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Phillies trade rumors - No Manny, so what's next?
by Scott Butler 7/22/18

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:

July 21

Phillies Hoping To Avoid Starting Pitching Market

Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels has made it known he’d welcome a return to Philadelphia, where he pitched from 2008-15, but a reunion appears “unlikely,” Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes. The Phillies are trying to stay away from the starting pitching market in general, according to general manager Matt Klentak, who said Friday that the team’s rotation “has been the strength of our team this year.” It’s doubtful Hamels would serve as a legitimate upgrade over any of the Phillies’ starters, especially at such a high price ($22.5MM salary this season and then a $6MM buyout in 2019). Formerly a front-end hurler, the 34-year-old Hamels has managed a 4.36 ERA/5.06 FIP with an equally unappealing home run rate (1.73 allowed per nine) over 109 1/3 innings in 2018.

July 21

Trade News & Rumors: Trade Value Rankings, Andujar, Britton

Fangraphs recently released its annual rankings of the top 50 most valuable contracts in baseball, or the players who would have the highest value in a trade. High atop the list sits a pair of Indians infielders (Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor), while Aaron JudgeMike Trout and Carlos Correa round out the top five. The rankings take into account the amount of money each player is owed and the length of his contract in relation to his expected future performance. While the list is top-heavy with young stars (as one might expect), there are a few surprising names later down in the rankings, and a few top prospects even make the list.

Speaking of trades…

July 20

Trade Interest In Zach Britton Has “Picked Up Steam”

JULY 20, 10:58am: Add the Braves to the list of teams interested in Britton, Crasnick reports.

9:28am: Baltimore’s “barreling ahead” with its Britton trade talks, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Along with the teams mentioned below (the Astros, Cubs, Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox), the Giants are among the clubs in the mix for Britton, according to Crasnick.

JULY 17: If and when the reported trade sending Manny Machado to the Dodgers is formally announced by the teams, the O’s could be quick to turn around and move longtime closer Zach Britton in a separate deal, reports MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli (via Twitter). Interest in Britton has “picked up steam” recently, according to Ghiroli.

Britton missed about half of the 2017 season due to a pair of forearm injuries and was out until June 2018 due to a ruptured Achilles tendon that required offseason surgery. And while his first few appearances since coming off the disabled list raised questions about his trade value, he’s looked more impressive lately.

Britton’s past seven appearances have been scoreless, but beyond the bottom-line results, he’s made some encouraging gains in terms of sinker velocity. His ground-ball rate has been a superlative 68.8 percent in that time as well — a noted increase from his earlier outings in which his sinker wasn’t at its most effective levels. That’s not quite to up to Britton’s (quite literally) historic standards, but it remains elite all the same.

Control has still been somewhat of an issue, as he’s surrendered three walks in those seven innings and thrown a first-pitch strike to just 40 percent of the hitters he’s faced along the way. But there’s no denying that Britton has begun to round into form at a most opportune time for an Orioles organization that, at the very least, looks to be a lock to trade the left-hander and fellow impending free agents Machado and Brad Brach.

Britton is earning $12MM in 2018, which will present a roadblock for a number of clubs interested in acquiring his services. As could be the case with the eventual Machado deal, the Orioles might have to include some cash to facilitate the deal and to improve the return they receive for their prized lefty. Britton is still owed about $4.8MM of that $12MM sum through season’s end.

To this point, the AstrosCubsYankeesPhillies and Red Sox have all been connected to Britton in fairly prominent fashion. Surely, as is the case every summer, though, the top relievers on the market will draw at least some level of inquiry from the majority of contenders. Unlike the Machado saga, in which some contending clubs had little need for another infielder on the left side of the diamond, there’s no contending team in baseball that won’t have some interest in bolstering its relief corps. Certainly, some teams will consider it to be a more pressing need than others, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise if as much as a third of the league is tied to Britton before he inevitably finds himself with a new team for the first time in his career.

July 19

Phillies Notes: Machado Talks, Other Targets

July 18

Trade Rumblings: Hand, Dodgers

Though the Phillies lost out to the Dodgers in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, they’re far from done looking for upgrades to their ballclub. Dennis Lin of The Athletictweets that the club is interested in Padres reliever Brad Hand. As Lin notes, there are certainly many other clubs in competition for the lefty’s services; he’s easily one of the most talented bullpen arms in the game. As one might expect, however, San Diego’s asking price for Hand remains very high, as he can be controlled through the 2021 season at a very reasonable cost. The Yankees, Indians and Cubs are among the other teams who’ve been connected to Hand, who owns a 3.03 ERA and 13.20 K/9 on the season.


July 18

Dodgers, Orioles Reportedly In Agreement On Manny Machado Trade

12:08am: Michael Duarte of NBC Sports L.A. tweets that right-handed pitching prospect Dustin May, long reported to be a target of the O’s, is expected to change hands in the deal. Double-A infielder/outfielder Errol Robinson is also believed to be included, per Duarte.

That said, Heyman casts doubt on the inclusion of May, tweeting that the Dodgers’ unwillingness to part with him was the driving factor for structuring a deal around Diaz.

11:22pm: Heyman tweets that the players in the deal are agreed upon, though there could yet be some medical reviews to be finalized. Notably, he suggests that there are “believed to be” five minor leaguers going to the Orioles, though obviously the quality of those five will vary. It’s still unclear who, outside of Diaz, is going to the Orioles in the deal, but Heyman adds that there’s no cash changing hands in the trade. That won’t yet put Los Angeles over the luxury tax line, however. Machado is owed about $6.45MM through season’s end, and the Dodgers were about $15MM south of the luxury tax line prior to this agreement.

9:15pm: Rosenthal tweets that Machado to the Dodgers is indeed happening. Diaz will go back to the Orioles as one of the pieces in the deal. It’s not yet clear which other players are involved or how much money (if any) the O’s are sending to the Dodgers along with Machado.

Meanwhile, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko cautions that he hears a deal isn’t “done,” though that seems to be largely a matter of semantics. Kubatko notes that the All-Star Game has been a significant impediment to the deal’s completion. He adds that upon inquiring as to whether the deal could be completed tomorrow, one source replied: “It could have been tomorrow for the last 2 weeks.”

While any deal can unexpectedly crumble before it’s formally announced — Baltimore axed a deal that would’ve sent Zach Britton to the Astros at the last minute last July, for instance — the overwhelming consensus at this point seems to be that Machado will be a Dodger by the time the regular season resumes on Friday.

6:17pm: The Orioles’ return from the Dodgers is expected to consist only of prospects, Rosenthal further tweets. L.A. won’t send anyone from its Major League roster to the O’s barring a last-minute change. As such, if the Dodgers are going to move a big league asset such as Forsythe for luxury tax purposes, that’ll come in a separate trade, it seems.

5:08pm: Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that “several” other clubs who’ve been involved in the bidding are expecting the Dodgers to land Machado. The Dodgers are “increasingly likely” to acquire Machado, per Rosenthal. Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times, meanwhile, tweets that the Dodgers are believed to be close on a Machado deal.

4:16pm: Machado tells reporters that he has not heard anything today from either the Orioles or his agent regarding a trade (Twitter link via Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times).

12:48pm: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Dodgers are the club with the framework of a deal in place. But the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scott Lauber tweetsthat the Phillies are still “aggressively motivated” and optimistic of landing Machado.

11:10am: The Dodgers have indeed offered to include Diaz, Heyman tweets.

10:17am: Heyman provides a few more hints regarding the possible connection (Twitter links). One chip to keep an eye on is Dodgers outfielder Yusniel Diaz, he suggests. Working out the money may also mean that an expensive veteran player could head back to Baltimore in a potential deal, Heyman adds. On paper, at least, Logan Forsythe would seem the obvious player to utilize in that regard. Sending salary back to Baltimore would obviously mean that Los Angeles would need to sweeten the return.

8:05am: The Dodgers “appear to be the leading contender” to acquire Orioles infielder Manny Machado, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter link). That said, there’s still no deal in place and Heyman adds that “the situation is fluid.”

As we’ve traced this key trade deadline story in recent weeks, multiple teams have emerged at one point or another as supposed “favorites” or “leaders” to add Machado. All along, we’ve also heard reporters caution that many clubs aren’t yet sure just when the O’s will make a decision. And with two weeks yet to go, it’s still plausible to imagine that they’ll continue to wait.

Thus, while Heyman says a “deal should be done this week,” he adds an important proviso (“barring turnabout”). And while this latest report indicates the Dodgers are homing in on Machado, it was reported late last night that the Phillies were surging into the lead by dangling one of their best pitching prospects.

Before that, the Brewers were reputedly part of a trio of leaders, and Heyman tweetsthat the Milwaukee organization remains a possibility. He adds that the Diamondbacks — another team once deemed the favorite by some — are also still on the periphery. And who could forget that, less than a week ago, we were learning of a surprise Yankees surge. Perhaps it should not surprise if other teams manage to vault back into the conversation, too.

There are plenty of ways to interpret all this, of course. It could be that the Dodgers are indeed lining up to get Machado. Or, maybe it’s the Phils that are doing so. Perhaps the Orioles really are preparing to strike a deal coming out of the All-Star break, a seemingly sensible approach that would avoid further injury risk. Or, it might be that the steady stream of horse racing metaphors is an indication that the Orioles are seeing how far they can push the bidding, comfortable in the knowledge that they can still move the finish line back a few more times.

From Machado’s perspective, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes, it’s hard to play through the “distractions.” The longtime O’s star says he wishes he knew more about where he might be headed, but adds that VP of baseball ops Dan Duquette “has been doing a really good job of trying to keep us informed as much as he can.” Machado also gave something of a preview of his anticipated approach to free agency this coming winter, saying he’ll be looking to figure out where he and his family will be “happy” rather than maximizing his earnings.

July 17

Report: Orioles Working Through Medicals On Machado Deal

The Orioles are “going through the medicals/paperwork” in an effort to finalize an agreement with an unknown team, per ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Twitter link). While the “structure of a deal [is] in place,” Olney also stresses that “this in [sic] not finished yet.”

Despite the cautionary language, it’s obviously quite notable that the Baltimore organization has reached this point with another club. While numerous past arrangements have blown up at this stage — the O’s, especially, are notorious for finding health concerns — the exchange of medical information represents a significant step that would not take place without a clear path to a completed transaction.

Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun had tweeted this morning that a deal was likely to be wrapped up by the end of the All-Star break. But it seems talks may be rather more advanced than that. It’d be quite a surprise, needless to say, if anything is finalized before Machado appears in his O’s uniform in today’s All-Star Game. But it now seems we’ll watch a fascinating trade situation unfold on a major stage for the game.

We heard last night that the Phillies were coming forward with a big offer. Then, it emerged this morning that the Dodgers appeared to be the favorite. Meanwhile, it seems the Yankees are largely bowing out of the process, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

That mix of reporting provides the most recent series of clues as to just where the Machado sweepstakes may be headed. It’s unclear which organization is best situated to land him, let alone for what package of players, but it now seems reasonable to expect that we’ll learn the answers to those questions in relatively short order.

July 16

Phillies Considering Attempt To Acquire J.A. Happ

The Phillies are at least internally weighing pursuit of Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. The southpaw has emerged as one of the best rental starters available on this summer’s trade market.

Of course, there are also a few other names we’ve seen connected to the Phillies of late, and it’s not clear that Happ is a particular priority for the rising organization. While there’s “definite interest,” per Salisbury’s source, two particular players from another division rival remain bigger targets.

Multiple other contenders have been tied to Happ of late, as well, and it stands to reason that the Jays will let the market develop unless they’re bowled over by an offer. Happ’s recent malaise has certainly dinged his stock, though, and it seems that all involved have reason to see how his next few outings go before a deal is struck.

The 35-year-old Happ got his start with the Phillies but spent only one full season at the MLB level with the organization. He has been quite productive in recent campaigns, but has allowed a few more home runs (1.40 per nine) thus far in 2018 than he ever has before in the big leagues.

Ultimately, there’s value in Happ’s 109 innings of 4.29 ERA pitching this year. Looking forward, too, teams will be intrigued by the fact that he’s sporting 10.0 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9. Those numbers are backed by a career-high 10.1% swinging-strike rate and average fastball velocity that has trended up a bit over the course of the season.

With $13MM in salary this year, Happ isn’t particularly cheap, though there are no future entanglements since he is a rental player. That’s ultimately a reasonable sum for a pitcher who carries his recent track record. Some suitors may ask the Jays to keep some of the contractual obligation, though it seems reasonable to guess that the Phils would prefer to take on the remaining salary rather than upping the prospect return. Toronto’s preferences are not really clear at this stage.

The Phillies’ rotation has had some strong overall performances and is not exactly begging for an upgrade — particularly if Zach Eflin is able to return quickly from the DL with no ill effects, as seems to be the expectation. But depth is always key down the stretch and every game will count in a tight division race. Adding a multi-inning lefty to a possible postseason roster would surely also hold appeal.

July 16

Latest On Manny Machado

10:03pm: The Phillies “would include” young righty Adonis Medina in a deal for Machado, per MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. Medina, a top-100 prospect, is a player the Orioles have long been rumored to have interest in. If he’s in the package, it could make the Phils “well-positioned” to land Machado, writes Morosi, though surely there’s still time for other organizations to boost their offers as well.

3:55pm: The Orioles are getting “very close” to reaching an agreement on a Manny Machado trade, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). However, despite a report of a “handshake agreement” between the Orioles and Phillies by Barstool Sports, Kubatko adds that there’s no deal between the two teams in place. To the contrary, Kubatko notes that both the Brewers and the Dodgers remain involved in the Machado market. Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com agrees, tweeting that “numerous” sources tell her that rumors regarding an agreement with the Phillies are “untrue.”

To be sure, it’d be strange for any club, especially one in the Orioles’ position, to effectively close off bidding 36 hours in advance of completing a trade when a better offer could come floating in at any time. An arrangement of that nature would come with little in the form of precedent. The inevitable Machado trade will be a franchise-altering moment for the Orioles, and cutting off negotiations this far in advance would be a downright bizarre means of going about it. By agreeing to a delayed agreement, they’d leave no room for the Dodgers, Brewers or any other club — the Yankees, D-backs, Braves, Indians and others have been involved to varying extents — to top whatever is currently being offered by the Phillies.

That said, it’s true that the league generally frowns on news of this magnitude breaking during All-Star festivities. It’s certainly possible that both sides are optimistic about something coming together shortly after the All-Star Game, and none of this is to say that the Phils won’t ultimately come away as the “winners” of the Machado sweepstakes, so to speak. But for the time being, it’s only logical to assume that the bidding for Machado remains open as the the Orioles seek to extract the best possible package of young talent.

Regardless of where Machado ultimately lands, the timeline depicted this lengthy saga may indeed reach its end shortly after the All-Star Game. Reports over the past week have indicated that the O’s are loath to trade Machado prior to the Midsummer Classic, where he’ll represent them in Washington D.C. as the American League’s starting shortstop. Jim Bowden of The Athletic took matters a bit further this morning, tweetingthat Machado is “expected to be traded” after Tuesday’s All-Star Game and before the regular season resumes play on Friday.

As one can imagine, the rumor cycle is beginning to wear on even Machado himself. Speaking to reporters during the media hour for today’s events, Machado said that if he is ultimately going to be traded, he “100 percent” hopes it is over with sooner rather than later (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Jayson Stark). “To not answer these questions anymore, that would be good,” said Machado. The infielder also once again acknowledged that he has “no say” in where he plays following a trade (Twitter link via Fancred’s Jon Heyman), but his preference in free agency will be to pursue opportunities where he’s able to play shortstop (Twitter link via Ghiroli).

 

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