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Phillies trade rumors - injuries, injuries, injuries...and Tom Eshelman
by Scott Butler 6/10/19

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:

June 10

Seranthony Dominguez Likely Headed For TJS

Phillies reliever Seranthony Dominguez is “hoping for a miracle” when it comes to his own potential surgery, as he tells reporters including Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). He’ll receive a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, but all indications are that Tommy John surgery will ultimately be performed.

June 10

Orioles Acquire Tom Eshelman From Phillies

The Orioles have acquired right-hander Tom Eshelman from the Phillies in exchange for international bonus allocations, per announcements from both clubs. Eshelman has been assigned to Triple-A Norfolk for the time being.

Eshelman, 24, was a second-round pick by the Astros back in 2015 (when Baltimore GM Mike Elias was with Houston) and landed with the Phillies by way of the Ken Giles trade in the 2016-17 offseason. Eshelman opened the season in Double-A Reading and struggled to a 6.28 ERA in 28 2/3 innings, but he did so with strong K/BB numbers that led metrics like FIP (3.79) and xFIP (2.98) to forecast better days on the horizon. The Phillies bumped him up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and Eshelman responded well. In four starts there (26 innings), he’s notched a 2.77 ERA with a 23-to-5 K/BB ratio and a 48.6 percent ground-ball rate.

While Eshelman is Norfolk-bound for the time being, it’s not difficult to see him emerging as an option at the Major League level in the near future. Between the 2017-19 seasons, he’s made a total of 48 starts at the Triple-A level, so he has plenty of upper-minors experience. And the Orioles’ rotation has performed dreadfully as a collective unit, posting a 5.42 ERA that ranks 26th in the Majors as well as an MLB-worst 5.87 FIP.

Manager Brandon Hyde said about three weeks ago that the front office had been exploring various avenues to add some rotation depth to the organization, and acquiring Eshelman certainly fits that mold. He wasn’t considered to be among the top prospects in the Phillies’ system but gives the Orioles the type of fairly advanced arm that they’re lacking in the upper levels of a farm system that’s still being rebuilt (and will be for the next few years).

Currently, the Orioles are deploying Andrew CashnerDylan BundyJohn MeansDavid Hess and Gabriel Ynoa, but the latter two of that quintet have struggled in particular. Veteran righty Alex Cobb remains sidelined by a back injury, while Nate Karns is on the shelf indefinitely due to a flexor strain. The alternatives in Triple-A are collectively underperforming, as each of Josh RogersLuis Ortiz and Chandler Shepherd has an ERA over 7.00.

As for the Phillies, they’ll add a bit of money — no amount was specified — to add a few more international players to their minor league ranks in the coming days. The 2018-19 international signing period comes to a close on June 15, but this swap should give them more funds to add a bit more talent to the lower levels of the system. International signing slots need to be traded in $250K increments, so the Phils picked up at least that much in this deal — and quite possibly more, given Eshelman’s proximity to the Majors.

June 8

Phillies Place Adam Haseley On IL

The Phillies placed outfielder Adam Haseley on the IL on Saturday because of a strained left groin, Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. The club’s not sure how much time Haseley will miss; in the meantime, it recalled outfielder Nick Williams from Triple-A Lehigh Valley as his replacement. Haseley, a 2017 first-round pick whom the Phillies promoted when outfielder Andrew McCutchen suffered a torn ACL on Monday, racked up a mere eight plate appearances before going on the shelf.

June 7

Phillies To Sign Fernando Salas

The Phillies have agreed to a minors pact with righty reliever Fernando Salas, MLBTR’s Steve Adams reports on Twitter. Salas is expected to report to the club’s top affiliate.

Salas has thrown nearly five hundred MLB frames over nine seasons, but has bounced around a bit in recent years. He threw forty innings for the Diamondbacks last year before he was cut loose, then was dropped by the Braves after a brief stint at Triple-A. He ended up landing in the Mexican League for the current season.

Pitching for the Acereros de Monclova this year, Salas has precisely matched his lifetime 3.90 MLB ERA through 27 2/3 innings in his homeland. He has coughed up four long balls, which helps explain the results, but is carrying a strong 28:4 K/BB ratio.

Whether or not Salas will end up getting a shot at the MLB level with the Phils remains to be seen, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him come up in the near future. The Philadelphia organization is weathering an ongoing run of poor health fortune in its relief corps.

June 7

Seranthony Dominguez Weighing Surgery For Elbow Injury

The Phillies received another unwelcome injury development, as news emerged today that reliever Seranthony Dominguez has an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki was among those to cover the announcement from GM Matt Klentak. (Twitter link.)

Ligament damage was said not to be a concern when Dominguez departed his most recent outing, but that optimistic assessment obviously changed after examination. A treatment course has yet to be determined, but Tommy John surgery is under consideration. Dominguez will receive a second opinion before deciding how to proceed.

That’s rough news for the Phils and the 24-year-old hurler. Even if he’s able to avoid surgery, Dominguez will surely require a lengthy rehab process. He has worked to a 3.27 ERA with 11.2 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 over 82 2/3 total MLB innings since breaking into the big leagues last year.

Filling the void for the time being is lefty Ranger Suarez, who was recalled. He’ll be joined on the active roster by starter Zach Eflin. Reliever Yacksiel Rios was optioned to create another roster spot.

There was at least some positive reliever health news as well. Klentak says that the club anticipates returns later this month from a few of its injured hurlers. (Via Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer, on Twitter.) The Phils expect Edubray RamosAdam MorganPat Neshek, and Tommy Hunter to be back within the next three weeks or so, with David Robertson following behind them.

June 6

Progress Report: Last Winter’s 6 Highest-Paid Relievers

The Cubs made a rare June free-agent splash Wednesday when they agreed to a three-year, $43MM contract with potential Hall of Fame closer Craig Kimbrel. The 31-year-old entered the offseason as the premier reliever available, but interest in Kimbrel was surprisingly tepid and he wound up having to wait seven months for a contract. Kimbrel still hauled in the richest deal of any reliever going back to the opening of free agency last offseason, though that doesn’t make him a lock to thrive as a Cub.

As you’ll see below, all six accomplished relievers who collected at least $20MM over the winter have shown some troubling signs a couple months into the 2019 campaign. Although it’s way too early to pass judgment in any of these cases, it doesn’t augur well when a player’s not performing as expected at the start of his deal. After all, that’s when he’s supposed to be providing his team maximum value.

Zack Britton, LHP, Yankees (three years, $39MM):

Arguably the game’s foremost reliever with the Orioles from 2014-16, injuries helped lead to a bit of a drop-off for Britton over the ensuing two seasons with the O’s and Yankees. That didn’t stop New York from re-signing Britton on the costliest pact any reliever received in the offseason, though, and he has handed them solid results in Year 1 of the contract. The 31-year-old owns a 2.96 ERA/3.60 FIP in 27 1/3 innings thus far. The sinker-throwing Britton’s tremendous groundball rate (75 percent) is right in line with his recent totals, and he’s generating more strikeouts and issuing fewer walks than he did a year ago. On the negative side, the home run woes that began plaguing Britton in 2018 have stuck around. He’s yielding HRs on 25 percent of fly balls for the second straight season.

Jeurys Familia, RHP, Mets (three years, $30MM):

Familia surrendered three earned runs in 2/3 of an inning last Saturday and then sat for almost a week before taking the mound again Thursday. The previously reliable righty, who dealt with shoulder troubles earlier in the season, has now logged a horrid 6.29 ERA/5.26 FIP in 23 1/3 frames. A significant drop in strikeouts and swinging strikes and a sizable spike in walks and homers haven’t helped, though Familia’s inducing plenty of grounders and continuing to throw in the 96 mph range. The 29-year-old’s batting average on balls in play against (.338), strand rate (66.2), and enormous gap between his weighted on-base average/xwOBA against (.383/.321) indicate he has deserved better. However, it’s doubtful any of that is of much consolation to him or the Mets at this point.

Andrew Miller, LHP, Cardinals (two years, $25MM):

While Miller was a dominant force with the Red Sox, Orioles, Yankees and Indians from 2012-17, he endured an injury-limited, down year with the Tribe in ’18 and still hasn’t returned to form. The towering southpaw has given the Cardinals 20 2/3 innings of 3.92 ERA/5.48 FIP since scoring his contract. Miller is striking out upward of 12 hitters per nine, but he’s walking more than four at the same time (remember, his BB/9 was barely over 1.00 as recently as 2016). The 34-year-old has also already yielded almost as many HRs (five) as he did in 2017-18 combined (six). The good news is that Miller has allowed a mere two earned runs since April 27.

Adam Ottavino, RHP, Yankees (three years, $25MM):

Ottavino’s preventing runs at an elite clip through 28 1/3 frames as a Yankee, having posted a 1.27 ERA so far. However, there are some red flags with the ex-Rockie’s performance. Ottavino’s strikeout, swinging-strike, walk, chase and contact rates have gone in discouraging directions since last season, while his 96.4 percent strand rate isn’t going to hold. There’s not a huge difference between the wOBA (.264) and xwOBA (.276) hitters have mustered against the slider-reliant 33-year-old this season, but both numbers fall short of Ottavino’s .231/.233 combo from 2018.

Joe Kelly, RHP, Dodgers (three years, $25MM):

The flamethrowing Kelly has allowed at least two earned runs in five of 20 appearances, giving him an unsightly 7.91 ERA/5.18 FIP across 19 1/3 innings this season. Kelly’s walks and grounders have trended well thus far, but he has already allowed as many home runs (four) as he did last season – his final year with the Red Sox. The 30-year-old has also seen his swinging-strike rate fall by more than 3 percent and his contact rate climb by a hefty 8 percent since 2018.

David Robertson, RHP, Phillies (two years, $23MM):

Robertson entered 2019 as one of the best, most durable relievers in recent memory, yet he has been neither effective nor healthy in the first season of his contract. The 34-year-old coughed up four earned runs on eight hits and six walks (against six strikeouts) in 6 2/3 innings before going to the 10-day injured list April 16 with a flexor strain in his right elbow. Robertson moved to the 60-day IL on May 25, meaning he won’t return until at least midway through this month.

June 6

Replacing Andrew McCutchen

The Phillies are in first place in the NL East. So far, so good. But the club is looking ahead at some rather significant road blocks.

Most notably, the Philadelphia outfield mix just took a big hit. Andrew McCutchen is done for the year. The less-hyped and less-expensive of the team’s two major free agent splashes, Cutch had also outperformed Bryce Harper to this point.

Let’s not forget: the Phillies aren’t just replacing McCutchen. They may also be in need of a player to step in for Odubel Herrera, whose future with the organization is in doubt after his recent arrest for alleged domestic violence. Aaron Altherr was already sent out after a rough start. Nick Williams has struggled mightily. Roman Quinn is again injured, while Dylan Cozens is sidelined for the season. Scott Kingery is showing well, but he’s an infielder by trade and is needed there with Maikel Franco struggling. Recently, Kingery taken over the majority of the workload at third base.

The Phillies, as one would expect from a first-place club in a tightly contested division, have acted quickly since losing Herrera and McCutchen. Jay Bruce was brought in and now figures to line in left field on a regular basis. Bruce just ripped his third home run in as many games since landing in Philadelphia, so he’s off to a good start. But he’ll also likely be pressed into a much more substantial role than had been envisioned.

Philadelphia also promoted prospect Adam Haseley, the eighth overall pick in 2017, and he’ll step into center field for the time being. Haseley had only been in Triple-A for a week when he was summoned to the Majors, though, and he’s not regarded as a premium prospect despite that draft pedigree. He’s a a logical first option, and perhaps he’ll surprise to the extent that the Phils don’t need to make a splashy trade, but there’s still a definite chance that the sudden outfield deficiency will be addressed by acquiring someone from outside the organization.

What the Phillies could really use in place of McCutchen is a true center fielder. McCutchen hasn’t been that in several years but was playing there in place of Herrera — who turned in shaky defensive ratings in center himself in 2018-19. Unfortunately, that’ll be considerably more difficult to come by for GM Matt Klentak.

The most readily available players are of dubious quality, unsurprisingly. Kevin Pillar could surely be had from the Giants, but a player sporting a .249 OBP on the season isn’t going to be viewed as an upgrade. It’s a similar story with Billy Hamilton in Kansas City and Juan Lagares in New York. The Padres have a well-known glut of outfielders, most of who are limited to corner duties as well. Perhaps the Phillies could try to buy low on one-time top prospect Manuel Margot, but he’s sporting a .262 OBP and has lost playing time to makeshift center fielder Wil Myers. Myers himself would figure to be eminently available, but he’s still owed $61MM beyond the 2019 campaign and wouldn’t be a quality defensive option. Buy-low options abound throughout the league. Beyond the aforementioned Pillar, the Phillies could acquire Leonys Martinon the cheap in hope of a return to form. The Orioles only just acquired Keon Broxton themselves, but the Phils could try to take a shot on him.

The best of this class of player may be Jarrod Dyson. Perhaps the D-Backs will be willing to ship him elsewhere later this summer. He’s a career-long platoon bat with minimal power but would at least give the Phils dynamic glovework and competitive at-bats against right-handed pitching. But the team would still arguably be down a righty outfield bat.

Adding a higher-end piece in center would surely be costly, though it’s worth exploring since it’s a long-term need for the organization. The Phils could try to pry Ketel Marteaway from Arizona, but the asking price would be substantial. The versatile switch-hitter has taken well to center field and is also capable of playing all over the infield; he’s also controllable all the way through 2024 for a total of about $35MM. Starling Marte isn’t off to his finest start, but the cross-state rival Pirates likely won’t reduce their asking price. Perhaps there’s some room for a deal — the Pittsburgh org may soon have a bit of a logjam in the outfield and may not hang in the divisional race, while Marte is getting more expensive — but it’s a low-likelihood scenario.

It is intriguing to think of potential matches with the Mariners. Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto rarely rests long between brokering deals and obviously has a connection with Klentak. (Not long before the Bruce swap, they pulled off a much more significant deal.) The Mariners resisted the temptation to move building-block Mitch Haniger in the offseason. He’s mostly a corner piece and hasn’t graded well in limited MLB action up the middle, but did spend a lot of time there in the minors and might be expected to perform well enough in that role for a season or two. Mallex Smith would be a true center field option, but he’s still trying to bounce back from a rough start. The Mariners acquired him as a hopeful long-term piece in an offseason swap and won’t be particularly keen to sell low.

One potentially interesting possibility would involve Whit Merrifield of the Royals. He’s known mostly as a second baseman, of course, but has been utilized more and more on the grass and has graded well in his limited time in center. If the Royals really are willing to listen, the Phillies ought to in the ear of K.C. GM Dayton Moore. Merrifield could plug into the center field opening now and be utilized in any number of different ways in the future. He’s an exceptional value, which will be reflected in the asking price.

The options could still expand in the coming months, though it’s honestly tough to foresee other viable center field targets. What are the other possibilities?

A major corner outfield acquisition just may not make a ton of sense for the Phils, who have Bruce and Harper in that role now and will welcome back McCutchen next season. Skipper Gabe Kapler already said he doesn’t plan to use Harper in center. While the right acquisition could perhaps change that line of thinking, that’s probably not the preferred route for GM Matt Klentak and the remainder of the front office.

That said, perhaps the Phillies can instead add one of the Dyson-type platoon pieces and also pursue a corner-oriented bat to boost their offensive productivity. The team could hold its nose at times on defense — as it was doing already with Cutch in center — and plan on deploying different personnel based upon the situation.

There ought to be quite a few corner pieces on the market. In addition to some of the names already covered, some of the aforementioned teams have other conceivable trade assets. Adam Jones at least has ample experience in center, even if he’s ill-suited to regular time there at this stage. He and David Peralta could be put on the block by the Diamondbacks. Left-handed hitters Corey DickersonGregory Polanco, and Melky Cabrera may not fit on the same Pirates roster. (Polanco could also be utilized in center, as he frequently was in the minors, though he has rarely been tasked with that role in Pittsburgh.) Domingo Santana of the M’s has slowed after a hot start but could be of some interest. Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes are among the many options in San Diego.

Loads of other players will also come up. Perhaps the Orioles’ Trey Mancini isn’t a sensible target since he’ll come with a high asking price and is limited to a corner spot. But there are other, more plausible candidates. Nicholas Castellanos is sure to be discussed quite a bit this summer by the Tigers. The Angels may end up dealing Kole Calhoun in his walk year if they can’t hang in contention; likewise, the Reds could end up dangling Yasiel Puig and/or Derek Dietrich. Veteran corner outfielder Alex Gordon could be of interest, though it’s far from clear whether he’ll be available given his no-trade rights and special relationship with the Royals. Shin-Soo Choo of the Rangers would be just the bat the Phils would like, though he’s a poor defender and would be tough to carry alongside Bruce.

There is also one other general route that the Phillies could explore. If they’re willing to trust Kingery with extended action up the middle, perhaps by pairing him with a part-timer of Dyson’s ilk, then the Phils could free the youngster for that role by adding an infielder. Whether or not they fully give up on Franco, the club might seek to add offense at the hot corner. Kingery’s importance to the Philadelphia organization was already apparent before McCutchen’s injury. His flexibility and potentially emerging bat now expand the universe of possibilities as the front office approaches an increasingly interesting summer trade period.

June 5

Phillies Notes: Outfield, Kingery, Franco, Dominguez

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