Philadelphia Phillies – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-06-06T02:40:39Z WordPress Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Expect Seranthony Dominguez To Undergo Tommy John Surgery]]> 2020-06-05T20:55:59Z 2020-06-05T20:55:10Z After being stranded in his native Dominican Republic for several weeks because of travel restrictions, Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez has returned to the United States, Matt Gelb of The Athletic reports. Now that Dominguez is back, the Phillies expect that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery on his torn right ulnar collateral ligament sometime soon – perhaps as early as this month – according to Gelb.

Surgery has long seemed like the probable route for Dominguez, as doctors recommended he undergo the procedure back in late March. Because Dominguez has had to wait so long since then, though, his delay in returning to a major league mound will drag on for an especially lengthy period of time. The typical Tommy John recovery takes 12 to 18 months, so he’ll miss all of this season (provided there is one) and could sit out most or all of 2021.

It has been exactly one full year since Dominguez last took the hill on June 5, 2019, after which his UCL injury cut him down. The 25-year-old concluded 2019 with 24 2/3 innings of 4.01 ERA/4.02 FIP ball and 10.58 K/9, 4.38 BB/9, and a 54.5 percent groundball rate. The flamethrowing Dominguez burst on the scene during the previous season with a 2.95 ERA/2.85 FIP, 11.48 K/9 against 3.41 BB/9, and a 55.7 percent grounder mark over 58 frames.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Quick Hits: A’s, Phillies, Yankees, Mets]]> 2020-06-04T02:11:18Z 2020-06-04T02:11:18Z Checking in on a few MLB teams…

  • Athletics owner John J. Fisher made the widely panned decision last week to stop paying minor leaguers at the end of May. Industry sources told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle they’re of the belief that “the front office was tremendously disappointed” in A’s ownership’s call. It’s a choice that Slusser notes could have a negative effect on the A’s after next week’s five-round draft, as various minor leaguers and agents told Slusser the A’s would not be their No. 1 choice. However, as Slusser writes, Oakland still has a chance to land talent if it’s willing to pay enough, and if it presents the best opportunity to the player.
  • With no season underway yet, the Phillies are in cost-cutting mode. Owner John Middleton told full-time employees in an email Monday that the team’s projecting losses of “substantially more than $100 million” in 2020, Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. As a result, anyone in the team’s business department who’s on a $90K salary or above must take a pay cut. The Phillies will continue to provide health insurance, pension and 401(k) benefits to their full-time staff. However, because there may not be fans in the stands this year, the team’s facing “an enormous financial challenge” according to Middleton, who wrote that “approximately 40% of our total annual revenue is generated by attendance — tickets, food and merchandise concessions, parking and sponsorships.” Of course, the lack of fans is one of the reasons the owners have pushed for a far smaller schedule this year. They and the players have not been on the same wavelength in negotiations, though.
  • Teams are expected to have a few extra rosters if there is a season in 2020. Between that and likely a lack of a minor league campaign, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News has been profiling Yankees pitching prospects who could get to the majors sooner than expected this year. Right-handers Deivi Garcia (link) and Clarke Schmidt (link) are among them. Garcia (No. 3) ranks a bit below Schmidt (No. 2) on Baseball America’s list of Yankees farmhands, and the scouts Ackert spoke with are optimistic they’ll turn into capable major league contributors.
  • The Mets have reopened their spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., to players for the first time since late March, Anthony DiComo of writes. Four to six players, including catcher Wilson Ramos, have resumed training at the facility. It’s an encouraging sign that they’re getting back to work, though DiComo points out that the players must follow “MLB, CDC, and local and state safety protocols.”
Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Release T.J. Rivera]]> 2020-05-30T01:36:02Z 2020-05-29T20:55:04Z Infielder T.J. Rivera was among the minor league players the Phillies released Friday, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets. It’s not yet known which other players the Phillies cut.

Rivera signed a minors pact with the Phillies back in December, at which point he was coming off a respectable offensive run with the division-rival Mets. The 31-year-old was a .304/.335/,445 hitter with a meager 14.2 percent strikeout rate in 344 plate appearances from 2016-17, though health problems have taken a sledgehammer to his career since then.

Rivera underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2017, and his Mets tenure came to a close when they released him in March 2019. He has since played with the Nationals’ Double-A affiliate, in the Puerto Rican and Dominican Winter Leagues, and with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League. If another major league team does take a chance on Rivera, he’ll surely have to work his way back via the minors, where he has performed well. Rivera is the owner of a .335/.375/.490 line in 663 trips to the plate in Triple-A ball.

Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Which 15 Players Should The Phillies Protect In An Expansion Draft?]]> 2020-05-28T18:07:44Z 2020-05-28T18:00:56Z In a few weeks, we’ll be running a two-team mock expansion draft here at MLBTR – just for the fun of it!  Currently, we’re creating 15-player protected lists for each of the existing 30 teams.  You can catch up on the rules for player eligibility here.

The American League results are in!  Click here to see who’s protected and who’s available for each AL team.

Click here for previous entries in the series.  The Phillies are up next.

First, we’ll remove free agents J.T. Realmuto, Jay Bruce, Tommy Hunter, Jake Arrieta, Didi Gregorius, Jose Alvarez, and David Robertson from consideration.  Bryce Harper and Jean Segura will make the protected list due to their no-trade clauses.  As Baseball America Top 100 prospects with a 2020 ETA, Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm will also make the list.  We’ll protect a total of 11 players out of the gate:

Bryce Harper
Jean Segura
Spencer Howard
Alec Bohm
Aaron Nola
Rhys Hoskins
Scott Kingery
Zack Wheeler
Zach Eflin
Adam Haseley
Hector Neris

That leaves four spots for the remaining 19 players.  Check out the Phillies’ contract statuses here.

Vìctor Arano
Austin Davis
Enyel De Los Santos
Seranthony Dominguez
Edgar Garcia
Kyle Garlick
Deivy Grullon
Deolis Guerra
Cole Irvin
Andrew Knapp
Reggie McClain
Andrew McCutchen
Adam Morgan
Nick Pivetta
Roman Quinn
Robert Stock
Ranger Suarez
Vince Velasquez
Nick Williams

With that, we turn it over to the MLBTR readership! In the poll below (direct link here), select exactly four players you think the Phillies should protect in our upcoming mock expansion draft.  Click here to view the results.

Create your own user feedback survey

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Furloughs, Pay Cuts Among MLB Clubs]]> 2020-05-28T00:08:21Z 2020-05-27T23:09:46Z 6:09pm: The Rangers have committed to $400 a week for their minor leaguers through at least June, Levi Weaver of The Athletic was among those to report. The same goes for the Braves, per David O’Brien of The Athletic, as well as the Diamondbacks, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic adds.

12:59pm: The Padres will also pay their minor leaguers the $400 weekly stipend through the end of August, Dennis Lin of The Athletic tweets.

12:34pm: Most of MLB’s 30 organizations agreed a ways back to pay their employees through the end of May. There were instances of lengthier commitments, but May 31 was broadly used as an initial endpoint, at which time fiscal matters would be reassessed. Minor league players have been receiving $400 weekly stipends during this time, but that arrangement is also only promised through the end of May. As you’d expect, clubs have begun to inform employees (both on the business and baseball operations side) and minor leaguers of their next steps. And, as you’d expect, in some instances it’s not pretty.

Yesterday was a particularly dark day in the Athletics organization, as ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the team informed minor league players they will no longer be paid their stipend as of June 1. Robert Murray of The Score shares the email that was sent to Oakland minor leaguers — one which was signed by GM David Forst rather than managing partner John J. Fisher. (Forst, of course, is being asked to play the messenger in this instance and is not the one making the decisions.)

Minor league players are generally undercompensated as a whole, and the $400 weekly stipend they’ve received over the past two months will now seemingly go down as the only baseball-related compensation they’ll receive in the calendar year. Their contracts, which are in a state of suspension but not terminated, bar them from “perform[ing] services for any other Club” and also render them ineligible for unemployment benefits, per The Athletic’s Emily Waldon (Twitter link).

As for the operations side of the equation, Athletics front office personnel will be either furloughed or see their pay reduced effective June 1 and running through the end of October, The Athletic’s Alex Coffey reports (Twitter thread). She adds that the maximum cut is 33 percent, and those determinations are based on seniority. Scouts aren’t considered front-office personnel, but they’ll be hit hard as well; USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that A’s amateur and pro scouts alike will be furloughed from June 16 through Oct. 31. Fisher did write a letter to the club’s fanbase confirming the dramatic cuts (Twitter link via the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser), emphasizing the pain that went into the decisions and his “deep commitment to the long-term future of the A’s.”

Those cutbacks are similar to the substantial cuts the Angels put in place earlier this month, but other L.A. club isn’t taking such rash measures. The Dodgers have informed all employees earning more than $75K that they’ll be subject to pay reductions beginning June 1, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN (Twitter thread). The extent of the reductions is dependent on overall salary — larger salaries get larger percentage cuts — and will be capped at 35 percent for the most part, although that they could be greater for the team’s very top executives. Those measures are being taken in an effort to avoid the type of large-scale furloughs being put in place in Oakland and Anaheim.

Across the country, the Nationals have implemented a series of partial furloughs both in baseball ops and business ops, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post reports (Twitter thread). The Nats are still covering full benefits and haven’t made any layoffs, but they’re implementing a sequence of 10 to 30 percent reductions in pay and total hours. The Brewers, meanwhile aren’t making any baseball ops furloughs but are furloughing some business operation employees, Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets.

It’s not yet clear how every organization plans to handle the minor league pay dilemma, but Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser has heard from at least three clubs that plan to continue varying levels of compensation. The Phillies will keep paying their minor leaguers through at least June, but likely at less than the current $400 stipend. The White Sox are paying $400 per week through the end of June, and the Marlins have committed to paying their minor leaguers the full $400 per week through August — the would-be conclusion of the 2020 minor league season. The Marlins already informed players earlier this month that about 40 percent of the baseball ops department will be furloughed on June 1.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Teams’ Plans For Second Spring Training]]> 2020-05-22T16:55:02Z 2020-05-22T14:27:51Z While the league and the MLBPA have yet to reach a formal agreement on either player compensation or health/safety protocols for a rebooted 2020 season, teams are still preparing for a shortened restart of “Spring” Training — ideally beginning in mid-June. The goal is for a three-week training period to lead into an 82-game season that kicks off in early July. The latest on plans for a few NL clubs…

  • The Mets will likely hold their version of Spring Training 2.0 at their spring facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla. rather than at Citi Field in New York, Tim Healey of Newsday reports. New York City remains the U.S. epicenter for the coronavirus, and beyond the pure health aspect of the decision, staging their training camp in Florida gives the Mets access to multiple fields. As Healey notes, the Mets completed a $57MM renovation project at Clover Field back in February, which has improved the overall quality of the facilities and equipment available to Mets players — several of whom are already in Florida.
  • The Phillies are likely to remain in Philadelphia for their second wave of Spring Training, per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The Phillies’ Urban Youth Academy, across the street from Citizen’s Bank Park, has two full-size fields that could be made available, and Salisbury notes that the Phils have ownership stake in their nearby Triple-A and Double-A affiliates, which could allow those parks to be used as well. Both affiliates are fewer than 70 miles away from Citizen’s Bank Park.
  • The Diamondbacks have opened Chase Field for individual workouts, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. Unlike other clubs, the D-backs have the luxury of their home field and spring facility being a mere 20 miles apart. Nightengale notes that in addition to Chase Field opening up, some players are also reporting to the Salt River Fields spring facility in preparation for a second Spring Training.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Former No. 3 Pick’s Path To MLB Would Be Accelerated With Universal DH]]> 2020-05-21T21:40:03Z 2020-05-21T17:21:30Z We’ve already sorted through the rest of the NL East (Braves, Nationals, Mets, Marlins) when looking at how the likely addition of a universal DH might impact the teams within. How might the Phillies react to the change? The Phils have a reasonably experienced lineup, with only presumptive center fielder Adam Haseley checking in at under a year of big league service time. The group was a middle-of-the-pack unit in the NL last year, ranking eighth in runs scored (774), tenth in wRC+ (91) and 11th in home runs (215).

Among in-house veterans, Jay Bruce leads the pack of DH candidates. Acquired last year shortly before Andrew McCutchen tore his ACL, Bruce continued to show off huge power but posted bottom-of-the-barrel OBP numbers: a .261 OBP and a career-low 5.7 percent walk rate. If his days an even passable OBP threat are behind him, perhaps he’s no longer suited for this role, but he’ll probably get some opportunities to bounce back. He’ll likely need a right-handed platoon partner. The Phils have no shortage of non-roster veterans who could factor into the mix, including Logan Forsythe, Josh Harrison and Neil Walker (although Walker is a much better left-handed hitter than he is right-handed).

The bigger question in Philly, though, is whether the advent of the NL DH and the likely expansion of rosters will push top prospect Alec Bohm to the big league level. Bohm hasn’t appeared above Double-A yet, but the former No. 3 overall draft pick clobbered High-A and Double-A pitching last year, hitting at a combined .305/.378/.518 clip in 540 plate appearances. Bohm walked in 10.6 percent of his plate appearances against a mere 13.5 percent strikeout rate. There’s no guarantee that any minor league games will be played in 2020, and he was widely expected to debut at some point in 2020 anyhow. Given Bohm’s status as a consensus top 60 prospect, the Phillies can’t be keen on him missing a year’s worth of games.

If Bohm holds his own in the Majors, the benefits to the Phillies are substantial. Jean Segura could move from third base to second base, freeing Scott Kingery up to embrace a super-utility role or simply allowing him to supplant Haseley as the everyday center fielder. Kingery rated well at virtually every position he played in 2019, and his bat is an upgrade over that of Haseley. With a DH spot added, there’s room for each of Bohm, Segura and Kingery to regularly factor into the lineup.

It’s true that Haseley’s glove graded out excellently last year, so perhaps the Phils would prefer to keep him in there as often as possible — particularly against righties. In that case, both Haseley and Kingery could log outfield reps on days when McCutchen is the DH, allowing his surgically repaired knee the occasional rest. Bohm could play third base on those days with Segura at second. At the very least, a productive debut from Bohm would give incoming skipper Joe Girardi the “good” types of problems/questions that every manager hopes to have.

There could be other options in the organization. Expanded rosters surely give Nick Williams a greater chance of making the club, though he’s rather buried on the outfield depth chart. The right-handed-hitting Kyle Garlick could see some increased opportunities, and while Nick Martini isn’t on the 40-man roster at present, he’s an OBP machine who would make for a nice bench bat or occasional DH versus righties. With Matt Szczur, Ronald Torreyes, Phil Gosselin, Mikie Mahtook and T.J. Rivera all in camp on minor league deals as well, the Phillies aren’t short on recognizable names. It’s doubtful any of that bunch would factor prominently into DH duties, but they give the Phillies plenty of options for a deepened bench.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Realmuto On Spring Extension Talks With Phillies]]> 2020-05-15T16:23:04Z 2020-05-15T16:23:04Z Neither the Phillies nor J.T. Realmuto had been quiet about the fact that the two sides were exploring an extension prior to the league’s shutdown in mid-March. However, the roster freeze that was implemented back in March also prohibits teams from negotiating long-term contracts with their players, so talks between the two sides were halted. In a new interview with The Athletic’s Matt Gelb (subscription required), Realmuto indicates that the Phils had yet to present a formal offer, but he also speaks optimistically that a deal indeed could have come together.

“There was definitely a feeling that things were about to start moving pretty quickly,” Realmuto tells Gelb in a wide-ranging interview that discusses his mindset during the pandemic shutdown, the upcoming free-agent landscape and the league’s attempt to reboot the 2020 season. (Phillies fans, in particular, will want to read it in its entirety.)

The Phillies sent three players — catcher Jorge Alfaro, top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, young lefty Will Stewart — and international bonus allotments to the Marlins last winter in order to acquire Reamluto’s final two pre-arbitration seasons. However, it has long seemed that the goal all along was to entice Realmuto to sign a long-term deal in Philly, adding him to a core group including Aaron Nola, Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery. General manager Matt Klentak has gushed about Realmuto’s importance to the club and had no qualms about labeling him the game’s best backstop — an opinion with which many onlookers would agree. It’s understandable that there’d be strong interest in locking the 29-year-old up for the long term.

Whenever the transaction freeze is lifted, the two sides will be able to resume negotiations. The Phils surely still have interest in retaining Realmuto long-term, but mutual interest between the two parties may be the only constant that carries over from previous talks. With a surefire loss of revenue on the horizon, there’s no guarantee that owner John Middleton will be willing to put forth the same number he might have under normal circumstances — or whether he’ll be willing to put forth an offer at all.

There’s also no telling how the looming uncertainty will impact Realmuto’s asking price and desire for stability. The catcher says to Gelb that the “top tier” of free agents “always seem to find a way” to get paid. However, the forthcoming offseason has the potential to be even chillier for free agents than the tepid 2017-18 and 2018-19 offseasons that led to allegations of collusion and set the stage for what should be an extraordinarily contentious wave of collective bargaining. (The current clash over player compensation in a shortened season only figures to exacerbate that tension.)

Given that owners are already seeking additional concessions from players who’d previously agreed to prorated salaries, it’s hard to envision many teams handing out lucrative multi-year extensions when the freeze is lifted — at least extensions that are deemed reasonable on the player side. Deferred money and backloaded structures might curb some concerns from the team perspective, but the wide-ranging economic uncertainty will complicate extension negotiations in an unprecedented manner.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Phillies To Retain Full-Time Employees Through October 31]]> 2020-05-09T14:34:20Z 2020-05-09T14:34:20Z
  • The Phillies have promised their full-time employees that “there will be no furloughs or layoffs due to the coronavirus crisis through the end of our fiscal year (October 31, 2020),” managing partner John Middleton wrote in a letter to staff.  (NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury reported on the letter’s contents.)  Most teams in baseball have already committed to retaining their employees at least through the end of May, with the Padres, Rockies, and Tigers also taking steps to keep jobs intact beyond May 31.  As per Middleton’s letter, Phillies full-time employees could potentially still face “possible salary reductions,” in the fact of the organization’s revenue loss, staffers “can be assured of your job and health insurance for the next five-plus months.”
  • ]]>
    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Merrifield Or Kingery?]]> 2020-05-02T17:50:02Z 2020-05-02T16:40:05Z Scott Kingery and Whit Merrifield aren’t exactly at the same place in their careers.

    Merrifield, 31, led his team in bWAR last season and is considered by many as the best player on their rebuilding club. He’s a late-bloomer, but on the wrong side of thirty nonetheless, with 3.5 seasons under his belt as an above-average player. MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently wrote this of Merrifield: “The 31-year-old is one of the better all-around veteran assets in the game, considering his ability to play multiple positions, his inexpensive contract that could extend through the 2023 season, and his three consecutive seasons of strong production.” He boasts a career batting line of .296/.344/.445, good for 109 wRC+.

    Kingery, 26, disappointed in a major way in his first shot at the big leagues, but he rebounded last year with an honest effort as a multi-positional asset for the contending Phillies. In just his age-25 season, Kingery posted a line of .258/.315/.474 across 500 plate appearances while socking 19 long balls. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently wrote this: “Kingery had some ups and downs in his second season in the bigs, but ultimately made huge strides and turned in a league-average offensive season.” To this point, Kingery’s career line stands at just .242/.291/.407 – but the former 2nd round pick produced a 101 wRC+ last season. At a similar age, Merrifield was splitting his time between Double and Triple A.

    Financially-speaking, both are signed to long-term deals. Because Merrifield debuted on the older side, he signed a very team-friendly deal through potentially his age-34 season. He’ll make $5MM in 2020, $6.75MM in 2021, just $2.75MM in 2022, and the Royals hold a team option for $10.5MM in 2023. Many thought Merrifield would be traded to a contending team this winter, but the Royals love him, and given his contract, there’s no particular rush to move him. By not moving him, they’re missing out on the opportunity to add young talent to the organization, but Merrifield is producing now, and his story is one that might give many Kansas City farmhands hope.

    Kingery is signed even longer. The Phillies will pay him $1.75MM in 2020 (in theory), $4.25MM in 2021, $6.25MM in 2022, and $8.25MM in 2023. Philadelphia also holds three team options: $13MM in 2024, $14MM in 2025, and $15MM in 2026.

    Kingery’s deal brings a lot more upside, with Merrifield likely brings more near-term value. Given the current standings of the Phillies and Royals, an argument could be made that a straight-up swap of the two multi-positional right-handers makes a lot of sense. Kingery has yet to prove that he can produce a season like Merrfield’s 5.2 bWAR effort in 2018, but he’s also five years younger and signed for a longer period. Their deals, meanwhile, converge in 2023, where a 34-year-old Merrifield would be making more on a one-year deal than the 29-year-old Kingery, who at that point will have three relatively reasonable team options remaining.

    Both players boast well-rounded games, with Kingery bringing a bit more pop potential, while Merrifield has superior bat skills. Kingery has swiped 25 bases while only being caught 7 times over his two seasons, while Merrifield led the AL in stolen bases in both 2017 and 2018. Last year, Merrifield’s volume and efficiency fell off a bit as he swiped just 20 bases in 30 chances. Both players have capably moved around the diamond, both infield and outfield. The gap between Merrifield’s 110 wRC+ last season and Kingery’s 101 wRC+ isn’t as great as the perceived talent gap between the two players. If nothing else, assume some age-related regression for Merrifield, while Kingery develops further as he grows into his prime, and don’t these two inch just a little closer?

    Merrifield is the quick-trigger choice, but given a comprehensive look at both players, an argument can be made that Kingery is the better asset. All in, which would you prefer to have on your team: Merrifield’s proven qualities or Kingery’s rising upside? Put another way, who has the better asset: the Royals or Phillies?

    (Link for app users)

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Rays, Franco, Gibbons, Phillies, Harper, Storen]]> 2020-05-02T13:56:01Z 2020-05-02T13:56:01Z Wander Franco has apparently heard some of the positive chatter around his game. MLB Insider Hector Gomez tweets that Franco fully expects to have $300MM in front of him within four years. Of course, baseball economics make that a somewhat suspect goal, as there’s a decent chance Franco will not be arbitration eligible yet in that timespan, and even if he were, the largest contract given out by the Rays is the six-year, $100MM deal given to Evan Longoria. It’s hard to imagine them tripling that high overnight. And yet, if there were a guy to prompt such spending, Franco might be the one. The Rays’ 19-year-old shortstop has a hit tool that scouts are raving about in no uncertain terms. The youngster hit an absurd .318/.390/.506 in Single A last season against competition an average of more than 3 years his elder. Franco’s on-field performance thus far certainly merits bawdy talk, and in an open market, there’s no telling how much Franco might earn today. While Franco’s stock continues to appreciate, let’s check in elsewhere around the league…

    • Former Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has been vocal about his desire to get back into a major league clubhouse. He hasn’t gotten much traction, however, despite efforts on his part to dispel certain assumptions about his managerial style. Gibbons doesn’t agree with his reputation around the league, which considers him an old-school type, non-adept with analytics and better-suited to a veteran clubhouse. He had reached out to a number of teams with openings this offseason, but couldn’t even secure himself an interview. Not until the Astros’ position became available, writes The Star’s Gregor Chisholm. The role ultimately went to Dusty Baker, returning Gibbons to his current role as a scout for the Braves. Gibbons will continue to reach out to clubs with managerial openings.
    • Drew Storen has been through a lot in his baseball life, from an undefeated high school season alongside teammate Lance Lynn, to anchoring the bullpen on early Nats contenders that featured a young Bryce Harper, to Tommy John surgery in 2017 that stuck his career in the mud, writes Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. While in camp with the Phillies this spring, Storen had a couple of major takeaways. First was how much he enjoyed playing the game. Second was how much Harper has grown as a leader since his early days with the Nats. And third was that Storen actually had a pretty decent chance of making the team. Being released by the Royals last June lit a fire for Storen, reminding him the type of urgency and intention it would take to return to the big leagues. He went to work at Driveline in an effort to build his arm enough to make a major league bullpen. Storen looked good this spring, with a 3.60 ERA over 5 innings with 5 strikeouts and zero walks.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[The Phillies’ Upside Scenario]]> 2020-04-30T17:59:55Z 2020-04-30T17:59:55Z For a big-budget team that has in recent years added high-profile players like Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, and Jake Arrieta, the Phillies sure haven’t received a lot of attention of late. Perhaps it’s the fact that the rest of the NL East has been engaged in more interesting pursuits.

    Let’s not overlook the challenges facing the Philadelphia organization in 2020 and beyond. The Nationals just won a World Series and still have elite talent. The Braves have taken the past two division titles and remain loaded. The Mets took a hit with the loss of Noah Syndergaard, but still have an imposing rotation and and an underappreciated amount of upside on the position-player side as well. And the Marlins? Well, we tend to overlook them, but maybe it’s time we recognize that the club’s young pitching is fairly interesting. They even spent some cash to bring in some veterans this offseason. Perhaps a renaissance isn’t far off.

    Could the Phillies’ long-awaited return to the top of the heap stall out? There’s a real risk of it. Projection systems mostly seem to view the current roster as a generally average one, hardly a surefire contender. And the farm system isn’t exactly bursting with top-shelf youngsters just awaiting their chance in the majors. It’s necessary to acknowledge that the picture may never quite come all the way together as president Andy MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak envisioned. But let’s also consider the realistic upside in the group of players they’ve assembled.


    Bryce Harper: It has been a few years, but he’s only 27 and is one of only a few players who has proven capable of producing a ~10 WAR season.

    Andrew McCutchen: Cutch was nearly that good at his peak, too, though it’s much further in the past. But we shouldn’t go too far in the other direction. McCutchen has been a high-quality everyday player even since moving out of superstar status. Added rest for his knee probably helps.

    Adam Haseley/Roman Quinn/Jay Bruce: I’m not going to tell you I’m in love with this group, but you can squint and see how it can work out. Statcast hated Haseley’s quality of contact and Quinn hasn’t made good with his chances. But they’re both young players who could yet make strides. Bruce wasn’t great in Philly last year but has mostly been an above-average offensive producer even in his decline years.


    J.T. Realmuto: The Phillies feel he’s the best catcher in baseball and it’s possible there’s even more in the tank. He has done more offensively than he did in 2019. There’ll be no shortage of motivation with free agency beckoning.

    Rhys Hoskins: He collapsed late last year but still led the league in walks. If he can figure out what went wrong … he was a .263/.401/.530 monster through his first 392 plate appearances in 2019.

    Didi Gregorius: We’re looking at a guy who was a quality defensive shortstop who produced about 25% more offensive than the average player in 2018. He wasn’t back to that level after fighting back from Tommy John surgery, but as with Hoskins, the established ceiling isn’t that far in the rearview mirror.

    Jean Segura: A steady producer for three seasons before the Phillies acquired him, Segura stumbled a bit last year. But when you look under the hood, he mostly seems to be the same player, so it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he was to bounce back at thirty years of age.

    Alec Bohm: The team’s top prospect bolted up the ladder last year and ended up posting big numbers at Double-A (.269/.344/.500; 38:28 K/BB ratio). He’s a candidate to break out upon his MLB arrival.


    Scott Kingery: It’s important to remember that the Phillies can lean on Kingery in the infield or the outfield. That leaves flexibility to accommodate the rise of Bohm, needs in center field, or opportunities to add new players. Kingery had some ups and downs in his second season in the bigs, but ultimately made huge strides and turned in a league-average offensive season.

    Josh Harrison/Neil Walker/Logan Forsythe/T.J. Rivera: The Phillies promised opportunities to compete in camp to a series of veterans who’ve had quite a bit of MLB success. That’s not necessarily likely to result in a lucky score of a high-quality regular, but it’s possible. And the team can reasonably hope it has added some useful pieces for cheap.


    Aaron Nola: He took a bit of a step back last year but was still quite good. And Nola put up a Cy Young-caliber effort in the season prior.

    Zack Wheeler: This signing was all about the upside positively dripping from Wheeler’s high-powered right arm. There are risks, too, but there’s also a real possibility the Phils hit a home run here.

    Jake Arrieta: As with McCutchen, it’d be foolish to pine for a return to the glory days. But Arrieta had turned in quality output even with diminished stuff before running into bigger problems in 2019. He was a sub-4.00 hurler in the two prior campaigns.

    Vince Velasquez/Nick Pivetta/Zach Eflin: It’s something of an annual tradition to marvel at the big arms of Velasquez and Pivetta while wondering if they can succeed as MLB starters. It hasn’t really happened yet, but there have been flashes and crazier things have happened. Eflin’s peripherals slipped last year and he doesn’t exactly profile as an ace, but he has turned in 291 1/3 innings of 4.23 ERA ball in the past two seasons.

    Cole Irvin/Enyel De Los Santos/Adonis Medina/Spencer Howard: Irvin and De Los Santos have reached (but hardly mastered) the majors. It’s possible to imagine solid production coming from either or both. There are some highly regarded arms not far behind. It seems both of these hurlers have some development left, but when talent figures things out it can move quickly …


    Hector Neris: He got the long balls under control in 2019 and returned to being one of the game’s more effective closers.

    Tommy Hunter/David Robertson: It’s hard to count on too much, but these accomplished veterans could certainly have a rebound. The layoff will give extra time for both to rest and rehab.

    Bud Norris/Anthony Swarzak/Blake Parker/Drew Storen: There are also a fair number of other veteran types looking to revive their careers in Philadelphia. Tough to say what to expect, but there are decent odds that there’s some productivity here. Norris is a particularly interesting candidate; he was quite useful in 2018 but sat out the ensuing season when interest didn’t develop as expected.

    Victor Arano: He was quite good in 2018 and now has added time to recover from elbow surgery.

    Deolis Guerra: The MLB track record is quite thin, but he thrived in a tough Triple-A environment last year.

    Adam Morgan/Jose Alvarez/Ranger Suarez/Francisco Liriano: It’s not a star-studded group of lefties, but there is at least sufficient depth.

    The Phils also have a fairly large group of younger pitchers already on the 40-man, many with MLB experience. While few jump off the page for their obvious upside, the Phillies can still hope that someone emerges from the group. Edgar Garcia may be the most interesting, with big swinging-strike rates and good results in the upper minors. There are three lefties with strong upper-minors strikeout numbers but other questions: Austin Davis, Garrett Cleavinger, and Kyle Dohy.

    Remember, the bullpen is likely to end up with some spillover from the rotation, with Pivetta a particularly likely candidate to spend time in the ’pen. Hope remains that his stuff could play up in a relief role.


    It’s silly to contemplate a scenario where literally everything breaks right for a team. That’s more or less impossible. But the realistic upside possibilities are fairly interesting. There’s potential for one mega-star (Harper), at least one top-of-class player (Realmuto), and several others with All-Star capabilities in the position-player mix. The pitching picture is similar, with a set of mid-prime hurlers who could emerge as twin aces and a reasonably interesting blend behind them.

    Many have pegged the Phils as the fourth-best team in the NL East, and that’s quite possible accurate when you blend in all the downside. But this club still has the potential to break out — particularly if a strong early showing facilitates additional mid-season investments (presuming there’s such an opportunity).

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Alec Bohm Hires Boras Corporation]]> 2020-04-29T00:55:17Z 2020-04-29T00:55:17Z Phillies third base prospect Alec Bohm has changed representation and is now a client of the Boras Corporation, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The switch has been noted in MLBTR’s Agency Database.

    The Phillies made a big investment in Bohm, formerly with Wichita State, when they selected him third overall in the 2018 draft. The move has paid off so far, at least at the minor league level, where Bohm has thrived.’s 30th-ranked prospect, Bohm ran roughshod over Single-A and High-A ball pitching last season before earning a promotion to Double-A and also holding his own there. He took 270 trips to the plate and batted .269/.344/.500 (146 wRC+) with 14 home runs, a .231 isolated power number, and 38 strikeouts against 28 walks.

    If a minor league season gets underway in 2020, Bohm should make his Triple-A debut with Lehigh Valley. And if he comes close to keeping up his current pace, it won’t be long before Bohm plays a role in Philly sometime soon. The Phillies are looking for an answer at third after Maikel Franco, now a member of the Royals, flamed out. Middle infielder Jean Segura and utility player Scott Kingery look like their top hot corner options right now, but the hope is that Bohm will take the reins in the near future.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Replacing J.T. Realmuto]]> 2020-04-24T03:54:53Z 2020-04-24T03:54:53Z The Phillies have discussed an extension with soon-to-be free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto, but the two sides paused those talks last month as a result of the coronavirus. The team still seems to have the inside track on locking up Realmuto, for whom it paid a pretty penny in a February 2019 trade with the National League East rival Marlins, but what if a worst-case scenario occurs? What if the Phillies are unsuccessful in trying to prevent the two-time All-Star from exiting via the open market next offseason?

    [RELATED: Extension Candidate – J.T. Realmuto]

    J.T. Realmuto

    The Phillies wouldn’t be well-equipped to go on without Realmuto in the near term. They only have two other catchers – Andrew Knapp and Deivy Grullon – on their 40-man roster right now. Knapp has been a replacement-level player across 579 plate appearances since he debuted in 2017. Grullon’s still just a 24-year-old who did produce nice numbers in the high minors from 2018-19, but he has barely played in the majors and isn’t regarded as a high-end prospect.

    The Phillies have at least a couple of other promising young catchers in Rafael Marchan (’s seventh-ranked prospect for the organization) and Rodolfo Duran (No. 19), but it seems unrealistic to expect either of them or Grullon to take Realmuto’s place from the get-go in the event that he departs next winter.

    As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd laid out earlier this month, there may be other regulars at the position who hit the market soon. Robinson Chirinos, James McCann, Yadier Molina (though he and the Cardinals are motivated to stick together) and former Phillie Wilson Ramos could become free agents. So could Jason Castro, Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki, among others. There are some options there who at least might make for decent stopgaps, and it’s anyone’s guess who might end up on the trade market, but with no known stars set to become available behind the plate, it should be all the more imperative for the Phillies to lock up their current catcher.

    Realmuto, who turned 29 last month, continued to make a case for a sizable contract during his first year in Philadelphia. He paced all catchers in fWAR (5.7) for the second year in a row and slashed .275/.328/.493 with 25 home runs in 593 plate appearances and 145 games. Behind the plate, he gunned down a league-leading 47 percent of would-be base stealers (MLB average was 26 percent) and finished fourth in Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average metric.

    Between Miami and Philly, Realmuto has shown he’s a well-rounded, star-caliber backstop. As a result, there’s a chance he’ll follow backstops like Joe Mauer and Buster Posey en route to a $100MM-plus guarantee. No matter how much he earns, though, it’s clear the Phillies would have a difficult time replacing Realmuto.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Phillies, Employee Pay, Cardinals, Goldschmidt, Pirates, Shelton, Kela]]> 2020-04-18T14:07:00Z 2020-04-18T14:07:00Z Phillies owner John Middleton informed the team’s employees Friday that no one will be laid off or forced to take a pay cut through at least the end of May, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. “I am neither an epidemiologist nor a public policy maker, but I do know our industry, and it is my sincere belief that baseball will be played this year,” Middleton wrote in a letter, adding that there’s no reason to reduce the club’s budget when he’s under the impression that “a meaningful number of games” will take place in 2020. The Phillies are just the second team to commit to no cuts through May, joining the division-rival Braves. More teams are expected to follow, however, with the Giants the latest team to make the commitment, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

    • The Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt has set up camp in his Jupiter-area home during the quarantine, but he’s finding new ways to keep his head in the game. Thanks to a virtual reality product from WIN Reality, Goldschmidt can simulate at-bats against any pitcher in the game, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Goldschmidt got enough exposure to live pitching in spring training to fully test his new virtual reality gear, and he came away impressed with its accuracy. Goldy is working out in more traditional ways as well, but the VR gear is giving him an opportunity to rest his elbow while still simulating game experience.
    • The Pirates under Clint Hurdle became known for contentious run-ins with other teams due to their proclivity for throwing up and in. The bad rap was furthered by pitchers Gerrit Cole and Tyler Glasnow developing into aces once having left Pittsburgh. But Derek Shelton runs the dugout in Pittsburgh now, and it remains to be seen how the culture will change under new leadership. Shelton spoke to some of his tendencies, however, including how he will let statistics and the extenuating circumstances determine how often he lets his starters go through a lineup a third time (as much as how the pitcher is performing on any given day), per Mike Persak of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Shelton also spoke about the closer role, where he expects Keone Kela to serve as a traditional closer.