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Phillies trade rumors - Could this be it? John Middleton takes his private jet to Vegas
by Scott Butler 2/23/19

Philadelphia Phillies Trade Rumors

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:

February 22

Bryce Harper Meeting With Phillies Owner John Middleton

8:32pm: There is a meeting, Heyman tweets, but the matter of Harper’s destination has yet to be decided. Other teams are still involved at this point.

8:14pm: Private planes and visits to Las Vegas have featured prominently throughout the courtship of free agent outfielder Bryce Harper, and that’s true again tonight. Phillies owner John Middleton — or, at least, his jet — is currently gracing the tarmac in Harper’s hometown, a source tells Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philly (Twitter link).

“Team Bryce” (presumably, the player, his wife, his agent Scott Boras, and others) is also in Sin City at the moment, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports (Twitter link). That makes it easy to imagine a forthcoming late-night rendezvous between representatives of the open market’s most willing spender and its biggest star — though Heyman adds that Middleton appears to be on his own, without president Andy MacPhail or GM Matt Klentak.

Of course, we’ve yet to hear any specific indication that a meeting is in the works. At this stage of the proceedings, though, even the (seemingly strong) possibility warrants close attention. Harper, after all, took center stage when Manny Machado recently signed a ten-year, $300MM pact with the Padres. He was joined in the spotlight by the Phils, who came in third in the bidding for Machado after entering the winter with expectations of landing a superstar.

These sides have held an in-person pow-wow already, back in early January. That was perhaps more of a meet-and-great. It’s fair to wonder whether a repeat visit is designed to finalize agreement on what promises to be a very large contract. Middleton and Boras combined last winter to deliver Jake Arrieta to his new home on a private jet; it could be they’re making similar arrangements now.

The market developments have remained mysterious since Machado reportedly agreed to terms. Word emerged (see here and here) that the Phillies felt in command, with the Giants still involved, the Padres trying to see if they could somehow finagle a stunning double-play, and the White Sox bowing out of contention. Today, the Nationals seemingly indicated they were on the sidelines.

February 21

Bryce Harper Rumors: Thursday

Now that Manny Machado’s 10-year, $300MM deal with the Padres has been announced, Bryce Harper and agent Scott Boras have a definitive bar to attempt to clear as they seek a record-setting contract of their own. Yesterday’s slate of rumors on Harper had a series of updates on how the Phillies, Nats, White Sox and Giants view the former NL MVP now that Machado is off the board. Here’s a look at the latest chatter on “Harper’s Bazaar” as the long, drawn-out saga inches toward a resolution…

February 21

Phillies Sign Trevor Plouffe

The Phillies have announced the signing of third baseman Trevor Plouffe to a minor-league deal. He’ll receive an invitation to Spring Training.

Plouffe had appeared briefly at the major-league level last year with the Phils, marking his ninth-straight season with some action in the majors. He only took a dozen plate appearances, though, marking the first time since his debut season of 2010 that he strode to the MLB plate less than three hundred times in a given campaign.

Once a solid regular with the Twins, Plouffe was non-tendered after an injury-marred 2016 campaign. He struggled badly in the ensuing campaign, leaving him to ink a minors deal last winter. Plouffe ultimately turned in solid power numbers at Triple-A in 2018, slashing .232/.357/.468 with 13 home runs in 291 plate appearances with the Phillies and Rangers organizations.

Now 32, Plouffe will certainly face an uphill task to crack the Phillies roster. But with the club falling short in the bidding on Manny Machado, there could be some opportunity available. Plouffe might conceivably push incumbent third bagger Maikel Franco in camp and could theoretically earn a MLB roster spot or a place on the depth chart at Triple-A.

February 20

Latest Bryce Harper Rumors

If you’ve been away from the internet for the last 24 hours, you’ll want to catch up on the major free agent news that broke yesterday. If not, you can safely skip ahead to focusing on what’s next: the final stretch of bidding for Bryce Harper. Here’s the latest:

February 20

Odubel Herrera Dealing With Hamstring Issue Amid Cloudy Future Outlook

Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera left camp today with a wrap on his leg after aggravating a hamstring strain he’d suffered a few weeks ago in offseason workouts, writes Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Manager Gabe Kapler called the issue “mild,” and there doesn’t seem to be any immediate concern, though it’s obviously a situation worth monitoring. More broadly, though, Salisbury’s latest piece takes a look at Herrera’s future with the Phillies — particularly with the addition of Bryce Harperstill very much on the table for the Phils. Herrera could potentially become a trade option in the event that the Phils land Harper, Salisbury notes, and even if it’s not Herrera, one of the Phillies’ incumbent outfielders would likely be forced out of the picture. Although Herrera only just turned 27, he’s been a fixture on the Phillies’ roster for the past four seasons. He’s guaranteed $24.5MM over the next three seasons as part of a $30.5MM contract extension that also contains a pair of club options.

February 19

Followup Notes On The Manny Machado Deal

After nearly four months of waiting, Manny Machado’s free agency came to a close Tuesday when he agreed to terms with the Padres on a 10-year, $300MM contract that represents the largest free-agent contract ever signed in American professional sports. Only Giancarlo Stanton’s 13-year, $325MM contract has ever guaranteed a player more money. Machado was pursued by other teams, most notably the Phillies, White Sox and (early in the offseason) the Yankees. While New York was already known to be out of the mix for Machado, the other two primary suitors still had hopes of reeling in one of the offseason’s biggest fish. With that in mind, here are some early reactions to the agreement and some notes on how those who missed out on Machado may proceed in the wake of today’s news…

February 19

Phillies Notes: Eickhoff, Hernandez

February 18

White Sox Still “Strong Factor” In Machado Market

The White Sox are a “strong factor” in the market for star infielder Manny Machado, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Attention has in recent days focused on the Padres, but it seems it’s still a multi-horse race, with the Phillies also known to be in the picture as well.

It isn’t terribly surprising to hear that the Chicago organization still factors into the discussion. Just how active the club is in its bidding isn’t clear, but the South Siders are continuing to dangle carrots (in less-than-subtle ways) in an attempt to lure Machado to Chicago.

Still, it’s notable that the White Sox evidently remain a legitimate potential landing spot — if only because that’d potentially make for much-needed leverage for Machado’s representatives. With the jockeying surrounding Machado and fellow unsigned star Bryce Harper perhaps entering a final phase, those players’ respective agents need all the cards they can get their hands on.

Recent indications are that the Padres have offered Machado something greater than $240MM and perhaps reaching $280MM. That sets a rather high bar — loftier, perhaps, than the level of contract the White Sox were reportedly dangling one month ago.

Even if the White Sox are willing to top the Friars, there could be further competition. Rosenthal suggests that the front offices of all three organizations see Machado as a better fit than Harper, though ownership preferences may be a bit different. Perhaps, then, there’s still some room for a late run-up in the bidding. Harper’s ongoing presence, and largely overlapping slate of bidders, makes for another factor in this complicated matchmaking dance.

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