Philadelphia Phillies – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-03-24T12:10:47Z Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Phillies Release Adam Rosales]]> 2018-03-23T17:39:40Z 2018-03-23T17:19:51Z The Phillies have released infielder Adam Rosales, according to an announcement from the team.  Rosales was in camp on a minor league contract that would’ve paid him $1.75MM had he made the 25-man roster.

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

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

Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL East Notes: Thompson, Ruiz, Gonzalez, Flores, Wheeler, Lugo]]> 2018-03-23T19:29:25Z 2018-03-23T04:45:34Z It appears that the Phillies are transitioning right-hander Jake Thompson into a relief role, writes Todd Zolecki of Once part of the six-player return for Cole Hamels, Thompson has only made four relief appearances in his professional career (majors and minors included). Three of those appearances came last year, however, and he’s been used largely out of the bullpen in Grapefruit League play. Thompson says that nobody has directly told him he’ll become a reliever, but believes it to be the case. “They think the slider and split can work in short periods, miss bats and get ground balls,” Thompson said of Philadelphia’s coaching staff. “They’ve built up my pitch count a little bit, so if something happens I can still do both. I’m fine with it. Anything that can get me in the big leagues and stay I’d be willing to do.”

Other news from some of baseball’s Eastern teams…

  • It wasn’t long ago that Braves third baseman Rio Ruiz was struggling with a new swing and seemed destined to start the season in the minors, David O’Brien writes in a piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That outlook has changed dramatically, as Ruiz’ offensive output has been a lot more impressive over the past couple weeks. The 23-year-old’s uptick in production coincides with an injury to Johan Camargo, who’s set to open the season on the disabled list. Though the organization seems to believe Camargo can return as soon as he’s eligible, manager Brian Snitker left room for interpretation on whether Ruiz can stick at the position even then. ““Rio has worked his ass off the last couple of years. He’s getting better,” said Snitker. “You never know, situations happen, door gets opened and a guy doesn’t give it back. You never know.”
  • Mets manager Mickey Callaway says he doesn’t expect Adrian Gonzalez to play every day, and not even against every right-hander (h/t Anthony DiComo of That likely means more playing time for Wilmer Flores“Wilmer deserves to play, and not just against lefties,” said Callaway. That’s not the only interesting comment Callaway made today, as he confirmed that Seth Lugo is being considered as a rotation candidate following an excellent Grapefruit League outing in which the right-hander struck out five while allowing no runs across four innings. The presence of Lugo in the rotation would likely make Zack Wheeler, who had another rough showing today, the odd man out. “”We have some big decisions to make,” Callaway said on the subject.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Phillies Release Ryan Flaherty]]> 2018-03-22T15:14:59Z 2018-03-22T15:10:29Z The Phillies have released infielder Ryan Flaherty, per a club announcement. He had triggered an opt-out provision that required the team to add him to the MLB roster or set him loose.

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

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

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Ryan Flaherty To Exercise Out Clause]]> 2018-03-22T00:15:17Z 2018-03-22T00:14:58Z Phillies utilityman Ryan Flaherty plans to opt out of his minor league contract, Todd Zolecki of tweets. The Phillies will have 48 hours to add Flaherty to their 25-man roster or let him go. Odds are that they’ll grant him his release, per Zolecki. The 31-year-old Flaherty was a member of the Orioles from 2012-17, and Baltimore reportedly made an attempt to keep him before he joined the Phillies. Now, he could head back to the O’s, Roch Kubatko of suggests.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rangers Acquire Eliezer Alvarez]]> 2018-03-21T18:37:35Z 2018-03-21T18:23:37Z The Rangers have acquired infielder Eliezer Alvarez from the Phillies, per club announcements. Cash considerations will go to Philadelphia in return. Texas cleared a roster spot by transferring righty Ronald Herrera to the 60-day DL.

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

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

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


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

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Phillies Release Fernando Abad]]> 2018-03-21T14:34:18Z 2018-03-21T14:34:18Z The Phillies have released lefty Fernando Abad, per a club announcement. He had been in camp with the organization on a minor-league deal.

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

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

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

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mark Leiter Diagnosed With Mild Flexor Strain]]> 2018-03-20T19:01:31Z 2018-03-20T19:01:31Z Phillies righty Mark Leiter has been diagnosed with a mild flexor strain, according to Jim Salisbury of (via Twitter). He will be shut down for two to three weeks before attempting to ramp back up.

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

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

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

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

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

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mark Leiter Experiencing Forearm Tightness]]> 2018-03-20T18:40:10Z 2018-03-20T16:02:56Z
  • We’re still awaiting further word on the health of Phillies hurler Mark Leiter. As Jim Salisbury of was among those to tweet yesterday, the 27-year-old has experienced forearm tightness, which can be a symptom of a worrying elbow issue. Leiter, who turned in 90 2/3 innings of 4.96 ERA ball in his debut season of 2017, is all the more important to the Philadelphia staff with Jerad Eickhoff sidelined to open the year.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Rangers Claim Tommy Joseph]]> 2018-03-20T04:59:54Z 2018-03-19T18:33:40Z The Rangers have claimed first baseman Tommy Joseph off waivers from the Phillies, according to an announcement from Texas. In a corresponding move, the Rangers placed right-hander Clayton Blackburn on the 60-day disabled list with a strained pitching elbow.

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

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

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

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Notes: Rupp, Valentin]]> 2018-03-19T13:05:03Z 2018-03-19T13:01:28Z
  • The Phillies have made catcher Cameron Rupp available, Matt Gelb of The Athletic reports (subscription required). If they’re unable to find a taker for Rupp in a trade, the Phillies could end up cutting the 29-year-old and eating one-fourth of his $2.05MM salary, per Gelb. Rupp, who saw extensive action in Philadelphia in each of the previous three seasons, has hit .234/.298/.407 in 1,127 major league plate appearances and thrown out 31 percent of would-be base stealers (league average is 28 percent). He’s one of three catchers on Philly’s 40-man roster, along with starter Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp, and has a pair of minor league options remaining.
  • Phillies utilityman Jesmuel Valentin fell short of earning a roster spot in camp last year, but he may be playing his way to one this spring, Todd Zolecki of observes. “The difference this year is more versatility. I’m playing more positions,” Valentin said. “I’ve played around 40 innings in the outfield. Last year, I did not do that. I’ve had more innings at third base, so I’m showing them that I am not only a second baseman and shortstop.” The 23-year-old Valentin, who hasn’t yet played in the majors, is one of five candidates for either two or three open bench spots, joining Roman Quinn, Pedro Florimon, Ryan Flaherty and Adam Rosales. He’s on the 40-man, as are Quinn and Florimon, which is an important advantage. Valentin, Quinn and Florimon are also switch-hitters.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies Select Contract Of Pedro Florimon, Designate Eliezer Alvarez]]> 2018-03-16T16:25:55Z 2018-03-16T16:20:32Z The Phillies announced Friday that they’ve selected the contract of infielder/outfielder Pedro Florimon and designated infielder Eliezer Alvarez for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. The move seemingly indicates that Florimon will head north with the Phils as a utilityman to open the season, as he’s out of minor league options and now cannot be sent back to Triple-A without clearing waivers.

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

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

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

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Jerad Eickhoff Out Six To Eight Weeks With Lat Strain]]> 2018-03-17T03:51:51Z 2018-03-16T15:13:19Z The Phillies received some bad news on their rotation today, as Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports (via Twitter) that right-hander Jerad Eickhoff has been diagnosed with a strained lat muscle and will be sidelined for the next six to eight weeks. Eickhoff had been projected to occupy a rotation spot behind newly signed Jake Arrieta and top incumbent starter Aaron Nola. Now, he’ll open the season on the disabled list.

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

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

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

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

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

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[NL East Notes: Phillies, Conforto, AGon, Robles]]> 2018-03-13T16:16:24Z 2018-03-13T16:16:24Z As the Phillies introduce Jake Arrieta today, the organization is now much more clearly in a competitive posture than it was at the outset of the winter. But the pedal won’t be fully pressed down, it seems, despite the presence of a few other notable free agents who’d improve the near-term outlook in Philadelphia. GM Matt Klentak says that he does not anticipate any further additions before the start of the season, as’s Todd Zolecki tweets.

    More from the NL East:

    • The Mets continue to have cause for optimism on outfielder Michael Conforto, whose scary shoulder injury made for quite an offseason concern. He’s now nearing game readiness, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets, and anticipates getting into a spring game next week. That doesn’t mean that Conforto will be on the Opening Day roster, but certainly suggests he’s on track to return relatively early in the season. In other injury news, via’s Anthony DiComo (Twitter links), the Mets say that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has a sore wrist. Though there’s no indication at present that it’s a worrying injury, he has undergone an x-ray and is waiting for the results. Meanwhile, veteran third baseman David Wright is no closer to a return; rather, he’ll hold off on baseball activities for at least eight weeks after being examined recently.
    • New Mets first baseman Adrian Gonzalez discussed his fresh start and unusual offseason with Mike Puma of the New York Post. Notably, Gonzalez says he was initially resistant to the Dodgers’ request that he waive his no-trade protection to go to the Braves in a contract-swapping move that ultimately left him landing in New York. But Los Angeles “sweetened the deal every single time” he met with the team, says the veteran, who acknowledged there was compensation involved.
    • Pete Kerzel of examines the Nationals’ decision-making process with top prospect Victor Robles, who is impressing in camp despite a middling stat line in Grapefruit League action. The 20-year-old is ready for the majors, by all accounts, though the organization certainly has plenty of good reasons not to carry him out of camp. First and foremost, the organization has a solid center field combo already lined up in Michael Taylor and the out-of-options Brian Goodwin; in that sense, then, promoting Robles would mean parting with depth. Service-time considerations are also a factor; since Robles picked up 25 days of service last year, he’s just 147 days away from a full year of service. If the Nats wish to delay Robles’s eventual entry onto the open market, they’ll need to keep him down until early May; keeping him from potential Super Two status would likely mean waiting to bring him back up until the middle of the summer.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Sign Jake Arrieta]]> 2018-03-13T18:40:34Z 2018-03-13T00:00:07Z The Phillies have officially inked right-hander Jake Arrieta, as Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia first reported on Twitter. It’ll be a three-year, $75MM contract for the Scott Boras client, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.

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

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

    Jake Arrieta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies Designate Tommy Joseph For Assignment]]> 2018-03-12T22:23:37Z 2018-03-12T22:07:11Z The Phillies announced that they’ve designated first baseman Tommy Joseph for assignment. His removal from the 40-man roster creates a spot for right-hander Jake Arrieta, whose multi-year deal with the Phillies has now been formally announced by the team.

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

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

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

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Reaction To The Phillies/Jake Arrieta Agreement]]> 2018-03-12T04:26:39Z 2018-03-12T04:23:39Z One of the offseason’s major free agents finally came off the board today, as Jake Arrieta agreed to a three-year, $75MM contract with the Phillies that will become official once the right-hander passes a physical.  Here is some of the early reaction to the deal…

    • “For the Phillies, this was as close to a no-brainer as $25 million per season gets,” David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  Murphy argues that the Phillies were simply in such dire need for starting pitching that a quality arm like Arrieta was too good to pass up, even at a significant price for a still-rebuilding team.  Though Arrieta’s performance dipped in 2017, Murphy notes that even Arrieta’s down year still more or less equaled Aaron Nola’s numbers, so “in essence, the Phillies will have added another Nola even if Arrieta’s 2017 is his new normal.”  Even if Arrieta declines further, the three-year length of the deal means that he won’t be much of a long-term burden on the Phils’ spending abilities.
    • The threat of such a decline, however, makes this signing “a strange one” for the Phillies, in the opinion of’s Keith Law (subscription required).  Arrieta’s peripherals and velocity were both down in 2017, and Law wonders if “this is a Tim Lincecum situation where there’s no actual injury but he’s just wearing down after a great peak.”  Even if Arrieta stabilizes his performance or regains some of his old form, Law questions the wisdom of a contract that will likely deliver most of its value before the Phillies are truly ready to contend.
    • “The Padres had more than passing interest in Jake Arrieta”, Dennis Lin of the Athletic tweets, but the $25MM average annual value of Arrieta’s contract was too high for San Diego’s liking.  The club was known to have been at least considering the idea of going after the right-hander, who could’ve joined Eric Hosmer as the second major Scott Boras client to (surprisingly) sign with the Padres this winter.  Lin feels the Padres are likely to stick with their current rotation mix rather than add another starting pitcher, though “there are fans of Alex Cobb in the organization.”
    • The Nationals had been mentioned as a speculative landing spot for Arrieta for much of the offseason, due to both the Nats’ possible need for another starter and Boras’ well-documented relationship with the Lerner family.  As Mark Zuckerman of notes, however, “Nats folks insisted from the beginning Boras was trying to make them more interested in Arrieta than they were.”  Even if Washington was more likely to engage in Arrieta’s market if the price dropped, it seemingly never got low enough for the Nationals to make a strong bid.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies, Jake Arrieta “Moving Close” To Agreement]]> 2018-03-11T21:51:54Z 2018-03-11T20:37:37Z 3:37pm: The Phillies and Arrieta “are moving close to a deal,” Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Jimmy Rollins To Meet With Matt Klentak]]> 2018-03-05T05:09:29Z 2018-03-05T05:09:29Z Longtime major league shortstop Jimmy Rollins hasn’t officially wrapped up his playing career since the Giants released him in March 2017, but it seems the 39-year-old is heading in that direction. Rollins will soon meet with Phillies general manager Matt Klentak to discuss a potential role, according to Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Rollins would like to retire as a Phillie, and while he isn’t interested in coaching, “he could work on assisting some players or on special assignments,” Breen writes. Rollins is best known for his run with the Phillies from 2000-14, a period in which he established himself as one of the greatest players in franchise history.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Phillies Linked To International Pitching Prospect]]> 2018-03-05T04:16:15Z 2018-03-04T22:54:50Z
  • Major League Baseball recently held a showcase for some of the top international prospects who will become available when the 2018-19 international signing window opens on July 2.  In a subscription-only piece, Baseball America’s Ben Badler (two links) has the breakdown of some of the pitchers who made a particular impression, with some of these young arms already linked to such teams as the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Marlins, and Phillies.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Scott Kingery Impressing In Phillies' Camp]]> 2018-03-04T22:14:40Z 2018-03-04T21:09:47Z
  • Scott Kingery is turning a lot of heads in the Phillies’ spring camp, and there’s a chance the second base prospect could crack the Opening Day roster, Matt Gelb of The Athletic writes (subscription required).  Manager Gabe Kapler considers Kingery capable of playing several different positions, so a super-utility role would get Kingery in the lineup even with Cesar Hernandez still the regular second baseman.  Service time considerations, however, could keep Kingery at Triple-A to begin the season, though there are also some legitimate skills-related arguments to be made that the prospect still need more minor league seasoning.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mickey Moniak Discusses Difficult 2017]]> 2018-03-04T05:04:44Z 2018-03-04T05:04:44Z Newly signed Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez figures to spend most of his time at designated hitter, though the team is planning how to set up its outfield when he does factor in as a defender. “At home he’ll play left field and if somehow he plays somewhere on the road here, he’ll play right field,” manager Alex Cora told Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald and other reporters Saturday. Cora went on to reveal that right fielder Mookie Betts could move to center during road games in which Martinez plays the field. Of course, it’s unclear how often this will come up for Boston, which already has an excellent outfield trio of Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. (center) and Andrew Benintendi (left). Unlike those three, Martinez has struggled of late in the field, where he has posted minus-27 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-24.9 Ultimate Zone Rating since 2016.

    More from the East Coast…

    • Mets shortstop Amed Rosario exited their game Saturday with left knee irritation, but it seems he dodged a serious injury, Tim Healey of Newsday relays. Both manager Mickey Callaway and Rosario indicated afterward that pulling the 22-year-old was merely a precautionary measure. Relatively minor injuries have been the story early this spring for the Mets, who have seen a few key players (including Rosario, Jacob deGrom, Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares) deal with various issues. The team as a whole trudged through a disastrous, injury-plagued campaign in 2017, during which the highly touted Rosario debuted with a .248/.271/.394 showing across 170 plate appearances.
    • Like his new team, Mets first baseman Adrian Gonzalez went through a season to forget in 2017. Back problems limited the then-Dodger to 252 PAs and a .242/.287/.355 batting line. Despite his recent struggles and his age (he’ll be 36 in May), Gonzalez said he drew interest from other teams and had “secure options” before signing a low-cost deal with the Mets in January, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Gonzalez is the Mets’ top first base choice for now, but if he gets off to a slow start, that might not last for long, Sherman notes. In the event Gonzalez doesn’t rebound, the Mets could shift outfielder Jay Bruce to first once Michael Conforto comes back from shoulder surgery. Bruce hasn’t worked at first this spring, though, and he doesn’t believe he’d be be adept at the position without getting more practice there. “I believe I can be a quality first baseman,” Bruce said. “Do I think I am right now? Absolutely not.”
    • Last season didn’t unfold as hoped for Phillies outfield prospect Mickey Moniak, who struggled to a .236/.284/.341 line in 509 Single-A plate appearances a year after going No. 1 in the draft. Moniak has plummeted in prospect rankings as a result ( dropped him from 19th to 88th, for example), though the 19-year-old isn’t sweating it. Rather, Moniak told Todd Zolecki of and other reporters Saturday, “I’m actually grateful for last season, because it’s the first time in my life that I had to bear down after struggling for a while.” As for his prospect luster somewhat wearing off, Moniak declared:  “I’m kind of happy about that. Leading up to the draft, people didn’t buy into what I was as a baseball player, and right now, people aren’t fully sold on me, so I’m definitely using that as fuel. I’m excited for this year.” The Phillies are exercising patience with Moniak, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Breen, who points out that he was among the youngest players in his league last season.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On The Top Remaining Free Agent Starters]]> 2018-03-02T18:44:10Z 2018-03-02T18:44:10Z The Nationals reportedly remain open to adding to their roster before the season begins, and while they’ve been oft-linked to top remaining free agent Jake Arrieta, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports that the Nats “haven’t engaged with Arrieta’s camp recently.” The Nationals, it seems (much like the rest of baseball), would be likelier to jump into the fray if Arrieta’s price drops.

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

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

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

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

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies Have Had Recent Contact With Lance Lynn]]> 2018-03-01T15:58:29Z 2018-03-01T15:58:06Z March 1: The Phillies have at least “entertained” the possibility of signing two of the remaining starters, Morosi tweets, though he notes that such a scenario is unlikely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Joseph Received Interest From KBO, NPB Teams]]> 2018-02-28T02:35:46Z 2018-02-28T02:35:46Z The Phillies signed Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60MM contract this offseason, pushing Rhys Hoskins to the outfield and rendering Joseph without an opportunity outside of a bench role. Phils skipper Gabe Kapler has been playing Joseph in the corner outfield this spring to enhance his versatility, but Joseph still faces an uphill battle when it comes to securing even semi-regular at-bats in a crowded first base/outfield mix with the Phils.

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

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

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Morosi: Rangers Monitoring Top Available Starters]]> 2018-02-25T22:59:27Z 2018-02-25T22:59:27Z Yankees manager Aaron Boone suggested Sunday that they won’t sign either Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb, yet the team has “maintained contact with Lynn throughout the offseason,” Jon Morosi of writes. The Yankees are monitoring the top available starters in general, according to Morosi, who hears that the Brewers, Phillies, Rangers, Orioles and Nationals are doing the same. The Angels, meanwhile, are open to signing the best free agent reliever, Greg Holland, if the price is right, per Morosi. The Halos’ bullpen has seemingly taken a step back since last year ended, having lost Yusmeiro Petit and Bud Norris to free agency and added only Jim Johnson. While Holland would help make up for those exits, he’s presumably not going to sign for cheap, and inking the qualifying offer recipient would cost the Angels their second-highest draft pick this year and $500K in international spending room.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Will Middlebrooks Fractures Left Fibula]]> 2018-02-25T20:50:04Z 2018-02-25T20:50:04Z
  • Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a fractured left fibula and a potential ankle injury during the team’s game Saturday, per Todd Zolecki of It’s obviously an awful development for Middlebrooks, who joined the Phillies on a minors deal in January in hopes of earning a major league roster spot. Although Middlebrooks is likely to need surgery, he’s optimistic he’ll be able to play this season. Still, the 29-year-old admitted Sunday that he’s somewhat concerned about his future in baseball. “The game is getting younger every day,” Middlebrooks noted. “I’ll be 30 this year. Unfortunately, that’s not prime anymore. You look in this clubhouse and everybody is 23, 24 years old. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind. But the small window of time I’ve spent here with this staff and training staff, I think I’ll be just fine. If it takes two months, if it takes four or five months, I don’t know how long it’s going to take yet. I’m not counting myself out. I plan on playing this year.”
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Phillies Engaged In “Dialogue” With Jake Arrieta]]> 2018-02-20T14:29:04Z 2018-02-20T14:29:04Z The Phillies are “having dialogue” with Jake Arrieta and his representatives, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). While there’s currently a “gap” between the sides’ bargaining positions, it seems there’s at least some real interest being explored.

    Philadelphia has long been cited as a possible landing spot for Arrieta, but this is the firmest indication yet that they organization is really looking into the move. Of course, multiple recent reports have emphasized that the Phils don’t want to lock into a long-term deal to improve their rotation, and that motivation no doubt remains a major factor.

    From Arrieta’s perspective, he’s now the top player left on the board (that is, MLBTR’s top 50 free agent list). Other Scott Boras clients are taking deals that feature front-loaded structures and opt-out opportunities, though that general approach may not quite meet with the Phillies’ interest. Perhaps there’s still some room for creativity in structuring a deal for Arrieta.

    The obvious comp on this year’s market remains Yu Darvish, who landed $125MM from the Cubs — who reportedly at least checked in with Arrieta’s camp before finalizing things with Darvish. Other organizations no doubt share the Phillies’ interest in opportunism on the quality veteran starter — including, perhaps, the division-rival Nationals — so it’s still amply possible that interest from multiple quarters will push Arrieta into the nine-figure range.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Could Use Nine-Man Bullpen At Times]]> 2018-02-18T16:47:55Z 2018-02-18T16:47:55Z
  • If the Phillies don’t acquire starting pitching help, there’s a chance they’ll turn to a nine-man bullpen at times this year, per Matt Gelb of The Athletic (subscription required). It doesn’t appear the Phillies have a rotation capable of working deep in games, observes Gelb, who points out that they’ll be able to shuttle most of their relievers between the majors and minors throughout the season. Further, rookie manager Gabe Kapler is known for outside-the-box thinking and comes from a Dodgers organization that’s unafraid to use its bullpen rather often. Kapler admitted Saturday that a nine-man relief corps may be an option for Philly. “I can envision a couple of different scenarios that would allow us to carry nine in the ’pen,” Kapler said. “Now a lot of that is a little too early to X and O about, but how cool would it be to have that level of depth and those many mix and match options to go after the opposition? That would be a pretty cool thing for us.”
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Sign Fernando Abad]]> 2018-02-23T23:04:30Z 2018-02-17T19:35:03Z 1:35pm: Abad’s deal comes with a $2.5MM salary if he makes the Phillies, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (Twitter link). Cotillo confirms that Abad could earn up to $3.1MM, as Heyman reported earlier.

    8:10am: Abad has until March 22 to earn a spot on the Phillies’ roster, Jesse Sanchez of reports. The deal includes a mutual option for 2019, Sanchez adds (Twitter link), which Heyman tweets is also for a potential $2.5MM.

    7:48am: The Phillies have reached an agreement with left-handed reliever Fernando Abad, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag. Abad will receive a non-roster invitation to spring training, as Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio first reported, and will have a chance to earn $3.1MM if he makes the Phillies, per Heyman (Twitter links).

    The 32-year-old Abad will join a Phillies relief mix which is light on lefty options, evidenced by the fact that Adam Morgan is the sole southpaw in the club’s projected season-opening bullpen. Abad may stand a solid chance to make the team, then, and if he does, he’ll bring a respectable track record to Philadelphia. The former Astro, National, Athletic, Red Sox and Twin has pitched to a 3.65 ERA with 7.68 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and a 40.7 percent groundball rate across 317 2/3 major league innings. Abad has limited same-handed hitters to a subpar .234/.287/.383 line along the way.

    Abad was effective in 2017, his only full season in Boston, where he logged a 3.30 ERA with 7.63 K/9, 2.89 BB/9 and a personal-high 45 percent grounder rate over 43 2/3 frames. He was also tough on both righties (.250/.312/.384) and lefties (.224/.288/.348), though the majority of his work (34 innings) came in low-leverage situations.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Notes: Rotation, Neshek]]> 2018-02-17T16:15:24Z 2018-02-17T16:15:24Z The Phillies remain interested in adding to their rotation before the season starts, though they’re not going to make any lengthy commitments, Todd Zolecki of writes. Both general manager Matt Klentak and president Andy MacPhail (via Matt Breen of have indicated this week that the Phillies aren’t going to splurge on a long-term starter, in large part because they aren’t quite ready to push for a playoff spot, Zolecki notes. The team would be willing to pay more on a shorter contract, Zolecki relays, and Klentak revealed that doing so “is something we talk about frequently.” But if the Phillies aren’t able to land another starter in the coming weeks, Klentak insists they’ll be content to turn to in-house options.

    • Reliever Pat Neshek returned to the Phillies in free agency over the winter, agreeing to a two-year, $16.25MM pact. It turns out that the 37-year-old could have made more money elsewhere. “We didn’t really wait for other teams,” Neshek said this week (via Zolecki). “I probably left a little bit more on the table from other teams. Well, I know I did because a team called me after I agreed [with the Phillies]. Their first offer was better, but it was a comfort thing. I was really happy with the offer. I didn’t want to wait and see anything else.” Neshek was only in Philadelphia for a few months last year before the team traded him to the Rockies in July, but it’s clear both he and the Phillies enjoyed their first go-round.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies Sign Drew Hutchison To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-02-15T14:39:04Z 2018-02-15T14:39:04Z The Phillies announced this morning that they’ve signed right-hander Drew Hutchison to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.

    Hutchison, 27, once looked like a potential long-term rotation cog for the Blue Jays. After missing the entire 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery, Hutchison returned in 2014 to make 32 starts in Toronto, pitching to a 4.48 ERA with more impressive 9.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 3.85 FIP and 3.59 SIERA marks. That solid performance came at just 23 years of age.

    However, Hutchison endured some significant struggles in an uneven 2015 season and finished out the year with an unsightly 5.57 ERA in 150 1/3 innings. While fielding-independent metrics felt there was some misfortune at play (he did sport a lofty .343 BABIP and an uncharacteristically low 64.5 percent strand rate), Hutchison saw his strikeout, swinging-strike and home run rates all trend in the wrong direction during that ugly 2015 season.

    Hutchison appeared sparingly in the Majors in 2016 and was ultimately traded from Toronto to Pittsburgh in the Francisco Liriano salary dump. While Hutchison seemed a reasonable buy-low piece for the Pirates in that swap, though, he never received much of an opportunity in the Majors despite posting quality numbers in Triple-A. Over the past two seasons at that level, Hutchison has tossed 297 1/3 innings of 3.57 ERA ball with 7.9 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 and 0.9 HR/9.

    With the Phillies, he’ll compete for a rotation spot behind staff leader Aaron Nola. Others in the rotation mix for the Phils include Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Jake Thompson, Zach Eflin and Mark Leiter Jr. — each of whom saw some time in the Major Leagues last season. Eickhoff and Velasquez are probably penciled in for rotation spots, health permitting, though neither turned in an especially impressive showing in 2017.

    Should Hutchison reestablish himself as a big league arm, the Phillies will have the added bonus of controlling him for up to three years via the arbitration process, as he’s currently sitting on three years, 165 days of Major League service time.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Phillies Called Cubs About Mike Montgomery]]> 2018-02-15T03:01:07Z 2018-02-15T03:01:07Z
  • Also from Wittenmyer’s piece, he notes that the Cubs have been getting trade interest in Montgomery since the Darvish signing, with the Phillies and possibly other teams calling about Montgomery’s availability even long before Darvish came to Wrigleyville.  Philadelphia’s interest isn’t a surprise, as the Phils have seemingly checked in on just about every controllable young starter that could conceivably be a trade candidate.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Phillies Will Test Roman Quinn At Shortstop]]> 2018-02-15T00:00:16Z 2018-02-15T00:00:16Z
  • With the Phillies stressing defensive versatility, the team will work Roman Quinn out at shortstop this spring, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  Manager Gabe Kapler said the team won’t try Quinn at shortstop in an actual game before they see how he handles infield drills, though Kapler noted that “we’d be foolish not to look under that stone” given Quinn’s athleticism.  Quinn was originally drafted as a shortstop the Phillies took him in the second round in 2011, but was shifted to the outfield after some early-career defensive struggles.  Quinn can already play all three outfield spots, though adding shortstop to his defensive repertoire would only help his chances of winning a spot on what could be a short Phillies bench.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies Will Reportedly Attend Lincecum Showcase]]> 2018-02-14T05:02:07Z 2018-02-14T04:55:29Z
  • More than 10 teams are set to attend Tim Lincecum’s showcase on Thursday, it seems. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, Rhett Bollinger of and Roch Kubatko of respectively report that the Tigers, Twins and Orioles will have scouts in attendance (all Twitter links). Heyman adds another handful of clubs, listing the Rangers, Phillies, Dodgers, YankeesRed Sox, Brewers, Padres and Braves as attendees (links to Twitter for the last three), in addition to the previously reported Giants. If anything, it’s perhaps more notable which clubs have elected not to attend the showcase, as there’s no real downside to at least taking a look and the showcase is shaping up to be reasonably well-attended. To that end, the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan wrote over the weekend that the Mets aren’t planning to have a scout in attendance.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Giants Negotiating With Tony Watson; Phillies & Red Sox Also In Mix]]> 2018-02-13T17:34:54Z 2018-02-13T17:33:52Z 11:33am: San Francisco isn’t the only team in the mix, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag, who tweets that the Phillies, Red Sox, and unstated other teams are also still involved.

    10:20am: The Giants are engaged in “serious contract talks” with southpaw reliever Tony Watson, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports (via Twitter). It is not clear at this time what sort of contractual terms the sides are contemplating, but Watson is clearly the best lefty pen piece still unsigned at this stage.

    This is certainly an interesting bit of news, due largely to San Francisco’s closely watched effort to improve while staying shy of the competitive balance tax line. Recent tabulations have suggested the team is only $2MM or so beneath the $197MM threshold at present, leaving little room for a player of Watson’s anticipated price.

    If the Giants were to accept the luxury tax for the 2018 season, it’s at least fair to wonder whether they’d plan to go further over the line to add other players. On the other hand, part of the team’s strategy could be to engineer a mid-season sell-off to get back below the line if things don’t go quite as hoped.

    As things stand, the Giants’ depth chart features Steven Okert as the top southpaw on hand. Josh Osich and D.J. Snelten also represent 40-man options, with recent minor-league signee Derek Holland perhaps also factoring in the mix if he cannot earn a rotation slot. San Francisco will ultimately hope for a bounce back from Will Smith, who is looking to return from a Tommy John procedure that was performed just before the start of the 2017 season, but clearly there’s some room for improvement.

    Entering the winter, Watson was tabbed as the 44th-best free agent in MLBTR’s ranking of the top 50 open-market players. We guessed the 32-year-old could command $12MM in total guaranteed money over two years. While he has plenty of general late-inning experience, our assessment was that he’d be pursued (and paid) more as a quality lefty specialist. Watson, after all, has long been much more effective against opposing lefties.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Eric Fryer Retires]]> 2018-02-12T15:19:13Z 2018-02-12T15:18:19Z Veteran catcher Eric Fryer, who earlier this offseason had inked a minor league deal with the Phillies, has elected to retire instead of attending camp this spring, the team announced.

    Fryer, 32, has spent parts of the past seven seasons in the Majors, including 94 games between the Pirates and Cardinals in 2016-17. In 374 plate appearances across the life of 159 games, Fryer hit .232/.320/.300 with a pair of homers, 14 doubles and a triple. In addition to spending parts of three seasons with the Pirates and two with the Cardinals, Fryer also saw action with the Twins in the 2014-15 seasons.

    In addition to his time in the Majors, Fryer, a former 10th round pick (Brewers, 2007), enjoyed a nine-year career in the minors, during which he batted .269/.357/.396 in an additional 647 games. Best wishes to Fryer in his post-playing days.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[The Phillies' Bench Battle]]> 2018-02-12T02:45:37Z 2018-02-12T01:44:50Z
  • The Phillies’ bench situation is broken down by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury, who notes that defensive versatility will be at a premium for a team that may have just four bench spots available.  The Phils may need to deploy an eight-man bullpen to account for its injury-laden rotation, which leaves less room for position players in general, and especially players who can only fit in at one position (i.e. first baseman Tommy Joseph).  Two of the bench spots are already filled by outfielder Nick Williams and the backup catcher, leaving a utility infield job up for grabs in Spring Training and possibly another reserve outfield job as well.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Steve Geltz Gets 100-Game Suspension]]> 2018-02-11T05:09:03Z 2018-02-11T05:09:03Z
  • Four minor leaguers – Rays catcher Nick Ciuffo, Padres right-hander Alex Cunningham, Phillies righty Steve Geltz and Pirates second baseman Mitchell Tolman – received suspensions for drug use on Saturday (via Bob Nightengale of USA Today, on Twitter). The harshest punishment went to Geltz, who will serve a 100-game ban without pay after testing positive for a drug of abuse for the third time in his career. The 30-year-old, who signed a minor league deal with the Phillies last month, previously sat 50 games in 2014 after testing positive for marijuana. Meanwhile, Ciuffo, Cunningham and Tolman each got 50-game suspensions. Ciuffo and Tolman tested positive for a drug of abuse for the second time, while Cunningham tested positive for an amphetamine. The most notable member of that trio is the 22-year-old Ciuffo, whom the Rays selected in the first round of the 2013 draft and who currently sits 27th on’s ranking of the team’s top 30 prospects. Ciuffo, who got an invitation to big league camp prior to the suspension, took to Twitter on Saturday to apologize.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Still Seeking Starting Pitching]]> 2018-02-11T01:24:20Z 2018-02-11T01:21:19Z
  • In addition to the previously listed Twins and Brewers, the Dodgers and the Phillies are still targeting starters in the wake of the Darvish deal, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Philadelphia is aggressively pursuing a short-term addition, per Mark Feinsand of Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman, Jaime Garcia and Jason Vargas are all possibilities, Feinsand adds.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Phillies' Search For Starter]]> 2018-02-10T06:34:17Z 2018-02-10T03:07:35Z
  • The Phillies’ search for a starter remains a bit of a wild card on the market.’s Mark Feinsand has the latest, citing sources for the proposition that the Phils are taking an “aggressive” approach, though it’s not entirely clear what that means. While the organization has been tied, at least speculatively, to a wide variety of hurlers, the indication from Feinsand is that the organization is mostly looking currently at one-year targets rather than more significant hurlers. As Feinsand notes, it’s possible to imagine quite a few names that could conceivably fit. Indeed, many of the free agent starters remain available, so a Phillies team in an opportunistic position could yet take any number of different courses in filling out its staff.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Phillies, Collin Cowgill Agree To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-02-09T02:45:51Z 2018-02-09T02:45:48Z
  • Outfielder Collin Cowgill has signed on with the Phillies on a minor league pact, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The 31-year-old Cowgill would earn an $800K base salary if he cracked the big league roster, per Nightengale, though he’ll have an uphill battle ahead of him in that regard. Philadelphia will have Rhys Hoskins, Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams and Roman Quinn in the outfield mix as it is. Cowgill didn’t play in the Majors in 2017 and only logged nine games in 2016. He’s a career .234/.297/.329 hitter in parts of six Major League seasons and a career .283/.356/.431 hitter in seven Triple-A seasons.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies To Sign Ryan Flaherty]]> 2018-02-08T13:43:53Z 2018-02-08T13:43:59Z TODAY: Flaherty would earn at a $1.9MM rate if he makes the roster, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. He could also earn a further $300K in incentives and may opt out on March 22nd if he has not been added to the MLB roster.

    YESTERDAY: The Phillies and free-agent infielder Ryan Flaherty have agreed to terms, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Presumably, it’s a minor league deal for the CAA client, based on Crasnick’s note that Flaherty will “compete for a job in Spring Training.” He’ll join fellow veterans Adam Rosales and Pedro Florimon in competing for a utility infield spot with the Phils.

    Baltimore was said to have interest in retaining Flaherty, who hit free agency this winter after spending the past six seasons with the Orioles. Instead, he’ll head to an organization that has several Orioles ties in the front office; Philadelphia president Andy MacPhail, GM Matt Klentak and assistant GM Ned Rice were all with the Phils at some point during Flaherty’s tenure with the team.

    Flaherty, 31, missed a significant chunk of the 2017 season due to a shoulder strain and only took 43 plate appearances at the big league level last year. But, from 2012-16, the versatile utility man averaged 86 games and 245 plate appearances per year with the O’s, appearing at all four infield positions and in the outfield corners.

    Flaherty isn’t much of a hitter, as evidenced by a career .215/.284/.355 slash. He does have a bit of extra-base pop, though (.140 ISO) and draws above-average grades for his defensive work at second base and third base. He can play shortstop in a pinch as well, though Defensive Runs Saved (-8) and Ultimate Zone Rating (-4.8) aren’t exactly bullish on his work in 391 innings at the position.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mark Appel Stepping Away From Baseball]]> 2018-02-01T15:59:36Z 2018-02-01T15:53:32Z In a candid, must-read interview with Bleacher Report’s Joon Lee, former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel reveals that he’s stepping away from professional baseball at the age of 26. Appel didn’t use the word “retirement” and suggested that perhaps, somewhere down the line, he’d give baseball another shot. However, for the time being, he won’t be reporting to Spring Training with the Phillies (who will retain his rights, tweets Matt Gelb of The Athletic).

    “I’m 26, I have a Stanford degree, I have many interests beyond baseball, which I still love, but I have a lot of things I care about,” Appel tells Lee. “I enjoy challenging my mind. My last four years in baseball have challenged my mind.”

    Appel, clearly, has dealt with his share of disappointment in professional baseball. The former Stanford ace was twice projected to be the top overall pick in the draft, falling to the Pirates at No. 8 in 2012 and then ultimately being selected No. 1 overall by Houston the following year after returning to Stanford for his senior season. As Joon explores in detail, Appel posted respectable numbers in his debut season but never really hit his stride after the fact, struggling through injuries and oftentimes inexplicable ineffectiveness from 2014-17.

    Appel bluntly states that he was “maybe the worst pitcher in professional baseball” in 2014 and recalls a story where, after arguably the worst start of his career, frustration boiled over to the point that he destroyed a particle-board panel in the clubhouse by throwing upwards of 80 baseballs through it. (Appel purchased supplies to repair the damages at Home Depot out of his own pocket and handled the project himself the following day.) The right-hander obviously feels some disappointment about never reaching the Majors and says he would “absolutely” have loved to be pitching in the World Series alongside his friends and former Astros teammates.

    As Lee points out, if Appel never makes the decision to return to pro ball, he’d become just the third No. 1 overall pick ever to retire without logging a single game in the Majors. Appel is aware of that unflattering context but seems to be at peace with the fact.

    “I had high expectations,” says Appel, who is still rehabbing from his 2017 shoulder troubles. “I didn’t live up to those for a number of reasons. If you want to call me the biggest draft bust, you can call it that. … If I never get to the big leagues, will it be a disappointment? Yes and no. That was a goal and a dream I had at one point, but that’s with stipulations that I’m healthy, I’m happy and doing something I love. If I get to the big leagues, what’s so great about the big leagues if you’re in an isolated place, you’re hurt and you’re emotionally unhappy? How much is that worth to you?”

    For the time being, Appel says he’s planning on pursuing an internship and attending business school, perhaps at Stanford but also with several other prospective universities in mind. He speaks with a certain level of excitement about the opportunity to spend more time with friends and family, as well as the possibility of traveling. Perhaps most important of all, Appel sounds like a man with an unexpected and impressive level of perspective on the struggles he’s had in professional baseball: “Some people have real struggles. I played baseball. I thought I was going to be great, and I wasn’t.”

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies, Adam Rosales Agree To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-02-01T03:38:18Z 2018-02-01T03:38:18Z The Phillies have signed infielder Adam Rosales to a minor league contract, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). The veteran utilityman will earn a $1.75MM base salary if he makes the roster and will be in Major League camp this spring. He’s represented by Hilliard Sports Management.

    The 34-year-old Rosales (35 in May) split the 2017 campaign between the Athletics and Diamondbacks, batting a combined .225/.260/.353 with seven homers in 312 plate appearances. While that clearly marked a rough season for the versatile Rosales, he’s just a year removed from a considerably more heartening .229/.319/.495 slash and a career-best 13 home runs (through just 248 plate appearances) with the Padres.

    Rosales can play all four infield positions, having logged more than 550 innings at each of first base, second base, third base and shortstop in a decade-long MLB career. A right-handed hitter, Rosales’ career OPS is nearly 100 points higher when facing left-handed pitching, and he was especially effective with the platoon advantage in the aforementioned 2016 campaign, posting an .843 OPS with six homers in 115 PAs against southpaws.

    The Phillies don’t have a clearly defined utility infielder at present, so Rosales will head to the camp and compete with prospect Jesmuel Valentin and fellow non-roster invitee Pedro Florimon for a bench job.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Phillies Unable To Find Trade Fit For Tommy Joseph]]> 2018-01-31T14:00:43Z 2018-01-31T14:00:43Z
  • The Phillies have been unable to find a trade partner for Tommy Joseph this offseason, leaving the first baseman fighting for a roster spot as Spring Training approaches, The Athletic’s Matt Gelb writes (subscription required and recommended).  Rhys Hoskins’ presence led the Phils to shop Joseph last summer, and the path to first base playing time has become even more blocked now that Carlos Santana is a Phillie.  “You don’t know where you fit in,” Joseph said. “You don’t know what your role is. But those are all things that will evolve as spring training gets started and as we get deeper into March….I’ll go out there and earn my keep.”  As Gelb notes, the Phillies’ trade efforts have been hampered by the presence of so many other first base options still available in free agency.  Joseph still has a minor league option remaining, so he could find himself back in Triple-A after hitting 43 homers and a .247/.297/.460 slash line over his first 880 MLB plate appearances.
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