Philadelphia Phillies – MLB Trade Rumors Wed, 18 Apr 2018 17:06:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Tommy Hunter On Pace To Return This Week Sat, 14 Apr 2018 21:14:28 +0000
  • Tommy Hunter will participate in a game at the Phillies’ extended Spring Training camp today, though manager Gabe Kapler told reporters (including NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury) that the team would see how Hunter felt afterwards before deciding whether he needed one more rehab outing or not.  Hunter suffered a hamstring strain in late March and has yet to make his debut in a Phillies uniform.  The club signed Hunter to a two-year, $18MM free agent deal in the wake of his very strong 2017 season with the Rays.  Even if Hunter requires one more outing, he is likely to be activated sometime this week, provided there aren’t any health setbacks.
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    Pivetta Impressing Phillies Early In Season Fri, 13 Apr 2018 17:04:04 +0000
  • Phillies righty Nick Pivetta has somewhat quietly been one of the team’s biggest surprises of the year thus far, as Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia observes. The right-hander spoke after his most recent quality outing about how last year’s struggles — a 6.02 ERA in 133 innings — have helped prepare him for better success in 2018. “I worked hard with [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] and everybody not trying to be so perfect in the strike zone,” said Pivetta. “I think that really has carried over this year and it’s been good so far.” Manager Gabe Kapler praised Pivetta for improving his concentration level since the beginning of Spring Training, his willingness to attack up in the zone with his fastball and his ability to throw his curveball for a strike when needed.
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    Maikel Franco Switches Agencies Sat, 07 Apr 2018 22:56:10 +0000 Phillies third basman Maikel Franco has switched agencies and is now a client of Octagon Sports, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports (Twitter link).

    Although he’s still just 25 years old, this may be a make-or-break season in Philadelphia for Franco, who has batted an underwhelming .248/.301/.428 (91 wRC+) through 1,663 plate appearances since debuting in 2014. Franco was outstanding as a rookie in 2015, when he hit .280/.343/.497 (129 wRC+) across 335 PAs and looked like a long-term core piece for Philly. He struggled during the two ensuing seasons, however, and is now fighting to stay relevant for a Phillies team that may have a replacement on hand in 23-year-old infielder/outfielder Scott Kingery, whom they signed to a long-term contract last month. Kingery landed his deal before ever logging a major league at-bat, demonstrating the confidence the Phillies have in him.

    Franco, to his credit, has responded to the pressure in 2018, albeit over just 18 PAs. He has thus far slashed .313/.318/.813 (213 wRC+), including a grand slam on Saturday. Regardless of whether he stays with the Phillies, he’s controllable via arbitration through the 2021 campaign. Franco’s on a $2.95MM salary this season.

    Phillies Notes: Neshek, Hunter, Kapler Thu, 05 Apr 2018 21:37:51 +0000 The Phillies received good news after righty Pat Neshek underwent an MRI, as Todd Zolecki of tweets. There’s some inflammation, as might have been expected given that he had identified an issue, but nothing more concerning than that. The expectation at this point, though, is that Neshek will remain on ice for “a couple more weeks” to allow things to calm down. Philadelphia has yet to receive a contribution from Neshek or fellow recent signee Tommy Hunter, though as Zolecki recently tweeted, it seems Hunter is nearing his return and perhaps Neshek won’t be far behind.

    • New Phillies skipper Gabe Kapler was again forced to defend his early-season decision-making, as Zolecki also writes. This time, the questions arose in relation to defensive positioning, yet another area in which the Philadelphia club is experimenting with unconventional methods. Interested readers will want to review the full post for the details. Generally, though, Kapler again emphasized that he believes the process will pay dividends in the long run, even if the short-term results have raised the ire of many Phillies fans.
    Phillies Receive Formal Warning From MLB Over Bullpen Mistake Sun, 01 Apr 2018 23:16:22 +0000 The Phillies will receive a formal warning letter from Major League Baseball in the wake of an unusual situation from Saturday’s game,’s Buster Olney tweets.  The league ruled that home plate umpire Jerry Layne was right to allow Phils reliever Hoby Milner some extra warm-up pitches after Milner was brought into the game seemingly without warning by manager Gabe Kapler, as Milner wasn’t even up in the bullpen.  The Braves objected to Milner being allowed any warm-up pitches after being called into the game, yet Layne felt the extra time was necessary for the sake of Milner’s health.  Kapler’s usage of his bullpen has already become a controversial subject in Philadelphia, as the Phillies used 21 pitchers over their first three games of the season.  “Any time we have a miscommunication it’s my responsibility so I take full responsibility for it,” Kapler told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salibury and other media after the game.

    Phillies Notes: Arrieta, Neshek Sun, 01 Apr 2018 02:13:31 +0000 Phillies right-hander Jake Arrieta is on track to make his first start with the club on April 8, per Todd Zolecki of Arrieta’s going to miss the first week-plus of the season because he’s not yet in game shape, having gone without a contract in free agency until the Phillies handed him a three-year, $75MM guarantee on March 12. The former Cubs star will join Aaron Nola atop Philly’s rotation when he does debut with the team.

    • In not-so-good news for the Phillies, righty Pat Neshek is fearful that the shoulder strain which forced him to the disabled list could “be something serious,” the reliever informed Matt Breen of and other media. The 37-year-old Neshek added that this is the first time he has dealt with this type of injury. “And that’s what’s kind of weirding me out a little bit,” he continued. “But it’s something like, if I had to pitch today, I know I could. But I’m more worried about how it’s going to progress over the next couple weeks.” Neshek was the recipient of a two-year, $16.25MM deal in the offseason. Teammate and fellow reliever Tommy Hunter also landed a two-year deal (for an even richer $18MM). Both pitchers opened the season on the DL, though, with Hunter battling a hamstring strain.
    Minor MLB Transactions: 3/31/18 Sun, 01 Apr 2018 01:46:41 +0000 We’ll use this post to keep track of some minor moves from around MLB…

    • The Phillies have released right-hander Shane Watson, Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweets. Watson had been with the organization since it used a supplemental first-round pick (No. 40 overall) on him in 2012. Injuries, a Type 1 diabetes diagnosis and a 50-game suspension for a non-PED drug policy violation beset Watson during his Phillies tenure, however. He climbed to the Double-A level for the first time in 2017 and posted a 4.10 ERA/5.60 FIP with 4.86 K/9 and 4.32 BB/9 across 83 1/3 innings.

    Earlier moves:

    • The Dodgers have signed catcher Cael Brockmeyer to a minor-league contract, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group reports on Twitter. Brockmeyer was released by the Cubs earlier this week; he’ll report to the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate. Brockmeyer hit .179/.256/.308 last season with Chicago’s Double-A affiliate with a 27% strikeout rate, but still received a promotion to Triple-A late in the season. Hoornstra adds that the team released minors catcher Shawn Zarraga in a related move.
    • The Reds have released infielder Darnell Sweeney, tweets C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic. Sweeney had been in spring training camp as a non-roster invite; he hit .287/.355/.420 across 363 plate appearances last season for the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, though his .347 BABIP suggests that at least a bit of good fortune was involved in that batting line.
    Phillies Place Pat Neshek On Disabled List Fri, 30 Mar 2018 20:45:31 +0000 The Phillies have placed right-hander Pat Neshek on the 10-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain, tweets Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Fellow right-hander Yacksel Rios has been recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley in Neshek’s place.

    Neshek, 37, will join fellow offseason signee Tommy Hunter on the disabled list, meaning the Phillies will lose a combined $34.25MM in relief help before either of the two recipients of those contracts makes an appearance in the 2018 campaign. There’s no word, at present, of just how long Neshek will be sidelined, though obviously the news still serves as a blow to what now looks to be a largely inexperienced relief corps.

    Last season, Neshek opened the year with the Phillies before being traded to the Rockies in July. In 62 1/3 innings between the two clubs, he turned in a 1.59 ERA with 10.0 K/9, 0.9 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9 and a 36.4 percent ground-ball rate.

    The 24-year-old Rios, meanwhile, made his MLB debut with the Phils in 2017, working to a 4.41 ERA with a 17-to-9 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings. He split the rest of his season between Double-A and Triple-A, working to a combined 1.92 ERA with 10.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a roughly 38 percent ground-ball rate

    Phillies Acquire Dean Anna Thu, 29 Mar 2018 21:26:32 +0000
  • In a minor swap for an unknown return, the Phillies acquired Dean Anna from the White Sox, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (Twitter link). The 31-year will give the Phils some infield depth, though they will surely hope not to have a need for it at the MLB level. Anna has scant MLB experience but has been playing at Triple-A since 2013. Most recently, he posted a .285/.364/.376 slash at the highest level of the minors with the Royals in 2017.
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    White Sox Acquire Ricardo Pinto Wed, 28 Mar 2018 18:40:45 +0000 The White Sox have acquired righty Ricardo Pinto from the Phillies, per a club announcement. International bonus pool money of an unknown quantity will head to the Phils in the swap.

    Pinto becomes the latest hurler to join the White Sox bullpen depth chart, though the odds are that he’ll open the season in the minors. The 24-year-old did not show well in his first effort at the majors but has generally been effective in the minors.

    Last year, Pinto worked to a 3.86 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 60 2/3 Triple-A innings. Though he mostly functioned as a starter in prior seasons, he split his time between the rotation and bullpen in 2017. It certainly seems as if Pinto’s future hopes lie in the relief corps.

    Sam Fuld Talks Player-Friendly Analytics Wed, 28 Mar 2018 03:44:44 +0000
  • Sam Fuld’s status as a former player and a newly-minted member of the Phillies analytics department makes him an ideal conduit for bridging the gap between advances metrics and everyday baseball use, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  “Players are told to do something from someone that doesn’t quite have playing experience at a high level and it can be frustrating when you’re told to do something that is really, really difficult,” Fuld said.  “It’s taken for granted sometimes. Hopefully I can relate.”  Rhys Hoskins, for one, has already taken to Fuld’s advice, such as using a “cheat sheet” to determine specific batter-by-batter positioning while in the outfield.
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    Tommy Hunter To Open Season On DL Tue, 27 Mar 2018 17:11:39 +0000 Phillies righty Tommy Hunter will open the year on the DL after being diagnosed with a hamstring strain, as Jim Salisbury of was among those to report on Twitter.

    It’s not clear at the moment just how long Hunter will be sidelined, but skipper Gabe Kapler says the belief is it isn’t a serious injury, as Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Saying the team is acting “conservatively,” Kapler explained that there are no “long-term concerns” at the moment.

    Hunter is expected to play a key role in the Phillies pen after joining the organization on a surprisingly hefty two-year deal over the winter. He was promised $18MM after a strong 2017 season in which he not only worked to a productive 2.61 ERA in 58 2/3 innings but ran up a career-high 9.8 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9.

    The early returns have not exactly been exciting, though it’s certainly not worth rushing to any conclusions. Hunter managed only one strikeout and allowed three earned runs in his 4 1/3 Grapefruit League frames.

    [RELATED: Updated Phillies Depth Chart]

    While the injury to Hunter leaves the Phillies down another arm, after already losing a few hurlers to open the year, it does clear space for Jake Thompson. The younger righty, once considered a promising rotation prospect, had shown some promise in camp. He’ll likely be joined in the bullpen by 23-year-old Victor Arano, who’ll get his first full crack at the majors.

    Phillies Release Cameron Rupp Mon, 26 Mar 2018 19:40:07 +0000 The Phillies have released catcher Cameron Rupp, per a team announcement. They’ll save around $1.5MM in cutting Rupp, Matt Gelb of The Athletic notes. Rupp would have earned $2.05MM had he made the team.

    Philadelphia has elected to open the season with Andrew Knapp as the backup to starting catcher Jorge Alfaro, which helped lead the club to designate Rupp for assignment on Sunday. The Phillies apparently couldn’t find a taker for Rupp via trade, but he could encounter interest on the open market at a minimum salary. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported Sunday that Rupp had piqued the Rangers’ interest, and he suggested on Monday that they could pursue him on the open market. It’s worth noting, then, that Rupp is a Dallas native.

    Rupp’s next team will be getting a 29-year-old who has taken 1,127 trips to the plate in the majors and slashed .234/.298/.407 (86 wRC+). Defensively, Rupp has struggled in the pitch-framing department, especially in 2017, but he has thrown out a solid 31 percent of would-be base stealers since debuting in the league in 2013.

    Phillies Sign Alexi Amarista Mon, 26 Mar 2018 18:42:16 +0000 The Phillies have announced the signing of infielder/outfielder Alexi Amarista to a minor league contract. He’ll head to minor league camp with his new club.

    The addition of Amarista should help make up for the loss of fellow utilityman Ryan Flaherty, who opted out of his minors pact with the Phillies last week and then signed a major league deal with division-rival Atlanta. Amarista, meanwhile, exited the Tigers last week after a failed bid to earn a big league spot with them.

    A veteran of the Angels, Padres and Rockies, Amarista has never posed a threat offensively since debuting in 2011. That was again the case last year as a member of the Rockies, with whom Amarista hit .238/.269/.351 (45 wRC+) in 176 trips to the plate. He did line up at every outfield spot and three more in the infield (second, short and third), however.

    Despite his defensive versatility, the 28-year-old Amarista seems like a long shot to make an impact in Philly. The team just added highly touted prospect Scott Kingery to its roster Sunday, and he’s likely to move all around the diamond. Kingery’s part of an impressive array of starting-caliber position players in Philly, which also has Pedro Florimon and Roman Quinn as infield/outfield types on its 40-man roster.

    Details On Scott Kingery's Extension Mon, 26 Mar 2018 04:59:28 +0000
  • Talks about Scott Kingery’s precedent-setting extension with the Phillies came together within the last few days, The Athletic’s Matt Gelb writes (subscription required).  The team had been planning to keep Kingery at Triple-A long enough (April 13) to limit his service time and thus gain and extra year of control over his services.  At a guaranteed price of $24MM over six years, the Phillies see the contract “as a no-risk transaction,” as it isn’t too heavy a sum to eat if Kingery doesn’t live up to expectations as a big leaguer, though the organization is very high on the prospect as an important building block.
  • Of course, the Kingery deal was bound to generate some controversy given that he could be leaving a lot of future money on the table should he play well.  Speaking to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required), one rival agent described the contract’s three club options as “offensive,” given that the Phillies could control Kingery’s first three free agent years at a total price of $42MM, which surely won’t match the rate of market inflation by 2024-26.  Rosenthal’s notes piece is well worth a full read, as he catches up on some of the bigger stories of the past six weeks that he missed while recovering from back surgery.  (On behalf of all of us at MLBTR, it’s great to see Ken recovered and ready to go for the start of the season!)
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    Phillies Designate Ricardo Pinto Sun, 25 Mar 2018 20:21:11 +0000 The Phillies have designated right-hander Ricardo Pinto for assignment, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweets. His 40-man roster spot will go to infielder Scott Kingery, whom the Phillies signed to a long-term contract Sunday.

    Pinto, 24, joined the Phillies as a Venezuelan prospect back in 2011. He debuted competitively the next season and reached the majors a year ago, when he struggled over 29 2/3 innings. Pinto worked to a 7.89 ERA/6.36 FIP with 7.58 K/9, 5.16 BB/9 and a 44 percent groundball rate. He was far more effective during his first Triple-A action in 2017, as he posted a 3.86 ERA/3.57 FIP with fewer strikeouts (6.82 K/9) but far fewer walks (2.67 BB/9). With two options remaining, he could be Triple-A depth again this season.

    Phillies Sign Scott Kingery To Long-Term Deal Sun, 25 Mar 2018 19:51:48 +0000 2:51pm: The contract includes a $1.5MM signing bonus, per Gelb, who also has the yearly breakdown. Kingery will earn $750K this year, $1.25MM in 2019, $1.5MM in 2020, $4MM in 2021, $6MM in 2022 and $8MM in 2023. Additionally, there’s a $1MM buyout for the first option, $500K for the second, and $250K for the third, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter).

    2:14pm: The Phillies have signed second base prospect Scott Kingery to a six-year contract through the 2023 campaign, according to a team announcement. It’s worth $24MM in guarantees, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. The pact also features club options for the 2024, ’25 and ’26 seasons, meaning it could cancel out three of Kingery’s free-agent years. Those options are worth $13MM, $14MM and $15MM, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports. Kingery is a client of PSI Sports Management.

    Kingery’s payday is a record-breaking amount for a player who has never appeared in the majors, easily beating out the five-year, $10MM guarantee the Astros gave first baseman Jon Singleton (an ex-Phillies prospect) back in 2014. Kingery and Singleton are the only two players to ever receive long-term deals before debuting in the majors. The Singleton contract hasn’t worked out at all for the Astros, but the Phillies weren’t going to let that deter them from wrapping up Kingery for the long haul.

    The news of the 23-year-old Kingery’s accord comes on the heels of his first big league promotion, which was reported earlier Sunday. Service time looked to be a concern prior to the announcement of the deal, but that obviously won’t be an issue now for the Phillies, who expect Kingery to emerge as an important major leaguer this season.

    Kingery, who joined the Phillies in Round 2 of the 2015 draft, saw his stock soar last year after slashing .313/.379/.608 (166 wRC+) with 18 home runs and 19 stolen bases in 317 Double-A plate appearances. The righty-swinger earned a promotion to Triple-A as a result of that production and also performed well at that level, where he batted .294/.337/.449 (117 wRC+) with eight homers and 10 steals in 286 PAs.

    Thanks to his breakout 2017 showing, Kingery ranks as’s 35th-best prospect. The outlet lauds his “advanced approach” at the plate and “plus speed,” noting that he has the upside of an everyday second baseman. The Phillies already have a quality second baseman in Cesar Hernandez, who accounted for 7.6 fWAR from 2016-17, so it’s unclear how often Kingery will play there in the near term.

    Even if Hernandez continues to hold down the keystone for the time being, Kingery could factor in elsewhere. Although nearly all of Kingery’s minor league action came at second, manager Gabe Kapler suggested earlier this spring that the player could fill a super-utility role in the majors (via Matt Gelb of The Athletic; subscription required).

    “He can play in the big leagues at many different positions,” Kapler said. “He can play second base, he can play shortstop, he can play centerfield. There’s no doubt in my mind that he can handle third base. He can handle both corners. In theory, that’s an exciting role for Scott.”

    For the most part, the Phillies look well positioned in the infield (depth chart), where big-money first baseman Carlos Santana and touted shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford will join Hernandez in starting roles. Third baseman Maikel Franco has been a disappointment, however, and could cede his spot to Kingery if he continues to struggle this year. The Phillies are also talented in the outfield, where slugger Rhys Hoskins will play left and Odubel Herrera will continue to handle center. Right field’s less certain, although both Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr impressed last season.

    Regardless of where Kingery lines up in 2018 and beyond, it’s obvious the Phillies regard him as an integral core piece and someone who can help them return to relevance. Philadelphia is mired in a six-year playoff drought and hasn’t finished .500 or better since 2012. The franchise looks to be on the upswing, though, in part because of Kingery’s potential.

    Along with Kingery and the rest of the Phillies’ previously mentioned talent on the position player side, they made a bold strike in free agency in signing former Cubs ace Jake Arrieta to a three-year, $75MM contract. They also have budding star righty Aaron Nola under control through 2021. Plus, given that the Phillies have the capability to spend among the league’s top teams (as seen with the Santana and Arrieta signings), they should be in play for other established free agents in future offseasons.

    Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia first reported the news. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Phillies Designate Cameron Rupp Sun, 25 Mar 2018 12:35:59 +0000 The Phillies have designated catcher Cameron Rupp for assignment, per a team announcement. The club selected right-hander Drew Hutchison’s contract in a corresponding move.

    The 29-year-old Rupp has been a member of the Phillies since they chose him in the third round of the 2010 draft, and he debuted in the majors in 2013. Rupp has racked up 1,127 major league plate appearances since then, including 331 last year, when he hit .217/.299/.417 with 14 home runs. Overall, he has posted a .234/.298/.407 line.

    Defensively, Rupp has earned negative pitch-framing grades from Baseball Prospectus since 2015, when he began seeing significant playing time, and was especially poor in that department last season. On the other hand, he has thrown out 31 percent of would-be base stealers for his career, beating out the league-average mark (28 percent).

    Rupp’s designation makes it clear the Phillies will turn to Andrew Knapp to back up starting catcher Jorge Alfaro at the outset of the season. They could also try to find a taker for Rupp, who will make $2.05MM this season – his first of three arbitration years. Rupp has a pair of options remaining, so he could still function as minor league depth.

    Hutchison, who’s best known for his Blue Jays tenure from 2012-16, joined the Phillies on a minor league deal last month. That came after he spent all of 2017 with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate. Thanks in part to injuries to Jerad Eickhoff and Mark Leiter Jr., Hutchison may claim a spot in the Phillies’ season-opening rotation. The 27-year-old has made a strong case for one this spring, as he has allowed just six earned runs on 12 hits and eight walks, with 17 strikeouts, in 19 2/3 innings.

    Phillies Release Francisco Rodriguez Sat, 24 Mar 2018 17:22:48 +0000 The Phillies have released Francisco Rodriguez from his minor-league contract, according to the club’s media account on Twitter. “K-Rod” would’ve earned a $2.5MM salary if he made the club out of spring training.

    The 36-year-old righty reliever has a storied career as a closer. He’s got 437 saves notched into his legacy, including a whopping 62 during his 2008 campaign with the Angels. That puts him fourth on the list of all-time saves leaders in baseball history. He’s also played for the Mets, Orioles and Tigers during his 16 MLB seasons. The righty owns a sterling 2.86 lifetime ERA and 10.53 K/9.

    Last season with the Tigers, however, wasn’t reflective of prime K-Rod. He struggled to a disastrous 7.82 ERA, leading to his June release. In camp this spring, Rodriguez put up a 5.40 ERA with five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. However, he’s just a season removed from a 2016 campaign during which he accumulated 44 saves for the Tigers while pitching to a 3.24 ERA.

    Phillies Release Adam Rosales Fri, 23 Mar 2018 17:19:51 +0000 The Phillies have released infielder Adam Rosales, according to an announcement from the team.  Rosales was in camp on a minor league contract that would’ve paid him $1.75MM had he made the 25-man roster.

    The versatile Rosales was competing to win a job as Philadelphia’s utility infielder, though it appears as though the team made its choice with its recent selection of Pedro Florimon’s contract.  (Ryan Flaherty, another veteran infielder signed as a non-roster invitee, was also recently released by the Phillies.)  It remains to be seen whether Roman Quinn or Jesmuel Valentin will earn the fourth and final remaining spot on the bench, though’s Todd Zolecki notes that the Phillies might forego the fourth bench spot until they need a fifth starter on April 11.

    A veteran of the last 10 MLB seasons, Rosales spent last season with the Athletics (his team for much of his big league career) and Diamondbacks, hitting .225/.260/.353 over 312 combined plate appearances for both teams.  Rosales has long been known more for his multi-position ability than for his hitting, though in 2016, he broke out for 13 homers and a .229/.319/.495 slash line over 248 PA with the Padres.  Rosales is likely to get some looks in the coming days from teams in need of infield depth.

    NL East Notes: Thompson, Ruiz, Gonzalez, Flores, Wheeler, Lugo Fri, 23 Mar 2018 04:45:34 +0000 It appears that the Phillies are transitioning right-hander Jake Thompson into a relief role, writes Todd Zolecki of Once part of the six-player return for Cole Hamels, Thompson has only made four relief appearances in his professional career (majors and minors included). Three of those appearances came last year, however, and he’s been used largely out of the bullpen in Grapefruit League play. Thompson says that nobody has directly told him he’ll become a reliever, but believes it to be the case. “They think the slider and split can work in short periods, miss bats and get ground balls,” Thompson said of Philadelphia’s coaching staff. “They’ve built up my pitch count a little bit, so if something happens I can still do both. I’m fine with it. Anything that can get me in the big leagues and stay I’d be willing to do.”

    Other news from some of baseball’s Eastern teams…

    • It wasn’t long ago that Braves third baseman Rio Ruiz was struggling with a new swing and seemed destined to start the season in the minors, David O’Brien writes in a piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That outlook has changed dramatically, as Ruiz’ offensive output has been a lot more impressive over the past couple weeks. The 23-year-old’s uptick in production coincides with an injury to Johan Camargo, who’s set to open the season on the disabled list. Though the organization seems to believe Camargo can return as soon as he’s eligible, manager Brian Snitker left room for interpretation on whether Ruiz can stick at the position even then. ““Rio has worked his ass off the last couple of years. He’s getting better,” said Snitker. “You never know, situations happen, door gets opened and a guy doesn’t give it back. You never know.”
    • Mets manager Mickey Callaway says he doesn’t expect Adrian Gonzalez to play every day, and not even against every right-hander (h/t Anthony DiComo of That likely means more playing time for Wilmer Flores“Wilmer deserves to play, and not just against lefties,” said Callaway. That’s not the only interesting comment Callaway made today, as he confirmed that Seth Lugo is being considered as a rotation candidate following an excellent Grapefruit League outing in which the right-hander struck out five while allowing no runs across four innings. The presence of Lugo in the rotation would likely make Zack Wheeler, who had another rough showing today, the odd man out. “”We have some big decisions to make,” Callaway said on the subject.
    Phillies Release Ryan Flaherty Thu, 22 Mar 2018 15:10:29 +0000 The Phillies have released infielder Ryan Flaherty, per a club announcement. He had triggered an opt-out provision that required the team to add him to the MLB roster or set him loose.

    Philadelphia had largely signaled its intentions already by adding veteran Pedro Florimon to the 40-man. He’ll likely serve as the team’s general utility option, a role that was up for grabs in camp this spring.

    A reunion with the Orioles has already been suggested for Flaherty, who has a long history with the organization. The 31-year-old owns only a .215/.284/.355 lifetime batting line in the majors but is regarded as a valuable presence around the diamond. He has has also turned in a strong spring, with a .353/.395/.529 slash and just three strikeouts in 38 plate appearances.

    Ryan Flaherty To Exercise Out Clause Thu, 22 Mar 2018 00:14:58 +0000 Phillies utilityman Ryan Flaherty plans to opt out of his minor league contract, Todd Zolecki of tweets. The Phillies will have 48 hours to add Flaherty to their 25-man roster or let him go. Odds are that they’ll grant him his release, per Zolecki. The 31-year-old Flaherty was a member of the Orioles from 2012-17, and Baltimore reportedly made an attempt to keep him before he joined the Phillies. Now, he could head back to the O’s, Roch Kubatko of suggests.

    Rangers Acquire Eliezer Alvarez Wed, 21 Mar 2018 18:23:37 +0000 The Rangers have acquired infielder Eliezer Alvarez from the Phillies, per club announcements. Cash considerations will go to Philadelphia in return. Texas cleared a roster spot by transferring righty Ronald Herrera to the 60-day DL.

    Alvarez, who was acquired in last September’s Juan Nicasio trade, lost his 40-man placement when the Phils decided to elevate utilityman Pedro Florimon. Now, the 23-year-old is moving on to his third team within the past year.

    Signed out of the Dominican Republic by the St. Louis organization back in 2012, Alvarez put himself on the prospect map with a strong 2016 campaign. Playing at the Class A level, he posted a .404 on-base percentage, hit six home runs, and swiped 36 bags in 499 plate appearances.

    Alvarez was unable to carry that level of output into the upper minors, though, as he scuffled a bit in 2017. Over his 209 trips to the plate at Double-A, he maintained a .247/.321/.382 slash with 56 strikeouts and 16 walks.


    Clearly, though, the Rangers still see some cause to be intrigued in the youngster. Alvarez has lined up primarily as a second baseman thus far, though he has also seen a bit of action on the left side of the infield, so he could conceivably represent a future utility option.

    Phillies Release Fernando Abad Wed, 21 Mar 2018 14:34:18 +0000 The Phillies have released lefty Fernando Abad, per a club announcement. He had been in camp with the organization on a minor-league deal.

    Abad had an opt-out opportunity tomorrow, so it seems the organization went ahead and made up its mind about his roster status. He would have earned a $2.5MM salary in the majors, with some incentives as well. The contract also came with a mutual option for the 2019 campaign.

    The 32-year-old southpaw has seen significant MLB action in each of the past eight MLB seasons. All told, he owns a 3.65 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in over three hundred major-league innings. Overall, he has held opposing lefty hitters to a .237/.287/.383 batting line.

    Abad returns to the market on the heels of Antonio Bastardo, another established southpaw who was released late in camp. Both will surely land somewhere, though scoring an immediate MLB opportunity will likely depend upon whether another organization decides it has a clear need for a lefty reliever.

    Mark Leiter Diagnosed With Mild Flexor Strain Tue, 20 Mar 2018 19:01:31 +0000 Phillies righty Mark Leiter has been diagnosed with a mild flexor strain, according to Jim Salisbury of (via Twitter). He will be shut down for two to three weeks before attempting to ramp back up.

    That’s certainly disappointing news, though far from the worst-case scenario. Leiter underwent an MRI after reporting forearm tightness. With fellow starter Jerad Eickhoff also suffering an injury late in camp, the Phillies organization was surely holding its collective breath.

    Leiter says he anticipates missing about a month of the season. Of course, the specific timeline will depend not only on how he responds to the injury, but also how long it takes him to build back up to full strength and what kind of precautions the club takes.

    The pair of injuries leaves the Phillies’ rotation a bit under-staffed, though there are certainly options on hand. Roster Resource now predicts that Nick Pivetta and Ben Lively will occupy the last two spots in the starting staff to begin the season. Drew Hutchison, Jake Thompson, and Zach Eflin are the other starters with substantial MLB experience who could conceivably round out the unit or function as depth.

    Of course, the loss of depth could also add some impetus to pursuit of an outside acquisition. It’s not really clear at this point, though, whether that’s a realistic consideration. The Phils have already spent some money on the pitching staff in the form of Jake Arrieta and a few relievers, while also adding Carlos Santana to their lineup.

    If the club does turn to the open market, the top name is unquestionably Alex Cobb, though he would likely require a significant outlay. There are a few veteran hurlers still looking for work, too, including such notable names as John Lackey, Jake Peavy, Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeff Locke, and — if he’s still at all interested in playing — R.A. Dickey. It’s also possible the Phillies could keep an eye on the waiver wire and look at released non-roster invitees as camps draw to a close.

    Mark Leiter Experiencing Forearm Tightness Tue, 20 Mar 2018 16:02:56 +0000
  • We’re still awaiting further word on the health of Phillies hurler Mark Leiter. As Jim Salisbury of was among those to tweet yesterday, the 27-year-old has experienced forearm tightness, which can be a symptom of a worrying elbow issue. Leiter, who turned in 90 2/3 innings of 4.96 ERA ball in his debut season of 2017, is all the more important to the Philadelphia staff with Jerad Eickhoff sidelined to open the year.
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    Rangers Claim Tommy Joseph Mon, 19 Mar 2018 18:33:40 +0000 The Rangers have claimed first baseman Tommy Joseph off waivers from the Phillies, according to an announcement from Texas. In a corresponding move, the Rangers placed right-hander Clayton Blackburn on the 60-day disabled list with a strained pitching elbow.

    Joseph, whom Philadelphia designated for assignment last week to make room for Jake Arrieta, lost his footing with the club after the emergence of Rhys Hoskins in 2017 and the signing of Carlos Santana during the offseason. There was simply no room on the Phillies’ roster for Joseph, a former catcher prospect who has become a first base/DH option in the majors.

    The 26-year-old Joseph debuted with the Phillies in 2016 and was a solidly above-average hitter that year, with a .257/.308/.505 line (112 wRC+), 21 home runs and a .248 ISO in 347 plate appearances. Joseph went backward over a 533-PA sample size in 2017, though, as he slashed a subpar .240/.289/.432 (85 wRC+) with 22 HRs and a .192 ISO.

    While Joseph was a regular in Philadelphia, that’s unlikely to be the case in Texas. With Joey Gallo occupying first and Shin-Soo Choo as the Rangers’ primary DH, there’s no obvious path to playing time for Joseph. He’ll either open the season on optional assignment or attempt to bounce back from last season as a bench bat.

    Phillies Notes: Rupp, Valentin Mon, 19 Mar 2018 13:01:28 +0000
  • The Phillies have made catcher Cameron Rupp available, Matt Gelb of The Athletic reports (subscription required). If they’re unable to find a taker for Rupp in a trade, the Phillies could end up cutting the 29-year-old and eating one-fourth of his $2.05MM salary, per Gelb. Rupp, who saw extensive action in Philadelphia in each of the previous three seasons, has hit .234/.298/.407 in 1,127 major league plate appearances and thrown out 31 percent of would-be base stealers (league average is 28 percent). He’s one of three catchers on Philly’s 40-man roster, along with starter Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp, and has a pair of minor league options remaining.
  • Phillies utilityman Jesmuel Valentin fell short of earning a roster spot in camp last year, but he may be playing his way to one this spring, Todd Zolecki of observes. “The difference this year is more versatility. I’m playing more positions,” Valentin said. “I’ve played around 40 innings in the outfield. Last year, I did not do that. I’ve had more innings at third base, so I’m showing them that I am not only a second baseman and shortstop.” The 23-year-old Valentin, who hasn’t yet played in the majors, is one of five candidates for either two or three open bench spots, joining Roman Quinn, Pedro Florimon, Ryan Flaherty and Adam Rosales. He’s on the 40-man, as are Quinn and Florimon, which is an important advantage. Valentin, Quinn and Florimon are also switch-hitters.
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    Phillies Select Contract Of Pedro Florimon, Designate Eliezer Alvarez Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:20:32 +0000 The Phillies announced Friday that they’ve selected the contract of infielder/outfielder Pedro Florimon and designated infielder Eliezer Alvarez for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. The move seemingly indicates that Florimon will head north with the Phils as a utilityman to open the season, as he’s out of minor league options and now cannot be sent back to Triple-A without clearing waivers.

    Florimon, a 31-year-old switch-hitter known for his glove at shortstop, spent the 2017 season with the Phillies organization and hit .348/.388/.478 in a tiny sample of 49 plate appearances with the big league club. That’s not representative of his skills at the plate over a larger sample, though, as he’s a lifetime .209./269/.308 hitter in 791 plate appearances between the Orioles, Twins, Pirates and Phils. Florimon has a gaudy +23 Defensive Runs Saved in 1808 career innings at shortstop, but he’s begun to move around the diamond more in recent seasons; the Phils gave him 79 innings in the outfield last year — his first big league action away from the infield.

    The 23-year-old Alvarez hit .248/.318/.390 in 236 minor league plate appearances last season, most of which came at the Double-A level. He’s been primarily a second baseman in the minors, though he’s also seen a couple hundred innings of work at shortstop. Philadelphia acquired Alvarez from the Cardinals in the rare September trade that sent Juan Nicasio to St. Louis, and while he ranked 25th on the team’s top 30 prospect list this winter (via Baseball America), he’ll now likely be made available to all 29 other clubs via waivers or trade.

    BA’s scouting report on Alvarez (subscription link) notes that he’s a contact-oriented hitter who projects to hit eight to 12 homers per season and has some question marks about his footwork on the defensive side of things. He did rank as high as No. 10 on the Cardinals’ top 30 prospects back in the 2016-17 offseason.

    Jerad Eickhoff Out Six To Eight Weeks With Lat Strain Fri, 16 Mar 2018 15:13:19 +0000 The Phillies received some bad news on their rotation today, as Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports (via Twitter) that right-hander Jerad Eickhoff has been diagnosed with a strained lat muscle and will be sidelined for the next six to eight weeks. Eickhoff had been projected to occupy a rotation spot behind newly signed Jake Arrieta and top incumbent starter Aaron Nola. Now, he’ll open the season on the disabled list.

    The 27-year-old Eickhoff was considered a secondary or tertiary piece when he was traded from the Rangers to the Phillies in the blockbuster that sent Cole Hamels and Jake Diekman to Texas. However, he quickly emerged as a viable big league starter and has since provided the Phils with 376 1/3 innings of 3.87 ERA ball, averaging 8.0 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 with a 39.2 percent ground-ball rate along the way.

    Last season was Eickhoff’s worst in the Majors, as he limped to a 4.71 ERA thanks largely to an uncharacteristic spike in his walk rate (3.7 BB/9). Injuries likely played a part in his substandard control, as he missed time in June with a back strain and would again go on the DL in late August with nerve irritation in his hand — an injury that ultimately ended his season. Certainly, it’s not hard to see how either of those injuries could significantly diminish his control; Eickhoff, for context, averaged just 2.0 walks per nine innings through his first 248 1/3 MLB frames.

    The initial estimate for Eickhoff’s absence would leave him out of action until at least the end of April and possibly up through mid-May, depending of course on how he responds to treatment and how his rehab progresses. Salisbury adds in a followup tweet that he’s currently being examined back in Philadelphia, which could give a clearer picture of how his rehab will be laid out.

    Eickhoff’s injury improves the chances for fellow rotation hopefuls such as Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter and non-roster invitee Drew Hutchison in Philadelphia. Obviously, as that group of names suggests, the Phils aren’t short on replacement options with some degree of MLB experience. It remains to be seen, though, if the injury will embolden the front office to make a move from outside the organization.

    At first glance, this wouldn’t seem to make such a move especially more likely. GM Matt Klentak has previously suggested that the signing of Arrieta likely concluded his team’s offseason spending, and while Eickhoff was one of the team’s more reliable sources of innings, the injury is relatively short-term nature in nature.

    NL East Notes: Phillies, Conforto, AGon, Robles Tue, 13 Mar 2018 16:16:24 +0000 As the Phillies introduce Jake Arrieta today, the organization is now much more clearly in a competitive posture than it was at the outset of the winter. But the pedal won’t be fully pressed down, it seems, despite the presence of a few other notable free agents who’d improve the near-term outlook in Philadelphia. GM Matt Klentak says that he does not anticipate any further additions before the start of the season, as’s Todd Zolecki tweets.

    More from the NL East:

    • The Mets continue to have cause for optimism on outfielder Michael Conforto, whose scary shoulder injury made for quite an offseason concern. He’s now nearing game readiness, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets, and anticipates getting into a spring game next week. That doesn’t mean that Conforto will be on the Opening Day roster, but certainly suggests he’s on track to return relatively early in the season. In other injury news, via’s Anthony DiComo (Twitter links), the Mets say that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has a sore wrist. Though there’s no indication at present that it’s a worrying injury, he has undergone an x-ray and is waiting for the results. Meanwhile, veteran third baseman David Wright is no closer to a return; rather, he’ll hold off on baseball activities for at least eight weeks after being examined recently.
    • New Mets first baseman Adrian Gonzalez discussed his fresh start and unusual offseason with Mike Puma of the New York Post. Notably, Gonzalez says he was initially resistant to the Dodgers’ request that he waive his no-trade protection to go to the Braves in a contract-swapping move that ultimately left him landing in New York. But Los Angeles “sweetened the deal every single time” he met with the team, says the veteran, who acknowledged there was compensation involved.
    • Pete Kerzel of examines the Nationals’ decision-making process with top prospect Victor Robles, who is impressing in camp despite a middling stat line in Grapefruit League action. The 20-year-old is ready for the majors, by all accounts, though the organization certainly has plenty of good reasons not to carry him out of camp. First and foremost, the organization has a solid center field combo already lined up in Michael Taylor and the out-of-options Brian Goodwin; in that sense, then, promoting Robles would mean parting with depth. Service-time considerations are also a factor; since Robles picked up 25 days of service last year, he’s just 147 days away from a full year of service. If the Nats wish to delay Robles’s eventual entry onto the open market, they’ll need to keep him down until early May; keeping him from potential Super Two status would likely mean waiting to bring him back up until the middle of the summer.
    Phillies Sign Jake Arrieta Tue, 13 Mar 2018 00:00:07 +0000 The Phillies have officially inked right-hander Jake Arrieta, as Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia first reported on Twitter. It’ll be a three-year, $75MM contract for the Scott Boras client, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.

    Arrieta will earn $30MM in 2018, $25MM in 2019 and $20MM in 2020, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports (links to Twitter).  Arrieta can choose to opt out of the deal after the second season, though interestingly, the contract also allows the Phillies to “void” the opt-out by picking up a two-year option that would extend the contract through the 2021-22 seasons.

    Should the Phils override the opt-out, they would pay Arrieta a base salary of $20MM in each of the two additional years. But those option-year salaries aren’t fixed. Games-started escalators (presumably, based upon 2019 tallies) can boost the values by as much as $5MM, with the escalators beginning at 25 starts and maxing out if and when Arrieta takes the ball for a 31st time. He can escalate those salaries further by finishing in the top-five of the N.L. Cy Young voting in either 2018 or 2019; the annual rate on the potential extra years goes up by $5MM with a top-three finish or by $3MM if Arrieta finishes fourth or fifth. The contract also includes a $1MM assignment bonus provision.

    Jake Arrieta

    Up until Sunday, the 32-year-old Arrieta ranked as the best free agent remaining in what has been a famously slow-moving market since it opened in November. Back then, MLBTR forecast a four-year, $100MM pact for Arrieta, who’s coming off a four-plus-year run with the Cubs in which he was one of baseball’s best pitchers.

    During his stretch in Chicago from 2013-17, the former Orioles castoff won a Cy Young (2015) and a World Series (2016), and he pitched to a 2.73 ERA/3.16 FIP with 8.89 K/9, 2.73 BB/9 and a 50.6 percent groundball rate over 803 innings. Arrieta fell off somewhat last year, however, with a 3.53 ERA/4.16 FIP over 168 1/3 frames. While Arrieta again offered strong strikeout and walk numbers (8.71 K/9, 2.94 BB/9), his grounder (45.1 percent) and swinging-strike rates (8.7; down from 10 percent as a Cub) each trended in the wrong direction. He also experienced a drop in velocity, going from upward of 94 mph with his fastball in each of the previous five seasons to 92.6.

    With last year’s decline in mind, it’s less surprising that free agency didn’t go as planned for Arrieta. It’s also not surprising that the Phillies were willing to reel him in at a discounted rate. Phillies president Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak emphasized throughout the offseason that they weren’t interested in signing anyone to an overly long deal, but they did suggest they’d be willing to pay extra for shorter-term pacts. Arrieta is now the fourth noteworthy free agent to whom they’ve guaranteed three or fewer years since December.

    Previously, the Phillies landed first baseman Carlos Santana (three years, $60MM) and the relief duo of Tommy Hunter (two years, $18MM) and Pat Neshek (two years, $16.25MM). Despite those signings, the big-market Phillies entered Sunday with plenty of spending room, and they still figure to fall short of last year’s $100MM Opening Day payroll even in the wake of their expensive Arrieta agreement.

    All of those additions certainly aren’t guaranteed to lead to immediate contention for the Phillies, who registered their sixth straight non-playoff season and their fifth consecutive sub-.500 year in 2017. But the Arrieta pickup could be particularly helpful to a team whose projected rotation otherwise wouldn’t have featured any proven options beyond Aaron Nola. He and Arrieta should form a quality one-two punch and perhaps help the Phillies return to contention in 2018 as part of a National League that features three clear favorites – Arrieta’s previous team, the Cubs, as well as the Dodgers and Nationals. Washington, which was a speculative landing spot for Arrieta, will now have to deal with him as an opponent in its division, though the Nationals are still the obvious NL East front-runners over the Mets, Phillies, Braves and Marlins.

    Despite their recent run of irrelevance, the Phillies clearly regard themselves as a team on the upswing, as their free agent splashes indicate. After losing their second-highest draft pick in 2018 and $500K in international bonus pool to sign Santana, who rejected the Indians’ qualifying offer, they’ll surrender their third-highest selection (No. 79) and another $500K for Arrieta. The Cubs, who qualified Arrieta in November, will collect a compensatory pick after the second round. They seem well equipped to move on without Arrieta, having added this offseason’s top free agent starter, Yu Darvish (six years, $126MM), and Tyler Chatwood to a rotation that will also feature Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester.

    Boras hoped to outdo Darvish’s pact with Arrieta, given that the latter has the better track record of production, but he has instead seen another of his clients collect a lower-than-expected payday. To Boras’ credit, a pair of his players – first baseman Eric Hosmer ($144MM) and slugger J.D. Martinez ($110MM) – did receive two of this free agent class’s three richest guarantees. On the other hand, before Arrieta reached an agreement, Carlos Gonzalez ($8MM), Mike Moustakas ($6.5MM) and Carlos Gomez ($4MM) each signed for relatively underwhelming amounts. Now, reliever Greg Holland is the last high-end Boras client remaining on a shrinking market as Opening Day draws closer.

    Nightengale and Jon Heyman of FanRag first reported that the Phillies and Arrieta were headed toward a deal.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Phillies Designate Tommy Joseph For Assignment Mon, 12 Mar 2018 22:07:11 +0000 The Phillies announced that they’ve designated first baseman Tommy Joseph for assignment. His removal from the 40-man roster creates a spot for right-hander Jake Arrieta, whose multi-year deal with the Phillies has now been formally announced by the team.

    Joseph, 26, simply found himself without a clear path to playing time after the Phils elected to give big money to Carlos Santana earlier in the winter. Without a DH spot to hide an extra bat, Joseph was a marginal competitor for a bench spot in camp.

    That’s not to say he won’t hold some appeal to other organizations, though. Joseph has shown plenty of pop in his first two years in the majors, putting the ball over the fence 43 times in 880 plate appearances. But he’ll certainly need to boost his .297 OBP if he’s going to hold down a big league job, particularly given his lack of defensive flexibility.

    Things would surely look quite a bit different if Joseph was still catching. Once a top-tier prospect as a backstop, concussion problems forced him out from behind the plate. The fact that he was still able to reach the majors as a first baseman is testament both to his talent and effort.

    Reaction To The Phillies/Jake Arrieta Agreement Mon, 12 Mar 2018 04:23:39 +0000 One of the offseason’s major free agents finally came off the board today, as Jake Arrieta agreed to a three-year, $75MM contract with the Phillies that will become official once the right-hander passes a physical.  Here is some of the early reaction to the deal…

    • “For the Phillies, this was as close to a no-brainer as $25 million per season gets,” David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  Murphy argues that the Phillies were simply in such dire need for starting pitching that a quality arm like Arrieta was too good to pass up, even at a significant price for a still-rebuilding team.  Though Arrieta’s performance dipped in 2017, Murphy notes that even Arrieta’s down year still more or less equaled Aaron Nola’s numbers, so “in essence, the Phillies will have added another Nola even if Arrieta’s 2017 is his new normal.”  Even if Arrieta declines further, the three-year length of the deal means that he won’t be much of a long-term burden on the Phils’ spending abilities.
    • The threat of such a decline, however, makes this signing “a strange one” for the Phillies, in the opinion of’s Keith Law (subscription required).  Arrieta’s peripherals and velocity were both down in 2017, and Law wonders if “this is a Tim Lincecum situation where there’s no actual injury but he’s just wearing down after a great peak.”  Even if Arrieta stabilizes his performance or regains some of his old form, Law questions the wisdom of a contract that will likely deliver most of its value before the Phillies are truly ready to contend.
    • “The Padres had more than passing interest in Jake Arrieta”, Dennis Lin of the Athletic tweets, but the $25MM average annual value of Arrieta’s contract was too high for San Diego’s liking.  The club was known to have been at least considering the idea of going after the right-hander, who could’ve joined Eric Hosmer as the second major Scott Boras client to (surprisingly) sign with the Padres this winter.  Lin feels the Padres are likely to stick with their current rotation mix rather than add another starting pitcher, though “there are fans of Alex Cobb in the organization.”
    • The Nationals had been mentioned as a speculative landing spot for Arrieta for much of the offseason, due to both the Nats’ possible need for another starter and Boras’ well-documented relationship with the Lerner family.  As Mark Zuckerman of notes, however, “Nats folks insisted from the beginning Boras was trying to make them more interested in Arrieta than they were.”  Even if Washington was more likely to engage in Arrieta’s market if the price dropped, it seemingly never got low enough for the Nationals to make a strong bid.
    Phillies, Jake Arrieta “Moving Close” To Agreement Sun, 11 Mar 2018 20:37:37 +0000 3:37pm: The Phillies and Arrieta “are moving close to a deal,” Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets.

    1:24pm: Free agent right-hander Jake Arrieta’s lengthy stay on the open market is likely to end “in the next couple of days,” Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. There are still “several teams” vying for Arrieta, according to Nightengale, who adds that the Phillies look like the favorites to land the 32-year-old.

    Signing Arrieta would be the second major splash of free agency for the Phillies, who picked up first baseman Carlos Santana on a three-year, $60MM guarantee over the winter. Philadelphia was reportedly “having dialogue” with Arrieta back in late February, though team brass has insisted in recent months that the Phillies aren’t keen on doling out a long-term contract at this juncture. As part of a typical market, that would probably hurt the Phillies’ chances of reeling in a top-caliber starter like Arrieta, but free agency has been anything but normal in recent months. Evidence of that lies in the fact that Arrieta is still in limbo four-plus months since he became available, despite an excellent run with the Cubs from 2014-17.

    At the outset of the offseason, MLBTR predicted a four-year, $100MM pact for Arrieta. It’s possible that will prove to be generous, though, as two of the other best starters in this winter’s class – Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn – signed for significantly less than expected, while both Arrieta and Alex Cobb are still without teams. In Darvish’s case, although he didn’t reach the projected $150MM guarantee, he still received a six-year, $126MM commitment to replace Arrieta in Chicago. Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, has tried to convince anyone who’ll listen that his client warrants a far richer contract than Darvish’s, but it looks highly unlikely at this point that he’ll get his way.

    Regardless of how much money signing Arrieta might cost the Phillies, the onetime Cy Young winner’s history indicates he’d give them a second front-end starter to join budding ace Aaron Nola. The Phillies’ projected rotation is otherwise a mostly unproven group, so it’s debatable whether they’d even jump into wild-card contention in 2018 with Arrieta, though FanGraphs’ Craig Edwards recently argued that they’re not far off in a league with no apparent playoff shoo-ins aside from the powerhouse Dodgers-Cubs-Nationals trio.

    While the Phillies are currently upstarts who have posted six straight non-playoff seasons, including five consecutive sub-.500 years, it’s clear they’re gearing up for a return to relevance in the near future. Further, the big-market club has flexed its financial muscle oftentimes in the past and could very easily afford an Arrieta signing now, with Jason Martinez of MLBTR and Roster Resource currently projecting an Opening Day payroll of roughly $65MM. That would be approximately $35MM than last year’s figure and the franchise’s lowest since it fielded a $58MM team in 2002.

    It’s worth noting that Arrieta wouldn’t just cost the Phillies money. Because he rejected the Cubs’ qualifying offer at the start of the offseason, the Phillies (or anyone else) would have to surrender draft compensation and international bonus pool money ($500K in Philly’s case) to sign him. The Phillies already gave up their second-highest pick in 2018 when they signed Santana, though, so they’d only have to part with their third choice (No. 79) for Arrieta.

    Jimmy Rollins To Meet With Matt Klentak Mon, 05 Mar 2018 05:09:29 +0000 Longtime major league shortstop Jimmy Rollins hasn’t officially wrapped up his playing career since the Giants released him in March 2017, but it seems the 39-year-old is heading in that direction. Rollins will soon meet with Phillies general manager Matt Klentak to discuss a potential role, according to Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Rollins would like to retire as a Phillie, and while he isn’t interested in coaching, “he could work on assisting some players or on special assignments,” Breen writes. Rollins is best known for his run with the Phillies from 2000-14, a period in which he established himself as one of the greatest players in franchise history.

    Phillies Linked To International Pitching Prospect Sun, 04 Mar 2018 22:54:50 +0000
  • Major League Baseball recently held a showcase for some of the top international prospects who will become available when the 2018-19 international signing window opens on July 2.  In a subscription-only piece, Baseball America’s Ben Badler (two links) has the breakdown of some of the pitchers who made a particular impression, with some of these young arms already linked to such teams as the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Marlins, and Phillies.
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    Scott Kingery Impressing In Phillies' Camp Sun, 04 Mar 2018 21:09:47 +0000
  • Scott Kingery is turning a lot of heads in the Phillies’ spring camp, and there’s a chance the second base prospect could crack the Opening Day roster, Matt Gelb of The Athletic writes (subscription required).  Manager Gabe Kapler considers Kingery capable of playing several different positions, so a super-utility role would get Kingery in the lineup even with Cesar Hernandez still the regular second baseman.  Service time considerations, however, could keep Kingery at Triple-A to begin the season, though there are also some legitimate skills-related arguments to be made that the prospect still need more minor league seasoning.
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    Mickey Moniak Discusses Difficult 2017 Sun, 04 Mar 2018 05:04:44 +0000 Newly signed Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez figures to spend most of his time at designated hitter, though the team is planning how to set up its outfield when he does factor in as a defender. “At home he’ll play left field and if somehow he plays somewhere on the road here, he’ll play right field,” manager Alex Cora told Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald and other reporters Saturday. Cora went on to reveal that right fielder Mookie Betts could move to center during road games in which Martinez plays the field. Of course, it’s unclear how often this will come up for Boston, which already has an excellent outfield trio of Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. (center) and Andrew Benintendi (left). Unlike those three, Martinez has struggled of late in the field, where he has posted minus-27 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-24.9 Ultimate Zone Rating since 2016.

    More from the East Coast…

    • Mets shortstop Amed Rosario exited their game Saturday with left knee irritation, but it seems he dodged a serious injury, Tim Healey of Newsday relays. Both manager Mickey Callaway and Rosario indicated afterward that pulling the 22-year-old was merely a precautionary measure. Relatively minor injuries have been the story early this spring for the Mets, who have seen a few key players (including Rosario, Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares) deal with various issues. The team as a whole trudged through a disastrous, injury-plagued campaign in 2017, during which the highly touted Rosario debuted with a .248/.271/.394 showing across 170 plate appearances.
    • Like his new team, Mets first baseman Adrian Gonzalez went through a season to forget in 2017. Back problems limited the then-Dodger to 252 PAs and a .242/.287/.355 batting line. Despite his recent struggles and his age (he’ll be 36 in May), Gonzalez said he drew interest from other teams and had “secure options” before signing a low-cost deal with the Mets in January, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Gonzalez is the Mets’ top first base choice for now, but if he gets off to a slow start, that might not last for long, Sherman notes. In the event Gonzalez doesn’t rebound, the Mets could shift outfielder Jay Bruce to first once Michael Conforto comes back from shoulder surgery. Bruce hasn’t worked at first this spring, though, and he doesn’t believe he’d be be adept at the position without getting more practice there. “I believe I can be a quality first baseman,” Bruce said. “Do I think I am right now? Absolutely not.”
    • Last season didn’t unfold as hoped for Phillies outfield prospect Mickey Moniak, who struggled to a .236/.284/.341 line in 509 Single-A plate appearances a year after going No. 1 in the draft. Moniak has plummeted in prospect rankings as a result ( dropped him from 19th to 88th, for example), though the 19-year-old isn’t sweating it. Rather, Moniak told Todd Zolecki of and other reporters Saturday, “I’m actually grateful for last season, because it’s the first time in my life that I had to bear down after struggling for a while.” As for his prospect luster somewhat wearing off, Moniak declared:  “I’m kind of happy about that. Leading up to the draft, people didn’t buy into what I was as a baseball player, and right now, people aren’t fully sold on me, so I’m definitely using that as fuel. I’m excited for this year.” The Phillies are exercising patience with Moniak, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Breen, who points out that he was among the youngest players in his league last season.
    Latest On The Top Remaining Free Agent Starters Fri, 02 Mar 2018 18:44:10 +0000 The Nationals reportedly remain open to adding to their roster before the season begins, and while they’ve been oft-linked to top remaining free agent Jake Arrieta, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports that the Nats “haven’t engaged with Arrieta’s camp recently.” The Nationals, it seems (much like the rest of baseball), would be likelier to jump into the fray if Arrieta’s price drops.

    Castillo does note that at least three other clubs have made recent inquiries with Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras. One of those is likely the Phillies, who are reported to have an ongoing dialogue with Boras regarding Arrieta. However, most reports out of Philadelphia suggest that the Phils are loath to go beyond three years for the former NL Cy Yong winner, who will pitch this season at age 32 and has displayed some signs of decline in recent years — most notably a loss of velocity and worsened K/BB rates.

    Alternatives for the Nats, Phillies and other clubs searching for rotation upgrades are still on the market in the form of Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, who both remain unsigned. Todd Zolecki of writes, however, that the Phils are even less likely to sign Cobb or Lynn to a long-term deal than they are Arrieta (and again reports that the Phils don’t want to go past three years for Arrieta). Even a contract in the vicinity of Tyler Chatwood’s three-year, $38MM pact with the Cubs could be too rich for the Phillies’ tastes when it comes to Lynn and Cobb, Zolecki writes.

    It seems that virtually every club in need of rotation help is awaiting the asking price on the top three starters to drop. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden tweets that both Cobb and Lynn are still seeking guarantees worth more than $50MM. (It’s worth pointing out that the manner in which that report frames draft compensation is inaccurate; the draft/international penalty for signing any of Arrieta, Cobb or Lynn is not tied to that $50MM figure, but a deal of $50MM or more would improve the compensation for the teams losing those players.)

    The Orioles, Brewers, Phillies and Twins all hold varying levels of interest in Cobb and/or Lynn, Bowden notes, but not at the current asking price. The Twins’ level of interest in Lynn doesn’t appear to be especially high at this point, though. While Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN walks back a recent report a bit by tweeting that Minnesota’s offer to Lynn was for more than the $12MM he initially reported, he adds that it was nonetheless well shy of anything his camp considered and that there are no current talks between the two sides.

    Phillies Have Had Recent Contact With Lance Lynn Thu, 01 Mar 2018 15:58:06 +0000 March 1: The Phillies have at least “entertained” the possibility of signing two of the remaining starters, Morosi tweets, though he notes that such a scenario is unlikely.

    Feb. 28, 11:48pm: The Phillies have had recent contact with Lance Lynn and his agents at Excel Sports, tweets’s Jon Morosi, though Morosi notes that the two sides aren’t close to an agreement at this time. Philadelphia, of course, has been said to be monitoring the free-agent market for starters for the bulk of the offseason, most prominently being linked to Jake Arrieta.

    While the Phils haven’t been oft-connected to Lynn, there’s little surprise to the fact that they’re keeping tabs on his asking price and at least generally monitoring his market. Beyond top starter Aaron Nola, the Phillies have little in the way of rotation certainty, after all. Jerad Eickhoff and Vince Velasquez seem likely to break camp in the rotation, but Eickhoff struggled through a lackluster 2017 season while Velasquez was limited by injuries and ineffective when healthy. Both showed considerably more promise in 2016, though, and the general lack of experience throughout the remainder of the roster should give them spots.

    Other options for the Phillies include Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson, Ben Lively and Mark Leiter, though none from that bunch turned in an especially encouraging 2017 season — at least at the big league level. Drew Hutchison is easily the team’s most experienced non-roster invitee in camp, and he could conceivably force his way into the mix as well.

    Suffice it to say, there’s plenty of room to add an established veteran to the Phils’ starting corps. GM Matt Klentak and president Andy MacPhail have hardly shied away from free-agent spending this offseason, bringing in Carlos Santana (three years, $60MM), Tommy Hunter (two years, $18MM) and Pat Neshek (two years, $16.25MM) in addition to Hutchison’s non-guaranteed deal. Lynn would represent a fourth notable multi-year signing, though at this stage in the offseason and with a seemingly tepid market for his services, it’s possible that he could be had at a lower rate than many pundits expected when he rejected a $17.4MM qualifying offer from the Cardinals.

    That he rejected said QO, of course, means that the Phillies will lose more than just money by signing him. Bringing Lynn into the organization would require the team to forfeit its second-highest remaining draft pick as well as $500K worth of international bonus allotments. The Phillies already sacrificed their second-round pick by signing Santana, who also rejected a QO, so signing Lynn (or Arrieta or Alex Cobb) would require them to surrender their third-round selection while seeing their league-allotted international bonus pool reduced by another $500K.

    The 30-year-old Lynn (31 in May) returned from Tommy John surgery in 2017 to throw 186 1/3 innings of 3.43 ERA ball in 33 starts for the Cardinals. The surface-level numbers are impressive, but Lynn’s 7.4 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 1.3 HR/9 and 27.2 percent chase rate were all career-worsts. His .244 BABIP was the lowest mark among all qualified big league starters as well, while his 79 percent strand rate was tied for the ninth-highest. His four-seam fastball also sat at just 91.8 mph — down roughly a mile an hour from his peak years. For a pitcher who threw his heater a stunning 81.1 percent of the time in 2017 — 12.4 percent higher than the next pitcher on the list — that’s a troubling trend.

    Joseph Received Interest From KBO, NPB Teams Wed, 28 Feb 2018 02:35:46 +0000 The Phillies signed Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60MM contract this offseason, pushing Rhys Hoskins to the outfield and rendering Joseph without an opportunity outside of a bench role. Phils skipper Gabe Kapler has been playing Joseph in the corner outfield this spring to enhance his versatility, but Joseph still faces an uphill battle when it comes to securing even semi-regular at-bats in a crowded first base/outfield mix with the Phils.

    Despite the fact that he’s left without a clear role on the Phillies, Tommy Joseph turned away “serious interest” from teams in Japan and Korea this offseason, reports Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Joseph consulted with his former teammate, Darin Ruf, who spent the 2017 season playing with the Samsung Lions of the Korea Baseball Organization and raked at a .315/.396/.569 clip. Ruf recommended to Joseph that he should make the jump, but Joseph wasn’t ready to make that move just yet. “You never want to give up the opportunity to play in the major leagues,” said Joseph. “…I want a chance to be here and play in the big leagues.”

    The Phillies signed Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60MM contract this offseason, pushing Rhys Hoskins to the outfield and rendering Joseph without an opportunity outside of a bench role. Phils skipper Gabe Kapler has been playing Joseph in the corner outfield this spring to enhance his versatility, but Joseph still faces an uphill battle when it comes to securing even semi-regular at-bats in a crowded first base/outfield mix with the Phils.

    Morosi: Rangers Monitoring Top Available Starters Sun, 25 Feb 2018 22:59:27 +0000 Yankees manager Aaron Boone suggested Sunday that they won’t sign either Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb, yet the team has “maintained contact with Lynn throughout the offseason,” Jon Morosi of writes. The Yankees are monitoring the top available starters in general, according to Morosi, who hears that the Brewers, Phillies, Rangers, Orioles and Nationals are doing the same. The Angels, meanwhile, are open to signing the best free agent reliever, Greg Holland, if the price is right, per Morosi. The Halos’ bullpen has seemingly taken a step back since last year ended, having lost Yusmeiro Petit and Bud Norris to free agency and added only Jim Johnson. While Holland would help make up for those exits, he’s presumably not going to sign for cheap, and inking the qualifying offer recipient would cost the Angels their second-highest draft pick this year and $500K in international spending room.

    Will Middlebrooks Fractures Left Fibula Sun, 25 Feb 2018 20:50:04 +0000
  • Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a fractured left fibula and a potential ankle injury during the team’s game Saturday, per Todd Zolecki of It’s obviously an awful development for Middlebrooks, who joined the Phillies on a minors deal in January in hopes of earning a major league roster spot. Although Middlebrooks is likely to need surgery, he’s optimistic he’ll be able to play this season. Still, the 29-year-old admitted Sunday that he’s somewhat concerned about his future in baseball. “The game is getting younger every day,” Middlebrooks noted. “I’ll be 30 this year. Unfortunately, that’s not prime anymore. You look in this clubhouse and everybody is 23, 24 years old. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind. But the small window of time I’ve spent here with this staff and training staff, I think I’ll be just fine. If it takes two months, if it takes four or five months, I don’t know how long it’s going to take yet. I’m not counting myself out. I plan on playing this year.”
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