- Nick Williams has been working out alongside free agent Jake Arrieta for much of the offseason in Austin, he tells Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, and the young outfielder has talked up Philadelphia in an effort to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies. “He has told me he likes working with young guys,” said Williams. “I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.” While Williams’ pitch to his workout buddy should hardly be characterized as a legitimate connection between the Phils and Arrieta, Salisbury notes that the team is still actively trying to add to the rotation. If the price tag for Arrieta or another top starter comes down to a shorter length — Salisbury suggests three years, though it’s tough to see Arrieta dropping to that point — the Phillies’ interest could be piqued.
In the latest dose of Marlins-related drama, agent Joe Longo of Paragon Sports International, who represents Christian Yelich, tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that a trade of his client in the next month would be in the best interest of both team and player.
Longo states that he respects the Marlins’ long-term plan for a return to contention, but states that the “…plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career.” Yelich’s relationship with the Marlins has been “irretrievably broken” and has “soured,” according to Longo, who goes on to speak about the disappointment that Yelich has felt in watching the Marlins’ new ownership group gut the roster in trades that have sent Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna elsewhere.
“The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and [Yelich] needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win,” Longo tells Crasnick. The agent goes on to explain that Yelich signed his seven-year, $49.57MM contract extension with the Marlins in a “completely different climate” — that is, one where the organization looked to be making a clear push to win in the short term. Yelich’s deal (which Longo and Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed at length with MLBTR’s Zach Links back in 2015) was agreed upon in the same offseason that saw the Fish sign Stanton to a record-setting $325MM contract. New ownership, however, clearly has no intent of pushing for a division title in 2017 as payroll has been slashed by roughly $50MM.
Longo’s comments, of course, don’t ensure that a trade of Yelich will transpire before or during Spring Training. Such decisions are up to president of baseball operations Michael Hill and his staff, who needn’t feel pressure to move Yelich in the same manner as they did with regard to Stanton, Gordon and Ozuna. The Marlins’ payroll projection is inching closer to its reported target of roughly $90MM, and Yelich’s $7MM salary for the coming season isn’t especially burdensome. Moreover, the fact that Yelich can be controlled for another five years at a total of $58.25MM is a clear indicator that he’ll be an asset with considerable surplus value at virtually any point the Marlins decide to make him available.
Yelich is hardly the only player that is less than enthused about the notion of suiting up for a Miami club that looks destined for the NL East cellar. Catcher J.T. Realmuto’s agents have reportedly informed the Marlins that their client would prefer to be traded, and infielder Starlin Castro (acquired as a financial component in the trade that sent Stanton to the Yankees) is reportedly hoping to be dealt elsewhere before so much as playing a single game for the Marlins.
Per Crasnick, the Blue Jays, Braves, Dodgers, Angels, Padres, D-backs and Phillies are “among” the teams that have reached out to the Marlins to gauge the asking price for Yelich in a trade, though there are assuredly more team that have expressed interest. Toronto GM Ross Atkins recently suggested that virtually every team in the league would have interest in a Yelich trade, and reports have suggested that more than 15 teams have at least kicked the tires on the former Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner.
Yelich, just 26 years of age, is a career .290/.369/.432 hitter. He’s averaged 20 homers and a dozen steals over the past two seasons and has proven to be a capable center fielder or an elite defender in left field. Crasnick notes that Yelich himself may speak publicly in the coming days, and the column is stuffed with additional quotes from Longo. It’s well worth a full read-through, both for those that have been diligently tracking the Marlins’ offseason roller coaster and those who haven’t been monitoring the situation as closely.
The Braves released Adonis Garcia recently to allow him to move to the KBO, and the full set of transactions is now in the books. The 32-year-old third baseman has inked a $800K deal with the LG Twins, as Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net notes on Twitter. He played in the majors in each of the past three seasons but clearly was not a part of Atlanta’s plans for 2018.
Let’s catch up on a few minor moves from around the game, all courtesy of SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (links to Twitter) …
- Righty Tyler Cloyd will join the Marlins on a minors pact. Now thirty years off age, Cloyd has made just a single MLB appearance since wrapping up his time with the Phillies in 2013. He spent most of 2017 pitching at Triple-A in the Mariners organization, where he worked to a 5.67 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 60 1/3 innings. While the output hasn’t been very encouraging of late, Cloyd could have a chance to push for an important place on the Miami depth chart. The rebuilding club is sure to have some pitching opportunities in the season to come.
- The Nationals added right-hander Justin Miller as well as slugger Balbino Fuenmayor on minor-league deals. Miller, 30 has seen 88 1/3 total MLB innings, spread over the 2014-16 campaigns, with a composite 4.99 ERA. He has shown some swing and miss ability at times, though. Last year, he pitched to a 5.48 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 46 frames in the PCL. The 28-year-old Fuenmayor, meanwhile, played in Mexico last year after his once-prodigious upper-minors power output fizzled in 2016. He hit well in Mexico and has continued to rake in Venezuelan winter action.
- Southpaw James Russell is headed to the Tigers organization on a non-roster arrangement. Whether he’ll receive a camp invite isn’t known in this case (or the others). The 32-year-old is long removed from his days as a solid bullpen presence. He last appeared in the majors, rather briefly, in 2016. Though he only threw 31 professional innings last year, all in the Mexican League, they were in a starting role. He worked to a 2.03 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9.
The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)
Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salaries.
Onto today’s landslide of deals…
National League West
- The Rockies have agreed to a $2MM salary with righty Chad Bettis, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). That’s a fair sight more than his $1.5MM projection. Bettis surely would have had an opportunity to set a bigger platform for himself, but had to battle through testicular cancer before returning to the hill in 2017. Meanwhile, second baseman DJ LeMahieu has settled for a $8.5MM payday in his final year of arbitration, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. That’s just a hair short of the $8.8MM he was pegged for in MLBTR’s projections.
- Giants second baseman Joe Panik is slated to earn $3.45MM in his first season of arb eligibility, Devan Fink of SB Nation was first to tweet. That’s just a hair shy of the $3.5MM that MLBTR projected. Lefty Will Smith has settled at $2.5MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The club has also announced deals with its remaining arb-eligible players, right-handed relievers Sam Dyson ($4.6MM projection), Hunter Strickland ($1.7MM projection), and Cory Gearrin ($1.6MM projection). (H/t John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter). Strickland earns $1.55MM, Nightengale tweets.
- The Padres and Freddy Galvis agreed to a $6.825MM deal for his lone season of team control in San Diego, tweets Robert Murray of FanRag Sports. Galvis, who spent the first several seasons of his career in Philadelphia before being traded this winter, had been projected to make $7.4MM. Infielder Cory Spangenberg settled at $1.7MM, Heyman tweets, falling below a $2.0MM projection. San Diego has also reached agreements with righty Kirby Yates and outfielder Matt Szczur, the team announced. Yates will earn $1,062,500, Heyman tweets, which is just shy of his $1.1MM projection. Szczur, meanwhile, will get $950K, a healthy boost over his $800K projection, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).
- The Diamondbacks agreed to a $7.75MM deal with center fielder A.J. Pollock, Murray tweets. Pollock was projected to earn $8.4MM in his final year of eligibility before free agency. Murray also notes that Brad Boxberger is set to earn $1.85MM next year (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic adds that lefty Andrew Chafin ($1.2MM projection) and the D-backs have a $1.195MM deal in place. Third baseman Jake Lamb, meanwhile, agreed to a $4.275MM deal with the Diamondbacks, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). Lamb, eligible for arbitration for the first time, was projected to earn $4.7MM. He’s controllable through 2020. And ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Chris Herrmann ($1.4MM projection) landed a $1.3MM deal. Righty Taijuan Walker has settled for $4.825MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which is within range but shy of the $5.0MM he projected for. Lefty Robbie Ray has settled at $3.95MM, per Nightengale (Twitter link), which falls short of his $4.2MM projection. Infielder Nick Ahmed will $1.275MM, per Heyman (via Twitter), which tops the projected figure of $1.1MM. Arizona has also announced that Chris Owings and David Peralta have agreed to terms.
- The Dodgers are in agreement on a $6MM deal with lefty Alex Wood, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). He had projected at $6.4MM. Meanwhile, righty Josh Fields agreed to a $2.2MM deal, tweets Murray. Heyman tweets that Enrique Hernandez will earn $1.6MM. Fields’ projection of $2.2MM was on the money, whereas Hernandez topped his mark by $300K. Fields is controlled through 2019, while Hernandez is controllable through 2020. Southpaw Tony Cingrani gets $2.3MM, Murray tweets, which is just a shade over his $2.2MM projection. Outfielder Joc Pederson has also settled, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter), with Beth Harris of the Associated Press reporting a $2.6MM salary that rather handily tops the $2.0MM that MLBTR projected.
National League Central
- All three remaining Cardinals arb-eligibles have agreed to deals, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets. Marcell Ozuna will earn $9MM after drawin a much larger $10.9MM projection, Heyman tweets. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained that Ozuna likely wouldn’t quite reach the amount the algorithm suggested, though the actual salary still comes in a bit shy of expectations. Lefty Tyler Lyons ($1.3MM projection) receives $1.2MM, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The Cards have also reached agreement with Michael Wacha for $5.3MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter); he was projected to earn $5.9MM.
- The Reds agreed to a $860K salary with Anthony DeSclafani, tweets Murray. DeSclafani missed the 2017 season due to arm troubles and had been projected to earn $1.1MM. He’ll remain under Reds control through 2020. Billy Hamilton and the Reds have settled on a one-year deal worth $4.6MM, tweets Murray. A popular trade candidate this offseason, Hamilton was projected to earn $5MM and comes with another two seasons of team control. Murray also conveys that Michael Lorenzen agreed to a $1.3125MM deal, which lines up fairly well with his $1.4MM projection.
- The Cubs have struck a deal with lefty Justin Wilson, agreeing to a one-year, $4.25MM pact, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Wilson, who had been projected at $4.3MM, will be a free agent next winter. The Cubs alsoagreed to a $950K salary with infielder Tommy La Stella, tweets MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. La Stella was projected to make $1MM in his first offseason of arbitration eligiblity and can be controlled through 2020. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs have agreed to a $4.175MM salary, per Nightengale (on Twitter). That sum comes in a fair bit shy of his projected $4.9MM projection as a first-time eligible player. The Cubs control Hendricks through the 2020 season. Chicago also agreed with Addison Russell, per Wittenmyer (Twitter link). The shortstop will receive $3.2MM for the coming season.
- Nightengale reports (on Twitter) that the Brewers and breakout closer Corey Knebel settled at $3.65MM. As a Super Two player, Knebel can be controlled through the 2021 season and will be arb-eligible thrice more. He was projected at $4.1MM. MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets that the Brewers and right-hander Jimmy Nelson settled at $3.7MM, which falls $1MM shy of his $4.7MM projection (though some of that discrepancy may be due to Nelson’s shoulder injury). Milwaukee also announced a deal for infielders Jonathan Villar (projected at $3MM) and Hernan Perez (projected at $2.2MM). McCalvy reports that Villar will earn $2.55MM, while terms of Perez’s deal are not yet available.
- The Pirates have avoided arbitration with shortstop Jordy Mercer by settling on a $6.75MM salary for 2018, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Mercer, who’d been projected to earn $6.5MM, is entering his final year of team control and will be a free agent next winter. Biertempfel also reports that Gerrit Cole will earn that same $6.75MM salary in 2018 — a $3MM raise over last year (Twitter link). He has two years of control remaining and had been projected to earn $7.4MM. Righty George Kontos has also agreed to terms, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). He had projected for $2.7MM and will receive a smidge more, at $2,725,000, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).
National League East
- The Braves reached a $3.4MM deal with righty Arodys Vizcaino, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). He’d been projected at $3.7MM. The Braves and righty Dan Winkler agreed to a $610K salary for the upcoming season, tweets Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Winkler tossed just 14 1/3 innings in the Majors this year as he made his way back from elbow surgery. He’d projected at $800K.
- The Marlins and Miguel Rojas agreed to a $1.18MM deal for 2018, Heyman tweets, placing him north of his $1.1MM projection. Rojas should see additional playing time following the Marlins’ wave of trades this offseason. He’s controlled through 2020. Miami also has a deal in place with infielder Derek Dietrich for $2.9MM, Heyman tweets, after projecting at $3.2MM.
- The Mets were able to settle perhaps their most notable arb case, agreeing to a $7.4MM deal with righty Jacob deGrom, per James Wagner of the New York Times (via Twitter). That’s well shy of his $9.2MM projection, though MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained the formula likely overestimated deGrom’s earning power by quite a wide margin. Fellow top righty Noah Syndergaard gets $2.975MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which goes a fair sight past the $1.9MM projection for the outstanding young starter, whose 2017 season was limited by injury. And reliever AJ Ramos will take home $9.225MM, according to Wagner (via Twitter). That’s just barely past the $9.2MM projection. Wilmer Flores has also avoided arbitration with the Mets, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports (on Twitter). He’ll receive a $3.4MM salary, which falls within $300K of his projected rate. The Mets control Flores through the 2019 campaign. The Mets and right-hander Matt Harvey agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.625MM, tweets Nightengale. Harvey, who is a free agent next winter, had been projected to earn $5.9MM. Meanwhile, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets that Jeurys Familia will earn $7.925MM for the upcoming year, while Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that catcher Travis d’Arnaud will earn $3.475MM in 2018 (Twitter link). Familia, a free agent next winter, was projected at $7.4MM. The Mets control d’Arnaud through 2019, and his projection was $3.4MM. Righty Hansel Robles gets $900K, Heyman tweets.
- Also via Nightengale (Twitter link), the Nationals agreed to a $6.475MM salary for 2018 with right-hander Tanner Roark. That falls about $1MM shy of his $7.5MM projection but still represents a noted raise of $4.315MM for Roark, whom the Nats control through 2019. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post adds that Michael Taylor will earn $2.525MM next year. Taylor is controlled through 2020 and was projected at $2.3MM.
- The Phillies and Maikel Franco settled on a $2.95MM salary for the 2018 season, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com (Twitter link). Franco, a Super Two player who’d been projected at $3.6MM, remains under club control with the Phils through the 2021 season. Second bagger Cesar Hernandez will earn at a $5.1MM rate in 2018, per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki (via Twitter). That beats his $4.7MM projection and wraps up this year’s arb business for the Phillies.
The Phillies have avoided arbitration with catcher Cameron Rupp, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). Rupp will earn a $2.05MM salary for the coming campaign — just a hair shy of the $2.1MM that MLBTR projected he’d earn in his first arbitration year.
Though Rupp was not quite as productive last year as he was in 2016, he has established himself as a decent MLB hitter with a lifetime .234/.298/.407 slash. As that line hints, Rupp delivers good power (30 total home runs over the past two seasons) but not much in the way of on-base skills. Rupp did boost his walk rate to 10.3% in 2017, though his strikeout rate also jumped to 34.4%.
Defensively, the 29-year-old has not graded well as a framer. But Baseball Prospectus has graded Rupp as average in blocking balls in the dirt and controlling the running game.
All told, Rupp is a solid part-time catcher in an appealing contract situation. Given the presence of younger options — Andrew Knapp and Jorge Alfaro — some have wondered whether the Phillies would end up dealing Rupp this winter. That could still come to pass, though the organization likely isn’t in any rush to anoint one or both of those backstops.
The Phillies announced on Monday that former big leaguers Kevin Frandsen, Kevin Jordan and Kevin Stocker will join their broadcast team. According to the announcement, that trio of former Phillies will rotate through road games and serve as color analysts alongside play-by-play broadcaster Scott Franzke. The 35-year-old Frandsen is the most recent member of the group to have suited up in the Majors, appearing in seven games for the 2015 Giants. Frandsen seemingly never made a formal declaration of his intention to retire as a player, though he has not appeared in a professional game since that 2015 season. It seems fair to assume, then, that he’ll embark upon a new career as he breaks into the media world.
A couple more notes on the Phillies and some other east coast clubs…
- In less pleasant news, third baseman Maikel Franco was suspended from his team in the Dominican Winter League for “violating the organization’s discipline code,” per Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes. Franco and teammates Moises Sierra, Garabez Rosa and Eduardo de Oleo were photographed partying at a Dominican club as late as 6am on the day of one of the team’s playoff games, per the report. It was a disappointment for both his DWL team and the Phillies alike, prompting an apology from the third baseman: “I apologize to the team, the fans and our sponsors, it’s something that will not happen again,” said Franco. The 25-year-old Franco, who impressed mightily as a rookie in 2015, has regressed in each of the past two seasons and is coming off his worst MLB campaign to date. In 623 plate appearances, Franco slashed just .230/.281/.409 with 24 homers.
- Orioles skipper Buck Showalter is overseeing what Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com calls a “delicate situation” on the left side of the infield, where Manny Machado has reportedly indicated a desire to move to a shortstop position that would otherwise be occupied by Tim Beckham. While Showalter isn’t tipping his hand, he says there’s been progress in resolving who’ll play where — assuming, at least, that Machado is ultimately retained by the O’s. The manager says he has “positioned us to maneuver regardless of what happens between now and the season starting.”
- Showalter and Kubatko also cover a variety of other topics of interest to the Baltimore faithful in that as well as another post, focusing in particular on a trio of lefties. Rule 5 pick Nestor Cortes has drawn early praise from the skipper, though of course he’ll still need to earn and keep an active roster spot. Elsewhere, the general prognosis on key reliever Zach Britton seems to be positive, though that’s not to say there’s any change to the mid-summer timeline for him to return from his Achilles tear. Kubatko also held an interesting chat with Richard Bleier, who recognizes that his sparkling 1.99 ERA from 2017 doesn’t guarantee him anything entering camp.
11:59am: The Nationals, too, are interested in both Realmuto and Yelich, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. The Nats’ interest in Realmuto has been previously reported by the Washington Post and MLB.com, among others, though GM Mike Rizzo’s club hasn’t been prominently linked to Yelich due to its own strong collection of outfielders. Per Frisaro, the Nats could have interest in trying to land both players, though that’s likely true of many teams.
Frisaro notes that the Marlins would covet both Victor Robles of the Nationals and the Braves’ Acuna, though both clubs would likely be reluctant to part with their top-ranked minor league talents. Rosenthal tweets that the Nationals would be loath to part with either Robles or fellow outfield Juan Soto, for instance. It’s a similar tale for the Phillies — an oft-cited Yelich suitor — as Frisaro writes that Rhys Hoskins would surely appeal to the Marlins, but it stands to reason that he’d be near untouchable after his stellar 2017 debut.
Talks regarding both Yelich and Realmuto are expected to pick up next week, according to Frisaro.
8:52am: Not only have the Braves called the division-rival Marlins to express interest in Christian Yelich (as has been previously reported), they’ve also tried to engage Miami in talks on catcher J.T. Realmuto, per Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Talks between the two sides haven’t advanced too far in either case as of late, he notes, but it seems as though the Braves have some level of interest in attempting to pry one or both players out of South Florida. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears that the Braves have expressed interest in acquiring the pair, though he classifies it as doubtful that new GM Alex Anthopoulos would part with the overwhelming level of talent it’d take to land both players.
Atlanta will trot out a pair of solid veterans on one-year commitments — Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki — to handle the bulk of their catching duties in 2018, whereas Realmuto and his remaining three years of control would give them a longer-term answer behind the dish. There’s a clearer spot for Yelich following the trade of Matt Kemp to the Dodgers, but Atlanta wants to leave space for top prospect Ronald Acuna to debut in an outfield corner as well. O’Brien speculates that perhaps the Braves could convince Miami to take on Nick Markakis and his salary if Martin Prado or another pricey veteran heads back to Atlanta in the deal.
While both Yelich and Realmuto are immensely popular trade targets — Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic writes (subscription required/recommended) that “virtually every club” is interested in trading for Yelich — it seems that there was at one point some positive momentum between the two sides. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets that Atlanta and Miami “made some progress toward” a trade involving Yelich back at the Winter Meetings. The Marlins, though, pumped the brakes on talks a bit as they dealt with significant PR backlash from trading away the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna, according to Bowman. He does add that talks were expected to resume eventually.
Certainly, acquiring even one of the two would require a massive haul. (Rosenthal, for instance, spoke to one exec who suggested that the Marlins could rightly ask three to four “genuine assets” in exchange for Yelich alone.) Acquiring both in one swoop would presumably require one of the largest packages of young, controllable talent in recent memory.
Even after being stripped of a dozen prospects on the heels of their recent front office scandal, the Braves have one of the game’s strongest farm systems, though there are still untouchable players in the organization (O’Brien has tweeted more than once that Acuna simply is not available in discussing scenarios with his followers). On paper, then, it’s possible that the two sides could line up for a swap, though things are never quire so simple. Other factors to consider include the financial component of a deal, whether the Marlins would charge some type of premium for dealing their top two remaining stars to a division rival, and what type of splash the new Anthopoulos-led Braves front office wants to make on its first significant move in Atlanta.
It’s worth stressing, again, that the Braves are merely one team that is interested in the pair of young Miami stars. In that same column, Rosenthal writes that the Nationals have already checked in on Realmuto, while the Astros “would figure to be interested” in the Miami backstop as well. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro wrote yesterday that upwards of dozen clubs were in on Realmuto. As for Yelich, the Cardinals, Phillies, Diamondbacks, Giants, White Sox and even the outfield-heavy Cubs are among the teams that have been connected to him in previous reports, and surely there are others that have at least gauged the asking price as well.
4:06pm: USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that Middlebrooks’ deal with Philadelphia contains a $1.2MM base salary if he makes the big league roster. The contract also has opt-out language to afford Middlebrooks the right to pursue opportunities in Asia should they arise.
3:58pm: The Phillies announced 10 minor league signees today, including one for former Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks. (SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo had previously tweeted that a match between the two sides was likely.)
Philadelphia also announced its previously reported minor league agreements with righties Pedro Beato and Steve Geltz, infielder Pedro Florimon and catcher Eric Fryer. Others joining (or re-joining) the Phils organization include catcher/infielder/outfielder Matt McBride, infielders Heiker Meneses and Mitch Walding, catcher Logan Moore and outfielder Danny Ortiz. All 10 players received invites to Major League Spring Training.
Middlebrooks and McBride are the only two newly revealed signees to bring MLB experience to the table. It’s now been five years since Middlebrooks looked to be a rising star in the Red Sox organization after hitting .288/.325/.509 with 15 homers in 286 plate appearances as a rookie. Since that time, the now-29-year-old Middlebrooks’ star has faded; he’s batted just .210/.256/.356 in 948 plate appearances split between the Red Sox, Padres, Brewers and Rangers. Last year, Middlebrooks hit .211/.231/.368 in 39 PAs with the Rangers.
McBride, 32, played in 92 games with the Rockies and A’s from 2012-16, batting a combined .201/.228/.299 in 202 PAs along the way. He does carry a lifetime .299/.343/.506 batting line in parts of eight Triple-A seasons — during which time he’s logged more than 1000 innings as a catcher, first baseman, left fielder and right fielder.
- The Phillies have agreed to a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Steve Geltz, Cotillo tweets. Geltz worked exclusively with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2017 and posted a 2.67 ERA, 9.67 K/9 against 4.00 BB/9 and a 37.1 percent groundball rate over 27 innings. The 30-year-old previously saw major league action with the Angels (2012) and Rays (2014-16). Across 104 1/3 big league frames, Geltz owns a 4.23 ERA to accompany 8.54 K/9, 3.71 BB/9 and a 28.8 percent grounder mark.
- Nick Williams seems to be the likeliest of the Phillies outfielders to be used as a trade chip, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes, though there’s also a case to be made for the team to move one of Odubel Herrera or Aaron Altherr. (Rhys Hoskins almost surely is staying put.) Given that all three outfielders, and even Hoskins, have their share of question marks and can’t be entirely counted on as sure things going into 2018, Murphy notes that the Phillies might indeed stick to their stated plan of keeping all four players and juggling playing time based on matchups and situations. Plans could change, of course, if the Phils are required to include one of the players in a trade for a young and controllable starting pitcher.
- The Phillies are known to be looking for pitching, though NBCSports.com Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury writes that the team could wait until the July trade deadline to make a big addition to the rotation. Asking prices could be lower for some pitchers by July, or the Phillies could have a better idea of what young players they’d be more comfortable giving up in a trade. Interestingly, Salisbury notes that Cole Hamels could be targeted by the Phils if the Rangers fall out of contention, as both Hamels and the Phillies would have interest in the 2008 World Series hero returning to Philadelphia.