MLB Trade Rumors is a site which describes themselves as "a clearinghouse for relevant, legitimate baseball rumors." Each week at Phils Baseball, we grab the latest rumors from their Phillies rumors page and put it all together in one weekly post.
Here are the latest Phillies rumors from the past week:
--Interim president Pat Gillick’s recent comments that the Phillies did not figure to contend again until at least 2017 marked a change in philosophy for the organization, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. “We’ve been talking about a lot of things internally,” says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “[I]t’s pretty clear that we have had a shift. … [W]e’ve got some regrouping, rebuilding — whatever you want to call it. There’s things that we have to do that are different.” That means the Phillies will try to deal Ryan Howard this offseason, and they’ll also consider dealing Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins if they get the right offers (and if Utley and Rollins approve trades). The Phillies could also sign Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who would be expensive but who would add youth and star power.
--The Phillies are willing to deal Hamels, but they’ll be asking a lot, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Hamels should fetch a strong return on the trade market despite the four years and $96MM remaining on his contract, Heyman writes, because free agent aces Max Scherzer and Jon Lester are likely to get even more. Hamels has a 20-team no-trade list that he must update by November 1. Until then, Hamels can be traded to the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers without his consent. The Cubs claimed Hamels off revocable waivers in August.
Here’s the latest on Joe Maddon, whose agent Alan Nero (via a tweet from the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo) says is still “early in the process” of deciding what to do in 2015. Nero adds that taking a year off might be a possibility for Maddon.
Joe Maddon exercising the out clause in his contract might have been the result of a deliberate strategy by the Rays, Cork Gaines of Rays Index speculates. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted yesterday that Maddon wasn’t even aware he had an opt-out clause until Rays president Matt Silverman told him. So why, Gaines wonders, did the Rays tell Maddon? With Andrew Friedman heading to the Dodgers, Maddon had lost a close friend. One possibility is that, with only one year left on his contract, it would have been a foregone conclusion that Maddon would leave after 2015 anyway, given the salary he might have sought. That would have made him a lame duck, and the Rays might have wanted a fresh start rather than continuing with a manager who they knew would be gone within months anyway.
The Cubs need to hire Maddon as soon as possible, Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Triune writes. Maddon’s approach to the game is consistent with those of Theo Epstein and the Cubs, and his reputation as a player-friendly manager might help the Cubs attract free agents.
One team Maddon will not be managing to open the 2015 season is the Phillies, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. “We have a manager,” says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “Ryne Sandberg is our manager.” Maddon is a Pennsylvania native, and he has connections to Amaro. Salisbury notes that there is the possibility that Amaro will be fired at some point in 2015, in which case Sandberg might be dismissed as well. If Maddon hasn’t found another team to manage at that time, he would likely become a contender for the Phillies position.
The Phillies have agreed to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration with lefty Cesar Jimenez, the club announced. Terms were not made available, though MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected Jimenez to earn just over league minimum, $600K, through the arbitration process.
In concert with the team’s recent one-year extensions — really, pre-market free agent deals — with Grady Sizemore and Jerome Williams, it appears that Philadelphia is pursuing a strategy of locking in cost certainty early on with several veterans.
Jimenez, 29, had his best season as a pro in 2014. After largely struggling in limited MLB action, he tossed 16 innings of 1.69 ERA ball. But his peripherals were less promising, as he struck out 4.5 and walked 3.9 batters per nine while generating a 40.8% groundball rate. And ERA estimators provided cause to expect regression, as Jimenez put up a 4.26 FIP, 5.22 xFIP, and 5.02 SIERA.
The Phillies have agreed to a one-year, $2MM extension with Grady Sizemore that will keep the outfielder in Philadelphia for 2015, the club announced. Sizemore’s contract includes performance incentives that could boost its value to $5MM, per MLBDailyDish.com’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter).
Sizemore, 32, was one of the game’s most interesting stories last year, when he returned from a long layoff and had a big spring with the Red Sox. The fairytale took a turn when Sizemore struggled to keep pace in Boston, however, and he ultimately was designated for assignment as his OPS dipped to .612.
Philadelphia gave Sizemore a late run, however, and he had better overall success there. With the Phillies, Sizemore put up a .253/.313/.389 slash with three home runs over 176 plate appearances.
Spending most of his time in the corner outfield with the Phillies, Sizemore ultimately landed with approximately average defensive ratings there. His time in center, mostly with Boston, was less promising, as both UZR and Defensive Runs Saved viewed him as a below-average performer.
For the Phillies, the move does offer some cost certainty, and opens renewed questions about the team’s intentions as the offseason nears. All three of the team’s Opening Day starters — Domonic Brown, Marlon Byrd, and Ben Revere — have been mentioned as trade candidates (the former two in particular). Brown and Revere both swing from the left side of the plate, as does Sizemore.
Japanese right-hander Chihiro Kaneko is visiting the United States to get a first-hand look at the atmosphere of Major League Baseball by visiting the World Series, according to Yahoo Sports Japan (Japanese link). The 31-year-old Kaneko is the ace of Nippon Professional Baseball’s Orix Buffaloes and is eligible to be posted this offseason, if his team agrees to post him (and, if he expresses a desire to jump to MLB). Kaneko has been scouted personally by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. in September as well as the Red Sox and Padres, according to the Yahoo report. In 184 innings this season, Kaneko posted a sparkling 1.91 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9, allowing a minuscule seven homers in an excellent season. In parts of nine pro seasons, Kaneko has a 2.69 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 in 1279 1/3 innings.
--The Phillies and catcher John Hester have agreed to a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s Daily Dish. The 31-year-old is a veteran of 93 Major League games over parts of four seasons with the D’Backs and Angels. In his 232 trips to the plate, Hester has produced a .216/.294/.351 batting line with six homers. He’s had considerably better luck in 402 games at the Triple-A, where he’s batted .278/.344/.449 batting line in 1567 plate appearances.
--Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. cited changes in Jerome Williams‘ approach and rotation depth as reasons for yesterday’s contract extension, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Depth is certainly an issue for the Phillies rotation. Cliff Lee ended the season on the disabled list, Kyle Kendrick is a free agent, and only Cole Hamels and David Buchanan finished the season healthy. Another possible factor, A.J. Burnett, is weighing a mutual option. When asked about Burnett, Amaro said, “my inclination is that he’s going to want to pitch. He’s a competitive guy.”
--Yasmany Tomas makes a lot of sense for a number of teams, but insiders are pointing to the Phillies as the current front runners, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino spoke with a rival executive who noted the Phillies have the money to reach a deal with Tomas – which could possibly reach nine figures. More to the point, they have a thin farm system and a desire to turn around quickly. That could make the Cuban market more attractive for the club. Another source said to Martino, “don’t count out the Tigers.”
The Phillies have signed righty Jerome Williams to a one-year, $2.5MM contract extension that will keep him off the free agent market in advance of the 2015 season, the club announced. The contract includes incentives that could boost its value to $4MM, per Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter).
Williams, who is nearing his 33rd birthday, was quite productive in a short stint with the Phillies this year. Over nine starts for Philadelphia, he logged 57 1/3 frames of 2.83 ERA ball. Of course, that was his third MLB club on the year, and Williams did not put up very attractive numbers in his first two stops with the Astros and Rangers, combining for a 6.71 ERA over 57 2/3 frames.
All said, Williams finished 2014 with 6.4 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9, while posting a cumulative 4.16 FIP, 4.09 xFIP, and 4.03 SIERA. Those numbers provide some reason for optimism, though the Phillies may hope that five better rotation arms emerge from the spring, allowing them to stash Williams as a long man.
--The Phillies should have at least $20MM in payroll space this offseason which should be enough for a major signing or a few mid-level signings, provided they are committed to winning in 2015, according to CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman. A.J. Burnett declining his $12.75 option and dealing Antonio Bastardo and/or Domonic Brown could increase that amount, Seidman adds.Tweet
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