Philadelphia Phillies – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-06-23T06:09:15Z WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies Sign Danny Espinosa To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-06-22T17:51:57Z 2018-06-22T17:51:57Z The Phillies announced that they’ve signed veteran infielder Danny Espinosa to a minor league contract. The MVP Sports client will give the Phils some additional infield depth following this week’s injury to J.P. Crawford, who is expected to miss up to six weeks due to a broken hand.

Espinosa, who turned 31 back in April, has now been with seven different organizations since Opening Day 2017. The longtime Nationals infielder opened the 2017 season as the Angels’ second baseman but was released by the Halos last July. Since that time, he’s had brief stints with the Rays, Mariners, Yankees, Blue Jays and Dodgers (though he only appeared in the Majors with Tampa Bay and Seattle).

The switch-hitting Espinosa has had a rough go of it so far in 2018, hitting a combined .190/.236/.276 through 125 plate appearances between the Triple-A affiliates for the Dodgers and Blue Jays. That’s served as a continuation of last season’s .173/.245/.278 slash through 295 Major League plate appearances between the Angels, Rays and Mariners. Espinosa did hit 24 homers as recently as 2016 with the Nationals and is considered to be a strong up-the-middle defender, but his bat has become increasingly questionable in recent seasons.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Adrian Beltre Drawing Trade Interest]]> 2018-06-21T23:29:52Z 2018-06-21T23:21:22Z Both the Phillies and Indians have varying levels of interest in Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, reports Jon Morosi of Philadelphia’s interest is portrayed a bit more strongly in the report, whereas Morosi writes that “[a]t least some within the Indians organization would like to acquire Beltre,” who is familiar with skipper Terry Francona from the 2010 season with the Red Sox.

The Rangers’ stance as sellers on this summer’s trade deadline has been clear for weeks. Texas currently sits 12 games below .500 and an insurmountable 18 games out of first place in the American League West. They’re a similarly daunting 14.5 games out of the American League Wild Card chase.

While trade interest in Beltre figures to pick up as the deadline draws nearer, it’s not yet clear whether the 39-year-old Beltre will waive his 10-and-5 rights, which allow him to veto any trade scenario with which he is presented. Certainly, there’s a logical case to be made that given his age, Beltre would prefer to go somewhere with a chance to win a World Series ring. At the same time, he’s been with the Rangers since 2011 and undoubtedly has a comfort level with his teammates, the coaching staff, the city and Rangers fans. He’s earning $18MM this season — with approximately $9.77MM of that sum still owed to him through season’s end.

For the Phillies, it’s not difficult to see the appeal Beltre brings to the organization. Philadelphia third baseman have posted a lackluster .235/.300/.399 batting line so far in 2018, and their third basemen have been seven runs below average in the field according to both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved. There’s been little in the way of value provided from either Maikel Franco or J.P. Crawford, the latter of whom just went on the disabled list for up to six weeks after incurring a broken hand when he was hit by a pitch two days ago.

The Indians, meanwhile, have a less obvious need, considering the brilliance of Jose Ramirez, who has broken out as a full-fledged superstar over the past two seasons. Ramirez is hitting a ridiculous .291/.391/.611 with 22 homers, 20 doubles, a triple and 10 steals (in 12 tries) while playing strong defense at third base. However, Ramirez is also a more-than-capable second baseman, and the Cleveland organization has received virtually no production at that position from former star Jason Kipnis (.208/.282/.328 in 295 plate appearances). Acquiring Beltre would allow Cleveland to shift Ramirez to second base.

Clearly, Beltre isn’t the player that he once was. But the future Hall of Famer has still notched an impressive .302/.357/.428 slash with three homers, nine doubles and a triple so far through 182 plate appearances. However, he’s also had a pair of DL stints this season due to hamstring strains and has begun to see more time at designated hitter as a means of keeping his legs healthier. That could limit some of his appeal to an NL club such as the Phillies, though with Crawford, Franco and Scott Kingery on the roster, the Phils have the depth to rest Beltre a couple of times per week should they deem it necessary.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[J.P. Crawford Out Four To Six Weeks With Fractured Hand]]> 2018-06-20T14:01:17Z 2018-06-20T14:01:53Z June 20: The Phillies have formally placed Crawford on the 10-day disabled list. Infielder Mitch Walding has been recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley for his second stint with the Phillies in 2018.

June 19: Phillies shortstop/third baseman J.P. Crawford suffered a broken left hand upon being hit by a pitch in tonight’s game, tweets’s Todd Zolecki. He’ll be out for the next four to six weeks as he recovers from the injury.

The 23-year-old Crawford, a former first-round pick and long one of the game’s top prospects, has struggled to this point in 2018, hitting just .194/.312/.333 with a pair of homers, five doubles, a triple and two steals (in two attempts). He’d already missed a bit more than a month with a forearm strain and now, unfortunately, is headed for another prolonged absence.

With Crawford back on the shelf, the Phillies will likely give Maikel Franco and Scott Kingery regular at-bats on the left side of the infield. Franco has recently been relegated to a part-time role but voiced a desire to remain with the organization in spite of his reduced playing time. Now, with Crawford sidelined, he’ll likely get another opportunity to prove that he’s capable of emerging as the regular, middle-of-the-order presence the Phils envisioned when he, too, was considered one of the game’s elite prospects.

Of course, an injury on the left side of the infield only figures to further fuel speculation about the Phils making a run at the Orioles’ Manny Machado. Phillies president Andy MacPhail, GM Matt Klentak and assistant GM Ned Rice have all previously worked in the Orioles’ front office, and the Phillies have received scarce production from the entire left side of their infield as a whole.

That said, there’s been little beyond speculation connecting the two sides since the offseason, and there’ll be no shortage of other clubs showing significant interest in Machado. Realistically, given the lackluster production from the combination of Crawford, Franco (.243/.288/.416) and Kingery (.222/.278/.335), Crawford’s injury may not even move the needle much as far as the team’s interest in Machado; the club was already receiving poor enough output that it’d be logical to expect them to explore the possibility of a Machado acquisition with or without a healthy Crawford in the fold.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies Option Hector Neris]]> 2018-06-18T19:32:00Z 2018-06-18T19:19:45Z The Phillies announced that they’ve optioned right-hander Hector Neris to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and selected the contract of lefty Austin Davis from Double-A Reading. Neris has spent the better part of the past two seasons serving as Philadelphia’s closer.

While Neris was dominant in a setup role in 2016 and pitched similarly well in his first season as the Phillies’ closer in 2017, the 2018 campaign has been disastrous for the 29-year-old. His season-long struggles culminated yesterday in a meltdown that saw Neris yield four runs on four hits, including two homers, in just two-third of an inning.

That latest hiccup sent Neris’ ERA soaring to an even 6.00, though his struggles have been ongoing for a considerably longer period of time; Neris has been scored upon in five of his past eight appearances and in nine of his 30 games pitched on the season overall.

The demotion will provide Neris with a lower-pressure setting in which to work to correct his struggles, and service time won’t be a consideration with regard to determining the length of his stay in Lehigh Valley. Neris entered the year with two years, 104 days of Major League service, so he’s already cleared three years of service time and remains on track to be arbitration-eligible following the current season. He’ll still be controllable through the 2021 campaign, regardless of whether his optional assignment lasts for three weeks or three months.

It’s not clear who the Phillies will utilize as their closer in the interim. Seranthony Dominguez, Edubray Ramos and Victor Arano would each figure to be among the leading candidates, as they’ve all been dominant so far in 2018. If the Phillies prefer to save those tantalizing arms for higher-leverage spots while turning to a more veteran option to enter with the bases empty in the ninth inning, though, Tommy Hunter is on hand to potentially fill that role.

Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Phillies Place Luis Garcia On 10-Day DL, Recall Thompson, Rios]]> 2018-06-16T20:41:23Z 2018-06-16T20:41:23Z The Phillies have placed right-handed reliever Luis Garcia on the 10-day disabled list. Amidst the shuffle, the club also recalled fellow right-handers Jake Thompson and Yacksel Rios, while optioning another right-hander, Mark Leiter Jr., to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The moves were announced by the club’s media account on Twitter.

Though Garcia enjoyed a significant breakthrough last season by posting a 2.65 ERA to go with an impressive 56.3% ground ball rate last season, he hasn’t managed to build on that so far in 2018. The 31-year-old’s 4.74 ERA through 24 2/3 innings is an eyesore, while that fantastic ground ball rate has also dropped nearly seven points. That’s also with a .279 BABIP taken into consideration, which is well below the league average.

Thompson hasn’t had much opportunity with the Phillies this year, and hasn’t exactly impressed in limited action. The young gun has allowed a whopping seven earned runs in just 8 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Last season, Thompson posted a 3.88 ERA while pitching mostly as a starter, but his 5.92 FIP indicates that he was more than just a bit lucky.

As for Rios, there seems to be some reason for optimism surrounding his potential. His 5.29 ERA is a bit ugly, but he’s managed to limit opposing hard contact to 28.8% in his 17 innings on the year thus far. His 9.53 K/9 is certainly worthy of some attention, while his 3.71 BB/9 is at least passable. Rios has also suffered from a .400 opponent BABIP, a number which is likely to regress to the mean.

Though he made 11 starts for the Phillies last year, Leiter’s pitched exclusively out of the bullpen both in the majors and minors this season. He’s managed to strike out nine batters in eight innings across his four appearances; all four of those appearances saw him retire at least five hitters. Leiter also allowed four earned runs on two walks and eight hits, including two homers.

Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL East Notes: Marlins, Nationals, Franco]]> 2018-06-16T16:25:54Z 2018-06-16T16:25:54Z Though the Marlins made a few headline-worthy changes in the front office following the franchise’s transfer of ownership to Derek Jeter and company, there wasn’t a dramatic overhaul right away. Instead, as FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman notes, the club is “experiencing turnover as they go; it’s happening organically, and perhaps uncomfortably in a couple cases.” Director of player development Gary Denbo is reportedly “appalled by much of what he sees” as he surveys the Marlins system and attempts to turn the franchise around. Denbo’s primary focus is accountability; it’s reported that within the old regime, decisions could “come from anyone,” and weren’t always made by the person who is accountable for them. “We’re hoping to develop a sense of urgency to become the best organization in baseball. That is the objective,” said Denbo. Though he’s reportedly ruffled a few feathers, perhaps that’s acceptable considering the Marlins have put up a losing record every year since 2009.

A few other items from around the NL East…

  • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic sat down for a Q&A with Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long. Among the highlights are rookie Juan Soto; Long raves about his “tight”, “compact” and “connected” swing along with his plate discipline). “I can go on and on about this kid. His routine is flawless. He came in and knew exactly what he wanted to do. I was like, ‘Wow.’ He’s at ease. He’s confident.” Long also discusses Bryce Harper’s relative struggles as well as Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton and the fly-ball revolution.
  • In a separate piece, Rosenthal notes at one point that the Nationals are attempting to add one starter and one reliever (according to his sources). With the recent placement of Stephen Strasburg and Brandon Kintzler on the DL and Jeremy Hellickson still recovering from a hamstring strain, pitching is thin for Washington outside of Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez.
  • “It feels as if Maikel Franco is being phased out,” writes Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports. While it’s (somewhat) worth noting that Phillies management has denied this, Franco has been relegated to a part-time role after enduring continued struggles to get on base this season; struggles he doesn’t particularly make up for in any other way. Clearly this hasn’t been lost on Franco, who is aware of the circumstances. “I understand what’s happening right now,” he said on Sunday morning. “I understand what the manager is trying to do with everybody. I know the situation.” Rookie J.P. Crawford has been getting looks at third base, and the team is also looking for a positional home for Scott Kingery. Franco owns a .233/.281/.408 slash line since the start of 2017.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Phillies To Sign First-Round Pick Alec Bohm]]> 2018-06-11T22:42:50Z 2018-06-11T22:40:27Z MONDAY: Bohm’s agreement is “done,” Heyman tweets, and will come in at $5.85MM.

FRIDAY: The Phillies have agreed to a bonus amount with top draft choice Alec Bohm, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). When the deal is finalized, Bohm is expected to receive a bonus in the range of $6MM.

Bohm went to Philadelphia with the third overall pick, which comes with a $6,947,500 slot allocation. His agreed-upon amount, then, will leave the club with an additional $1MM or so with which to sign other draftees.

A third baseman from Wichita State, Bohm was widely tabbed as a top-ten draft prospect entering the festivities. The Fangraphs prospect evaluators were highest on him, rating him third on their board, while’s Keith Law graded him at #5 and and Baseball America both placed him seventh.

All agree that Bohm is a top-flight hitting prospect, as he delivers both impeccable plate discipline and substantial raw power. There’s some disagreement, though, as to whether he’ll be able to remain at the hot corner in the long run given his big frame. Fangraphs believes he “has the hands, arm, and athleticism to handle third,” while is significantly less bullish on his tools in the field.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Maikel Franco's Time In Philly Could Be Running Out]]> 2018-06-10T20:59:04Z 2018-06-10T20:58:05Z
  • Third baseman Maikel Franco has lost his grip on an everyday job, the latest sign that his days with the Phillies may be numbered, Todd Zolecki of observes. Franco and fellow third base options J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery have each offered poor production this year, so the Phillies may seek an outside solution at the hot corner by the deadline and/or in the offseason, posits Zolecki, who suggests that Franco could be dealt thereafter. For now, even though Franco’s not accustomed to a part-time role, the 25-year-old tells Zolecki that he’s trying to make the best of it. Regardless of whether Franco sticks with the Phillies, the career .247/.299/.425 hitter has two more arbitration-eligible seasons remaining after this one.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Genuinely Interested In Manny Machado]]> 2018-06-09T21:55:30Z 2018-06-09T21:55:16Z
  • The Phillies are genuinely interested in Orioles shortstop Manny Machado, Todd Zolecki of hears. Zolecki’s report jibes with one from FanRag’s Jon Heyman, who noted this week that Philadelphia had already reached out to Baltimore in regards to Machado. The 32-30 Phillies have been slumping lately, however, and may not be serious contenders when the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline arrives. Whether they end up vying for Machado and other veterans around the deadline will be determined over the next several weeks, general manager Matt Klentak suggested. “How we come out of June and how we transition into the month of July and what our placement in the standings is in the month of July will be what really dictates what our Trade Deadline strategy is,” Klentak said. “If we are contending and in a legitimate spot to make a run, then I would expect to address that and make moves. We just have to maintain the proper perspective on that and adjust as our performance suggests we adjust.”
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Sixto Sanchez Dealing With Elbow Inflammation]]> 2018-06-09T19:15:10Z 2018-06-09T19:14:44Z
  • Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez is headed to the DL with right elbow inflammation, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. The club doesn’t believe it’s a serious issue, however. The 19-year-old right-hander, Baseball America’s 16th-ranked prospect (subscription required), has logged a 2.51 ERA with 8.68 K/9 and 2.12 BB/9 in 46 2/3 innings at the High-A level this season. He was closing in on a Double-A promotion prior to the DL placement, according to Salisbury, but that’s now on hold.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Notes: Hoskins, Eickhoff]]> 2018-06-09T13:39:12Z 2018-06-09T13:37:06Z
  • Phillies left fielder Rhys Hoskins could return from the DL on Saturday, Matt Breen of reports. That would represent a quick comeback for a player who suffered a fractured jaw May 28. In other positive news for the Phillies, the club has ruled out the possibility of thoracic outlet syndrome for injured righty Jerad Eickhoff, general manager Matt Klentak announced. Still, even though the Phillies have “ruled out a lot of bad stuff” for Eickhoff, according to Klentak, they’re unsure what’s causing the numbness in his fingers. Both that problem and a strained lat have shelved Eickhoff for the entire season thus far.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Manny Machado]]> 2018-06-08T03:03:18Z 2018-06-08T03:03:18Z Manny Machado will likely be the most talked-about name on the trade market this summer, and it would appear that teams are already beginning to inquire with the Orioles about his services. Baltimore GM Dan Duquette confirmed to FanRag’s Jon Heyman that rival clubs have expressed interest, though he unsurprisingly declined to elaborate much.

    “We don’t need to negotiate in the press, but I can tell you there are more teams interested now (than the winter),” said Duquette. “If you’re interested in making an impact, this is the player.”

    Heyman does report, though, that the Phillies are among the teams that have already reached out on the superstar infielder. The Braves, he adds, have yet to inquire. Philadelphia’s interest in Machado is hardly a surprise given that president Andy MacPhail is the former head of baseball ops in the Orioles front office, while GM Matt Klentak and assistant GM Ned Rice all came up through the Baltimore front office as well.

    Heyman also notes that the Orioles’ asking price on Machado is believed by other teams to be far too high at the moment. It’s common in virtually any negotiation (trade or free agent), of course, for the early asking price to be considerably loftier than the ultimate price. Heyman cites a “Phillies-connected person” in suggesting that the Orioles have sought four young players in return for their star.

    Certainly, that’s a lot to ask, though any package would typically be headlined by one or two high-level talents and a few secondary pieces. As Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote yesterday (subscription link), the O’s will want a package comparable to the Aroldis Chapman return from 2016, when the Cubs sent Gleyber Torres and three lesser others — Billy McKinney, Rashad Crawford and veteran Adam Warren — to the Yankees to rent Chapman for a few months. Some have expressed skepticism about the possibility of that type of return after J.D. Martinez and Yu Darvish fetched more modest returns, though Rosenthal rightly notes that Machado would be the best position-player rental on the market in recent history.

    The Cubs have already come up as an oft-speculated landing spot, though president of baseball ops Theo Epstein emphatically quashed those rumors late last month when he termed such speculation to be off in “fantasy land” and said trade negotiations to that point in the season had been “nil.” The Dodgers, too, are frequently mentioned as a possibility in the wake of Corey Seager’s Tommy John surgery, while the Diamondbacks were among the most heavily linked clubs to Machado in the offseason. Certainly, other clubs figure to join the fray as the deadline approaches, as many teams aren’t yet sure what type of trajectory they’ll plot in late July.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Drew Hutchison Elects Free Agency]]> 2018-06-05T15:54:55Z 2018-06-05T15:54:55Z Righty Drew Hutchison has elected free agency after clearing outright waivers, the Phillies announced today. He had been designated for assignment recently.

    Hutchison, 27, worked to a 4.64 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 5.5 BB/9 over his 21 1/3 innings on the year. To be fair, much of the damage came in two long-relief appearances during a stretch in which he appeared just twice in a 26-day span.

    In parts of five seasons in the majors, Hutchison owns a 4.92 ERA with 8.3 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9 over 439 innings. He’ll surely have little trouble catching on somewhere, though it’s anyone’s guess when he’ll receive his next shot at the MLB level.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On The Phillies' Draft Plans]]> 2018-06-04T04:06:00Z 2018-06-04T04:06:00Z
  • In a chat with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury and other reporters, Phillies scouting director Johnny Almaraz implied that the team will look to take a college player with the third overall pick in tomorrow’s amateur draft.  Alvarez agreed with the general outlook that the draft is deep in quality college talent, noting “I see a lot of clubs moving in that direction where we’re going to try and get on these college players pretty quickly.”  Oregon State infielder Nick Madrigal, Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm, and Florida pitcher Brady Singer have all been noted as potential picks for the Phils, and Salisbury believes one of the trio will be the choice, barring an unexpected development (like the Tigers passing on Casey Mize as the first overall pick).
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Rhys Hoskins Hoping For June 9 Return]]> 2018-06-03T02:35:27Z 2018-06-03T02:35:03Z
  • Despite suffering a fractured jaw this past Monday, Phillies left fielder Rhys Hoskins told reporters (including Matt Breen of that it’s possible he’ll be able to return as early as June 9. Whether that happens will depend on the news Hoskins receives during his follow-up appointment with the Phillies’ oral surgeon next week, per Breen.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Acquire Tommy Bergjans From Phillies]]> 2018-06-02T04:17:23Z 2018-06-02T03:33:40Z
  • The Reds acquired right-hander Tommy Bergjans from the Phillies in exchange for cash, also per Eddy. Bergjans, 25, went from the Dodgers to the Phillies in the 2016 Carlos Ruiz/A.J. Ellis trade. He struggled to a 6.57 ERA with solid control but just 7.1 K/9 and a whopping 2.37 HR/9 in 50 1/3 innings at the Double-A level last season. He’s allowed just two runs through seven innings this season but has failed to record a strikeout in that time.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies Place Rhys Hoskins On DL, Promote Dylan Cozens, Designate Drew Hutchison]]> 2018-05-31T20:54:59Z 2018-05-31T20:51:28Z 3:51pm: The injury will not require surgery and is considered “weeks thing, not a months thing,” Matt Gelb of The Athletic was among those to tweet.

    2:14pm: The Phillies announced on Thursday that they’ve placed Rhys Hoskins on the DL with a fractured jaw and recalled outfield prospect Dylan Cozens from Triple-A Lehigh Valley in his place. Additionally, the Phils recalled right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. and cleared a spot on the roster by designating fellow righty Drew Hutchison for assignment.

    Hoskins incurred the fracture on Monday this week when he fouled a ball into his jaw and was forced to exit the game. Initial x-rays proved to be negative, it seems, as Hoskins somewhat remarkably hit a pinch-hit double a day later on Tuesday. However, a CT scan revealed the fracture last night. At the time, he was reportedly set to return to Philadelphia for further evaluation by an oral surgeon. The Phillies have yet to announce the findings of that exam, though surgery was at least mentioned as a possible option.

    Until the Phils make that announcement, there’s no way of knowing just how long Hoskins will be sidelined. In his absence, though, the organization will turn to former Cozens, the former second-rounder who has long held intrigue due to his light-tower power but has also displayed considerable struggles making contact in Triple-A.

    It’s the first call to the Majors for the 23-year-old Cozens, who garnered plenty of attention with a 40-homer campaign as a 22-year-old in Double-A. Cozens posted an overall .276/.350/.591 batting line that season in a year which he and Hoskins were teammates who served as a source of great excitement for Phils fans. However, while Hoskins ascended to the Majors late in 2017 and took the big leagues by storm over the season’s final two months, Cozens struggled with a strikeout rate north of 35 percent in Triple-A. Overall, between 2017 and 2018, he’s batted just .214/.307/.424 with a 36.4 percent strikeout rate in 739 PAs at the Triple-A level.

    With Hoskins on the shelf, the Phils could utilize Nick Williams, Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr as the primary outfielders, although given Altherr’s struggles against righties, perhaps the makings of a corner-outfield platoon are present at Citizens Bank Park.

    As for Hutchison, the 27-year-old made the Opening Day roster after coming to camp on a minor league deal, but he’s scarcely been used by skipper Gabe Kapler in recent weeks. Hutchison posted a 2.76 ERA with a 16-to-8 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings of relief from Opening Day through May 4, but he appeared just two more times over the remainder of the month. The Cardinals tagged him for five runs in a long relief appearance on May 18, and he allowed a run in two innings to the Dodgers yesterday.

    In all, Hutchison has a 4.64 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 5.5 BB/9 in 21 1/3 innings this season. He has experience starting in the Majors and is earning a fairly minimal salary, so perhaps a club in need of some rotation depth or a long man in the ’pen would be interested in adding him to its ranks, be it via waivers or a minor trade.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rhys Hoskins Likely Headed To DL Due To Broken Jaw]]> 2018-05-31T04:01:03Z 2018-05-31T04:01:03Z A CT scan taken of Rhys Hoskins’ jaw revealed a fracture that will likely send the slugger to the disabled list, writes Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Hoskins, who fouled a ball into his jaw Monday, is headed back to Philadelphia for further examination by an oral surgeon to determine whether he’ll require surgery or simply just rest and rehab. Salisbury’s colleague, Corey Seidman, writes that the Phillies look poised to recall prospect Dylan Cozens from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to replace Hoskins on the active roster.

    Hoskins, 25, took the NL by storm in an explosive rookie season last year, hitting .259/.396/.618 with 18 homers and seven doubles in just 212 trips to the plate. His 2018 work has been solid but diminished, as he’s currently sporting a .233/.363/.415 slash with six homers in 216 PAs with a considerably higher strikeout rate (21.7 percent in 2017, 28.2 percent in 2018).

    With Hoskins out of action for the time being, the Phils will likely turn to Nick Williams, Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr as their primary outfield contingent, though Cozens will surely be dropped into the mix as well. It’s not clear how long Hoskins would be out in either the surgical or non-surgical route of treatment just yet, but manager Gabe Kapler did call a trip to the disabled list likely.

    For the 23-year-old Cozens, this’ll represent the first call to the Majors. The 2012 second-round pick has long been considered to be among the Phillies’ top farmhands, but his star has dimmed a bit in recent seasons. Cozens had no trouble with Class-A Advanced pitching (.282/.335/.411) and utterly obliterated Double-A pitchers at the age of 22 (.282/.352/.594), but he faceplanted with a .210/.301/.418 slash in 542 Triple-A PAs last season.

    More troubling was Cozens’ 35.8 percent strikeout rate in Lehigh Valley last year, and while his overall batting line has improved to .228/.323/.432, his strikeout rate is up to 38.3 percent. Cozens has walked in 11 percent of his plate appearances in Triple-A, helping to salvage a decent OBP, but his contact issues do present concern about how he’ll handle MLB pitching. As Seidman notes, though, the left-handed-hitting Cozens has been markedly better against right-handed pitching and does have a 40-homer season on his resume in the minors, so he’ll likely be utilized in a platoon capacity in his first stint with the Phils.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies Select Mitch Walding, Transfer Jerad Eickhoff To 60-Day DL]]> 2018-05-30T21:43:22Z 2018-05-30T21:26:09Z The Phillies announced that they’ve selected the contract of infielder Mitch Walding from Triple-A Lehigh Valley and created a spot on the 40-man roster by shifting righty Jerad Eickhoff from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL. Walding will step into the spot that had been previously occupied by Pedro Florimon, who has been placed on the 10-day disabled list. Florimon sustained a broken bone last night when he fouled a ball into his foot.

    Walding, 25, has played third base almost exclusively in the minors, so he won’t be able to replicate Florimon’s ability to handle shortstop. But he’ll bring a productive Triple-A bat to the table, having slashed .271/.379/.484 through 182 plate appearances so far in his first crack at the Triple-A level. Though Walding’s 29.7 percent strikeout rate and .372 BABIP in Lehigh Valley suggest that his overall line is likely to regress, he’s also walked at a 14.3 percent clip and largely continued the uptick in power he displayed at the Double-A level in 2017, when he smacked a career-high 25 homers.

    As for Eickhoff, the move is largely a procedural one. The right-hander was placed on the 10-day disabled list at the beginning of the season due to a strained lat muscle, and the team recently halted his rehab program after he experienced some numbness in his fingertips. Eickhoff wouldn’t have returned by the 60-day mark of the season anyhow, and the move to the 60-day DL doesn’t reset his DL “clock,” so to speak, meaning he’ll still be eligible to be activated whenever the Phillies deem him healthy enough to embark on and complete a new minor league rehab assignment. That said, it’s not clear at all just when Eickhoff might be medically cleared to do so.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Phillies Place Pedro Florimon On DL With Broken Foot]]> 2018-05-30T12:32:27Z 2018-05-30T12:32:27Z The Phillies will place infielder Pedro Florimon on the 10-day DL with a broken foot, as Matt Gelb of The Athletic was among those to tweet. It is not yet known who’ll take his place on the roster.

    Details of the injury are not available at this time, so his anticipated timeline remains a mystery. Florimon, a talented defender, has spent most of his time this season at shortstop. The Phils do still have two players on the active roster — Scott Kingery and Jesmuel Valentin — capable of playing that position defensively.

    The 31-year-old Florimon won a reserve job in camp and has ended up being quite a useful asset thus far. He’s slashing a healthy .268/.328/.500 through 61 plate appearances, which is quite a bit more output than he customarily produces.

    An eight-year MLB veteran, Florimon has only twice taken more than one hundred plate appearances in a given season — the 2012 and 2013 seasons, which he spent with the Twins. Despite strong offensive numbers over the past two seasons in Philly, in limited opportunities, Florimon carries a meager .213/.273/.322 career batting line in 852 career trips to the dish.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Poll: Which Surprise Team Has Best Shot At Playoff Berth?]]> 2018-05-28T17:59:40Z 2018-05-28T15:55:54Z As the 2018 MLB season nears the one-third mark, the playoff races in each league are beginning to take shape. While it’s no surprise that the majority of the sport’s so-called super teams have lived up to the billing thus far, several unexpected contenders may be emerging to challenge for postseason berths. None of the Mariners, Athletics, Braves, Phillies or Pirates were popular playoff picks entering the campaign, but all are in contention at this point, and a few of those teams even possess elite records.

    The most successful of those clubs has been Seattle, which is one of just five teams with a winning percentage above .600. The Mariners have raced to a 32-20 mark (.615), the fourth-best record in the American League, even though they’ve had to go without superstar second baseman Robinson Cano for two weeks and won’t get him back in the near future. Cano suffered a fractured right hand in mid-May, but the 80-game suspension he incurred almost immediately after that injury is the more costly blow because it’ll render him ineligible for the playoffs – if the Mariners qualify, that is.

    A postseason berth for Seattle would be its first since 2001, thus snapping the longest playoff drought in American sports. There’s clearly plenty of work for that to happen, particularly for a team that hasn’t been spectacular statistically and possesses a less shiny 27-25 Pythagorean record. But the Mariners’ actual record right now is so impressive that they won’t need to be great from here on out to remain firmly in the mix throughout the regular season. FanGraphs is projecting a mediocre 56-54 win-loss total over the Mariners’ final 110 games, but even in that scenario, they’d finish with 88 victories – three more than Minnesota amassed in 2017 en route to an AL wild-card berth.

    The wild card is likely the M’s only path to the playoffs, as even though they’re just one game out of the AL West race, there’s little question the reigning World Series champion Astros will pull away with the division. Given the talent in the AL, a wild-card spot will be tough to come by for the Mariners, but general manager Jerry Dipoto seemingly increased his team’s odds last week when he acquired reliever Alex Colome and outfielder Denard Span from the Rays. The Mariners already owned one of baseball’s best bullpens without Colome, and his presence should make Seattle an even harder out in close games. At 15-8, the Mariners have been one of the majors’ top teams in one-run contests this season.

    Staying in the AL West, Oakland has perhaps exceeded expectations at 28-25, though it has scored fewer runs than it has allowed (234 to 237). Still, despite its underwhelming Pythagorean mark (26-27), FanGraphs is projecting an above-.500 final record for Oakland (82-80) – which would be its first such season since 2014 and could keep it in the discussion into September. However, with the Yankees or Red Sox (whichever team doesn’t win the AL East), Angels and Mariners among the teams fighting for two wild-card positions, a playoff position looks a bit unrealistic for the A’s.

    Over in the National League, both the Braves (30-21) and Phillies (29-21) have gone from serving as longtime NL East doormats to looking like two of the premier teams in the game. Milwaukee, arguably a surprise team but one that did garner some preseason hype after winning 86 games in 2017, is the lone NL club with a superior record to Atlanta and Philadelphia. And only the Cubs have a better run differential than the Braves, who have outscored their opponents by 60 (261 to 201).

    The Braves’ arduous, years-long rebuild is clearly paying dividends now, as a host of players under the age of 25 – including Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna (who’s now on the DL), Dansby Swanson, Sean Newcomb, Mike Soroka, Luiz Gohara and A.J. Minter – have been among their driving forces this year. With that group joining a few slightly older, already established players (superstar Freddie Freeman, Ender Inciarte and Mike Foltynewicz, to name a few), Atlanta looks as if it’s going to be around for a long time. And it might be ready now to return to the playoffs, where it hasn’t been since 2013, though the NL East is going to be a dogfight with both the Phillies and favored Nationals (29-22) right behind the Braves.

    As for those Phillies, they own an even longer playoff drought than the Braves (six years), but that streak doesn’t look as if it’ll last much longer. Like Atlanta, Philadelphia went through a few years of suffering while simultaneously managing to stockpile young talent (Aaron Nola, Odubel Herrera, Rhys Hoskins, Seranthony Dominguez, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Scott Kingery) that has either already established itself in the majors or is in the midst of doing so. Philly’s also a sleeping giant in terms of payroll, a club capable of spending alongside other big-money juggernauts, and it’ll put that advantage to use in the coming years. It already started last winter with the expensive free-agent signings of Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana, two additions which have paid off so far (Santana did endure a poor April, but he’s gotten off the mat this month).

    As with the Braves, the Phillies should be around for a while, and a playoff spot this year certainly isn’t out of the question. Although, despite their tremendous starts, FanGraphs is projecting both teams to finish with 82 wins and extend their playoff droughts.

    Baseball’s other Pennsylvania-based team, the low-payroll Pirates, lost the battle for public opinion over the winter when they traded two veteran cornerstones (Andrew McCutchen and Gerrit Cole) for younger players and didn’t sign any free agents to major league contracts. Some Pirates fans even called for owner Bob Nutting to sell the team in the wake of those deals, but he didn’t oblige.

    Now, the Pirates are a solid 28-24 (plus-22 run) and have gotten there with some help from Colin Moran and Joe Musgrove, two players acquired in the Cole package. Fellow offseason acquisition Corey Dickerson – whom general manager Neal Huntington stole from the Rays in another trade – has been even better, while veteran holdovers Starling Marte and Francisco Cervelli are also amid excellent seasons. Pittsburgh may be able to hang in the race all year, then, for the first time since 2015 – its most recent playoff berth. It’s going to be an extremely tall task to actually return to the postseason, though, with six NL teams – including the division-rival Brewers, Cubs and Cardinals – ahead of Pittsburgh in the standings and several more breathing down its neck.

    Every year in baseball, surprise teams emerge to upset the preseason apple cart. Just as the Twins, Diamondbacks and Rockies crashed the playoff party last year, at least one of the Mariners, Athletics, Braves, Phillies or Pirates could do it in 2018. The question is: Which team has the best chance to play into the fall?

    (poll link for app users)

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Haven't Closed The Door On Manny Machado Acquisition]]> 2018-05-27T04:52:02Z 2018-05-27T04:51:20Z Orioles shortstop Manny Machado seems like a good bet to end up on the move this year, though it’s not “anywhere close” to happening, Roch Kubatko of reports. The Orioles aren’t “actively shopping” Machado right now, and they’re content to keep the soon-to-be free agent until closer to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, Kubatko writes. Kubatko goes on to list some potential Machado suitors, including the Phillies, who “left open the possibility of engaging in talks” with the Orioles when they were in Baltimore a couple weeks ago. Meanwhile, according to Kubatko, the Cubs reached out to Orioles general manager Dan Duquette to express interest in Machado, but Chicago – like Baltimore – isn’t prepared to make a major deal yet. Of course, Cubs president Theo Epstein addressed the Machado-Chicago speculation earlier this week, saying it’s “in fantasy land at this point.”

    Jason Martinez <![CDATA[Knocking Down The Door: Alcantara, De Los Santos, Fletcher, Jimenez, Santana]]> 2018-05-23T21:04:35Z 2018-05-23T21:04:35Z “Knocking Down the Door” is a regular feature that identifies minor leaguers who are making a case for a big league promotion.

    Sandy Alcantara, SP, Marlins (Triple-A New Orleans) | Marlins Depth Chart

    In this rebuilding season, the Marlins are taking the opportunity to evaluate several young starting pitchers at the Major League level. Dillon Peters and Trevor Richards are back in Triple-A after getting an extended look. Jarlin Garcia made six starts before being moved to the bullpen. He was replaced in the rotation by Rule 5 pick Elieser Hernandez. Triple-A starters Zac Gallen and Ben Meyer have both been good enough to warrant a promotion, and 22-year-old Pablo Lopez (1 ER in 31 2/3 IP) has been one of the best pitchers at the Double-A level. Next in line, though, should be Alcantara, the prized prospect acquired from the Cardinals in the offseason trade of Marcell Ozuna.

    After tossing eight shutout innings in his latest start, the 22-year-old right-hander’s debut with the Marlins has to be on the horizon. Alcantara doesn’t have the high strikeout rate that you’d expect from a top prospect, but he throws in the mid-to-high 90s—he averaged 98 MPH in eight relief appearances last season—and has been a strike-throwing machine as of late. Since walking 16 batters over his first six starts, Alcantara has been in control over his last three outings with only one walk in 20 innings, including back-to-back starts without issuing a free pass. As a comparison, he walked a batter in all but one of his 22 Double-A starts last season.

    If the Marlins hold off and give Alcantara two more Triple-A starts, he could make his ’18 debut when they face his former team in St. Louis between June 5th-June 7th.

    Enyel De Los Santos, SP, Phillies (Triple-A Lehigh Valley) | Phillies Depth Chart

    The Phillies’ rotation is on a roll—they have the sixth-lowest ERA in the Majors and the third most quality starts—and currently have no weak link in their five-man rotation. But despite lacking a clear path to the Majors, De Los Santos is making it obvious that he’s ready when needed.

    After allowing a run in each of his first three Triple-A starts, the 6’3″ right-hander stepped it up a notch with three consecutive scoreless outings, a quality start on May 16th (6 IP, 3 ER) and another gem yesterday (7 IP, ER, BB, 5 K). At just 22 years of age, De Los Santos is dominating at the Triple-A level (1.39 ERA, 3.0 BB/9 and 9.7 K/9) and also has a 150-inning season under his belt at the Double-A level. With the Phillies primed for a playoff run, it’s almost certain that the young workhorse will figure into their plans at some point.

    David Fletcher, INF, Angels (Triple-A Salt Lake) | Angels Depth Chart 

    Replacing an accomplished 12-year veteran who is struggling mightily at the plate with an unproven prospect who is putting up huge numbers in Triple-A is not an easy decision. While the 35-year-old Ian Kinsler is no longer the hitter who slashed .288/.348/.484 with 28 homers back in 2016, he’s probably not as bad as he’s looked through his first 149 plate appearances of 2018, either (.197/.275/.288). Regardless, the Angels have to at least be considering whether it’s time to give the 23-year-old Fletcher a chance.

    After a subpar performance during his first full season in the upper minors in 2017 (.655 OPS in 111 games between Triple-A and Double-A), the former sixth-round draft pick has taken a huge step forward in 2018. He already has 20 multi-hit games and 28 extra-base hits—he had 24 total extra-base hits in 2017—while striking out just 13 times in 193 trips to the plate. A rare 0-fer on Tuesday has his slash line down to .356/.401/.599 in 192 plate appearances. Capable of playing second base, third base and shortstop, Fletcher could be used in a utility role while taking at-bats away from Kinsler, who is currently in a 5-for-34 rut.

    Eloy Jimenez | USA Today Sports Images

    Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox (Double-A Birmingham) | White Sox Depth Chart

    It’s not surprising that 19-year-old Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has been the most impressive and most talked-about prospect in Double-A since the start of the season. But Jimenez, who began the season on the disabled list with a strained pectoral muscle, is quickly making up for lost time. The 21-year-old debuted on April 19th and, after going hitless in his first 11 at-bats, is now hitting .328/.360/.608 with eight homers and 11 doubles.

    While he doesn’t have the plate discipline of Guerrero or Juan Soto, another impressive 19-year-old who made his MLB debut with the Nationals this past weekend, Jimenez doesn’t strike out a ton. He has 21 total strikeouts (a 15.9 percent clip) and has gone without a strikeout in 15 of his 31 games. When he does put the ball in play, it’s often very loud. There’s also a clear path to the Majors on a rebuilding White Sox team with one of the least-productive group of outfielders in baseball.

    Dennis Santana, SP, Dodgers (Triple-A Oklahoma City) | Dodgers Depth Chart

    Digging deep into their starting pitching depth is nothing new for the Dodgers. They’ve been doing it for years and, for the most part, their second wave of starting pitching has done an excellent job. This year has been no exception with Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu on the disabled list and Walker Buehler (2.38 ERA in six starts), Ross Stripling (3.26 ERA in four starts) and Brock Stewart (one run in four innings in his lone spot start) doing their part to hold down the fort. Next in line could be the 22-year-old Santana, who threw six shutout innings with only three singles allowed and 11 strikeouts in his Triple-A debut over the weekend.

    After he struggled badly in seven Double-A starts last season (5.51 ERA, 6.3 BB/9), an MLB debut in 2018 did not appear to be in the cards despite being added to the 40-man roster over the offseason. But that’s changed after eight impressive Double-A starts (2.56 ERA, 3.3 BB/9, 11.9 K/9) and, probably even more so, after whiffing 11 hitters without issuing a walk over six shutout innings in his Triple-A debut. Like Kenley Jansen and Pedro Baez, Santana started his professional career as a position player—he was a shortstop for one season after signing in 2013—so he should feel at home in the Dodgers’ clubhouse.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Roman Quinn Undergoes Surgery]]> 2018-05-22T12:47:32Z 2018-05-22T05:48:57Z
  • Phillies outfielder Roman Quinn is slated for a six-to-eight week DL stint after surgery to repair a torn finger ligament, as Matt Gelb of The Athletic was among those to tweet. This is the latest malady to slow the 25-year-old, who has yet to appear in a hundred or more games in a single professional season. He reached the majors briefly in 2016, showing an interesting blend of patience and speed, but has logged just 294 Triple-A plate appearances since. Quinn was off to a nice start to the current season, slashing .289/.340/.444 and swiping a dozen bags in just 97 plate appearances. He might well have been the first man up had a need arisen at the MLB level. With Aaron Altherr and Nick Williams carrying below-average batting lines, it’s conceivable a chance might have come in the near future. Now, though, Quinn will need to get back to health yet again before waiting for another opportunity.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies Shut Down Jerad Eickhoff’s Rehab Program]]> 2018-05-22T00:12:43Z 2018-05-21T20:59:38Z The Phillies received some troubling news on rehabbing right-hander Jerad Eickhoff, as he experienced numbness in his fingers during his most recent rehab appearance (Twitter link via Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia).

    As Todd Zolecki of further notes, Eickhoff experienced a similar sensation in his hand last August and ultimately did not pitch again in 2017 (due to nerve irritation). His rehab has been shut down for now, and he’ll be reevaluated. Eickhoff has yet to pitch in the Majors this season after opening the year on the DL due to a lat strain.

    It’s a discouraging outcome for a hot Phillies team that has gone 7-3 in its past 10 games and currently sits 1.5 games out of first in the National League East with an overall record of 26-18. Though the 27-year-old Eickhoff struggled in 2017, he’s been a fairly consistent fixture in the Philadelphia rotation since being acquired as an unheralded piece of 2015’s Cole Hamels blockbuster. In 65 starts since being acquired in late July that season, Eickhoff has given the Phillies 376 1/3 innings of 3.87 ERA ball, averaging 8.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and 1.22 HR/9 with a 39.2 percent ground-ball rate along the way. He was particularly impressive in 2016, logging 197 1/3 innings over 33 starts and turning in a 3.65 ERA.

    [Related: Philadelphia Phillies depth chart]

    Eickhoff had been expected to rejoin the Phillies’ rotation immediately upon being activated from the disabled list, but with him on the shelf indefinitely, pending reevaluation, the Phils will continue to shuffle arms through the final spot in their rotation in hopes that someone cements himself in that position.

    Ace Aaron Nola and free-agent signing Jake Arrieta are currently joined by emerging righty Nick Pivetta in the top 60 percent of the Phils’ rotation. Meanwhile, righty Zach Eflin has impressed in three starts since coming up from the minors in hopes of laying claim to a permanent starting job. Mercurial right-hander Vince Velasquez has, at times, flashed brilliance at the big league level but has also been maddeningly inconsistent for the organization. Other options for the Phillies include Drew Hutchison (currently in the ’pen) and Triple-A hurlers Jake Thompson, Ben Lively and Mark Leiter Jr. Top prospect Sixto Sanchez is viewed as a potential building block as well, though the 19-year-old is still a ways from big league readiness.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Activate Victor Arano]]> 2018-05-19T23:19:10Z 2018-05-19T23:15:05Z
  • The Phillies activated righty reliever Victor Arano from the DL on Saturday. Arano went down April 30 with a strained right rotator cuff, before which the 23-year-old rookie produced dominant results. Across his first 12 innings of the year, Arano logged a .75 ERA/1.73 FIP with 9.75 K/9 and 2.25 BB/9.
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[East Notes: Yankees, Eickhoff, Smith, Garcia]]> 2018-05-19T16:59:09Z 2018-05-19T16:59:09Z Aaron Boone recently offered some words of encouragement regarding the imminent return of first baseman Greg Bird to the lineup (h/t Marc Carig of The Athletic). But while Bird’s activation appears to be “around the corner”, news surrounding fellow Yankees hitter Jacoby Ellsbury is not as promising. Ellsbury is reportedly dealing with a minor back injury and as such is not participating in baseball activities at this time. The outfielder made just 406 plate appearances last season and has yet to make his 2018 debut. Unfortunately, Ellsbury’s absence is not the end of the bad news for the Yankees this week, as it turns out hard-hitting outfield prospect Estevan Florial will require surgery on a broken hamate bone (according to a tweet from George A. King III of the New York Post). The injury will keep him sidelined until at least August. Florial was off to somewhat of a slow start at the High-A level, posting a .246/.353/.343 slash line across 156 plate appearances.

    More out of the East…

    • Phillies righty Jerad Eickhoff is set to begin a rehab assignment, according to Matt Breen of the Philly Enquirer. He’ll kick it off at Triple-A LeHigh Valley. Eickhoff has been sidelined since spring training due to a lat strain, and at this time it’s not clear how he’d fit into a suddenly crowded Phillies rotation that includes Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, Jake Arrieta, Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin.
    • The Red Sox haven’t gotten any particularly good news about Carson Smith in recent days. According to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, manager Alex Cora says the club can’t determine at this time whether or not the righty will pitch again this season. Smith was off to a serviceable start this season, posting a 3.77 ERA and 11.30 K/9 in his first 14 1/3 innings before going down with a shoulder subluxation.
    • The Blue Jays are describing left-hander Jaime Garcia’s injury as “left shoulder inflammation”. He’s been placed on the DL retroactive to May 16th. The Jays brought Garcia into the fold this past offseason on a one-year deal worth a guarantee of $10MM, but he’s disappointed thus far with a 6.28 ERA across his first 38 2/3 innings. In a related move, the club has recalled righty Deck McGuire from Triple-A Buffalo.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Amaro Talks With Klentak, Kapler In Return To Philly]]> 2018-05-14T13:52:14Z 2018-05-14T13:52:14Z
  • Former Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro (now the Mets’ first base coach) chatted with current Phillies GM Matt Klentak when the Mets played the Phils at Citizens Bank Park over the weekend, Amaro tells Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Amaro notes that he already knew Klentak somewhat from Klentak’s days with the Orioles and Angels as well as in the Commissioner’s Office, and the former GM expresses some appreciation for Klentak’s acknowledgment of the trades he made before being dismissed. As Salisbury notes, a significant portion of the Phils’ roster was drafted or acquired under Amaro’s watch near the end of his run. Amaro also caught up with rookie manager Gabe Kapler and discussed Kapler’s rough first week on the job. “I told him, ‘Hey, just like any other place, and maybe more so than others, if you guys keep playing well the fans will really appreciate it and things will turn around,'” says Amaro. The former GM speaks fondly of the city and of Citizens Bank Park, noting that Philadelphia will always feel like a home to him.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Lively Optioned, Eflin Remaining In Rotation]]> 2018-05-10T03:32:49Z 2018-05-10T03:24:37Z
  • The Phillies announced tonight that they’ve activated right-hander Ben Lively from the 10-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The 26-year-old Lively opened the season in Philadelphia’s rotation but struggled to a 6.85 ERA in 23 2/3 innings before landing on the disabled list with a back strain. In his absence, fellow righty Zach Eflin stepped into the rotation and has been outstanding in two starts, yielding a run on seven hits and three walks with 13 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. He’ll remain in the rotation over Lively for now, and as’s Todd Zolecki noted yesterday, a continued hot streak from Eflin could force the Phils to make some tough decisions. GM Matt Klentak has already stated that Jerad Eickhoff will be in the rotation when he returns from the DL later this month, thus pitting Eflin against righties Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta for the final two rotation spots behind Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta. Of course, things can change quickly in the coming weeks, either with a downturn in Eflin’s performance or another injury elsewhere on the roster.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pat Neshek Shut Down For A Week Due To Flexor Strain]]> 2018-05-09T23:59:23Z 2018-05-09T23:59:23Z
  • Righty Pat Neshek will be shut down for the next week, tweets’s Todd Zolecki. The Phillies setup man has yet to pitch this season due to a shoulder injury, but it seems he’s now dealing with a flexor strain as well. At this point, it’s not clear as to when he’ll be able to go on a rehab assignment and ultimately rejoin the Phils. If and when he’s able to do so, a healthy Neshek would be a significant boon to a Phillies club that has outperformed expectations to date. The sidearmer utterly dominated opponents in 2017, pitching to a 1.59 ERA with 10.0 K/9, 0.9 BB/9, 0.43 HR/9 and a 36.4 percent ground-ball rate in 62 1/3 innings between the Phils and the Rockies.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Phillies Promote Seranthony Dominguez, Place Adam Morgan On DL]]> 2018-05-07T22:38:08Z 2018-05-07T22:38:08Z The Phillies have announced that pitching prospect Seranthony Dominguez is joining the active roster for the first time. To open a spot, the organization placed lefty Adam Morgan on the 10-day DL with a back strain.

    Dominguez may not be a top-100 prospect in the game — or even a top-10 organizational prospect in a deep system — but he’s quite an interesting young player. The 23-year-old righty had never pitched above the High-A level entering the current season, due in part to some injuries as well as the fact that the Phils were allowing him to develop as a starter.

    Entering the current campaign, though, the club decided to put the rotation work on hold, giving Dominguez a shot to show what he could do in a relief role. It’s still early, of course, but the results have been eye-popping — so much so that the youngster has now blown through both of the highest levels of the minors and onto the MLB roster in the span of about a month.

    When healthy, Dominguez shows an upper-nineties heater that’s accompanied by a useful slider and a promising change-up. He has had some challenges with repeating his mechanics and staying in the zone over full starts. But in the bullpen, thus far, Dominguez has been lights-out.

    Over 16 2/3 innings in 11 appearances on the year, most of those coming at Double-A, Dominguez carries a 2.08 ERA with an 18:2 K/BB ratio. He has permitted only eight hits, none of which left the yard. And Dominguez has at times generated a healthy number of groundballs, which is another aspect of his game worth watching.

    It’ll certainly be interesting to see how the Phils deploy their new weapon. Given his history as a starter and multi-inning usage this year, it’s certainly possible he’ll be allowed to work multiple frames at times. Of course, the club will no doubt first look to allow him to get his feet wet.

    It is not clear at this point how long Morgan will be out, but his roster spot might have been in some jeopardy were it not for the injury. The out-of-options former starter is only allowing 2.45 earned runs per nine, but that’s probably not the best measure of the quality of his work, as he has mostly been deployed against lefties and has thrown only 11 innings over 17 appearances.

    Morgan is an interesting player in his own right. He has been tough to square up (.274 xwOBA vs. .275 wOBA) and has compiled 10.4 K/9. And he’s sustaining a big velo jump that he showed last year upon moving to the pen. But Morgan’s corresponding boost in swinging strikes has not carried into 2018 (he’s down to 9.6% from 16.5% last year) and he’s doling out far too many free passes (eight to this point).

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Phillies Trade Wilson Garcia To Orioles]]> 2018-05-07T16:48:02Z 2018-05-07T16:48:02Z
  • The Orioles picked up minor league catcher Wilson Garcia from the Phillies in exchange for cash, also via Eddy. The 24-year-old Garcia is a career .281/.314/.386 hitter in the minors, but he’s yet to move past A-ball. Garcia seemingly throws quite well, given a 40 percent caught-stealing mark in his career to date. Baltimore assigned him to their Class-A Advanced affiliate in Frederick.

  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Enyel De Los Santos Making Case For MLB Promotion]]> 2018-05-06T03:38:35Z 2018-05-06T03:38:00Z
  • Righty Enyel De Los Santos is making a case to join the Phillies’ rotation sometime this year, Todd Zolecki of writes. The Phillies acquired the hard-throwing 22-year-old from the Padres in exchange for shortstop Freddy Galvis over the winter, and De Los Santos has since opened the season in dominant fashion with his new organization. Across 19 1/3 innings (four starts) at the Triple-A level, De Los Santos has pitched to a 1.40 ERA with 11.64 K/9 against 2.79 BB/9. Although De Los Santos isn’t on the Phillies’ 40-man roster, which could work against a promotion, they’ve taken notice of his performance, as director of player development Joe Jordan explains at length in Zolecki’s piece.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Jake Arrieta On Declining Cubs’ Offer]]> 2018-05-02T17:12:00Z 2018-05-02T17:12:00Z In a chat with Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Phillies hurler Jake Arrieta verified prior reports that Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein made a last-ditch offer before the team agreed to terms with Yu Darvish.

    Arrieta, who ultimately signed with the Philadelphia organization later in the winter, tells Wittenmyer that he does not really believe that Epstein expected to get a deal done when he called with a “take it or leave it” proposal of six years and $120MM. That statement reflects previous reporting on the perceptions of both sides to that conversation.

    While he emphasized that he harbors no ill will at all toward Epstein or the Cubs organization, Arrieta says that approach was a non-starter, even though he had yet to receive a formal contract offer to that point:

    “[T]hey weren’t willing to negotiate at all, and that wasn’t acceptable for me,” Arrieta tells Wittenmyer. “I bet on myself just like I have my entire career and ended up getting a good deal.”

    Arrieta, of course, is referring to the three-year, $75MM guarantee he took down from the Phils. He obviously preferred the higher average annual value but also emphasized in his comments that he expects to play longer than that in Philadelphia. Arrieta’s deal includes a provision that allows the Phillies to add on two years at a salary of $20MM or more (depending upon escalators) per season.

    The veteran hurler certainly exuded confidence in his chat with Wittenmyer, which is well worth a full read. Among other things, he discussed his leadership efforts with the Phillies and flatly rejected the idea that there’s any concern with how he’ll age — or how his velocity will hold up — over the course of his new contract. To the contrary, Arrieta suggests his new organization will receive an exceptional player. “There’s not many like me,” he tells Wittenmyer. “… I don’t care what the situation is, I bet on myself to get the job done.”

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Phillies Place Victor Arano On 10-Day DL]]> 2018-04-30T21:32:45Z 2018-04-30T21:32:45Z The Phillies have placed righty Victor Arano on the 10-day DL, per a club announcement. He has been diagnosed with a strained right rotator cuff.

    To replace Arano on the active roster, the Phils have promoted fellow right Zach Eflin. That move had been anticipated, as he’ll make a start tomorrow night — thus filling the rotation spot vacated (at least temporarily) by Ben Lively.

    It does not seem there’s much cause for long-term concern regarding Arano, a 23-year-old reliever who has swiftly turned into a key cog for the Phils. The strain is said to be “mild,”’s Todd Zolecki tweets.

    Certainly, the Phils will hope the young hurler is not facing more than a brief respite. After a strong debut in 2017, Arano entered the current season with fairly high expectations. He has delivered beyond any reasonable hope thus far, allowing just one earned run on five hits and one unintentional walk over a dozen frames. Throwing his slider on more than half of his deliveries to the plate, Arano has carried an 18.1% swinging-strike rate through his 22 2/3 total MLB innings.

    Eflin, meanwhile, will look to improve upon his less-than-promising major-league numbers to date. Through 127 2/3 innings over the past two seasons, he carries a 5.85 ERA with 4.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9. There’s probably an opportunity to grab ahold of a starting job if he throws the ball well, though there’s no indication at this point that Lively will be out for long.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Place J.P. Crawford On DL]]> 2018-04-29T14:08:19Z 2018-04-29T14:05:40Z The Phillies have placed shortstop J.P. Crawford on the 10-day disabled list with a right forearm strain, per a team announcement. The club recalled infielder/outfielder Jesmuel Valentin from Triple-A in a corresponding move.

    Crawford’s DL placement was expected after the 23-year-old left the Phillies’ game Saturday with numbness in his arm. It’s an injury that has bothered Crawford the past few days, perhaps contributing to his offensive and defensive struggles. The former top prospect has slashed a meager .188/.246/.328 (58 wRC+) across 71 plate appearances, and he has already posted minus-4 Defensive Runs Saved and five errors – all of which have been throwing miscues.

    Meanwhile, Valentin – also 23 – is now in line to see his first major league action. The switch-hitter ascended to the Triple-A level in 2016 and has since batted .240/.322/.346 in 302 PAs, including a much better .242/.373/.371 in 75 tries this season. While Valentin does have some minor league experience at short, the Phillies are more likely to turn to fellow youngster Scott Kingery or veteran Pedro Florimon at the position. Kingery will start there for the Phils on Sunday.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[J.P. Crawford Could Head To DL]]> 2018-04-29T03:19:04Z 2018-04-29T03:18:24Z
  • Phillies shortstop J.P. Crawford has a strained right forearm and could require a DL stint, manager Gabe Kapler informed Matt Breen of the and other reporters Saturday. The club will know more Sunday when Crawford undergoes an MRI. Crawford left the team’s game Saturday with numbness in his arm, and he revealed afterward that the injury has been an issue for a few days. Breen wonders if it could help explain Crawford’s NL-worst five errors in the field. The former top prospect has also struggled offensively, having hit a paltry .188/.246/.328 (58 wRC+) in 71 plate appearances. Should Crawford go to the DL, the Phillies would likely recall Roman Quinn or Jesmuel Valentin from Triple-A to take his roster spot, per Breen.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Phillies Place Ben Lively On 10-Day DL]]> 2018-04-28T00:38:23Z 2018-04-28T00:38:23Z The Phillies have announced that righty Ben Lively will go on the 10-day DL with a lower back strain. It seems the issue arose in Lively’s most recent outing.

    Fellow right-hander Jake Thompson will take his spot on the active roster for the time being, but Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that Thompson will not move into Lively’s rotation spot.

    At the moment, then, it’s not clear who’ll take the starting role while Lively is down. Zach Eflin is perhaps the top option that is currently on the 40-man roster, though Thompson and Drew Hutchison are both presently working as relievers despite histories as starters.

    While the Phils will have to scramble a bit to fill in, the move comes as something of a reprieve for Lively. The 26-year-old has exhibited a year-over-year increase in his strikeout rate (from 5.3 per nine to 8.4 per nine) to this point, but it’s not backed by any improvement in his swinging-strike rate. Otherwise, things have gone backwards for Lively after a solid debut showing in 2017. He’s carrying a 6.85 ERA through 23 2/3 innings over five starts.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Offseason In Review: Philadelphia Phillies]]> 2018-04-26T16:20:41Z 2018-04-26T16:20:41Z This piece is part of MLBTR’s 2017-18 Offseason In Review series.  Click here to read the other completed reviews from around the league.

    Following their fifth consecutive losing season, the Phillies added some talented veteran pieces to supplement an exciting young core. While they’re far from a perfect ballclub, their winter moves have likely shortened their rebuilding period.

    Major League Signings

    Trades and Claims


    Notable Minor League Signings

    Notable Losses

    Needs Addressed

    It’s been a trying half-decade for the Phillies fan base. After being spoiled by nine consecutive winning seasons (including a World Series championship), they’ve watched their beloved ballclub limp to .500 or worse finishes in each of the six years since 2012, including a 66-96 record in 2017. Perhaps the front office had begun to feel pressure to put a winning product on the field, or perhaps the timing was just right; either way, GM Matt Klentak and crew made a couple of surprising headliner moves worth being excited about.

    Four free agent acquisitions served to add about $65MM to the 2018 payroll. While that may seem like a lot for a team that still looked to be in rebuild mode, the Phillies only had about $30MM on the books before those moves. For a ballclub that routinely spent $138MM or more on player salaries between 2010 and 2015, it’s almost as though they had to spend that money on at least something. In fact, Philadelphia would have opened the season with its lowest payroll since 2002 (!!) had it not been for the last-minute signing of Arrieta. For reference, that’s before Ryan Howard and Chase Utley had even reached the major leagues. One could say that the Phillies addressed a need simply by avoiding a controversially-low spend level at the season’s outset.

    That said, it’s fair to wonder how much the 32-year-old righty moves the needle for the Phillies now or in the future. In spite of a hot start, the Phillies don’t seem particularly likely to keep up with the Mets or Nationals all season. Furthermore, Arrieta has exhibited a steady decline since his otherwordly 2015 Cy Young campaign and doesn’t look likely to deliver value on the $45MM he’s owed from 2019-2020. It’s even conceivable that the Phillies could consider flipping him this summer if he’s outperforming the rest of the roster, in essence flexing their financial muscle in order to add more MLB-ready (or MLB-adjacent) young talent, though that’d mean opening another near-future rotation hole.

    Regardless, the additions of Arrieta and first baseman Santana allow the Phillies to put a competitive team on the field for the first time in many years. The additions of Hunter and Neshek came at a premium annual price tag but will bring veteran depth to an otherwise youthful relief unit. While they’re still far from a complete club, the Phillies have patched a few holes and given the fans more reason to come to the ballpark.

    More importantly, they avoided committing to lengthy contracts in making these improvements. Santana and Arrieta are only on the books for three years, meaning if either contract goes bad, it won’t necessarily detract from the club’s next contention window in a major way. Interestingly enough, it’s almost as though Klentak and co. did just enough this offseason to show Phillies fans a clear light at the end of the tunnel without limiting their flexibility to spend big in the coming years.

    Not to be lost on Phillies fans was a subtle move the franchise made to pave the way for shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford. The trade of Galvis to the Padres allows Crawford everyday playing time; it also cleared an unnecessary salary obligation while adding an intriguing young pitcher to the farm system in Enyel De Los Santos. While the 22-year-old right-hander didn’t seem to be an especially exciting addition at the time of the swap, his hot start in Triple-A has opened some eyes already by striking out a whopping 22 batters in 13.2 innings (three starts) en route to a 1.98 ERA.

    The club filled its managerial opening with Gabe Kapler, whose only managerial experience was a year with the Red Sox A-ball affiliate. His greenhorn status showed early on in the season with some questionable pitching management, which he responded to responsibly by drawing up a few bullpen usage guidelines. A string of positive outcomes has re-focused the attention on the more promising aspects of Kapler’s non-traditional approach to his new job, which will surely be examined closely all year long.

    The Phillies also placed a strong bet on the talent of Scott Kingery, signing him to a six-year, $24MM extension that allowed the club to promote him for opening day without worrying about service time considerations. Primarily a second baseman by trade, he’ll play all over the field for the time being. He’s one of just two players ever to ink a contract extension before ever playing a day in the major leagues (Phillies brass will hope he pans out better than Jon Singleton), and a triad of club options can keep him in Philadelphia through 2026 for an annual average of $14MM if they’re all exercised. The bold move allows the club to gain cost control over a high-ceiling player during years when they’re a strong bet to be competitive, and indeed helps extend that control through a few would-be free agent seasons without a pricey commitment.

    Questions Remaining

    If there’s an arguable shortcoming in Philadelphia’s offseason efforts, it could be that the club was not able to extend club control over more of their young core. There’s certainly a lot of variability in the extension process; a player has to be willing to get a deal done, after all. But while it’s not known exactly how much effort the club made to lock up players like Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams or Jorge Alfaro, it’s a bit disappointing that they weren’t able to get more pacts hammered out. On the other hand, there was no real urgency to get a deal done, particularly for the latter three, and the front office may prefer to see how things play out in some cases. While the Kingery deal has a lot of financial upside and was certainly an exciting maneuver, it’s certainly not the norm for a club to hand out long-term pacts to players with less than a year of service time.

    The more interesting aspect of the terrain ahead for the Phillies is how they’ve set themselves up for the coming offseason. As I mentioned above, they’ve subtly managed to add headliner free agent talent without limiting impacting flexibility for their long-term future. That means they’re still potentially in play for names like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel, Patrick Corbin, Craig Kimbrel, and Clayton Kershaw in the coming winter, all of whom could significantly move the needle during their impending competitive window.

    In the near term, though, the most interesting subject of note is how the Phillies will proceed with players such as Maikel Franco. Kingery’s already received 57 defensive innings at third base, and although that’s only about six games’ worth of playing time, it comes out to nearly a third of the young season. At the time of the extension, the Kingery deal seemed to spell doom for fellow infielder Cesar Hernandez, but as he’s off to a roaring start with a .431 on-base percentage in 102 plate appearances, it looks like Franco (who has a career .300 OBP in over 1,700 career PA) could be the one whose job is in jeopardy over the long run.

    While the overall depth and quality of the MLB roster looks much better than it did this time last year, it’ll also take quite a few positive developments to allow sustained contention. Talented young players such as Crawford, Williams, Alfaro, Kingery, Andrew Knapp, and Aaron Altherr have yet to fully establish themselves at the game’s highest level. Though all signs point to continued stardom for Rhys Hoskins, he’ll also need to adapt as pitchers focus on ways to retire him while working to improve his defense following a challenging shift to left field. Santana, Crawford, and Odubel Herrera — the team’s best-established position players — will need to play at or near their peak levels if the club’s hot start is to be carried all the way into September. And Kapler will have to perform a delicate balancing act in allocating playing time.

    The pitching results have been quite promising early, but there’s also uncertainty there. Will Nola and Vince Velasquez stay healthy (and will Jerad Eickhoff return to full strength)? Can Nick Pivetta continue to tamp down on the free passes and sustain his promising start to the year? Will Arrieta continue to outperform his peripherals? And how will the depth hold up once it’s tested? And in the bullpen, which has endured absences from Hunter and Neshek early on, there’s plenty to like but also plenty of risk in a group of youthful arms. Edubray Ramos and Victor Arano have been awfully impressive thus far in 2018, but neither has yet proven capable of dominating over a full MLB campaign. Closer Hector Neris is getting the job done but not exactly dominating. And there has already been some turnover in the middle-relief unit. In the aggregate, the arrow points up in the pitching department, but it’s not hard to see where some cracks could form over the course of a long season.


    The Phillies’ offseason moves helped put a more competitive team on the field, and the sun appears to be rising on their return to playoff contention. There’s still some fog about the dawn of the new era, though. Plenty of uncertainty surrounds any group of young prospects, and Arrieta and Santana alone as free agent acquisitions can’t guarantee contention.

    How would you grade the Phillies’ offseason work? (Poll link for app users)

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Phillies To Sign Trevor Plouffe]]> 2018-04-24T16:42:59Z 2018-04-24T16:42:45Z TODAY: Plouffe could earn at a $1.5MM annual rate in the majors on the contract, which also includes some opt-out chances, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter).

    YESTERDAY: The Phillies have struck a minor-league deal with veteran third baseman Trevor Plouffe, according to Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter). (H/t to Eric English, who first tweeted the connection.)

    Details are sparse beyond the fact that it is a minors arrangement. Plouffe spent the spring in camp with the Rangers but ultimately asked for his release after failing to crack the MLB roster.

    The 31-year-old Plouffe returned to the open market in search of an opportunity to earn his way back to the majors. He has at times been a solid regular at the hot corner, and carries a .242/.304/.410 slash with more than a hundred long balls in over three thousand MLB plate appearances in eight seasons. Now, though, Plouffe is coming off of a brutal 2017 season in which he hit just .2198/.272/.318 over 313 trips to the plate.

    It seems likely that Plouffe will mostly be viewed as a depth piece for the Phils. The club already has Maikel Franco lined up at third base and does not appear to have a clear use for a corner infield reserve on the major-league roster as things stand.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies' Pitching Philosophy Paying Off]]> 2018-04-22T22:15:24Z 2018-04-22T21:39:14Z
  • We’re in an era in which batters are attempting to hit the ball in the air, so Phillies pitchers are trying to combat that by throwing up in the zone, Matt Gelb of The Athletic explains (subscription required). The plan has worked so far for Philadelphia, whose pitchers entered Sunday having allowed the majors’ fewest home runs (11) and its second-lowest slugging percentage against (.320). “A huge focus in spring training was pitching at the top of the strike zone,” said catcher Andrew Kapp. “We were doing a really good job of that. And these guys are just hitting their spots. All we’re doing behind the plate is just suggesting: ’Hey, this is where we think we should go.’ But they have to hit the spot at the end of the day.” Phillies pitchers hit the spot once again Sunday, yielding just two runs and seven hits in an 11-inning win over the Pirates.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Phillies Activate Tommy Hunter From DL]]> 2018-04-22T14:23:36Z 2018-04-22T14:23:38Z
  • The Phillies optioned left-hander Hoby Milner to Triple-A on Saturday, paving the way for right-hander Tommy Hunter’s activation from the disabled list on Sunday. Hunter, whom the Phillies signed to a two-year, $18MM deal in the offseason, opened the year on the DL because of a hamstring strain. The 31-year-old will join a bullpen that has been effective thus far (3.21 ERA/3.70 FIP in 67 1/3 innings) despite a lack of contributions from him and fellow free-agent pickup Pat Neshek, who’s on the DL with shoulder inflammation.
  • As is the case with Norris, Mariners reliever Juan Nicasio has dealt with a decline in velocity early this season. While Nicasio insists he’s not having any health issues, it’s nonetheless alarming that the offseason investment’s fastball velocity is averaging 93.2 mph after clocking in at 95.7 in 2017, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes. Nicasio’s velo did increase last season, which is cause for optimism, though it also started out at a higher level (upward of 95 mph), Divish points out. In 2017, his first year as a full-time reliever, Nicasio was terrific with three clubs (the Pirates, Phillies and Cardinals). The Mariners then awarded him their richest contract of the winter in free agency (two years, $17MM), but with five earned runs allowed in 9 2/3 innings, he has gotten off to a slow start.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: BLA, Hernandez, Napoli]]> 2018-04-21T15:56:35Z 2018-04-21T15:56:35Z Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently did a deep dive into the company known as Big League Advance, whose business model involves lump sum payments to minor-leaguers in exchange for a percentage of their future earnings. MLBTR readers might best know BLA as the company entrenched in a legal battle with top prospect Francisco Mejia of the Indians. Rosenthal’s piece goes into detail far beyond Mejia alone, and he notes at one point that BLA claims to have recently signed its 100th player. Players such as Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jose Osuna have benefitted from the lump sum payments BLA offers; the former is using the money to invest in his health, nutrition and conditioning, while the latter claims the money allows him to focus on baseball by reducing the stress of wondering how he’ll support his family. Others around baseball, however, claim that BLA uses predatory tactics to pressure young players into giving up significant money on the whole; indeed they’ve admitted to intentionally bypassing agents to talk with players directly. It seems that the major focus of Rosenthal’s piece is the upside and downside of BLA’s presence in baseball. My biggest takeaway from reading the piece is that there ought to be a serious discussion in the near future about how (or if) MLB ought to be involved in regulating companies like BLA.

    More from around the league…

    • It was widely assumed that Scott Kingery’s surprise extension and resulting presence on the Phillies’ MLB roster would sap at least some playing time from incumbent second baseman Cesar Hernandez. That hasn’t been the case, as’s Todd Zolecki points out. Hernandez has actually started 18 of 19 games for the club this season, and while Kingery is a second baseman by trade, he’s played that position just twice so far at the MLB level. Instead, he’s spent time at shortstop, third and right field. Zolecki posits that while Hernandez may have seemed like an obvious trade deadline candidate at the season’s outset, it’s now difficult to see the Phillies dealing him due to his offensive impact and the uncertainty surrounding Maikel Franco and J.P. Crawford. Manager Gabe Kapler’s comments certainly strengthen that line of thinking: “We knew how Cesar’s track record suggested that he’s one of the better second baseman in baseball,” he said. “And now we’re blessed to see it every single day. It’s really exciting to look out there and see a guy that consistent. It’s really nice for a manager to have Cesar at the top of the lineup.”
    • Mike Napoli’s season-ending surgery obviously doesn’t necessarily mean the end of his career. But Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal has some interesting comments from Terry Francona suggesting that he believes Napoli (who was playing with the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate prior to the injury) will be an excellent coach if and when the time comes for him to hang up his spikes. “I’m not saying he’s done playing, I just mean if he chooses to start to be on this side of the field, my guess is he’ll be even better than he was as a player,” Francona said. It’s certainly a fair point; Napoli is well-known for his clubhouse leadership, and especially in Cleveland during their 2016 playoff run.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tommy Hunter On Pace To Return This Week]]> 2018-04-14T21:14:28Z 2018-04-14T21:14:28Z
  • Tommy Hunter will participate in a game at the Phillies’ extended Spring Training camp today, though manager Gabe Kapler told reporters (including NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury) that the team would see how Hunter felt afterwards before deciding whether he needed one more rehab outing or not.  Hunter suffered a hamstring strain in late March and has yet to make his debut in a Phillies uniform.  The club signed Hunter to a two-year, $18MM free agent deal in the wake of his very strong 2017 season with the Rays.  Even if Hunter requires one more outing, he is likely to be activated sometime this week, provided there aren’t any health setbacks.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pivetta Impressing Phillies Early In Season]]> 2018-04-13T17:04:04Z 2018-04-13T17:04:04Z
  • Phillies righty Nick Pivetta has somewhat quietly been one of the team’s biggest surprises of the year thus far, as Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia observes. The right-hander spoke after his most recent quality outing about how last year’s struggles — a 6.02 ERA in 133 innings — have helped prepare him for better success in 2018. “I worked hard with [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] and everybody not trying to be so perfect in the strike zone,” said Pivetta. “I think that really has carried over this year and it’s been good so far.” Manager Gabe Kapler praised Pivetta for improving his concentration level since the beginning of Spring Training, his willingness to attack up in the zone with his fastball and his ability to throw his curveball for a strike when needed.
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