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Phillies rumors October 5-10
by Scott Butler 10/11/14

Bringing back our regular feature on Phils Baseball, here are some Phillies 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) which we present as only weekly post.

Here are the latest Phillies rumors from October 5-10:

October 10

--The Phillies announced that outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. has elected free agency after refusing an outright assignment. The 32-year-old slashed a meager .152/.264/.190 over 127 plate appearances on the year. He has seen big league action in parts of eight seasons, and at his best added value through stellar defensive ratings in the outfield.

--Though it’s early in the process, the market for Yasmany Tomas is beginning to develop, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. To this point, the RangersPhilliesPadresGiants,Mariners and Dodgers have all shown strong interest in the young slugger. Most of those clubs are logical fits, though the Dodgers are a bit surprising given the logjam of outfielders the team already has under contract. The Dodgers are already unable to find regular at-bats for Matt KempAndre EthierCarl CrawfordYasiel PuigJoc Pederson and Scott Van Slyke, so adding another outfielder to the mix would make a semi-surprising addition.

Latest On A.J. Burnett

A.J. Burnett has a $12.75MM player option for the 2015 season, but he’s also debated retirement on multiple occasions over the past two seasons, so whether or not he picks it up remains uncertain. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears, however, that Burnett is leaning toward pitching again in 2015. Heyman spoke to people close to Burnett and got the sense that given the righty’s love of pitching and the solid $12.75MM payday, there’s a “good chance” that he’ll pitch in 2015.

The news may bring about mixed reactions among Phillies faithful, as Burnett unquestionably struggled this season. Though the 37-year-old posted his highest innings total since 2008 (213 2/3) and made an NL-leading 34 starts, he also posted a disappointing 4.59 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 and a 50.6 percent ground-ball rate. Burnett posted an NL-worst 18 losses as well, though clearly that total is also reflective of his defense and a lack of run support. Beyond that, Burnett also pitched through a hernia for much of the season, an injury that, as Burnett told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, will require offseason surgery.

However, the prospect of a healthy Burnett in 2015 would improve the Phillies’ outlook. Currently, the team has little certainty in the rotation beyond ace Cole Hamels and righty David Buchanan (117 2/3 innings of 3.75 ERA in 2014), as it’s impossible to know what to expect of Cliff Lee next season as he recovers from a flexor tendon injury. Kyle Kendrick and Jerome Williams, each of whom occupied a rotation spot late in the 2014 season, are both free agents. Aaron Nola, the team’s first-round selection from 2014, could eventually factor into the equation. Other in-house options include Jonathan Pettibone and Jesse Biddle, though the latter certainly figures to need some more time to develop in the minors, and the former missed much of 2014 following shoulder surgery.

October 8

--The Phillies will hire Johnny Almaraz as their new head of scouting, tweets Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Almaraz had served as the Braves‘ director of international scouting. He will take over for the departed Marti Wolever.

--Also, the Phillies announced that they have hired Rafael Chaves away from the Dodgers to serve as their new minor league pitching coordinator. Chaves filled the same role with L.A. from 2009-13 before serving as a special assistant of player personnel this past season.

October 7

--After outrighting him yesterday, the Phillies have released righty Sean O’Sullivanthe Philadelphia Inquirer reports. O’Sullivan was set to become a minor league free agent anyway, so this just moves up his appearance on the open market.

Offseason Outlook: Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies fell to the basement of the NL East with a 73-89 record in 2014. Ominously, the club received decent performances from many over-the-hill veterans, suggesting the presence of additional downside. Youngsters and the rotation take most of the blame for the poor season. If there’s one bright spot (and there is only one), it’s the bullpen. Here is the full link to the article

October 6

--Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says “there’s nothing that’s really off the table” for the team as it enters the offseason, as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. Though he said he does not believe “this organization needs a philosophical overhaul as far as how we evaluate players,” Amaro said the team needs to get younger and more athletic while “looking for more long-term solutions” in the player market. Ultimately, the organization could put added emphasis on “speed and contact” given the lack of power bats available.

--The Phillies announced that they have outrighted Sean O’Sullivan off the 40-man roster. The right-hander will be eligible to become a minor league free agent. O’Sullivan made three appearances (two starts) for the Phils this season, yielding nine runs on 15 hits and a pair of walks with seven strikeouts in 12 2/3 total innings. In parts of five big league seasons, the 27-year-old O’Sullivan has a 5.91 ERA in 231 1/3 innings with 4.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 40 percent ground-ball rate.

October 5

--A.J. Burnett‘s decision whether to exercise his $12.75MM player option will dictate how the Phillies‘ offseason unfolds, according to CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman. If Burnett declines the option, the Phillies will have the financial flexibility required to make impactful free agent signings and begin the necessary roster overhaul, Seidman writes.

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