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Phillies rumors week of November 17-23
by Scott Butler 11/24/13

In the third installment of the newest regular feature on Phils Baseball, we run through the rumors from the past week from the guys at MLB Trade Rumors. They have a page devoted just to Phillies rumors (this is not a paid plug, honest) and all we do is put everything from the past week in one post.

Here are the latest Phillies rumors from the week of November 17-23:

November 23

--Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may have no choice at this point but to tender John Mayberry Jr. a contract, in spite of his unerwhelming history, writes Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. While we learned a while back that Amaro was somewhat surprisingly leaning towards a tender, which would cost the Phils a projected $1.7MM, Lawrence criticizes the GM for putting the team in a situation where it is necessary to keep Mayberry around as a center fielding option. As he notes, the club promised Marlon Byrd $16MM over two years while the Mets were able to land Chris Young -- a younger player who is capable of playing center -- for $7.25MM on a one-year commitment. 

In addition to Byrd, of course, the Phils recently nabbed catcher Carlos Ruiz off the free agent market. Looking at the three-year, $26MM pact, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki discussed that decision with Amaro. Again referencing Yankees GM Brian Cashman's statement that he is more concerned with the quality of a player than his age, Amaro said that Ruiz is among the club's players who are "older" but are "also very good when they're playing." "It's really a matter of getting the guys on the field," said Amaro. "If they're on the field, they will produce."

As I discussed in the Phils' offseason outlook, the big question facing the front office -- and, indeed, a major factor impacting the entire market -- was whether to add pieces around a group of talented-but-aging veterans, spend on relatively younger, higher-priced options, or enter a rebuilding process. It seems they are pursuing the first option, as the hefty sum already committed by the Phils ($42MM between Ruiz and Byrd) has gone to two players in their mid-thirties.

Amaro's most recent comments seem to hint at more measured spending on position players. Looking ahead, Amaro told Zolecki that the club is "still looking for ways to maybe improve, tweak our lineup." "We're looking for more depth in the outfield, someathleticism," said Amaro. "We're just trying to get ourselves so we can cover all the bases a little better than we did last year when we had breakdowns in the infield and outfield."

However, the door seemingly remains open for impact additions to the club's staff. "[P]itching remains a priority for us," said Amaro. "If we can still improve the rotation and our bullpen, we will try to do that." 

--Matt Eddy of Baseball America has updates on a number of clubs' minor league signings. Among those with MLB experience (with links to Twitter): The Phillies have brought back shortstop Andres Blanco.

November 22

--The Phillies hired Bob McClure as their new pitching coach yesterday, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reported. The Phils would later confirm the signing themselves. McClure, 61, served as the Royals pitching coach from 2006-11 and filled the same role with the Red Sox in 2012. "Bob brings a wealth of experience to our staff," manager Ryne Sandberg said in a statement released by the team. "We talked to many good candidates and couldn’t be more pleased to add ‘Mac’ as our pitching coach." 

--The Phillies upped the ante and guaranteed Carlos Ruiz a third year because they were convinced that he would sign with the Red Sox if they didn't. The Phils looked hard at alternatives but were highly uncomfortable with the prices on other targets. For that reason, other teams haven't been as critical of the deal, though they've all offered high praise to Ruiz's agent, Marc Kligman.

November 21

--Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledges the risk involved in signing soon-to-be-35-year-old catcher Carlos Ruiz to a three-year deal, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury writes. "Clearly this is a commitment that will be scrutinized," Amaro says. "Is it a risk to put three years into a catcher at this stage of his career? It can be, yes. But I think every signing is a risk and we hope that he remains productive throughout the three years and perhaps more." Ruiz hit .268/.320/.368 in a weak offensive season in 2013.

November 20

--Catcher Tommy Joseph, left-hander Rob Rasmussen and outfielders Aaron Altherrand Kelly Dugan have been added to the Phillies' 40-man roster, the team announced.

--It's been 52 days since Rich Dubee informed the Phillies that he would not return as the pitching coach, and Philadelphia's list of replacement candidates includes 12 names at this point, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Among the candidates are Bob McClure, Randy St. Claire and Rafael Chaves.

November 19

--The Phillies announced that they have signed infielder Reid Brignac to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

Brignac, 28 in January, split last season between the Rockies and Yankees, batting a combined .185/.219/.261 in 98 plate appearances. Brignac was once one of the game's most highly regarded prospects back in his days as a Rays farmhand, ranking 17th on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospect List heading into the 2007 season. He cracked the Top 100 in each of the next three offseasons but has yet to be able to piece together his talents at the Major League level.

A client of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, Brignac owns a career .272/.334/.430 slash line in nine minor league seasons and has experience at shortstop, second base an third base.

--The Phillies have a long-standing interest in Peter Bourjos and would love to have him, but they don't have the young pitching the Angels would want back in a trade,FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.  The Phils would have to get a third team involved to work out a deal, or forget Bourjos entirely and focus on other outfield candidates; Rosenthal suggests Grady Sizemore as a bench possibility.

November 18

--Bronson Arroyo listed the GiantsTwinsPhilliesAngelsDodgers and "maybe" the Orioles as teams he thinks have called to express their interest in his services, the veteran righty said during an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.  Arroyo discussed what he's looking for in a team and what his contract expectations are during the interview; MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has a partial transcript and an audio link to the full interview.

Here is a link to an 11/18 post by Steve Adams: with Reactions To The Carlos Ruiz Signing

November 17

--Wally Joyner has left his post as the Phillies' assistant hitting coachCSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets that Joyner will head to Detroit, where he'll serve as the Tigers' new hitting coach under manager Brad Ausmus. Joyner served under head hitting coach Steve Henderson in 2013. Salisbury writes that the Phillies will stick with two hitting coaches in 2014. One possibility might be former big-league infielder Mickey Morandini, who managed in the Phillies system at Class A Lakewood in 2013. Here are more notes on coaches and managers.

Joyner isn't the only Phillies coach heading to the Tigers. Also bound for Detroit is former Phillies catching coach Mick Billmeyer, who will serve as the Tigers' bullpen coach, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter). The Phillies announced in October that Billmeyer's contract would not be renewed.

--The Phillies would like to retain free agent catcher Carlos Ruiz, but what happens if he signs elsewhere?  Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com sizes up some of the possibie alternatives, including Dioner Navarro and Ryan Hanigan.  The switch-hitting Navarro isn't in the same stratosphere as Brian McCann or in that second tier with Ruiz,Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski, but he resides all by himself in that third tier of available catchers this winter.  

--For Jacoby Ellsbury to re-sign with the Red Sox, he would have to be willing to accept a five-year deal that likely would not surpass $100MM.  The Mariners,RangersYankeesTigersGiants, and Phillies seem to have some level of interest, but whether they dive into the 6-8 year range at $20MM plus per year remains to be seen.

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