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Phillies trade rumors - 2017 Opening Day edition
by Scott Butler 3/29/18

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:

March 28

White Sox Acquire Ricardo Pinto

The White Sox have acquired righty Ricardo Pinto from the Phillies, per a club announcement. International bonus pool money of an unknown quantity will head to the Phils in the swap.

Pinto becomes the latest hurler to join the White Sox bullpen depth chart, though the odds are that he’ll open the season in the minors. The 24-year-old did not show well in his first effort at the majors but has generally been effective in the minors.

Last year, Pinto worked to a 3.86 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 60 2/3 Triple-A innings. Though he mostly functioned as a starter in prior seasons, he split his time between the rotation and bullpen in 2017. It certainly seems as if Pinto’s future hopes lie in the relief corps.

March 27

Sam Fuld Talks Player-Friendly Analytics

Sam Fuld’s status as a former player and a newly-minted member of the Phillies analytics department makes him an ideal conduit for bridging the gap between advances metrics and everyday baseball use, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  “Players are told to do something from someone that doesn’t quite have playing experience at a high level and it can be frustrating when you’re told to do something that is really, really difficult,” Fuld said.  “It’s taken for granted sometimes. Hopefully I can relate.”  Rhys Hoskins, for one, has already taken to Fuld’s advice, such as using a “cheat sheet” to determine specific batter-by-batter positioning while in the outfield.

March 27

Tommy Hunter To Open Season On DL

Phillies righty Tommy Hunter will open the year on the DL after being diagnosed with a hamstring strain, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com was among those to report on Twitter.

It’s not clear at the moment just how long Hunter will be sidelined, but skipper Gabe Kapler says the belief is it isn’t a serious injury, as Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Saying the team is acting “conservatively,” Kapler explained that there are no “long-term concerns” at the moment.

Hunter is expected to play a key role in the Phillies pen after joining the organization on a surprisingly hefty two-year deal over the winter. He was promised $18MM after a strong 2017 season in which he not only worked to a productive 2.61 ERA in 58 2/3 innings but ran up a career-high 9.8 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9.

The early returns have not exactly been exciting, though it’s certainly not worth rushing to any conclusions. Hunter managed only one strikeout and allowed three earned runs in his 4 1/3 Grapefruit League frames.

While the injury to Hunter leaves the Phillies down another arm, after already losing a few hurlers to open the year, it does clear space for Jake Thompson. The younger righty, once considered a promising rotation prospect, had shown some promise in camp. He’ll likely be joined in the bullpen by 23-year-old Victor Arano, who’ll get his first full crack at the majors.

March 26

Phillies Release Cameron Rupp

The Phillies have released catcher Cameron Rupp, per a team announcement. They’ll save around $1.5MM in cutting Rupp, Matt Gelb of The Athletic notes. Rupp would have earned $2.05MM had he made the team.

Philadelphia has elected to open the season with Andrew Knapp as the backup to starting catcher Jorge Alfaro, which helped lead the club to designate Rupp for assignment on Sunday. The Phillies apparently couldn’t find a taker for Rupp via trade, but he could encounter interest on the open market at a minimum salary. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported Sunday that Rupp had piqued the Rangers’ interest, and he suggested on Monday that they could pursue him on the open market. It’s worth noting, then, that Rupp is a Dallas native.

Rupp’s next team will be getting a 29-year-old who has taken 1,127 trips to the plate in the majors and slashed .234/.298/.407 (86 wRC+). Defensively, Rupp has struggled in the pitch-framing department, especially in 2017, but he has thrown out a solid 31 percent of would-be base stealers since debuting in the league in 2013.

March 26

Phillies Sign Alexi Amarista

The Phillies have announced the signing of infielder/outfielder Alexi Amarista to a minor league contract. He’ll head to minor league camp with his new club.

The addition of Amarista should help make up for the loss of fellow utilityman Ryan Flaherty, who opted out of his minors pact with the Phillies last week and then signed a major league deal with division-rival Atlanta. Amarista, meanwhile, exited the Tigers last week after a failed bid to earn a big league spot with them.

A veteran of the Angels, Padres and Rockies, Amarista has never posed a threat offensively since debuting in 2011. That was again the case last year as a member of the Rockies, with whom Amarista hit .238/.269/.351 (45 wRC+) in 176 trips to the plate. He did line up at every outfield spot and three more in the infield (second, short and third), however.

Despite his defensive versatility, the 28-year-old Amarista seems like a long shot to make an impact in Philly. The team just added highly touted prospect Scott Kingeryto its roster Sunday, and he’s likely to move all around the diamond. Kingery’s part of an impressive array of starting-caliber position players in Philly, which also has Pedro Florimon and Roman Quinn as infield/outfield types on its 40-man roster.

March 25

Details On Scott Kingery's Extension

March 25

Phillies Designate Ricardo Pinto

The Phillies have designated right-hander Ricardo Pinto for assignment, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia tweets. His 40-man roster spot will go to infielder Scott Kingery, whom the Phillies signed to a long-term contract Sunday.

Pinto, 24, joined the Phillies as a Venezuelan prospect back in 2011. He debuted competitively the next season and reached the majors a year ago, when he struggled over 29 2/3 innings. Pinto worked to a 7.89 ERA/6.36 FIP with 7.58 K/9, 5.16 BB/9 and a 44 percent groundball rate. He was far more effective during his first Triple-A action in 2017, as he posted a 3.86 ERA/3.57 FIP with fewer strikeouts (6.82 K/9) but far fewer walks (2.67 BB/9). With two options remaining, he could be Triple-A depth again this season.

March 25

Phillies Sign Scott Kingery To Long-Term Deal

2:51pm: The contract includes a $1.5MM signing bonus, per Gelb, who also has the yearly breakdown. Kingery will earn $750K this year, $1.25MM in 2019, $1.5MM in 2020, $4MM in 2021, $6MM in 2022 and $8MM in 2023. Additionally, there’s a $1MM buyout for the first option, $500K for the second, and $250K for the third, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter).

2:14pm: The Phillies have signed second base prospect Scott Kingery to a six-year contract through the 2023 campaign, according to a team announcement. It’s worth $24MM in guarantees, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. The pact also features club options for the 2024, ’25 and ’26 seasons, meaning it could cancel out three of Kingery’s free-agent years. Those options are worth $13MM, $14MM and $15MM, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reports. Kingery is a client of PSI Sports Management.

Kingery’s payday is a record-breaking amount for a player who has never appeared in the majors, easily beating out the five-year, $10MM guarantee the Astros gave first baseman Jon Singleton (an ex-Phillies prospect) back in 2014. Kingery and Singleton are the only two players to ever receive long-term deals before debuting in the majors. The Singleton contract hasn’t worked out at all for the Astros, but the Phillies weren’t going to let that deter them from wrapping up Kingery for the long haul.

The news of the 23-year-old Kingery’s accord comes on the heels of his first big league promotion, which was reported earlier Sunday. Service time looked to be a concern prior to the announcement of the deal, but that obviously won’t be an issue now for the Phillies, who expect Kingery to emerge as an important major leaguer this season.

Kingery, who joined the Phillies in Round 2 of the 2015 draft, saw his stock soar last year after slashing .313/.379/.608 (166 wRC+) with 18 home runs and 19 stolen bases in 317 Double-A plate appearances. The righty-swinger earned a promotion to Triple-A as a result of that production and also performed well at that level, where he batted .294/.337/.449 (117 wRC+) with eight homers and 10 steals in 286 PAs.

Thanks to his breakout 2017 showing, Kingery ranks as MLB.com’s 35th-best prospect. The outlet lauds his “advanced approach” at the plate and “plus speed,” noting that he has the upside of an everyday second baseman. The Phillies already have a quality second baseman in Cesar Hernandez, who accounted for 7.6 fWAR from 2016-17, so it’s unclear how often Kingery will play there in the near term.

Even if Hernandez continues to hold down the keystone for the time being, Kingery could factor in elsewhere. Although nearly all of Kingery’s minor league action came at second, manager Gabe Kapler suggested earlier this spring that the player could fill a super-utility role in the majors (via Matt Gelb of The Athletic; subscription required).

“He can play in the big leagues at many different positions,” Kapler said. “He can play second base, he can play shortstop, he can play centerfield. There’s no doubt in my mind that he can handle third base. He can handle both corners. In theory, that’s an exciting role for Scott.”

For the most part, the Phillies look well positioned in the infield (depth chart), where big-money first baseman Carlos Santana and touted shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford will join Hernandez in starting roles. Third baseman Maikel Franco has been a disappointment, however, and could cede his spot to Kingery if he continues to struggle this year. The Phillies are also talented in the outfield, where slugger Rhys Hoskins will play left and Odubel Herrera will continue to handle center. Right field’s less certain, although both Nick Williams and Aaron Altherr impressed last season.

Regardless of where Kingery lines up in 2018 and beyond, it’s obvious the Phillies regard him as an integral core piece and someone who can help them return to relevance. Philadelphia is mired in a six-year playoff drought and hasn’t finished .500 or better since 2012. The franchise looks to be on the upswing, though, in part because of Kingery’s potential.

Along with Kingery and the rest of the Phillies’ previously mentioned talent on the position player side, they made a bold strike in free agency in signing former Cubs ace Jake Arrieta to a three-year, $75MM contract. They also have budding star righty Aaron Nola under control through 2021. Plus, given that the Phillies have the capability to spend among the league’s top teams (as seen with the Santana and Arrieta signings), they should be in play for other established free agents in future offseasons.

March 25

Phillies Designate Cameron Rupp

The Phillies have designated catcher Cameron Rupp for assignment, per a team announcement. The club selected right-hander Drew Hutchison’s contract in a corresponding move.

The 29-year-old Rupp has been a member of the Phillies since they chose him in the third round of the 2010 draft, and he debuted in the majors in 2013. Rupp has racked up 1,127 major league plate appearances since then, including 331 last year, when he hit .217/.299/.417 with 14 home runs. Overall, he has posted a .234/.298/.407 line.

Defensively, Rupp has earned negative pitch-framing grades from Baseball Prospectus since 2015, when he began seeing significant playing time, and was especially poor in that department last season. On the other hand, he has thrown out 31 percent of would-be base stealers for his career, beating out the league-average mark (28 percent).

Rupp’s designation makes it clear the Phillies will turn to Andrew Knapp to back up starting catcher Jorge Alfaro at the outset of the season. They could also try to find a taker for Rupp, who will make $2.05MM this season – his first of three arbitration years. Rupp has a pair of options remaining, so he could still function as minor league depth.

Hutchison, who’s best known for his Blue Jays tenure from 2012-16, joined the Phillies on a minor league deal last month. That came after he spent all of 2017 with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate. Thanks in part to injuries to Jerad Eickhoff and Mark Leiter Jr., Hutchison may claim a spot in the Phillies’ season-opening rotation. The 27-year-old has made a strong case for one this spring, as he has allowed just six earned runs on 12 hits and eight walks, with 17 strikeouts, in 19 2/3 innings.

March 24

Phillies Release Francisco Rodriguez

The Phillies have released Francisco Rodriguez from his minor-league contract, according to the club’s media account on Twitter. “K-Rod” would’ve earned a $2.5MM salary if he made the club out of spring training.

The 36-year-old righty reliever has a storied career as a closer. He’s got 437 saves notched into his legacy, including a whopping 62 during his 2008 campaign with the Angels. That puts him fourth on the list of all-time saves leaders in baseball history. He’s also played for the Mets, Orioles and Tigers during his 16 MLB seasons. The righty owns a sterling 2.86 lifetime ERA and 10.53 K/9.

Last season with the Tigers, however, wasn’t reflective of prime K-Rod. He struggled to a disastrous 7.82 ERA, leading to his June release. In camp this spring, Rodriguez put up a 5.40 ERA with five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. However, he’s just a season removed from a 2016 campaign during which he accumulated 44 saves for the Tigers while pitching to a 3.24 ERA.

March 23

Phillies Release Adam Rosales

The Phillies have released infielder Adam Rosales, according to an announcement from the team.  Rosales was in camp on a minor league contract that would’ve paid him $1.75MM had he made the 25-man roster.

The versatile Rosales was competing to win a job as Philadelphia’s utility infielder, though it appears as though the team made its choice with its recent selection of Pedro Florimon’s contract.  (Ryan Flaherty, another veteran infielder signed as a non-roster invitee, was also recently released by the Phillies.)  It remains to be seen whether Roman Quinn or Jesmuel Valentin will earn the fourth and final remaining spot on the bench, though MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki notes that the Phillies might forego the fourth bench spot until they need a fifth starter on April 11.

A veteran of the last 10 MLB seasons, Rosales spent last season with the Athletics (his team for much of his big league career) and Diamondbacks, hitting .225/.260/.353 over 312 combined plate appearances for both teams.  Rosales has long been known more for his multi-position ability than for his hitting, though in 2016, he broke out for 13 homers and a .229/.319/.495 slash line over 248 PA with the Padres.  Rosales is likely to get some looks in the coming days from teams in need of infield depth.

March 22

NL East Notes: Thompson

It appears that the Phillies are transitioning right-hander Jake Thompson into a relief role, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Once part of the six-player return for Cole Hamels, Thompson has only made four relief appearances in his professional career (majors and minors included). Three of those appearances came last year, however, and he’s been used largely out of the bullpen in Grapefruit League play. Thompson says that nobody has directly told him he’ll become a reliever, but believes it to be the case. “They think the slider and split can work in short periods, miss bats and get ground balls,” Thompson said of Philadelphia’s coaching staff. “They’ve built up my pitch count a little bit, so if something happens I can still do both. I’m fine with it. Anything that can get me in the big leagues and stay I’d be willing to do.”

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