as a member of the Phillies (82.1 percent success rate).

    Victorino’s time with the Phillies came to a close in 2012, when he was traded back to the Dodgers just prior to the non-waiver deadline on July 31. That swap didn’t bring about a return to the postseason for Victorino, but the three-year, $39MM contract he signed with the Red Sox in the subsequent offseason did.

    While some raised an eyebrow at the contract given Victorino’s pedestrian 2012 season, he more or less justified the entire investment in year one of the deal by turning in one of his best seasons and playing a significant role in Boston’s 2013 World Series championship. Victorino hit .294/.351/.451 with 15 homers and 21 steals for the Sox that season while playing some of the best outfield defense in all of baseball as Boston’s primary right fielder. And while he didn’t have an overly productive postseason that year, his bases-clearing double against Michael Wacha in the decisive Game 6 and a later RBI single played a huge role in sealing the victory.

    Over the next two seasons, Victorino’s bat faded, and his final big league appearances came during a short run with the Angels following a trade in July 2015. He went on to play with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate in 2016 but hasn’t suited up in either the Majors or the Minors since that May.

    In the end, Victorino will retire as a lifetime .275/.340/.425 hitter over the course of 12 seasons and 5164 plate appearances at the game’s top level. He hit 108 homers, stole 231 bases, scored 731 runs and knocked in another 489 as a big leaguer, taking home three Gold Gloves, two All-Star nods and a pair of World Series rings. Baseball-Reference pegs his career at a strong 31.6 wins above replacement, while Fangraphs credited him with 29.6 WAR. Along the way, Victorino earned more than $65MM while staking a legitimate claim to being the best position player to ever hail from his home state. Congrats to the Flyin’ Hawaiian on a terrific career and what will surely be a fitting way to formally bring it to a close.

    Notable International Prospect Signings Mon, 02 Jul 2018 16:12:59 +0000 With the 2018-19 international signing period kicking off today, there will be dozens of six- and seven-figure bonuses handed out to teenage prospects, primarily out of Latin America, filtering in throughout the day today. Many of these have been in the works for quite some time, as is reflected by the fact that most of the top players’ destinations and signing bonuses have been previously reported/projected (and by the fact that the top agreements will all be reported in one swift avalanche today).

    We’ll keep track of the notable National League signings here and the notable American League signings in a separate post. Note that you can read up on each of these players with the dedicated international coverage available from Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required), Jesse Sanchez of and Kiley McDaniel & Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, each of whom has scouting info on the top echelon of international amateurs. Badler is also tracking the all of the signings from all 30 teams.

    Onto some of the more notable signings…

    Read more

    International Notes: Twins, Phillies, Cardinals Mon, 02 Jul 2018 01:10:27 +0000 With the new international signing period set to begin tomorrow, Jesse Sanchez of has compiled some of the most pertinent details for fans interested in following the frenzy to come. As always, an international player is eligible to sign with any MLB team if he is 17, or will turn 17 by the end of the first year of his contract.  The Reds, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, Athletics and Rays have the most money to spend during the upcoming year; each can spend $6,025,400 in the market. Eight teams (the Athletics, Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Padres, Reds and White Sox) incurred the maximum penalty from overages during the previous signing period, and as such, those clubs will not be able to sign any individual player for greater than $300K. Sanchez also notes a few players who seem to already have agreements in place with MLB teams, though obviously those deals cannot become official until after midnight.

    A few more notes on the international market headed into tomorrow…

    • The Twins look likely to land Venezuelan center fielder Misael Urbina, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports. Urbina should earn a bonus north of $1.5MM, but he’s not the only player who appears to have a deal in place with the club. Berardino adds that Dominican shortstop Felix Rosa and Venezuelan outfielder Alexander Pena seem likely to sign with Minnesota for about $200K apiece, pending the outcomes of their physicals. Baseball America ranks Urbina tenth on its international prospects list for the 2018-2019 signing period, noting his compact swing, high energy and intensity, and his above-average arm. Rosa and Pena both rank outside BA’s top 50.
    • Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports reports that the Phillies have deals in place with at least four international prospects, most notably Dominican hurler Starlyn Castillo. Castillo checks in at number 16 on Baseball America’s international prospects list, giving special credit to his physically mature frame and ability to touch 97 MPH on the radar gun even before his 16th birthday.
    • Without giving anything away in terms of specifics, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets that the Cardinals are expected to land an international prospect for a $300K bonus as early as tomorrow. Goold adds that the Redbirds have been connected to Cuban third baseman Malcolm Nunez, Venezuelan hurler Jesus Rojas, and Venezuelan catcher Diego Velasquez.
    Olney: Phillies Are Buyers Sun, 01 Jul 2018 16:07:50 +0000
  • The Red Sox and Braves are among other contenders that could be in the market for bullpen help, according to Olney. In Boston’s case, Olney notes that it may take on a high-priced reliever from another team in a salary dump, thanks to its thin farm system. The Braves, meanwhile, don’t have the spending ability of clubs like the Red Sox and division-rival Phillies, but they are set to act as buyers as they seek their first playoff berth since 2013. Philadelphia, which hasn’t clinched a playoff berth since 2011, will also buy, Olney relays. Entering Sunday, the Braves (47-34) lead the Phillies (44-37) by three games for the NL East lead, but the latter is in possession of a wild-card spot at the moment.
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    Phillies Place Vince Velasquez On DL, Activate Pat Neshek Sun, 01 Jul 2018 14:27:55 +0000 The Phillies announced a series of roster moves Sunday, including sending right-hander Vince Velasquez to the 10-day disabled list and activating reliever Pat Neshek from the DL. Additionally, the club recalled righty Jake Thompson from Triple-A Lehigh Valley and optioned left-hander Zac Curtis.

    Velasquez is headed to the shelf after suffering a right forearm contusion in a start against the Nationals on Saturday. The injury came as a result of a line drive Velasquez took off the bat of the Nats’ Adam Eaton (video here). Before landing on the DL, Velasquez racked up 88 1/3 innings across 17 starts and pitched to an underwhelming ERA (4.69), though the hard-throwing 26-year-old managed 10.9 K/9 against 3.46 BB/9 and earned favorable reviews from FIP (3.81), xFIP (3.66) and SIERA (3.55).

    With the Phillies currently in possession of a wild-card spot, the loss of Velasquez will be a blow to a rotation that has been among the majors’ most effective units this year. The club’s bullpen hasn’t been a lights-out group, on the other hand, but the addition of Neshek should help matters.

    Neshek divided 2017 between Philadelphia and Colorado, the latter of which acquired him last summer, and posted a pristine 1.59 ERA with 9.96 K/9 against .87 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings. The Phillies then reunited with Neshek in the offseason on a two-year, $16.25MM contract, but he hasn’t pitched for the club since securing that pact. The 37-year-old had been dealing with shoulder and forearm issues dating back to March, though he’s now finally set to rejoin Philly’s bullpen as the team seeks its first playoff berth since 2011.

    Phils Considered A Co-Favorite For Manny Machado Sat, 30 Jun 2018 19:49:23 +0000 A recent report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale characterized the Dodgers as the early favorite to acquire Manny Machado, and Fancred’s Jon Heyman adds the Phillies to the forefront of the race as well, citing an Orioles-connected source.  Another source with connections to the Phils “suggested they are not amenable to trading their very top pitching prospects like Sixto Sanchez,” though Philadelphia is deep in minor league talent and could put together a package that doesn’t include their top pitching prospect.

    Phillies, Royals Have Discussed Mike Moustakas Sat, 30 Jun 2018 01:41:04 +0000 The Phillies and Royals have held at least preliminary trade talks involving Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The level of interest is not entirely apparent and there’s no indication at this point that the sides are nearing an agreement. But the K.C. scouting department is said to be taking a look at the Phillies system to identify targets.

    With a $5.5MM salary this year and $1MM buyout on a 2019 mutual option, Moustakas is an affordable target. Of course, that’s probably not the chief concern for the Phils, who have been much more willing to burn money than prospect capital of late. In recent years, the club has placed numerous hefty salaries onto its payroll, but in most cases hasn’t packaged significant young talent or taken on long-term financial commitments.

    The Philadelphia organization unquestionably has the assets to get Moustakas; what’s not yet clear is whether he’s really the player they want. Firmly in the picture in the National League East, the Phillies are said to be a possible pursuer of top summer trade candidate Manny Machado — a player they may also covet in free agency at season’s end. The club has also been connected to Rangers third bagger Adrian Beltre.

    Moustakas, 29, has trailed off at the plate of late after surging to open the year. Still, his .255/.310/.467 slash and 15 home runs through 332 plate appearances fall right in line with his composite work from the prior three campaigns. He has perhaps even been a bit unfortunate; while his .255 BABIP is in line with his unusually low career rate, Moustakas is credited by Statcast with a .383 xwOBA that greatly exceeds his .325 wOBA.

    There’s not much mystery at this point as to Moustakas’s profile. He’s got excellent power, middling on-base ability, and not-insignificant platoon splits (which have widened this year). Defensively, he has graded out as a positive this year, but he has mostly played within range of average over his career.

    It’ll be interesting to see how the deadline plays out for the Phillies. There are lots of possibilities, both at the hot corner and elsewhere on the roster. As Salisbury indicates, the team may well not show much interest in parting with top prospects to make deals. But few, if any, clubs in baseball can match the Phillies in near and long-term financial flexibility, opening numerous creative avenues to improve a roster that has already looked solid through the season’s halfway point.

    Latest On Manny Machado Thu, 28 Jun 2018 01:35:52 +0000 Manny Machado will be the most oft-discussed player in baseball from now until the point that he’s ultimately traded, and Orioles general manager Dan Duquette said for the second time this month that interest in the free-agent-to-be is greater than it was when the O’s made him available in the offseason (link via Roch Kubatko of

    “There are some teams that are in the market for help on the left side of the infield and some are looking for a shortstop and some are looking for a third baseman,” said Duquette. The asking price on Machado, of course, figures to be fairly steep — and the sheer volume of teams who could show interest can only help the Orioles. Kubatko notes that controllable starting pitching is a known priority for the Orioles, as is finding a potential replacement for Machado.

    Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that, among the teams with interest in Machado, the Dodgers are perceived by some in the industry as the favorites to land Machado. Los Angeles has gone 26-10 to surge back up the ranks in the National League West, and they’ve done so without the benefit of star young shortstop Corey Seager, whose season ended back in May when he required Tommy John surgery. Machado could step into that void, of course, and provide a massive upgrade at the plate while freeing Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez to bounce around the diamond.

    Per Nightengale, the O’s have placed a heavy focus on scouting the Dodgers’ minor league system. However, there are numerous other clubs at least keeping tabs on Machado, per the report, including the Phillies, the Diamondbacks and the Cardinals. There’s also industry speculation that the NL Central-leading Brewers could jump into the mix, given their aggressive offseason, an expected tight race in the division and the struggles of Orlando Arcia. And, of course, other clubs could yet emerge as potential suitors. The Angels, for instance, learned today that they’ve likely lost Zack Cozart for the rest of the year due to a torn labrum in his left shoulder that will require surgery.

    One of those clubs, the Diamondbacks, has a particularly compelling case to add Machado to its ranks, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic explores. With A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin up for free agency following the season and Paul Goldschmidt only controlled through 2019, Piecoro argues that the Diamondbacks will never have a better chance to win with this core of players than they do right now. The front office has already been aggressive in acquiring Brad Boxberger, Jon Jay and Steven Souza Jr. (even if that move has yet to pay dividends), and it would indeed seem curious to take the metaphorical foot off the gas pedal now.

    The Machado sweepstakes, clearly, will be one of the more intriguing storylines to follow this summer and again in free agency. There’s no clear timetable for when a trade might come together, but Duquette didn’t mince words when acknowledging that his club has “declared as sellers” and suggesting that there’s a “more defined” market for Machado this time around. Nightengale does note, though, that one Orioles exec predicted that based on the manner in which the market is coming together, it’s possible that Machado could be moved before the All-Star break.

    Phillies Place Edubray Ramos On DL, Recall Hector Neris Mon, 25 Jun 2018 20:43:47 +0000 The Phillies announced Monday that they’ve placed right-hander Edubray Ramos on the 10-day disabled list due to a right shoulder impingement and recalled Hector Neris in his place.

    The loss of Ramos is a significant hit to the Philadelphia relief corps, as he’s somewhat quietly been one of the most effective relievers in the National League this season. Through 29 innings, he’s worked to a pristine 1.24 ERA with a healthy 9.9 K/9 mark against 3.1 BB/9 and 0.62 HR/9. Ramos is an extreme fly-ball pitcher (45.1 percent in 2018), but he’s nonetheless proven adept at limiting homers in his big league career. Through 126 2/3 innings, he’s yielded just 11 homers (0.78 HR/9). There’s no indication to this point just how long Ramos is expected to remain sidelined, but certainly any shoulder injury is cause for concern with a pitcher.

    Neris, meanwhile, will return to the club just a week after being optioned. He tossed a pair of scoreless innings for the Phillies’ top affiliate in Lehigh Valley, and the team will hope that his abbreviated demotion will help to get the struggling righty back on track. Neris opened the season as the Phillies’ closer and has been an important bullpen piece for the team dating back to 2015. However, after three strong seasons in which he ascended from middle-relief work to a setup role and eventually the team’s closer, he’s struggled immensely in 2018.

    This season, Neris has been clobbered for a 6.00 ERA, and while his 11.7 K/9 mark and 17.6 percent swinging-strike rate are excellent, he’s been the most homer-prone reliever in the National League this season. In just 27 innings, Neris has served up eight long balls.

    In addition to the bullpen maneuverings, the Phillies also announced that they’ve reinstated infielder Jesmuel Valentin from the paternity list and optioned fellow infielder Mitch Walding back to Lehigh Valley in a corresponding move.

    Padres Interested In Maikel Franco Sun, 24 Jun 2018 13:43:27 +0000 The Padres have interest in Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (video link). A deal may not be easy to swing, though, as Rosenthal notes that the Phillies would have to acquire a third baseman or a shortstop from elsewhere in order to move Franco.

    Franco, now 25, garnered hype as a prospect and made good on that as a rookie in 2015, when he slashed .280/.343/.497 with 14 home runs in 335 plate appearances. He hasn’t been anywhere near that effective since, however, as he has offered below-average production in each season dating back to 2016. In 229 trips to the plate this year, Franco has hit .255/.297/.425 – nearly matching his lifetime line of .248/.300/.426 – with nine homers.

    With a .230/.300/.498 line and 16 HRs in 230 PAs this season, Padres rookie third baseman Christian Villanueva has been better than Franco in the aggregate. But the 27-year-old Villanueva has gone backward in each month of the season, having posted a wRC+ of 199 in April, a 74 mark in May and a paltry 53 this month. Given Villanueva’s struggles and their lack of obvious third base solutions in general, it’s understandable that the Padres are seeking help there, even though they’re 35-44 and well out of playoff contention. Franco could be a multiyear solution for San Diego if it acquires him and he turns his career around, as he’s arbitration eligible through the 2021 campaign.

    Despite the subpar production of Franco and other left side infielders Scott Kingery and the injured J.P. Crawford, the Phillies boast a 41-33 record and own a 1 1/2-game lead over the Dodgers for the NL’s second wild-card spot. They’re also in contention in the NL East, trailing the division-leading Braves by just 1 1/2 games. As such, it seems the Phillies are on track to buy as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches. If they do bolster the left side of their infield before then, it could come in the form of Orioles shortstop/third baseman Manny Machado or one of the other high-end third basemen likely to be available – the Royals’ Mike Moustakas, the Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson or the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre (who has drawn Philly’s interest).

    Should the Phillies land one of those players or other infield help, it could open the door for Franco to head to San Diego. The Phillies may package him with other talent in order to acquire relief help from the Padres, Rosenthal notes. The Padres’ bullpen has been a significant bright spot this year, which has led to interest in relievers such as Brad Hand, Kirby Yates and Craig Stammen. Hand, the closer and the best of the Padres’ relievers, would garner the largest return. The Padres reportedly want a “young everyday player” back for him, and while Franco fits that description, there’s little doubt Philly would have to surrender additional talent for San Diego to give up Hand.

    Pat Neshek Begins Rehab Assignment Sun, 24 Jun 2018 03:30:26 +0000
  • Phillies reliever Pat Neshek began a rehab assignment at the Single-A level Saturday, though it’s still not known when he could return to the majors, Kyle Melnick of relays. After Neshek enjoyed an excellent season between Philly and Colorado in 2017, the Phillies brought him back on a two-year, $16MM deal over the winter. But shoulder and forearm injuries have prevented the 37-year-old from taking the mound this season.
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    Phillies Sign Danny Espinosa To Minor League Deal Fri, 22 Jun 2018 17:51:57 +0000 The Phillies announced that they’ve signed veteran infielder Danny Espinosa to a minor league contract. The MVP Sports client will give the Phils some additional infield depth following this week’s injury to J.P. Crawford, who is expected to miss up to six weeks due to a broken hand.

    Espinosa, who turned 31 back in April, has now been with seven different organizations since Opening Day 2017. The longtime Nationals infielder opened the 2017 season as the Angels’ second baseman but was released by the Halos last July. Since that time, he’s had brief stints with the Rays, Mariners, Yankees, Blue Jays and Dodgers (though he only appeared in the Majors with Tampa Bay and Seattle).

    The switch-hitting Espinosa has had a rough go of it so far in 2018, hitting a combined .190/.236/.276 through 125 plate appearances between the Triple-A affiliates for the Dodgers and Blue Jays. That’s served as a continuation of last season’s .173/.245/.278 slash through 295 Major League plate appearances between the Angels, Rays and Mariners. Espinosa did hit 24 homers as recently as 2016 with the Nationals and is considered to be a strong up-the-middle defender, but his bat has become increasingly questionable in recent seasons.

    Adrian Beltre Drawing Trade Interest Thu, 21 Jun 2018 23:21:22 +0000 Both the Phillies and Indians have varying levels of interest in Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, reports Jon Morosi of Philadelphia’s interest is portrayed a bit more strongly in the report, whereas Morosi writes that “[a]t least some within the Indians organization would like to acquire Beltre,” who is familiar with skipper Terry Francona from the 2010 season with the Red Sox.

    The Rangers’ stance as sellers on this summer’s trade deadline has been clear for weeks. Texas currently sits 12 games below .500 and an insurmountable 18 games out of first place in the American League West. They’re a similarly daunting 14.5 games out of the American League Wild Card chase.

    While trade interest in Beltre figures to pick up as the deadline draws nearer, it’s not yet clear whether the 39-year-old Beltre will waive his 10-and-5 rights, which allow him to veto any trade scenario with which he is presented. Certainly, there’s a logical case to be made that given his age, Beltre would prefer to go somewhere with a chance to win a World Series ring. At the same time, he’s been with the Rangers since 2011 and undoubtedly has a comfort level with his teammates, the coaching staff, the city and Rangers fans. He’s earning $18MM this season — with approximately $9.77MM of that sum still owed to him through season’s end.

    For the Phillies, it’s not difficult to see the appeal Beltre brings to the organization. Philadelphia third baseman have posted a lackluster .235/.300/.399 batting line so far in 2018, and their third basemen have been seven runs below average in the field according to both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved. There’s been little in the way of value provided from either Maikel Franco or J.P. Crawford, the latter of whom just went on the disabled list for up to six weeks after incurring a broken hand when he was hit by a pitch two days ago.

    The Indians, meanwhile, have a less obvious need, considering the brilliance of Jose Ramirez, who has broken out as a full-fledged superstar over the past two seasons. Ramirez is hitting a ridiculous .291/.391/.611 with 22 homers, 20 doubles, a triple and 10 steals (in 12 tries) while playing strong defense at third base. However, Ramirez is also a more-than-capable second baseman, and the Cleveland organization has received virtually no production at that position from former star Jason Kipnis (.208/.282/.328 in 295 plate appearances). Acquiring Beltre would allow Cleveland to shift Ramirez to second base.

    Clearly, Beltre isn’t the player that he once was. But the future Hall of Famer has still notched an impressive .302/.357/.428 slash with three homers, nine doubles and a triple so far through 182 plate appearances. However, he’s also had a pair of DL stints this season due to hamstring strains and has begun to see more time at designated hitter as a means of keeping his legs healthier. That could limit some of his appeal to an NL club such as the Phillies, though with Crawford, Franco and Scott Kingery on the roster, the Phils have the depth to rest Beltre a couple of times per week should they deem it necessary.

    J.P. Crawford Out Four To Six Weeks With Fractured Hand Wed, 20 Jun 2018 14:01:53 +0000 June 20: The Phillies have formally placed Crawford on the 10-day disabled list. Infielder Mitch Walding has been recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley for his second stint with the Phillies in 2018.

    June 19: Phillies shortstop/third baseman J.P. Crawford suffered a broken left hand upon being hit by a pitch in tonight’s game, tweets’s Todd Zolecki. He’ll be out for the next four to six weeks as he recovers from the injury.

    The 23-year-old Crawford, a former first-round pick and long one of the game’s top prospects, has struggled to this point in 2018, hitting just .194/.312/.333 with a pair of homers, five doubles, a triple and two steals (in two attempts). He’d already missed a bit more than a month with a forearm strain and now, unfortunately, is headed for another prolonged absence.

    With Crawford back on the shelf, the Phillies will likely give Maikel Franco and Scott Kingery regular at-bats on the left side of the infield. Franco has recently been relegated to a part-time role but voiced a desire to remain with the organization in spite of his reduced playing time. Now, with Crawford sidelined, he’ll likely get another opportunity to prove that he’s capable of emerging as the regular, middle-of-the-order presence the Phils envisioned when he, too, was considered one of the game’s elite prospects.

    Of course, an injury on the left side of the infield only figures to further fuel speculation about the Phils making a run at the Orioles’ Manny Machado. Phillies president Andy MacPhail, GM Matt Klentak and assistant GM Ned Rice have all previously worked in the Orioles’ front office, and the Phillies have received scarce production from the entire left side of their infield as a whole.

    That said, there’s been little beyond speculation connecting the two sides since the offseason, and there’ll be no shortage of other clubs showing significant interest in Machado. Realistically, given the lackluster production from the combination of Crawford, Franco (.243/.288/.416) and Kingery (.222/.278/.335), Crawford’s injury may not even move the needle much as far as the team’s interest in Machado; the club was already receiving poor enough output that it’d be logical to expect them to explore the possibility of a Machado acquisition with or without a healthy Crawford in the fold.

    Phillies Option Hector Neris Mon, 18 Jun 2018 19:19:45 +0000 The Phillies announced that they’ve optioned right-hander Hector Neris to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and selected the contract of lefty Austin Davis from Double-A Reading. Neris has spent the better part of the past two seasons serving as Philadelphia’s closer.

    While Neris was dominant in a setup role in 2016 and pitched similarly well in his first season as the Phillies’ closer in 2017, the 2018 campaign has been disastrous for the 29-year-old. His season-long struggles culminated yesterday in a meltdown that saw Neris yield four runs on four hits, including two homers, in just two-third of an inning.

    That latest hiccup sent Neris’ ERA soaring to an even 6.00, though his struggles have been ongoing for a considerably longer period of time; Neris has been scored upon in five of his past eight appearances and in nine of his 30 games pitched on the season overall.

    The demotion will provide Neris with a lower-pressure setting in which to work to correct his struggles, and service time won’t be a consideration with regard to determining the length of his stay in Lehigh Valley. Neris entered the year with two years, 104 days of Major League service, so he’s already cleared three years of service time and remains on track to be arbitration-eligible following the current season. He’ll still be controllable through the 2021 campaign, regardless of whether his optional assignment lasts for three weeks or three months.

    It’s not clear who the Phillies will utilize as their closer in the interim. Seranthony Dominguez, Edubray Ramos and Victor Arano would each figure to be among the leading candidates, as they’ve all been dominant so far in 2018. If the Phillies prefer to save those tantalizing arms for higher-leverage spots while turning to a more veteran option to enter with the bases empty in the ninth inning, though, Tommy Hunter is on hand to potentially fill that role.

    Phillies Place Luis Garcia On 10-Day DL, Recall Thompson, Rios Sat, 16 Jun 2018 20:41:23 +0000 The Phillies have placed right-handed reliever Luis Garcia on the 10-day disabled list. Amidst the shuffle, the club also recalled fellow right-handers Jake Thompson and Yacksel Rios, while optioning another right-hander, Mark Leiter Jr., to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The moves were announced by the club’s media account on Twitter.

    Though Garcia enjoyed a significant breakthrough last season by posting a 2.65 ERA to go with an impressive 56.3% ground ball rate last season, he hasn’t managed to build on that so far in 2018. The 31-year-old’s 4.74 ERA through 24 2/3 innings is an eyesore, while that fantastic ground ball rate has also dropped nearly seven points. That’s also with a .279 BABIP taken into consideration, which is well below the league average.

    Thompson hasn’t had much opportunity with the Phillies this year, and hasn’t exactly impressed in limited action. The young gun has allowed a whopping seven earned runs in just 8 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Last season, Thompson posted a 3.88 ERA while pitching mostly as a starter, but his 5.92 FIP indicates that he was more than just a bit lucky.

    As for Rios, there seems to be some reason for optimism surrounding his potential. His 5.29 ERA is a bit ugly, but he’s managed to limit opposing hard contact to 28.8% in his 17 innings on the year thus far. His 9.53 K/9 is certainly worthy of some attention, while his 3.71 BB/9 is at least passable. Rios has also suffered from a .400 opponent BABIP, a number which is likely to regress to the mean.

    Though he made 11 starts for the Phillies last year, Leiter’s pitched exclusively out of the bullpen both in the majors and minors this season. He’s managed to strike out nine batters in eight innings across his four appearances; all four of those appearances saw him retire at least five hitters. Leiter also allowed four earned runs on two walks and eight hits, including two homers.

    NL East Notes: Marlins, Nationals, Franco Sat, 16 Jun 2018 16:25:54 +0000 Though the Marlins made a few headline-worthy changes in the front office following the franchise’s transfer of ownership to Derek Jeter and company, there wasn’t a dramatic overhaul right away. Instead, as FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman notes, the club is “experiencing turnover as they go; it’s happening organically, and perhaps uncomfortably in a couple cases.” Director of player development Gary Denbo is reportedly “appalled by much of what he sees” as he surveys the Marlins system and attempts to turn the franchise around. Denbo’s primary focus is accountability; it’s reported that within the old regime, decisions could “come from anyone,” and weren’t always made by the person who is accountable for them. “We’re hoping to develop a sense of urgency to become the best organization in baseball. That is the objective,” said Denbo. Though he’s reportedly ruffled a few feathers, perhaps that’s acceptable considering the Marlins have put up a losing record every year since 2009.

    A few other items from around the NL East…

    • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic sat down for a Q&A with Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long. Among the highlights are rookie Juan Soto; Long raves about his “tight”, “compact” and “connected” swing along with his plate discipline). “I can go on and on about this kid. His routine is flawless. He came in and knew exactly what he wanted to do. I was like, ‘Wow.’ He’s at ease. He’s confident.” Long also discusses Bryce Harper’s relative struggles as well as Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton and the fly-ball revolution.
    • In a separate piece, Rosenthal notes at one point that the Nationals are attempting to add one starter and one reliever (according to his sources). With the recent placement of Stephen Strasburg and Brandon Kintzler on the DL and Jeremy Hellickson still recovering from a hamstring strain, pitching is thin for Washington outside of Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez.
    • “It feels as if Maikel Franco is being phased out,” writes Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports. While it’s (somewhat) worth noting that Phillies management has denied this, Franco has been relegated to a part-time role after enduring continued struggles to get on base this season; struggles he doesn’t particularly make up for in any other way. Clearly this hasn’t been lost on Franco, who is aware of the circumstances. “I understand what’s happening right now,” he said on Sunday morning. “I understand what the manager is trying to do with everybody. I know the situation.” Rookie J.P. Crawford has been getting looks at third base, and the team is also looking for a positional home for Scott Kingery. Franco owns a .233/.281/.408 slash line since the start of 2017.
    Phillies To Sign First-Round Pick Alec Bohm Mon, 11 Jun 2018 22:40:27 +0000 MONDAY: Bohm’s agreement is “done,” Heyman tweets, and will come in at $5.85MM.

    FRIDAY: The Phillies have agreed to a bonus amount with top draft choice Alec Bohm, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). When the deal is finalized, Bohm is expected to receive a bonus in the range of $6MM.

    Bohm went to Philadelphia with the third overall pick, which comes with a $6,947,500 slot allocation. His agreed-upon amount, then, will leave the club with an additional $1MM or so with which to sign other draftees.

    A third baseman from Wichita State, Bohm was widely tabbed as a top-ten draft prospect entering the festivities. The Fangraphs prospect evaluators were highest on him, rating him third on their board, while’s Keith Law graded him at #5 and and Baseball America both placed him seventh.

    All agree that Bohm is a top-flight hitting prospect, as he delivers both impeccable plate discipline and substantial raw power. There’s some disagreement, though, as to whether he’ll be able to remain at the hot corner in the long run given his big frame. Fangraphs believes he “has the hands, arm, and athleticism to handle third,” while is significantly less bullish on his tools in the field.

    Maikel Franco's Time In Philly Could Be Running Out Sun, 10 Jun 2018 20:58:05 +0000
  • Third baseman Maikel Franco has lost his grip on an everyday job, the latest sign that his days with the Phillies may be numbered, Todd Zolecki of observes. Franco and fellow third base options J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery have each offered poor production this year, so the Phillies may seek an outside solution at the hot corner by the deadline and/or in the offseason, posits Zolecki, who suggests that Franco could be dealt thereafter. For now, even though Franco’s not accustomed to a part-time role, the 25-year-old tells Zolecki that he’s trying to make the best of it. Regardless of whether Franco sticks with the Phillies, the career .247/.299/.425 hitter has two more arbitration-eligible seasons remaining after this one.
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