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Phillies trade rumors - Ohtani, Stanton, and a new pitching coach
by Scott Butler 12/3/17

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:

December 1

Phillies Promote Rick Kranitz To Pitching Coach

The Phillies have announced that Rick Kranitz will become the team’s pitching coach. Joining the staff as assistant pitching coach is Chris Young.

Kranitz, 59, had most recently served as the job that’ll now go to Young. He has previously served as the pitching coach for the Marlins, Orioles, and Brewers. As for Young, he comes over from the Astros organization, where he had served as a scouting supervisor, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).

These moves begin to give some clarity to the staff of new manager Gabe Kapler, though there are still some openings. It does seem, though, that Rob Thomson is slated to join on as the bench coach. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com gives the clearest indication yet, tweeting that the team will hire Thomson and could announce the move early next week. Reports have indicated that move will likely follow a decision by the Yankees on their open managerial job, for which Thomson has interviewed. 

November 30

Shohei Ohtani Rumors: Thursday

The question of whether Shohei Ohtani can successfully lead a big league rotation and serve as a legitimate member of its offense on a semi-regular basis is one of the most fascinating storylines in recent memory, and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports takes an excellent look at the viability of that scenario. Brown spoke to GM, scouts, coaches and players throughout the league, and though the prevailing opinion was that while it would be difficult and unlikely, there’s also a sentiment that those in the industry are nonetheless rooting for Ohtani to succeed at both.

Rays righty Chris Archer tells Brown that a successful two-way player would “change our perspective” on the game. Archer and free-agent outfielder Jayson Werth both chatted with Brown about their daily schedules and recovery programs, which Brown uses as a means of illustrating the challenges of Ohtani successfully serving as a starter and a DH/outfielder. Brown also talks with former pitcher/outfielder Rick Ankielabout the summer he spent as a starter and a DH in A-ball. Ankiel suggests that the true question isn’t one of whether Ohtani can physically handle a two-way role but rather one of whether Ohtani can thrive in both areas. “Can he be great at both here?” Ankiel asks rhetorically. “That depends on how good he really is.”

Some other notes on the game’s most intriguing free-agent-to-be, who should be formally posted by Saturday…

Earlier Updates

November 27

Mark Appel, Alberto Tirado Clear Waivers

The Phillies announced that right-handers Mark Appel and Alberto Tirado have been outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after clearing waivers. The pair was designated for assignment last week as Philadelphia set its roster in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.

Now 26 years of age, Appel was the top overall pick in the 2013 draft by Houston, who surprised some a year prior by passing over Appel and taking Carlos Correa with the first overall pick in 2012. (Appel did not sign in 2012 after being selected eighth overall and returned to the ’13 draft).

Appel went from Houston to Philadelphia in the Ken Giles trade and has struggled with the Phils as much or more than he did with the Astros. In 188 2/3 career innings of Triple-A work, Appel has pitched to a 4.82 ERA with 7.4 K/9 against 4.8 BB/9, battling shoulder and elbow troubles along the way.

As for Tirado, the 22-year-old ranked as high as eighth in the Blue Jays’ system during his prospect tenure, per Baseball America. The Phillies picked him up in the 2015 trade that sent Ben Revere to Toronto, but he’s largely stalled out at the Class-A Advanced level. Tirado was showing promise at that level, albeit with extreme control issues, in 2015 when the Jays traded him. He’s repeated the level twice now without significantly better results, however. While he did make his Double-A debut this past season, the bulk of Tirado’s year was spent at Class-A Advanced, where he logged a 3.69 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 5.4 BB/9 in 63 1/3 innings of relief. 

November 24

What We Know About The Giancarlo Stanton Situation

As of Black Friday, the 2017 offseason has been astonishingly quiet. The trade and free agent market seems as though it’s being held up in large part by the situation surrounding NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. Once that massive domino falls, it’s possible we’ll see a flurry of free agent activity follow. In the meantime, however, Stanton rumors are a heavy focus of the baseball media cycle, and as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd pointed out in an in-depth piece earlier this month, his market is wide and complex. As we approach the weekend, here’s an overview of what we know about the Marlins’ attempt to deal their All-Star outfielder.

He’s the best player available on the market- This may be redundant considering I already mentioned his brand new MVP award, but the subject is well worth its own spotlight. His .281/.376/.631 batting line is other worldly, and his 59 homers paced all of baseball in 2017. While his 6.9 fWAR only tied for fifth among all players in the majors, the rest of the top seven (Aaron JudgeJose AltuveChris SaleCorey KluberAnthony Rendon and Mike Trout) won’t be available for teams to acquire in a trade. The top three free agents (Yu DarvishJ.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer) aren’t anywhere near as valuable in terms of expected WAR output as Stanton.

Teams perceive his remaining contract as close to market value- According to these three tweets from Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, multiple teams told the Marlins that the remaining 10 years and $295MM left on Stanton’s contract are a pretty good estimate of what he’d earn on the open market, were he a free agent this offseason.

He has a lot of power over his own fate- Not only does Stanton have a full no-trade clause in his contract, but he also has the ability to opt out after the 2020 season, at which point he’d leave 7 years and $218MM on the table in search of a new deal. The opt-out makes trading him even more complicated, as it caps the contract value upside for his would-be new team. Meanwhile, the full no-trade protection gives him enormous leverage in the process. Many teams would love to add Stanton to their lineup, and the Marlins are looking to shed payroll. Ultimately, this means the Fish may not end up being able to accept the best offer, and could have to simply settle for the proposal from the city Stanton wishes to play for most.

The Marlins’ leverage over him is nonzero- While Stanton is a coveted asset and enjoys no-trade protection, he’s made it well-known that he isn’t interested in being around for a rebuild. The slugger’s desire to leave Miami could result in him approving a trade he’s not thrilled about just to play for a contender. On the other hand, it could also result in a tense game of chicken between Stanton and the Marlins to see who will bend first. Although the Marlins have a firm mission to shed payroll, they can do so in other ways; they don’t actually have to trade Stanton at all. And as much as Stanton wants to be traded, he might be willing to hold out for a team of his choice and risk staying put. The case is fascinating.

Some evaluators believe the Marlins’ asking price is unrealistic- While Miami’s asking price isn’t entirely clear, it seems as though they’re looking for a team to pay all (or nearly all) of his salary while including prospects. This has led some to suggest that the Fish need a “reality check” in terms of their asking price. If the contract is indeed roughly market value, then it’s difficult to imagine that a team will give up good prospects for the privilege to pay Stanton his full dollar value over the course of the deal.

He prefers to play near a coast- While this doesn’t seem to be a firm deal breaker, it complicates matters for teams like the Cardinals and Phillies, who have the payroll space and prospect depth to swing a trade for the prolific slugger.

The Cardinals and Giants have made formal offers- The Giants were the first to officially submit a trade proposal, with the Cardinals following suit later that same week. This doesn’t mean the trade discussions are finished; those trades could still be tweaked or even scrapped entirely in favor of starting from scratch. But the fact that there are at least two offers on the table gives the Marlins some options to weigh for the time being. It’s not known what those offers are, however, though we do know that the Cardinals included Sandy Alcantara in their proposal. It’s equally uncertain whether Miami even takes those offers seriously.

As many as eight teams are engaged in talks for him- While only six of those eight teams are thought to be serious pursuers, the fact that so many teams are showing strong interest bodes well for Miami and their power in negotiations. In addition to the Cardinals and Giants mentioned above, we know that the Dodgers, Phillies and Red Sox have had some level of dialogue with the Marlins. The Yankees, too, have reportedly done their due diligence, though it doesn’t sound as if they’re actively pursuing Stanton. 

November 24

Jorge Alfaro Changes Agents

Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro recently changed agents, according to Robert Murray of Fan Rag (via Twitter). He will now be represented by ISE Baseball, which has a long list of other MLB clients.

Alfaro was seen as a significant prospect when he came over to Philadelphia as part of the Cole Hamels trade. He is still just 24 years of age and produced a strong .318/.360/.514 batting line in 114 MLB plate appearances last year.

That said, there are some questions facing the out-of-options receiver. He had struggled quite a bit earlier in the year at Triple-A and carried his poor plate discipline with him into the bigs. Alfaro rode an unsustainable .420 batting average on balls in play to produce the impressive slash line; meanwhile, he struck out 33 times while drawing just three free passes.

Though the Phillies likely still hope to take a shot on Alfaro, who comes with a fairly lofty prospect pedigree, the team also has another promising young receiver in Andrew Knapp. And Cameron Rupp has established himself as a useful MLB catcher, too, with a still-low salary increasing his appeal. It’ll be interesting to see how the Phils manage things over the winter and into camp.

Alfaro joins Lewis Brinson as young former Rangers prospects changing agents in recent days. Both are reflected in MLBTR’s Agency Database.

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