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Phillies trade rumors - MacPhail says Phils looking for lefty bat
by Scott Butler 1/9/17

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:

January 8

MacPhail: Phils Looking To Add Lefty Bat

In an interview with Bowden and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link), Phillies president Andy MacPhail said his team’s next move is to try and add a left-handed hitter.  The Phils are known to be looking for another bat, with such lefty swingers as Brandon MossMichael Saunders and Jay Bruce mentioned as potential candidates.

January 7

Phillies Sign Pedro Beato To Minor League Deal

The Phillies have signed righty reliever Pedro Beato to a minor league deal. The 30-year-old Beato was very effective for Triple-A Norfolk in 2016, with a 2.65 ERA, 8.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 68 innings (although he allowed nine unearned runs). He’s pitched in the big leagues for three teams, but hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2014 and hasn’t logged significant time since he was a Met in 2011.

January 5

Phillies, Cesar Ramos Agree To Minors Deal

The Phillies have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with left-hander Cesar Ramos, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (on Twitter). The Wasserman client will add a southpaw with considerable Major League experience to Philadelphia’s depth chart.

Ramos, 32, opened the 2016 season with the Rangers and made four starts plus a dozen relief appearances before being released in late July. The 6.04 ERA, 11.3 H/9 and 2.3 HR/9 yielded by Ramos in his brief 47 2/3 inning stint with Texas weren’t pretty, but prior to that he’d enjoyed a nice run as a bullpen lefty with the Rays and Angels. From 2011-15, Ramos tossed 276 innings of 3.49 ERA ball, averaging 7.2 strikeouts and 3.6 walks per nine innings pitched. His ground-ball rate has fluctuated a bit over the years, but his career average is a solid 45.5 percent. Ramos has also held lefties in check reasonably well, limiting same-handed opponents to a .250/.314/.339 batting line.

The Phillies don’t have much certainty among left-handed relievers. Hard-throwing Joely Rodriguez is currently the only lefty projected in their big league bullpen, though starter Adam Morgan could also get a look due to the fact that the rotation looks to be full without him. The Phils have also added southpaw Sean Burnett as a non-roster invite this offseason, so he’ll be among the arms with which Ramos is competing for a roster spot this spring.

January 4

Phillies Open To Adding Veteran Bat

TODAY: Philadelphia has no realistic interest in Bautista, per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. However, the other players mentioned previously — Saunders, Moss, and Bruce — are all said to be plausible targets.

YESTERDAY: The Phillies are still open to the idea of adding a veteran bat — likely an outfielder/first baseman — to their relatively young lineup, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Among the potential free-agent targets are Jose BautistaMichael Saunders and Brandon Moss, although the Phils are reluctant to surrender their second-round draft pick (their first-rounder is protected) in order to add Bautista, Rosenthal adds. FanRag’s Jon Heyman wrote last week that the Phillies have some interest in Moss and would prefer any bat they add to be of the left-handed variety, and earlier today, CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury called the addition of another bat “likely,” speculating that Saunders and Moss could be potential targets.

Rosenthal also reports that a trade for Mets right fielder Jay Bruce is something the Phillies would consider, so long as they weren’t required to part with any significant prospects or MLB assets in the deal. (He brings up the trade that sent Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney to the Dodgers in exchange for Howie Kendrick and the trade of minor leaguer Josh Tobias to the Red Sox for Clay Buchholz as points of reference.)

[Related: Philadelphia Phillies Depth Chart]

Any of the four listed options would give the Phillies an alternative in right field to the current trio of Aaron AltherrTyler Goeddel and Roman Quinn, who figure to compete for outfield playing time this spring. Kendrick is likely to man left field, while the recently extended Odubel Herrera is poised to reprise his role as Philadelphia’s everyday center fielder. While adding a veteran could, in the eyes of some fans, block that trio, there’s certainly a case that each could use additional time in the minor leagues to develop.

Altherr, 26 later this month, missed most of the 2016 season due to a wrist injury and batted a woeful .197/.300/.288 in 227 plate appearances upon returning. He’s also tallied just 53 Triple-A games in his young career. Goeddel, who spent the entire season on the Phillies’ roster due to his status as a Rule 5 pick, looked more than overmatched at the plate, hitting just .192/.258/.291 in 234 trips to the plate. And while Quinn looked sharp in a 15-game September cameo, the 23-year-old speedster jumped from Double-A to the Majors and has yet to make even a single plate appearance in Triple-A.

Rosenthal does note that the Phillies aren’t keen on blocking any of their young players by handing out a long-term contract, implying that a one-year commitment to any of the free agents would be the likeliest option. (Bruce, meanwhile, is under contract for just one more season at $13MM and will be a free agent next winter.) Minimizing the commitment would allow GM Matt Klentak and president Andy MacPhail to keep multiple outfield spots open for the 2018 season, when the Phillies will have a better idea of what they can expect from players like Altherr, Quinn, Goeddel and prospects Nick Williams and Dylan Cozens. And, adding a veteran bat on a short-term commitment will of course give the still-rebuilding Phillies a potential midseason trade chip in the event that he performs well and generates interest from contenders in need of offensive improvements.

Bruce and Saunders figure to be strict outfield options, but there’s been some thought that a signing club could put Bautista at first base on occasion, and Moss of course has plenty of experience at that position himself. Moss would, in my mind, represent the best fit, as he’d also give the Phillies a potential platoon partner for Tommy Joseph (as Rosenthal also points out) while allowing the team to give a younger option a look in the outfield should he prove himself ready with a strong minor league performance.

Lastly, from a financial standpoint, the Phillies can comfortably afford to add any of the listed players. MLBTR’s Jason Martinez projects a modest $104MM payroll for the Phils over at Roster Resource — a drastic reduction from the $177MM Opening Day payroll the team carried as recently as 2014. Furthermore, the only guaranteed contract on the books beyond the 2017 season is that of Herrera, as veterans like Buchholz, Kendrick, Jeremy HellicksonJoaquin BenoitPat Neshek and Andres Blanco are all on one-year pacts. Adding another one-year commitment to the ledger would allow the Phils to maintain plenty of flexibility as the team looks to continue adding to its young core and eyes a return to prominence in the NL East.

December 31

3 Remaining Needs: National League East

To set the stage for the remainder of the offseason, we’ll take a look at the most pressing remaining needs of every team in baseball over the coming week or so, division by division. (Hat tip to MLBTR commenter mike156 for the idea.) We often discuss things through the lens of an organization’s trajectory; thus, a rebuilding team might “need” to move some salary, while a contender might “need” an expensive starter. But with camp in sight, every club is making final calls on who’ll compete for big league jobs in the season to come (while also pursuing broader opportunities), so the focus here is on specific positions on the MLB roster. Fortunately, the task of roster analysis is made much easier by the MLB depth charts available at RosterResource.com. Each team listed below is linked to its respective depth chart, so you can take a look for yourself.

In the first two editions of this series, Jeff Todd broke down the NL West and Mark Polishuk examined the AL East. Now a look at where the NL East’s five teams stand as the calendar flips:

Washington Nationals

  1. Bullpen: With Mark Melancon gone, the Nationals are currently projected to rely on Shawn Kelley (11 career saves) as their closer. Based on his output the past couple seasons, Kelley is worthy of the role, but there are durability concerns with the soon-to-be 33-year-old. Kelley has never thrown more than the 58 frames he tossed last season; more alarmingly, he’s a two-time Tommy John surgery recipient who, per a study done by MLBTR contributor Bradley Woodrum, comes with an elevated risk to eventually need another procedure. Even without Kelley’s injury history, acquiring relief help is in order. Washington got a combined 242 2/3 innings last season from Melancon, Yusmeiro PetitFelipe RiveroMatt BelisleJonathan PapelbonReynaldo Lopez and Marc Rzepczynski. Not a single one of them is a member of the organization anymore. Therefore, it would make sense to add at least one more veteran to the likes of Kelley, Blake TreinenSammy Solis and Oliver Perez. The club already tried to re-sign Melancon and reel in Kenley Jansen, but those attempts failed. Even with those two off the board, free agency is hardly bereft of options. In the event Washington decides to stick with in-house choices, it has a couple intriguing youngsters in Koda Glover and Trevor Gott.

  2. Infield Depth: The Nationals’ infield depth took a hit with the loss of Danny Espinosa, and current free agent Stephen Drew could also be in another uniform next season. Either re-upping Drew, which is a possibility, or signing another veteran would give the team more proven insurance than Wilmer Difo (77 career plate appearances) behind second baseman Daniel Murphy, shortstop Trea Turner and third baseman Anthony Rendon. Murphy is capable of playing first base if Ryan Zimmerman endures another poor year or suffers an injury in 2017, but that would leave the team wanting at the keystone.

  3. Rotation Depth: In trading Lopez and Lucas Giolito to the White Sox for outfielder Adam Eaton, the Nats subtracted some of their starting pitching depth. That’s somewhat concerning given that starters Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross are coming off injury-plagued years, which perhaps increases the need to add rotation insurance behind those two, Max ScherzerTanner Roark and Gio GonzalezA.J. Cole and Austin Voth might suffice thereafter, but there’s very little of intrigue beyond them (Double-A prospect Erick Fedde could crack the major leagues sometime next season, granted). The Nationals had an established veteran starter in camp last year in Bronson Arroyo, who ended up missing 2016 because of injuries, and could look for a similar depth option prior to next season.

New York Mets

  1. Outfield: There are only two corner outfield spots, yet the Mets arguably have four starting-caliber players on hand in Yoenis CespedesCurtis GrandersonMichael Conforto and Jay Bruce. Cespedes isn’t going anywhere, obviously, and Conforto’s place on the roster appears secure. The writing is on the wall, then, for either Granderson or Bruce (very likely the latter) to exit the organization via trade by next season. The Mets have been reluctant to deal Bruce without getting anything useful in return, but they might have to settle for dumping his salary in order to clear their corner outfield logjam and free up spending room. In doing so, New York would still face uncertainty in center field. Juan Lagares has fallen off since a strong 2014 showing that led the Mets to sign him to a four-year extension with $23MM in guarantees. Cespedes and Granderson also have experience in center, but neither is an ideal fit there. The Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen has come up as a trade possibility, but he was a defensive nightmare last season and the Mets aren’t actively looking to acquire him (or any other center fielder), anyway.

  2. Right-Handed Reliever: The Mets are going to lose closer Jeurys Familia to at least a month-long suspension, which will leave the team with Addison Reed and Hansel Robles as its go-to choices to preserve late leads. Mindful of that, general manager Sandy Alderson has checked in on the likes of Wade Davis (before the Royals traded him to the Cubs), Brad Brach (Orioles) and Alex Colome (Rays) on the trade front this winter, but nothing has materialized. White Sox closer David Robertson represents another possible acquisition, though he’d be a costly pickup. There are still appealing names on the open market, where Greg HollandJoe BlantonSergio RomoSantiago CasillaNeftali Feliz and 2016 Met Fernando Salas are among those without contracts.

  3. Left-Handed Reliever: New York has three lefty relievers on its projected 25-man roster in Josh EdginJosh Smoker and Sean Gilmartin, but none had encouraging 2016 campaigns (in fairness to Edgin, he was on the rebound from 2015 Tommy John surgery and finished the year well). Jerry Blevins was terrific last season, but he’s now a free agent and, along with Boone Logan, one of the top two southpaw setup men left in free agency. The Mets have shown interest in each this offseason, but payroll limitations have prevented them from signing either (presumably, they’ve also stood in the way of securing right-handed help).

Miami Marlins

  1. Starting Pitcher: Forced to forge ahead without the late, great Jose Fernandez, the Marlins have made a couple unexciting additions to their rotation this winter with the signings of Edinson Volquez and Jeff Locke. They now have a full starting five on paper with those two joining Wei-Yin ChenAdam Conley and Tom Koehler, but it’s not the most confidence-inspiring group. With that in mind, Miami is still in the market for a starter, though it’s seemingly limiting itself to low-cost depth types. Luckily for the Marlins, there are plenty of those left in free agency.

  2. First Base: As long as they’re facing a right-handed pitcher, the Marlins are in fine shape at first base with Justin Bour. But, in an admittedly small sample size of 110 major league plate appearances, the lefty-swinging Bour has struggled mightily against southpaw hurlers (.223/.273/.291, no home runs). Thus, it would behoove the Fish to find a better platoon partner for Bour than the penciled-in Miguel Rojas – although a righty, he has posted a woeful .184/.225/.272 line versus lefties in 122 PAs. Any of Dae-ho LeeMark ReynoldsTrevor PlouffeAdam Rosales or 2016 Marlin Chris Johnson could be realistic targets via free agency. Miami hasn’t closed the door on re-signing Johnson, who – despite a subpar 2016 – has historically held his own against lefties.

  3. Left-Handed Reliever: It’s not a must for the Marlins to find a southpaw reliever, as their most prominent righty options – A.J. RamosBrad ZieglerDavid PhelpsKyle Barraclough and Junichi Tazawa – are capable of getting all hitters out. Nevertheless, it would be nice for the club to have more than one left-handed reliever on its 40-man roster. As of now, only Hunter Cervenka is in the fold, though same-sided batters hit a paltry .198/.306/.318 against the then-rookie last season. Signing a free agent like Javier Lopez could make sense; even though the longtime Giant’s coming off a season to forget, he has a lengthy track record of success preventing runs and would like to remain close to his Georgia home.

Atlanta Braves

  1. Third Base: Their interest in Brian Dozier notwithstanding, the Braves appear to have a respectable offensive platoon lined up at second base with Jace Peterson and Sean Rodriguez. On the other side of the diamond, finding a complement to right-handed-hitting third baseman Adonis Garcia would be beneficial. Garcia has hit an underwhelming .262/.293/.407 in 152 trips to the plate against righties, while reserve Chase d’Arnaud (also a righty) hasn’t done any better (.218/.278/.278 in 279 PAs). Free agent Luis Valbuena is a potential fit, but he’s an upgrade over Garcia in general and would warrant an everyday role. Otherwise, the aforementioned Stephen Drew – a left-handed hitter and Georgia native – could be a reasonable free agent target to pair with Garcia.

  2. Bullpen: As it stands, the Braves’ sole 30-something reliever is closer Jim Johnson, with Arodys Vizcaino and Ian Krol serving as only semi-established options. While it’s quite possible the Braves are comfortable with a mostly young bullpen that will also include Mauricio Cabrera and Jose Ramirez, among others, signing one of the many available veterans on a short-term deal would have a chance to pay dividends over the long haul. For example, the Braves could take a similar approach to last year’s Padres, who bought low on Fernando Rodney, got a few good months out of him and flipped him for a prospect prior to the trade deadline. That’s assuming the Braves aren’t contenders next year, of course.

  3. Catcher: With Tyler Flowers and Anthony Recker in the equation, this arguably isn’t a pressing short-term need for a rebuilding club, but free agent backstop Matt Wieters is nonetheless on Atlanta’s radar. It’s debatable how much of an upgrade (if at all) the ex-Georgia Tech star would be over Flowers, though. Wieters, unlike Flowers, is not a well-regarded pitch framer, and the longtime Oriole is coming off one of his worst offensive seasons. If Atlanta doesn’t land the switch-hitting Wieters, it’ll likely be content to roll with Flowers and Recker next season.

Philadelphia Phillies

  1. Corner Outfield: The Phillies’ most proven corner outfield bat belongs to Howie Kendrick, who has played 1,100 games at second base compared to just 114 in left field and is coming off a below-average offensive year. While the rebuilding club could simply utilize Kendrick and younger players like Roman QuinnAaron Altherr and Tyler Goeddel (the latter two were dreadful in 2016) next season, dipping into free agency for another outfielder remains a possibility. If general manager Matt Klentak does sign anyone, odds are it’ll be a left-handed hitter. Of the previously mentioned four, only the switch-hitting Quinn is capable of batting from the left side.

  2. Bullpen: Klentak has revealed he’s looking for more relief help, though he has already been busy on that front throughout the offseason. Philadelphia has acquired three stopgaps in Joaquin BenoitPat Neshek and Sean Burnett (on a minor league deal), but its projected major league bullpen could stand to make improvements beyond Benoit, Neshek, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez.

  3. Left-Handed Starter: The Phillies’ starting five at the moment features nothing but right-handers, and Adam Morgan is their only Triple-A starter who’s a southpaw. Perhaps it would be logical to sign a swingman like Travis Wood, who could initially work out of the bullpen (joining fellow lefty Joely Rodriguez) and then potentially factor into the rotation if someone suffers an injury or underperforms.

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