Philadelphia Phillies – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-09-19T04:38:57Z WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Adam Jones Discusses Vetoed Trade, Free Agency]]> 2018-09-19T04:38:57Z 2018-09-19T04:37:36Z It’s been widely reported that Adam Jones exercised his 10-and-5 rights to veto a trade that would’ve sent him from Baltimore to the Phillies shortly before the non-waiver trade deadline, and Jones publicly confirmed as much in an interview with Sara Perlman of on Facebook Live today (video link). Asked about the decision to do so, Jones gave a thoughtful and elaborate response:

It just wasn’t right for me. I was playing center field at the time, and they wanted me to go play right field and platoon. That was the situation there, and it’s understandable. That’s how their roster was constructed, and that’s National League ball — double-switch and all that kind of stuff. … It wasn’t the right move for me, especially going into free agency. I’m not going into free agency looking like I’m [Nolan] Arenado, [Manny] Machado or [Bryce] Harper — obviously not — but I want to continue to create and maintain my stock. Going there to platoon, obviously in a good environment, a winning environment, would’ve hurt me in the long run. If I was 36, 37, a little older and toward the end of it all, of course — that would’ve been a very ideal and smart move, because it’d make sense. … I wish the Phillies the best, because I believe they have a really good team.

Jones went on to discuss his upcoming foray into free agency — the first time at any point in his career that he’ll hit the open market. While he stated at multiple times that his preference is to play center field, he ultimately acknowledged, “Whoever wants me to run around [in the outfield] for them, whether it’s center, right, left, I could care less. I just want to play.”

The defensive alignment may or may not prove to be a deciding factor for Jones, but it’ll be a definite factor in which clubs opt to pursue the 33-year-old and in the types of offers he receives. Defensive metrics have been harsh on Jones’ work in center field for the past few seasons, and his right-field work hasn’t generated favorable reviews, either (-7 Defensive Runs Saved, -2.6 Ultimate Zone Rating in 210 innings). Jones notes that changing positions midseason has been more difficult than having a full offseason and Spring Training to get used to the different angles and reads that come with the move, though, and voices confidence that he could adjust in 2019 and beyond if need be.

Asked about his priorities in free agency, Jones said he “for sure” wants to sign with a winning club that can provide the “opportunity to play for something special.” That would seem to take the rebuilding Orioles largely out of the picture, making it increasingly likely that the O’s will go with a youthful outfield mix into 2019. While they club could add a veteran bridge at some point, prospects like Cedric Mullins and DJ Stewart figure to have ample opportunity to win playing time for themselves next year.

As for Jones himself, he’ll head into free agency at a difficult time. While he was a star-caliber player from 2012-15, his 2018 season hasn’t approached those heights. He’s hitting .285/.316/.427 thus far, giving him a roughly league-average batting line while trying to adapt to a new outfield slot. There’s some reason for optimism that his offense can rebound, as his strikeout rate is a career-low 15.1 percent after tonight’s game, and his exit velocity in 2018 is actually considerably higher than it was in 2017 (86.6 mph vs. 88 mph). Similarly, Statcast credits Jones with a 2.5 percent increase in his hard-contact rate.

But Jones will also be older than many of his free-agent peers — he’ll turn 34 next August — and he’ll hit free agency at a time when corner bats have struggled to generate significant interest both in trades and in free agency. Corner outfielders with shakier defensive reputations simply haven’t commanded significant investments unless they come with elite bats, which isn’t the case for Jones. He’ll also be part of a crowded group of outfielders, with Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, Michael Brantley, Andrew McCutchen and Nick Markakis among the names hitting free agency.

On top of that, free agency in general was a brutal reality check for many players last season, as the market yielded very few contracts that would’ve aligned with historically-based expectations. Among the second tier of outfielders last winter, veterans like Jon Jay ($3MM) and Carlos Gonzalez ($5MM) each settled for fairly disappointing one-year deals, though Jay Bruce still managed to get a contract that generally aligned with expectations (three years, $39MM). The very fact that multiple clubs tried to trade for Jones this past July is indicative that he’ll surely generate interest — but it probably won’t be at the price point most would’ve expected a few years ago.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rhys Hoskins Hires Scott Boras]]> 2018-09-19T01:38:04Z 2018-09-19T01:38:04Z Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins has enlisted agent Scott Boras to represent him moving forward, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports (via Twitter).

It’s a high-profile addition for the Boras Corporation, as Hoskins has quickly emerged as one of the game’s top home run hitters since debuting last August. Through 817 career plate appearances, Hoskins is a .253/.368/.529 hitter with 49 home runs and 41 doubles already under his belt.

The Phils have been playing Hoskins in left field this season following the signing of Carlos Santana to a three-year contract this offseason, though defensive ratings have been unkind, to say the least. Defensive Runs Saved pegs Hoskins at a whopping -25, while Ultimate Zone Rating (-11.5) and Statcast’s Outs Above Average (-18) are similarly bearish on the former first baseman’s glovework at his new position.

Hoskins won’t be arbitration-eligible until after the 2020 season, and he won’t reach free agency until the completion of the 2023 campaign. The move to the Boras Corporation is of particular note for Phils fans, though, given the rarity of multi-year extensions for Boras clients prior to reaching free agency. While there are some notable exceptions (Jered Weaver, Carlos Gonzalez, and Carlos Gomez among them), Boras clients typically don’t sign away free-agent seasons in advance.

MLBTR’s Agency Database, which contains representation info on upwards of 3,000 Major League and Minor League players, has been updated to reflect Hoskins’ switch. If you see any errors or omissions within the database, please let us know via email:

Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Matt Klentak On Phillies’ Season]]> 2018-09-17T03:26:17Z 2018-09-17T01:50:32Z As of July 31st, the Phillies were sitting comfortably in first place in the National League’s eastern division. That lead, and the talent that backed up the position in the standings, was enough to prompt ownership and management to make a few upgrades prior to the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. Indeed, the club continued to make moves afterwards, including the acquisitions of Justin Bour and Jose Bautista.

Sadly for Phillies fans, however, that hasn’t lasted down the stretch. The club sits 6.5 games back of the Braves in the division race, and 5.5 contests behind the Dodgers and Rockies in competition for the second Wild Card spot. The offense, rotation and bullpen have all suffered setbacks at key moments, which has resulted in the team losing major ground in the playoff hunt.’s Todd Zolecki wonders whether the Phillies regressed, or simply returned to reality after an unsustainable good start. Despite the club’s performance down the stretch, general manager Matt Klentak has taken an optimistic take on their analytical and managerial approach to gameplay.

“When I was brought in here three years ago I wasn’t brought in here to do things the way they’d always been done,” Klentak said. “You guys remember that there was a narrative surrounding the Phillies that they were slow to adjust. So, that is our job, to move the needle, to stay current and win baseball games.”  Klentak further explained that the Phillies are “not doing things so radically different that this has never been seen in baseball before” – even if some of those changes might be new to the organization.

“Candidly, this was an excellent season to try new things with a young roster and with relatively modest expectations and we did,” the Phillies’ general manager added. “Some of them worked and we’ll continue to use them, some of them didn’t and we won’t use them anymore. But we’ll continue pressing forward because that is our job.”

Klentak was also asked whether post-deadline roster chemistry might have had an impact on the club’s team-wide slump beginning in August. The manager assessed the situation and concluded that no one element was at fault for the collapse, or else they’d have been quick to identify it and make that adjustment. “We have theories about different things that may have contributed. It’s probably some kind of combination of a lot of things. I will not sit here and tell you the chemistry changed in such a way that that is the reason we struggled. I don’t believe that.”

Of course, it’s feasible to wonder whether the Phillies overachieved in the season’s first four months and simply regressed after the end of July. Klentak acknowledged that the team considered that possibility as the deadline approached, but felt compelled to go for it and acquire Wilson Ramos, Asdrubal Cabrera and Aaron Loup.  Klentak decided to further “double down” in August by adding Bour, Bautista, and Luis Avilan.

Though the playoffs are now a long shot for a Phillies club sitting 5.5 games back in the wild card with 14 left to play, the club is well-positioned to make a run at big names such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in free agency.  The club has six players under contract for about $70MM in 2019, plus a full slate of arbitration eligible players.  For a club that ran payrolls in the range of $140-175MM not long ago, just about anything will be on the table when the bidding begins.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Carlos Santana, Trade Candidate?]]> 2018-09-15T15:01:25Z 2018-09-15T15:01:25Z
  • Could the Phillies look to trade Carlos Santana this offseason?  “There has been some recent rumble” about the possibility, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury, though the idea seems rather speculative in nature.  Santana signed a three-year, $60MM deal to join the Phils just last winter, a signing that seemed surprising at the time since the club seemingly already had breakout rookie Rhys Hoskins established at first base.  Hoskins was shifted to left field instead, leading to a disastrous result from a defensive standpoint (-25 Defensive Runs Saved, -15.4 UZR/150).  Santana, meanwhile, has hit .233/.354/.429 with 23 homers over 616 PA — solid numbers, if less than the Phillies were expecting from the signing.  A Santana trade would allow Hoskins to return to first base, while allowing the Phillies to upgrade defensively at the very least in left field, and possibly make an even bigger all-around addition given how the team is thought to be preparing for a splashy offseason.  It’s worth noting that $25MM of Santana’s contract has already been paid out in salary and signing bonus, though even $35MM over the two remaining years could be a bit of a tough sell in trade talks, as Santana is limited to just first base (or DH) and he turns 34 in April.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Roman Quinn Suffers Broken Toe]]> 2018-09-08T23:44:08Z 2018-09-08T23:44:08Z
  • Phillies outfielder Roman Quinn broke one of the toes on his right foot, but it’s an injury he can play through, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia was among those to report. Quinn suffered the injury on a hit by pitch on Wednesday and hasn’t played since, though manager Gabe Kapler said the Phillies “have every assurance that this injury is a tolerance issue and when he’s ready to play, he’s good to go.” Nevertheless, as Salisbury details, it adds to a laundry list of injuries for the 25-year-old Quinn – who has still recorded good numbers since debuting last season. Over 153 major league PAs, including 84 this year, Quinn has hit .307/.371/.455 (121 wRC+) with 12 stolen bases.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 9/5/18]]> 2018-09-06T02:04:22Z 2018-09-06T02:03:41Z We’ll track Wednesday’s moves from around the league here…

    • After recently being designated for assignment, lefty Danny Coulombe was outrighted today by the Athletics. The 28-year-old has generated 9.9 K/9 on the year, while generating a strong 13.5% swinging-strike rate, but has also allowed 4.2 walks and 1.9 home runs per nine innings. He has surrendered a dozen earned runs in his 23 2/3 frames, but the more concerning number is the batting line posted this year by opposing southpaw hitters: .317/.364/.512.

    Earlier Moves

    • The Mariners announced that right-hander Rob Whalen has been outrighted off the 40-man roster following his DFA on Saturday. The 24-year-old tossed four shutout innings for the Mariners this season but carries an ugly 5.16 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 0.45 HR/9 in 99 1/3 innings with Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma. The former Mets/Braves farmhand has a career 5.75 ERA in 36 big league innings.
    • The Phillies announced that infielder Jesmuel Valentin has cleared waivers after being designated for assignment and been sent outright to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 24-year-old switch-hitter managed just a .177/.258/.304 slash through 89 plate appearances in the Majors this season and turned in a fairly underwhelming .240/.346/.341 slash in Triple-A prior to being removed from the 40-man roster. Valentin’s bat has wilted as he’s climbed the minor league ranks and faced more advanced competition, and he’s not considered a strong enough defender up the middle to be a glove-first utility option.
    • Right-hander Evan Marshall has accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus by the Indians, the team announced. Marshall threw well in 24 Triple-A innings this season (1.13 ERA, 21-to-3 K/BB ratio, 66.2 percent grounder rate) and picked up nine punchouts with a 56.5 percent ground-ball rate in the big league ’pen. He missed time earlier in the year with a right elbow issue, though, and has been hampered by numerous other issues in the past — most notably a terrifying, near-fatal skull fracture suffered in 2015 when he was struck in the head by a line-drive comebacker while pitching for the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate. If he doesn’t return to the Majors this season, the 28-year-old should find plenty of interest as a minor league free agent over the winter, given his strong showing in Triple-A and a lengthy track record of inducing grounders (55.9 percent in 92 2/3 MLB innings) and missing bats (career 12.5 percent swinging-strike rate).
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Claim Ben Lively, Designate Eric Stout For Assignment]]> 2018-09-05T19:06:20Z 2018-09-05T18:49:04Z The Royals have claimed right-hander Ben Lively off waivers from the Phillies, according to an announcement from both teams. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Royals have designated left-hander Eric Stout for assignment.

    Lively, 26, will give the Royals yet another arm to evaluate as they stockpile potential rotation pieces for the 2019 season and beyond. The right-hander, originally acquired by the Phils in the 2014 trade that sent Marlon Byrd to the Reds, has a minor league option remaining beyond the current season, so the Royals will be able to shuttle him back and forth between Omaha and the Majors next year — in the event that Lively survives the offseason on Kansas City’s 40-man roster.

    It’s been a tough season for Lively, who has missed time with a shoulder injury. He’s been hit hard to the tune of a 6.85 ERA in a tiny sample of 23 2/3 Major League innings this season, though his Triple-A work — 2.42 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 0.52 HR/9, 42.3 percent ground-ball rate in 52 innings — has been decidedly more encouraging. Lively ranked in the bottom half of the Phillies’ top 30 prospects in 2016-17, per Baseball America, drawing praise as a potential fifth starter at the big league level with average to fringe-average stuff across the board.

    Lively has a 2.97 ERA in 266 2/3 career innings of Triple-A work, making him a more or less MLB-ready asset on which the Royals are taking a chance. He also turned in a 4.26 ERA with less-encouraging peripheral marks through 88 2/3 innings with the Phils last season. The move to the American League probably won’t help Lively much, though he’s going from a homer-friendly home setting, Citizens Bank Park, to a fairly cavernous one in Kauffman Stadium.

    Stout, 25, was beat up for seven runs (six earned) in just 2 1/3 innings with the Royals earlier this season. Though he posted solid bottom-line numbers at Triple-A in 2017, his pedestrian K/BB numbers, low ground-ball rate and good fortune on homers allowed contributed to an FIP (4.24) and xFIP (5.26) that were markedly higher than last season’s 2.99 ERA. Through 55 Triple-A frames in 2018, he has indeed regressed, working to a 4.75 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 0.82 HR/9 and a 37.8 percent grounder rate. Lefties have posted a .725 OPS against Stout between the Majors and Minors this season, though to his credit, he held same-handed opponents to a putrid .193/.264/.301 slash with a 22.5 percent strikeout rate against a 7.5 percent walk rate in Omaha a year ago.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies Notes: Jordan, Kingery, Franco]]> 2018-09-05T16:50:48Z 2018-09-05T16:50:48Z Some further changes are on the horizon in the Phillies’ front office, as farm director Joe Jordan has stepped away from the organization, Matt Gelb of The Athletic writes (subscription link). The Phillies have since confirmed Jordan’s departure. Gelb characterizes a “rift” between Jordan and the new front office, headed by GM Matt Klentak and president Andy MacPhail. The 56-year-old Jordan told Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia that he “had the greatest job” but “walked into [Klentak’s] office and told him I didn’t think I was the guy to take this thing forward.” Jordan had held that position since being hired by Ruben Amaro back in 2011 but knew both Klentak and MacPhail from prior experience working with the pair in the Orioles’ front office. Gelb’s column details Jordan’s departure at length, noting that increased usage of data, analytics and Trackman technology at the minor league levels have all been implemented under the new regime — among numerous other changes.

    A bit more out of Philadelphia…

    • Phillies skipper Gabe Kapler tells Scott Labuer of the Philadelphia Inquirer that the organization isn’t planning on assigning one set position to super-utilityman Scott Kingery at any point in the near future. Kingery has played shortstop primarily over the past couple of months but is also seen as an option at second, third and in the outfield. “The most sensitive, direct, and understanding way I can answer this question  is that we don’t know,” Kapler says in response to questions of Kingery’s placement on the diamond in the long-term. Lauber also speaks at length with Cardinals third base coach and former big league utilityman Jose Oquendo about the manner in which Kingery has been used, as Oquendo himself was once one of the game’s most prominent utility pieces. Oquendo offers some veteran insight as a former player who thrived in that role for years, stressing that as long as the player buys in, he can enjoy success in that role. As Lauber notes, Kingery’s versatility should afford the front office plenty of flexibility in the offseason.
    • Salisbury also writes that third baseman Maikel Franco is likely headed to meet with a specialist to have his ailing right wrist examined today. Franco was among the Phils’ hottest hitters for much of July and in early August, but his bat has faded as he’s played through considerable pain. With the 26-year-old Franco currently unavailable, trade acquisition Asdrubal Cabrera has been logging most of the time at third base. The Phillies did bring J.P. Crawford up as part of their slate of September call-ups and, paired with Kingery, that gives them several options to fill out the left side of the diamond. Pedro Florimon is also back with the big league club as an infield option on the left side.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Ryan Howard Announces Retirement]]> 2018-09-04T14:42:38Z 2018-09-04T14:42:38Z Long-time MLB slugger Ryan Howard announced in a post today at The Player’s Tribune that he is retiring from the game of baseball. Howard had not played during the 2018 season, but also had not formally hung up his spikes.

    Howard will finish out his big-league playing tenure having logged time in 13 seasons, all of them with the Phillies. Though he spent time with the Rockies and Braves organizations last year, Howard’s final MLB showing came in 2016 with Philadelphia.

    It’s perhaps too easy to forget now that Howard was once one of the game’s most productive power hitters. He was voted the National League’s Rookie of the Year in 2005 and its Most Valuable Player in 2006, emerging alongside players such as Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, and Cole Hamels to form a core that would soon take the game by storm.

    As it turned out, the fate of the Phillies was tied closely to that of its first baseman. Howard finished in the top-ten of MVP voting in every one of the five ensuing seasons, 2007 through 2011, helping to drive the club’s five-year run of NL East titles.

    Though the 2008 World Series win represents the crowning achievement of that era of Phillies baseball, the 2011 club actually turned in the most impressive regular-season performance with an excellent 102-60 record. That great team was bounced in stunning fashion from the postseason, though, with Howard making the final out of the NLDS on a play in which he tore his left Achilles tendon.

    As went Howard, so went the Phillies; neither was the same from that point forward. The once-feared slugger posted a .226/.292/.427 batting line over the next five seasons. The club played a cumulative 88 games under .500 in the same span.

    Of course, the relationship might have ended much sooner had it not been for the fact that Howard signed a five-year, $125MM extension at the start of the 2010 season — an agreement we examined at length after its conclusion. As I explained in that post, the cracks in Howard’s game may not have been obvious at the time of the deal, but began to show not long after.

    Mostly, of course, the contract represented a combination of partially but not completely related failures: then-GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies’ brass did not accurately project Howard’s future and the big man’s body did not hold up. There was some tension later in his tenure with the team, though ultimately he played out his contract and bowed out after some nice moments to wrap things up in Philadelphia.

    While the club did not achieve value on that contract, it certainly made out quite well overall on a player who came to the organization as a fifth-round pick in the 2001 draft. And Howard expressed fond memories in his farewell statement, which is well worth a full read. MLBTR wishes him all the best in his future endeavors.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Activate Jerad Eickhoff, Designate Ben Lively]]> 2018-09-03T15:58:42Z 2018-09-03T15:33:50Z The Phillies have activated right-hander Jerad Eickhoff from the 60-day disabled list and designated fellow righty Ben Lively for assignment, Todd Zolecki of tweets.

    Eickhoff’s finally in line to pitch after going down in mid-March with a lat strain, an injury that was only supposed to shelve him for six to eight weeks. The 28-year-old ended up missing nearly six months, though, as he suffered multiple setbacks during his recovery and was even checked for thoracic outlet syndrome along the way. Fortunately, Eickhoff dodged that injury – often a catastrophic one for pitchers. He also pitched well in the minors during the rehab process, including at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he logged a 2.90 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 18 2/3 innings.

    Prior to what has essentially been a lost 2018 for Eickhoff, he held his own at times with the Phillies from 2015-17, combining for a 3.87 ERA/4.10 FIP with 7.99 K/9 and 2.58 BB/9 over 376 1/3 frames. Eickhoff started in all 65 appearances during that span, but he may work as a reliever upon his return. The Phillies’ rotation has been among the majors’ best, after all, as Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, Vince Velazquez and Nick Pivetta have each done respectable to exemplary work over 20-plus starts apiece.

    Lively, a Phillie since they acquired him from the Reds for outfielder Marlon Byrd in a 2014 trade, may be on his way to his third organization. The 26-year-old cracked the Phillies’ season-opening rotation and struggled across five starts before succumbing to a back injury, as he posted a 6.85 ERA/5.14 FIP and a 27.5 percent groundball rate over 23 2/3 innings. But Lively did log a solid strikeout rate (8.37 per nine), and he’s only a year removed from providing a passable 4.26 ERA/4.97 FIP in 15 starts and 88 2/3 innings with the Phillies. Plus, Lively has excelled at the Triple-A level this season, with a 2.42 ERA/3.21 FIP and 8.13 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 in 52 frames.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[September Call-Ups: 9/1/18]]> 2018-09-01T22:38:55Z 2018-09-01T21:24:34Z A few call-ups were announced yesterday, but we’re likely to see far more prospect promotions and even contract selections take place today as rosters expand. We’ll use this post to keep track of those moves…

    • The Marlins selected the contract of righty starter Jeff Brigham today; he’ll be among those playing in the majors for the first time ever. Brigham’s solid 3.44 ERA in Triple-A this season is muddied a bit by his 4.45 FIP, but he’s maintained solid ratios. Brigham’s 8.25 K/9 and brilliant 2.24 BB/9 give him a solid 3.69 K/BB ratio that probably looks quite nice to a Marlins club that’s hurting for serviceable major league starters. Miami has also recalled right-handers Sandy Alcantara and Nick Wittgren along with catcher Chad Wallach.
    • The Athletics selected several contracts today, including that of catching prospect Beau Taylor. The lefty-hitting backstop has never played in the majors, but he’s done well for himself at the Triple-A level this season by drawing walks in 14% of his plate appearances while hitting .248. He’s even chipped in a pair of stolen bases. The biggest knock on Taylor is his lack of power; the 28-year-old owns a sub-.100 ISO and has never hit more than eight homers in a given season. Other contracts selected by the Astros today include those of lefty Dean Kiekhefer and righties Chris Hatcher and Liam Hendriks. The A’s recalled lefty Daniel Coulombe and shortstop Franklin Barreto as well.  
    • The Indians selected the contract of right-hander Jon Edwards today, who hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2015. The 30-year-old Edwards has done well for himself in the Tribe’s minor league system in 2018, though, racking up 56 strikeouts in just 39 1/3 innings while pitching to a 3.64 ERA. Though he’s exhibited extreme control issues in the past, his 2.70 BB/9 in 30 innings with Triple-A Columbus suggests there’s a possibility he’s put those problems behind him. The Tribe promoted catcher Eric Haase to the majors alongside him.


    • The Mariners have selected the contract of Justin Grimm among their September moves, whom they signed to a minor league contract on July 25th. Grimm’s been plagued by shoulder and back issues all season and struggled to a cataclysmic 13.50 ERA in 12 2/3 innings for the Royals earlier this season, which led to his release early on in the summer. With the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, though, he’s put up a pristine 1.64 ERA and an even more impressive 13.91 K/9 mark. In addition to Grimm, Seattle also selected the contract of Kristopher Negron, and recalled right-handers Chasen Bradford and Ryan Cook, lefty James Pazos, catcher David Freitas.
    • The Nationals have selected the contract of right-hander Austen Williams, who’ll be getting his first MLB cup of coffee this September. He’s been quite impressive in the upper minors this season, including a 0.55 ERA in 16 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. That’s backed up by excellent peripherals, including 20 strikeouts against just four walks. Williams had pitched exclusively as a starter until this season, and it appears a transition to a relief role has catapulted him to a status as an incredibly intriguing talent. The Nats also recalled catcher Pedro Severino to fill in while Wieters is dealing with a hip/groin injury (per Jamal Collier of
    • The White Sox promoted Caleb Frare to get his first taste of the bigs; as James Fegan of The Athletic points out, he needed to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the coming winter’s Rule 5 Draft. They’ve good reason to do so, as the lefty reliever has thrived with the organization ever since being acquired from the Yankees a month ago in exchange for $1.5MM in international bonus pool funds. He’s put up fantastic numbers in 12 2/3 innings at Triple-A Charlotte, including a 0.71 ERA and 13.50 K/9. Aaron Bummer will join him as the other White Sox player to receive a September promotion so far.
    • The Royals have selected the contract of catcher Meibrys Viloria to account for the hole left by Drew Butera, who was traded to the Rockies yesterday. Fascinatingly, Kansas City decided to promote the 21-year-old Columbia native even though he’s never played above the High-A level. He’s done just fine there, though, batting .260/.342/.360 in 407 plate appearances over the course of 2018. Viriola is expected to maje his MLB debut as early as this week while mainstay catcher Salvador Perez deals with a sprained thumb.
    • After a short stay in the minors, righty reliever Ray Black is back up with the Giants. He’s had a poor showing in the majors so far, allowing ten earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. He did manage to strike out 22 batters in that span, though, and owns a 2.11 FIP in 25 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season. His blistering 16.13 K/9 at that level perhaps speaks to his potential even more.
    • The Cardinals recalled catcher Carson Kelly today, who’s widely considered to be the club’s catcher of the future once Yadier Molina’s contract is complete. However, he’s yet to prove his worth at the major-league level, as evidenced by his .150/.216/.187 batting line across 118 MLB plate appearances. The Redbirds have also called up lefty Tyler Webb and righty Daniel Poncedeleon.
    • The Phillies have opted to recall outfielder Aaron Altherr, who’d largely been a fixture in the club’s major-league outfield for the past two seasons prior to a late-July demotion. While his 13.3% walk rate so far this season was downright fantastic, that was about the only aspect of Altherr’s performance to be happy about; he was striking out at a 32.7% clip while hitting just .171 and slugging just .305. Philadelphia also added outfielder Dylan Cozens and righty reliever Yacksel Rios to their active roster.
    • The Yankees are set to give right-hander Stephen Tarpley his first taste of major-league action after selecting his contract earlier today. Tarpley is quite an interesting arm-he’s been utilized as a multi-inning reliever at two levels of the minors this year, and to great effect. Most recently, he’s pitched to a 2.65 ERA and 10.06 K/9 across 17 appearances spanning 34 innings at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Infielder Tyler Wade and right-hander Luis Cessa will also join the MLB club as rosters expand.
    • The Mets will give righty Eric Hanhold his first taste of major-league action, MLBTR has learned. Acquired in the 2017 trade that sent Neil Walker to the Brewers, Hanhold has apparently been quite unlucky to own his 7.11 ERA at Triple-A this season. Rather, his 3.43 FIP in 19 innings at that level produces some level of optimism that he can serve as a quality reliever in the majors. A .429 BABIP and 2.86 K/BB ratio further strengthen that case.
    • The Reds are set to give shortstop prospect Blake Trahan a September call-up, as C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic was among those to tweet. Trahan came to the Reds by way of the club’s third-round draft pick back in 2015. He did not rank amongst MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Reds prospects in the publication’s most recent rankings, though Fangraphs ranks him 24th in that regard thanks to a 55 speed tool and a 60-grade arm. He’s also likely to be a league-average shortstop. That’s about all there is to like about Trahan at present, as he’s only hit .245/.327/.302 at the minors’ highest level.
    • The Reds have also recalled Lucas Sims, who arrived in Cincinnati just prior to the non-waiver trade deadline as part of the package in exchange for sending Adam Duvall to Atlanta. Sims owns a 5.96 ERA and 7.15 K/9 in a Braves uniform, but his minors track record indicates he might have better days yet to come; the righty has managed to strike out at least ten batters per nine innings at every level of the minors post-Rookie ball, and has a sub-4.00 MiLB ERA in each of the past two seasons.
    • The Twins will promote right-hander Zach Littell, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP. Littell has but 3 1/3 innings of MLB experience, during which time he allowed seven earned runs with one strikeout en route to a demotion. His 3.57 ERA at Triple-A this season is far more palatable, albeit unspectacular.
    • The Twins also announced that they’ve selected the contract of left-hander Andrew Vasquez, who’ll be receiving his first cup of coffee after pitching to a sub-1.50 ERA out of minor-league bullpens across the past three seasons combined. They’ve also selected catcher Chris Gimenez in addition to recalling outfielder Johnny Field and right-hander Tyler Duffey.
    • The Red Sox have officially recalled five players, including first base/outfield type Sam Travis. After serving as a somewhat serviceable piece in 2017 (.263/.325/.342 batting line), Travis has struggled in limited major-league action this year to the tune of a 45 wRC+ and -0.1 fWAR. Boston has also promoted left-handers Bobby Poyner and Robby Scott, as well as right-hander William Cuevas and infielder Tzu-Wei Lin.
    • The Tigers have recalled right-hander Sandy Baez from Double-A Erie, per a club announcement. Baez made his major-league debut back on June 4th, entering the game in relief during a double-header. He didn’t allow any runs in 4 1/3 innings, though he did walk three batters in that appearance. Aside from that, Baez has never pitched above Double-A, and owns a troublesome 5.64 ERA there on the 2018 season, in part due to command issues.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Blue Jays Claim Mark Leiter Jr.]]> 2018-09-01T18:09:22Z 2018-09-01T18:09:22Z The Blue Jays and Phillies have both announced that Toronto claimed right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. off waivers from Philadelphia. Leiter Jr. had been designated for assignment earlier in the week.

    Leiter Jr. got his first taste of major-league action with the Phillies last season, tossing 90 2/3 innings in The Show. His initial performance was somewhat encouraging, as he posted a 3.88 ERA with a 7.89 K/9 figure through August. That showing was largely discredited by a 4.79 FIP, though, and come September the wheels fell off entirely. During a catastrophic final month of the year, Leiter Jr. allowed 22 earned runs in 25 2/3 innings, which included eight homers hit off the right-hander.

    This season has been, in some ways, even worse for the 27-year-old. While his 5.40 ERA across 12 relief appearances seems troublesome, the 7.11 FIP beneath the surface is downright dreadful. During those 16 2/3 innings, he’s also walked a whopping eight batters while allowing five home runs. All this has led to Leiter Jr. costing his team roughly half a win (per Fangraphs’ WAR formula) below that of a replacement level player.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Phillies Designate Jesmuel Valentin]]> 2018-09-01T17:24:04Z 2018-09-01T17:24:04Z The Phillies have designated infielder Jesmuel Valdin for assignment, per a club announcement. The move was made in order to clear room for Pedro Florimon, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list.

    Valentin, originally drafted by the Dodgers, has been with the Phillies organization since 2014. He’s played both second and third base in the minor leagues, and earned his first taste of MLB action this season after batting .240/.346/.341 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. That batting line came with a pair of homers and a trio of steals.

    His debut hasn’t gone well. Valentin has struck out at a 27.0% clip across 89 major-league plate appearances and mustered only a .177/.258/.304 line. Fangraphs doesn’t care much for him defensively, either, as evidenced by his -1.7 rating in that area of gameplay. With little value in the field and a 52 wRC+ during his first MLB showing, Valentin will enter the waiver wire and be available to be claimed by any rival club.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[International Notes & Signings: D-Backs, Angels, Orioles, Royals]]> 2018-08-31T13:07:53Z 2018-08-31T13:07:53Z Here’s the latest news from the international scene:

    • Major League Baseball announced on Thursday the launch of a new Trainer Partnership Program that will strive to combat PED use among international amateurs prior to their signing with MLB organizations. The new partnership, per the league’s formal announcement, will require participating trainers to “enroll their players in MLB’s drug testing program, submit themselves and their employees to background checks, keep updated records of amateur players in their care, and comply with MLB rules regarding international players.” In exchange for that level of transparency, MLB will provide enrolled trainers and their players with “enhanced scouting opportunities.” The league will also promote trainers who are enrolled in the Partnership Program to Latin American players and their families.
    • It’s obviously good to hear of an initiative that holds out the promise of improving the health and wellness of young amateur players, though of course many have argued that the trainers (generally known as “buscones” in Latin America) have themselves played a major role in creating the problematic conditions in the first place. MLB’s engagement with this shadowy world has long been a point of controversy without clear solutions. It seems that this agreement represents quite a notable step toward a more formalized relationship between the league and at least certain trainers, though no doubt there’ll still be quite a lot to sort out along the way.
    • In Japan, meanwhile, MLB teams interact with amateur and professional talent under quite different circumstances. Generally, young Japanese players spend quite a bit of time playing professionally in their home country before the possibility of hopping the Pacific is entertained. But there have been notable exceptions — specifically, Junichi Tazawa — and now the Diamondbacks have potentially upset the apple cart by reportedly agreeing to terms with a 23-year-old amateur Japanese hurler named Shumpei Yoshikawa. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic says there is indeed an agreement in place, as Japanese media reports had indicated, with a $650K bonus going to Yoshikawa if it is finalized. As Piecoro explains, that signing seemingly violates the norms of player movement between Japan and the majors. While in this case the player in question was pitching in the Industrial League after previously being bypassed in the Nippon Professional Baseball draft, he had emerged as a significant NPB draft target. It’s certainly an interesting development; those who wish to learn more on the subject should read the full article.
    • While many teams have already done the bulk of their heavy lifting on the international prospect market, additional signings will nonetheless filter in between now and next June. A few that have surfaced over the past couple of days …
    • The Angels have signed Dominican outfield prospect Alexander Ramirez, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Ramirez, who took home a $1MM bonus according to Ben Badler of Baseball America (also via Twitter), ranked 24th on’s rankings of this year’s international prospects and 25th on Badler’s rankings over at BA. He had to wait until his 16th birthday (yesterday) for the signing to become official. Badler noted that Ramirez has average tools across the board, adding that scouts who like him the most are highest on his hit tool.
    • Elsewhere, the Orioles announced another pair of international signings this week, adding 16-year-old infielder Moises Ramirez and right-hander Carlos Del Rosario — both out of the Dominican Republic. Neither was considered among the top 50 amateurs on this offseason’s class, per Baseball America’s rankings, though it’s nonetheless notable to see Baltimore continue to make some additions from a market they’d previously avoided almost entirely. Then again, the O’s did still dish out $750K of their 2018-19 pool in order to acquire first-base prospect Jack Zoellner — a 23-year-old 2017 ninth-rounder still in Rookie ball — in a trade with the Phillies earlier this week. And the Royals have signed right-hander Jin Woo-young — a high school righty out of South Korea (h/t: Dan Kurtz of, on Twitter). Naver Sports reports that he received a bonus of $150K.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Phillies Designate Mark Leiter]]> 2018-08-28T18:50:19Z 2018-08-28T17:31:57Z The Phillies have designated right Mark Leiter, per a club announcement. That move will open the door for the acquisition of Jose Bautista, which is also now official.

    Leiter, 27, has appeared in each of the past two major-league seasons. But he has yet to find much in the way of success at the game’s highest level. Through 107 1/3 MLB innings, most of them in 2017, he carries a 5.03 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.

    A 22nd-round pick in 2013, Leiter put himself in contention for a MLB look with a strong 2016 season at Double-A. He hasn’t actually spent much time at the highest level of the minors, but has shown a bit more strikeout potential there than at his other stops. In 58 1/3 total frames at Triple-A, Leiter carries a 4.01 ERA with 10.5 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.