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Phillies trade rumors - the 40-man is complete!
by Scott Butler 11/20/16

Allen Iverson Bud Selig

MLB Trade Rumors is a site which describes themselves as "a clearinghouse for relevant, legitimate baseball rumors." Each week at Phils Baseball, we grab their latest Phillies rumors and put them all together in one weekly post:

Here are the latest Phillies rumors:

November 18

Players Added To The 40-Man

We’ll use this post to keep track of the players being added to their teams’ respective 40-man rosters today, which is the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. Players must be added to the big league roster within either four years (if they were 19 or older at the time of their original signing) or five years (if 18 or younger) of their signing year in order to be shielded from selection.

MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo took a look at some of the biggest names who face roster decisions, though most of those won’t be much in question. At the fringes, teams must also consider the major league readiness of the player, since that factors heavily into whether they’ll be taken and kept. Any drafting team, of course, must keep a player on its active MLB roster for the full season (with certain exceptions relating to the DL) in order for their control rights to vest. Adding a player to the 40-man too early can have its own risks, because it limits flexibility and could require a team to expose that player to waivers if a need arises. With 26-man rosters reportedly under consideration, the Rule 5 draft could be quite intriguing this year, and that may bleed into today’s decisions as well.

Below is a division-by-division rundown of the names that were added to each team’s 40-man roster (plus the various waiver claims that spawned from teams trying to outright players to protect Rule 5-eligible prospects). We won’t delve into each player’s background, but if you’re looking to a little more about the names that were added, I’d highly recommend this tremendous, in-depth examination of each team’s additions by Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper. If you want to see how the moves look in the context of a team’s roster, head over to Roster Resource for your club’s depth chart.

Onto the moves…

Editors note: I will list the Phillies moves here and you can click here for the full MLB list.

Phillies: Drew Anderson (RHP), Mark Appel (RHP), Ricardo 

November 18

Phillies Designate David Buchanan, Jimmy Cordero; Add 11 To 40-Man

The Phillies announced today that they have designated righties David Buchananand Jimmy Cordero for assignment. Their departure clears the way for a whopping eleven players to be added to the team’s 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.

Here’s the full list of players who’ll rise to the Phillies’ MLB roster:

That’s a rather notable volume of 40-man turnover, and represents one of the more dramatic indications of the team’s commitment to developing from within. Philadelphia now has a full 40-man, which will make it tough to add more major league assets this winter without dealing off of the MLB roster or exposing some of these (or other) players to waivers.

Buchanan and Cordero were two early roster casualties as the club cleared the way to protect youthful assets. The 27-year-old Buchanan put up a solid 3.98 ERA in 167 1/3 innings last year at Triple-A, and recorded good results in the majors 2014 before a rough 15-start stint there in 2015, so he could draw outside interest. Cordero, 25, has yet to reach the majors. He failed to repeat a promising 2015 season, which led to his addition to the 40-man last winter.

November 18

Marlins Claim Elvis Araujo

The Marlins have claimed southpaw Elvis Araujo off waivers from the Phillies, the teams announced. He’ll stay in the division but change sides, bringing plenty of cheap control with him to Miami.

Araujo, 25, is a towering lefty with a low-nineties heater to go with a slider and infrequently-used change. He has averaged better than a strikeout per inning in his 62 major league frames, but has also walked 5.2 batters per nine in that span. He was more effective in 2015 than 2016, but still largely dominated at Triple-A upon being demoted.

Miami has always taken chances on powerful relievers, even with shaky control, and this seems to be an interesting opportunity for the club. The Fish were looking for southpaw relievers with only one (Hunter Cervenka) currently penciled into the pen.

November 16

Considering A Cesar Hernandez Trade

We’ve heard discussion about the possibility of the Phillies dealing Cesar Hernandez, particularly after the team acquired second-base-capable Howie Kendrick, and CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman takes a look at his possible trade market. His productive 2016 and cheap control make him an interesting option for other organizations, though the question remains whether he can sustain his breakout. Seidman discusses some players who could hold appeal to Philadelphia, suggesting that the club would be most interested in a major league return.

November 15

Phillies Release Matt Harrison

2:12pm: Philadelphia actually will be able to reap some of the insurance benefits relating to Harrison, Salisbury clarifies. The Phils would have been able to save over half of the remainder owed had they kept him on the roster, but instead negotiated a settlement with the carrier that leaves the team with a “lesser payout.”

12:38pm: The Phillies have released lefty Matt Harrison, per a club announcement. Dropping him from the 40-man roster will increase the team’s flexibility this winter.

Harrison, 31, came to Philadelphia as part of the cost balancing in the Cole Hamels trade. He is still owed $15MM through next season, which includes a buyout of a 2018 club option, under the extension he signed with the Rangers.

There were no clear expectations that Harrison would even attempt to pitch this year. Serious back issues have completely derailed his career. Though he was able to return briefly to the majors in 2015, he hasn’t appeared in any competitive action since the trade.

By cutting ties with Harrison now, the Phillies will not be able to collect insurance proceeds to offset the money still owed, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com notes on Twitter. The policy covering Harrison’s contract appeared to have some possibility of paying out for at least a significant part of the remaining salary, but that either wasn’t likely to occur or wasn’t worth the sacrifice of a roster spot.

Though he was never much of a strikeout pitcher, and tended to overperform his peripherals, Harrison pitched to a 3.34 ERA in 399 innings over the 2011 through 2012 campaigns. That led Texas to ink him to a five-year, $55MM extension, but Harrison was only able to make nine more starts from that point forward.

November 14

Jeremy Hellickson Accepts Qualifying Offer

2:40pm: Hellickson tells MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki that he was leaning toward declining the qualifying offer but changed his mind after multiple teams expressed reluctance to part with a draft pick when speaking to Boras (Twitter link).

1:11pm: Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson has accepted the one-year qualifying offer and will return to the Phillies for the 2017 season a $17.2MM salary, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports (Twitter link). Hellickson, a client of the Boras Corporation, will become the fourth player to ever accept a QO, joining outfielder Colby Rasmus, left-hander Brett Anderson and catcher Matt Wieters — each of whom accepted a $15.8MM qualifying offer last winter.

[Related: Updated Philadelphia Phillies Depth Chart]

The news on Hellickson comes as somewhat of a surprise, given the dismal market for starting pitching. The 29-year-old Hellickson (30 next April) looked to be one of a select few arms that could be expected to deliver a quality season’s worth of innings in 2017 and, as such, was one of the few rotation options projected to receive a multi-year deal in free agency. However, Hellickson and his representatives have had the past week to survey the free-agent market while weighing the decision to accept Philadelphia’s offer, and clearly his camp wasn’t comfortable enough with his potential earning power to forgo a one-year deal at $17.2MM. That sum actually exceeds Hellickson’s career earnings to date, so his reluctance to pass on it is understandable from that point of view. He’ll now look to repeat was a strong 2016 season in the Phillies’ rotation and enter the open market next winter in advance of his age-31 season. If he’s able to do so, he could find himself in position for an even more lucrative deal, as he’d be coming off a two-year platform of quality work as opposed to the rebound campaign he enjoyed with the Phils this past year.

Acquired from the D-backs last winter in what amounted to be a salary dump, Hellickson tossed 189 innings of 3.71 ERA ball for the Phillies this year, averaging 7.3 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 to go along with a 40.7 percent ground-ball rate. That represented a continuation of a strong second half in 2015, giving Hellickson a 3.74 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 over his past 240 1/3 innings at the big league level. If he’s able to continue on at that pace in 2017, he should have no issues finding a sizable multi-year deal next winter, and there’s reason to believe that he could do so without needing to burden himself with a qualifying offer. The collective bargaining agreement is being renegotiated as we speak, and the flawed QO system is one of the main subjects of the newest wave of collective bargaining talks. Some reports have suggested that the new CBA will prevent players from being eligible for a QO in consecutive years, while other speculation has centered around eliminating the QO system altogether.

The long-term financial outcome for Hellickson remains to be seen, but his short-term prospects are set in stone at this point. After accepting the QO, he cannot be traded until June 15 of next season without his consent, so he’ll return to a Phillies rotation that’ll also include Aaron NolaVince Velasquez and Jerad Eickhoff. Philadelphia has a number of young arms that can compete for the final spot in that rotation, including right-handers Zach EflinJake ThompsonAlec Asher and Ben Lively. That group should give manager Pete Mackanin a solid starting mix in 2017, so the challenge for GM Matt Klentak, president Andy MacPhail and the rest of the Phillies’ front office will be to improve a lineup that was one of the worst, if not the worst in all of baseball last season. The Phils have already added one veteran bat to the mix in the form of Howie Kendrick, and they’ll presumably look to add some more respectable pieces to help round out a lineup that will be centered around Odubel Herrera and a hopefully improved Maikel Franco in 2017.

The Phillies will not receive the compensatory draft pick they likely expected to acquire when issuing Hellickson the QO in the first place, although having a capable arm back in their rotation on a one-year deal isn’t a disastrous outcome, even if it comes at somewhat of an overpay. Philadelphia, after all, has virtually no money committed to its long-term books, as Hellickson will join Kendrick ($10MM), recently acquired right-hander Pat Neshek ($6.5MM) and injured lefty Matt Harrison ($13.25MM plus a $2MM buyout of his 2018 option) as the only guaranteed contracts on next year’s roster. That, plus a modest projection of $12.8MM to four arbitration-eligible players (which could dip if Cody Asche and/or Jeanmar Gomez is non-tendered) brings them to a current Opening Day payroll projection of just $77.7MM (including pre-arb players). For a team that has previously spent as much as $177.7MM on its Opening Day payroll, the addition of Hellickson at $17.2MM is hardly a financial burden.

Taking a step back, the removal of Hellickson from the free-agent market takes an already terrible crop of starters and thins it even further. Rich HillIvan Nova and Jason Hammel are the top three starters available this winter, and teams in need of other arms will be left with few options. Those teams could turn to bounce-back candidates like Andrew CashnerEdinson VolquezJake PeavyJorge De La Rosa and Doug Fister or look to get creative by signing someone such as Travis Wood and converting him back into a starter or pursuing international arms like Korea’s Kwang-hyun KimHyeon-jong Yang and Woo-chan Cha.

Otherwise, the trade market will be the most obvious method for teams to add to their respective rotations, though the lack of viable alternatives that are available through other means should place an abnormally high premium on rotation help. That was always going to be the case anyway; Hellickson’s subtraction from the free-agent class doesn’t create a shortage of pitching, but it certainly creates even more scarcity and should force one more team to get creative in seeking a starter, as he’ll now be returning to a team that didn’t otherwise seem like a plausible fit for him on a multi-year deal.

November 12

Phillies Like Howie Kendrick's Versatility

The Phillies plan to use newly acquired Howie Kendrick as their left fielder, but they value his versatility, writes Ryan Lawrence of PhillyVoice. “[F]or a young roster, especially with us likely to add many young players to our 40-man roster, having a player on the 25-man who has the ability to play left field, first base, second base, third base, really does provide Pete [Mackanin] with a lot of flexibility from a game to game basis,” GM Matt Klentak says. Kendrick’s versatility should help the Phillies avoid blocking young players who would benefit from big-league time. Klentak adds that the Phillies are not looking to trade second baseman Cesar Hernandez. If they do, though, Lawrence notes that Kendrick could see time at second, with Freddy Galvis potentially moving to the position if and when J.P. Crawford is promoted to play shortstop. Here’s more from the East divisions.

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