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The Phillies announced today that right-hander Henderson Alvarez, left-hander Kevin Siegrist and infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly have cleared outright waivers and intend to elect free agency. Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer first reported that Kelly would elect free agency after clearing waivers.
It’s not terribly surprising to see the trio return to the open market after helping to round out the roster for a rebuilding Phillies organization in 2017. All three could have been kept — the former two via arbitration — but the Phils decided to keep the 40-man roster spots (and funds) open for other opportunities.
Though Alvarez made only three appearances in the majors, they were his first since early in 2015. He held opposing hitters to seven earned runs in 14 2/3 frames, but allowed 11 walks while recording just six strikeouts. Alvarez also worked only in the 91 to 92 mph range with his fastball, well off his peak, though he’s sure to get a look with some organization in Spring Training. Once a productive starter with the Marlins, Alvarez is still just 27 years of age.
Siegrist, 28, was claimed by the Phillies after being cut loose by the Cardinals and seemingly was a candidate to be tendered a contract. Upon landing in Philadelphia, he threw five frames, recording seven strikeouts against two walks while allowing two earned runs. Siegrist likely would not have commanded much more than his $1.6MM salary from 2017, and would have come with another year of arbitration control, but evidently he didn’t show enough to convince the Phillies’ front office.
As for Kelly, he still hasn’t shown much indication that he’ll do enough damage offensively to be more than a utility player in the majors. The 29-year-old now carries a .211/.297/.340 slash through 176 MLB plate appearances. He has been fairly productive over six seasons at Triple-A, earning a .382 on-base percentage by walking nearly as often as he strikes out (233 of the former and 237 of the latter through 1,612 plate appearances), though his power has lagged (.385 slugging percentage) at the highest level of the minors.
Phillies president Andy MacPhail discussed his team’s winter plans in an end-of-season press conference today at Citizens Bank Park. Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News and Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philadelphia (two links) have the details….
The Phillies will likely continue to have a “relatively low payroll” in 2018, a year after slightly topping the $100MM in their Opening Day payroll. With only around $6MM on the books for next season, however, that gives the club plenty of room to spend if necessary. The team will at least be open to creative spending, as MacPhail said that ownership “did not react extraordinarily well in the beginning” to the news of another low-payroll campaign. “Ultimately, they’re OK with it with one proviso: that if an opportunity presents itself, we do not exclude it. They understand the program,” MacPhail said.
One possibility is that the Phillies could use some of their payroll space to take on bad contracts from other teams. “Most of you guys have written about how the ’18 (free-agent) class is a little on the light side, all the big guns come out in ’19. It may well be that teams that want to compete in that ’19 arena shed some salary that we won’t anticipate right now in ’18. So we have to keep our eye out for that, as well,” MacPhail said. The club took on payroll last winter while acquiring Howie Kendrick, Pat Neshek, and Clay Buchholz in trades, and flipped Kendrick and Neshek in midseason trades for prospects.
While the rotation needs some serious upgrades, MacPhail hinted that the Phillies were likelier to obtain pitching via trades than in free agency. “There are times when you’re going to have to dive into that [free agent] pool and just take a risk. But it’s not my favorite place to be,” the president said. “We get inundated with stories across the game about how everybody is looking for starting pitching. ’Just get two quality starters, and we’ll be all set.’ Well, you might as well look for a unicorn at the same time. It’s tough. You don’t want to be paying for past performance.” MacPhail also noted that the possibility exists that the Phils could deal from their farm system to add help for the big league roster.
The club hopes to have a new manager hired before the GM Meetings in early November.
The Phillies will continue to build and spend money on their analytics staff, which MacPhail mentioned has grown from a one-person department to a 14-person team. Pitch-framing is one specific area that MacPhail said the Phillies are looking to improve on an organization-wide basis in 2018. Baseball Prospectus was very unimpressed by the framing abilities of Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp, respectively ranking the two Philadelphia catchers 110th and 115th out of 116 MLB catchers.
Freddy Galvis’ pinch-hit double for the Phillies on Sunday may very well have been his final plate appearance with the team, writes CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury. Top prospect J.P. Crawford arrived in the Majors in September, and while he hardly set the world on fire with the bat (.214/.356/.300 in 87 plate appearances), he still could land the team’s Opening Day shortstop job next year. It’s likely that general manager Matt Klentak will shop both Galvis and second baseman Cesar Hernandez this winter, writes Salisbury, as the team will want to get a look at its potential middle infield of the future — Crawford and top second base prospect Scott Kingery — in 2018.
Galvis, 27, posted an uninspiring .255/.309/.382 batting line in 2017 but played in all 162 games and has generally received strong marks for his glovework at short. He’ll be due a raise on this year’s $4.35MM salary and is controlled through 2018. Hernandez, meanwhile, posted a .294 average that is identical to his 2016 mark with a .373 OBP (up marginally from .371) with improved power output. After slugging .393 last year, the 27-year-old slugged .421 with 26 doubles, six triples and nine homers in 2017. A solid defender himself, Hernandez is controlled through 2020 and will be arb-eligible for the first time this winter.
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The Phillies have informed bench coach Larry Bowa that they want him to remain in the organization next year, reports Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer. However, it doesn’t seem likely that it’d be in the same role, as the team has also informed the coaching staff that whoever is hired as Pete Mackanin’s replacement in the dugout will have the ability to name his own staff. Bowa could be retained as an instructor at multiple minor league levels next year, per Brookover, though he’s yet to make a decision and likely won’t do so until he meets with the team later this week. Bowa could certainly have value in that capacity; Galvis told Salisbury in the previously linked column that Bowa played a significant role in honing his own defensive skills.
Recently dismissed manager Pete Mackanin spoke to MLB.com’s Ben Harris about his new role in the Phillies’ front office as a special assistant to Klentak. In his new role, Mackanin will evaluate players both in the Phillies organization and on other teams to help the front office in trade decisions, and he more generally stated that he’ll be an advisor to Klentak and his staff on a variety of baseball operations issues. As Mackanin points out, he’s played, coached and managed in both the minors and Majors in addition to previous work as a big league scout, so he’ll have plenty of experience to offer the Phillies. Mackanin revealed that he’s been given permission to pursue other opportunities with other teams if presented, but the 66-year-old also suggested that he doesn’t have plans to do so. “I would truly like to be here when this team wins,” he said.
The Phillies’ decision to change managers could cost them promising hitting coach Matt Stairs, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes. In Stairs’ first year on the job, the former slugger has won the favor of the Phillies’ hitters and played a key role in the development of some of their young players, details Zolecki. Thanks in part to Stairs, the Phillies’ offense has posted better numbers across the board than last year’s, including in the runs scored department (679 to 610). Stairs told Zolecki that he’d “love” to continue in Philly, but he realizes his fate rests with the team’s next manager.
“In my mind, we have reached a turning point in this rebuild,” Phillies GM Matt Klentak told reporters (including PhillyVoice.com’s Ryan Lawrence) about why Pete Mackanin was moved to a front office position rather than manage the Phils next season. “We see our roster right now is littered with young players who look to have a very, very bright future. It’s time to look forward. That’s the message today: it’s time to look forward.” In Lawrence’s view, Klentak’s answers were somewhat indirect, especially since Mackanin was just given a contract extension in May. Both Lawrence and Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirerbelieve Klentak is now taking a larger role in the Phillies’ rebuild, given that several of the team’s top young talents were brought into the organization by previous (since fired) front office personnel. Brookover figures the new skipper will be younger and more analytically-minded, and he cites Dusty Wathan as “the smart choice” for the job since Wathan is so familiar with Philadelphia’s young players. Wathan has managed in the Phillies’ farm system for the last decade, including managing the Triple-A affiliate in 2017.
The Phillies announced today that Pete Mackanin will not return to manage the club in 2018. Rather, Mackanin has agreed to a contract extension to join the front office and serve as a special assistant to general manager Matt Klentak. Mackanin will finish out the current season as the Phillies’ skipper.
The news comes as somewhat of a surprise, as it was only May 11 that the Phillies gave Mackanin a vote of confidence by extending his managerial contract through the 2018 campaign (with a club option for the 2019 season). Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that a friend of Mackanin’s described him as “shocked” to receive the news that he won’t be returning to his post next season.
Beyond that, the Phillies’ play has improved substantially with the second-half arrivals of Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro, among others. The Phillies entered the break with a record of 29-58 but have since played at a near-.500 clip. Overall, the Phillies played at a 172-237 pace under Mackanin, though he was tasked with overseeing a clearly rebuilding club that was never expected to win many games.
Mackanin, 66, spent parts of nine seasons as a Major League infielder, including two with the Phillies, and had a pair of half-season stints as a big league skipper prior to taking on that role with the Phillies. He’s served in various capacities over the life of his post-playing career, including spending time as a third base coach, a bench coach, a minor league manager and a Major League scout. The Phillies didn’t offer any specific details of what his new role will entail beyond the fact that he received a contract extension upon taking the position.
Given that, it seems clear that the Phillies still value Mackanin’s input and feel that his presence can be beneficial to the organization. However, Klentak and team president Andy MacPhail were not with the organization when Mackanin was named manager back in 2015, and they’ll now have the opportunity to bring in their own manager.
The Philadelphia vacancy creates two openings for new skippers around the league, as the Tigers have already announced that Brad Ausmus will not return as the manager in 2018. A third opening seems all but certain to emerge in the coming days, as multiple reports out of New York have indicated that Terry Collins is extremely unlikely to return as the Mets’ manager in 2018.
Phillies manager Pete Mackanin continues to lobby for the team’s front office to acquire starting pitching in the offseason. “I think it would behoove us to get a bona fide starting pitcher,” Mackanin said Wednesday, adding that “I think we need a stabilizer at the top” (via Todd Zolecki of MLB.com). The Phillies aren’t close enough to contention to vie for the absolute best soon-to-be free agent starters – Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta – notes Zolecki, who suggests that second-tier hurlers such as Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and Jhoulys Chacin are more realistic possibilities.
CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury profiles Phillies left-hander Adam Morgan and his rise to prominence in the Philadelphia bullpen in 2017. Morgan explains to Salisbury that he nearly retired from baseball early in the year, having gone through difficulty recovering from shoulder surgery and again being optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. “I’m such a simple guy that it’s the little things that make me happy,” said Morgan. “Being with my family makes me happy, cutting the grass makes me happy. I’d think to myself, ’Why am I showing up to the field and I’m not happy?” Morgan ultimately decided to finish the year. Along the way, his velocity returned, and he altered the grip on his slider to dramatically improve the pitch’s effectiveness. Over his past 24 innings, Morgan has averaged 95.2 mph on his fastball and allowed just two runs with a 28-to-4 K/BB ratio. Salisbury’s column is full of candid, thoughtful quotes from Morgan and is an excellent look at the human side of the game.comments powered by Disqus