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Phillies rumors through June 2
by Scott Butler 6/3/15

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:

June 2

NL East Notes: Phils

The upcoming draft is an important one for a Phillies organization that is working to add as much impact talent as possible, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. Johnny Almaraz will oversee the picking for the first time, and Salisbury suggests he’s likely to “stay away from project-type players, at least up high.” Philadelphia has struggled to produce draft talent in the not-so-distant past, but seems thus far to have hit on both of its last two picks: shortstop J.P. Crawford and righty Aaron Nola“It’s an interesting draft,” said GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “There’s some depth. Maybe not tons of super difference makers, but there’s some good players out there.”

June 1

Phillies Release Grady Sizemore

JUNE 1: Philadelphia has announced Sizemore’s release.

MAY 29: The Phillies announced today that they have designated veteran outfielder Grady Sizemore for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for Cody Asche, who will return from Triple-A and presumably see the bulk of playing time in left field as he transitions away from third base.

The 32-year-old Sizemore returned to baseball last season after missing two full seasons due to knee and back injuries. After a slow start with Boston got him released, Sizemore latched on with the Phillies and hit well enough in 60 contests — .253/.313/.389 with three homers — that Philadelphia re-signed him to a one-year, $2MM extension back in October.

The early returns on Sizemore’s second season in Philly haven’t been pretty, however, as he’s batted just .245/.288/.296 and displayed questionable defensive skills in the outfield corners — perhaps to be expected after enduring the type of injuries that he’s dealt with since 2010.

Sizemore, of course, was one of the game’s truly elite players early in his career Cleveland. From 2005-09, he batted .276/.368/.488, averaging 25 homers and 28 steals per season to go along with a penchant for highlight-reel catches in center field. Baseball-Reference pegs him at 26.8 wins above replacement in that stretch, whereas Fangraphs was even more bullish, crediting him with 29.4 WAR.

Injuries have derailed what looked to be one of the game’s most promising young talents, however, and he’ll now step aside in large part so that the Phillies can give extended tryouts to two young talents of their own. Asche’s move from third base to left field was necessitated by the emergence of Maikel Franco as an option at third base, and Philadelphia will hope that both can settle in as regulars and contribute for years to come.

May 31

Phillies Open To Taking On More Of Cole Hamels’ Salary In Trades

The Phillies are willing to cover more of the approximately $88.5MM remaining on Cole Hamels‘ contract in a possible trade than they were earlier in the season, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reports.  What hasn’t changed, however, is Philadelphia’s demand for elite prospect talent in exchange for the ace left-hander.
The shift in negotiating stance is not a surprise, as many pundits assumed that the Phils would eventually bend from their initial demand that a team take on all of Hamels’ salary and also part ways with multiple blue-chip prospects.  Bending on the salary demand rather than the prospect return makes sense for a wealthy franchise like the Phillies; adding impact minor league talent is of greater import to a rebuilding team than saving money.
In offering to take on a bit more salary, the Phillies may also be widening the Hamels market to medium-payroll teams who previously may have been unable to absorb the southpaw’s contract.  This is purely my speculation, but perhaps this description could fit teams like the Royals or Orioles, or maybe even surprise contenders like the Twins or Astros.  The amount of salary the Phillies offer to cover, as well, could vary depending on the team, or what prospects they’d be getting back.
Bradford touches on the Red Sox and notes that the Sox and Phillies have been scouting each other’s major and minor league teams, as Boston has been widely linked to Hamels for months now.  Salary wasn’t the main obstacle to a Boston/Philly trade, however, but rather the fact that the Sox were refusing to trade the likes of Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart to Philadelphia.  While the Red Sox have several other impressive prospects, it remains to be seen if the Phillies would accept a Sox deal without one of those two players, or if the Phils would turn elsewhere to find their desired prospect return.
Ironically, this news of the Phillies slightly lowering their asking price comes at a time when their bargaining position may be better than ever, considering the number of big-name teams looking for pitching help in the wake of injuries to star hurlers.  Additionally, the likes of Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir have faced some recent injury problems, which only helps Hamels’ case as possibly both the healthiest and the most accomplished potential trade chip on the pitching market as we approach the July 31 deadline.
Hamels is set to earn roughly $15MM for the remainder of this season, $22.5MM in each of 2016, 2017 and 2018, and the Phillies hold a $20MM club option on his services for 2019 that can be bought out for $6MM (the 2019 option can also vest if Hamels avoids the arm injuries and reaches innings thresholds).  Hamels has a 20-team no-trade list, and it has been speculated that he could seek to have his 2019 guaranteed in order to okay a deal to any of those 20 clubs.  By this token, the Phillies’ offer to cover more salary could be a way of facilitating some of that extra $14MM for 2019.

May 30

NL East Notes: Hamels

--With the mid-season trade market looming, the landscape has changed for the Phillies and ace Cole HamelsJake Kaplan of the Philadelphia Inquirer observes. He looks at the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Red Sox as possible landing spots, though certainly those clubs could be in on other arms and would very likely face other competition on Hamels if they choose to pursue him. Things are shaping up rather well for Philadelphia, on the whole: the 31-year-old leads the league with 74 1/3 innings and has produced a 2.91 ERA with 9.2 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9.

May 29

Heyman’s Latest: Howard, Astros

In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off by discussing Ryan Howard‘s increased trade value. Howard is hitting .256/.298/.519 with 10 homers this season, and while the OBP is lackluster, he’s performed particularly well of late, hitting .307/.340/.602 with six homers this month (a .389 BABIP on the month, though, is heavily influencing those numbers). The Phils were willing to pay down $35MM or so of Howard’s remaining contract this offseason, and doing so would make him a roughly $10MM player this season and next. While Heyman notes that might be seen as a fair price, he adds that some scouts and executives will want to see more sustained production before considering a move, which strikes me as more than reasonable; I doubt three weeks of hot hitting have transformed him from albatross into hot commodity. The Orioles, Royals and Rays all discussed Howard with the Phillies this offseason but went different directions, and Heyman looks at those three teams as well as five others in determining if there’s a fit to be made. Howard received 10-and-5 rights on May 2, however, allowing him to veto any deal. And while many reports have indicated it won’t get in the way of a trade, Heyman hears that Howard is happier in Philadelphia now than he was over the winter and wonders if he might require some kind of incentive to waive those rights.

Some more highlights from a lengthy column…

The Astros are sorting through many pitching acquisition possibilities, and Aaron Harang of the Phillies has “at least been discussed” by the club. Fellow Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels may come with too much contract for Houston, but Heyman reports that the club does see Reds free agent-to-be Johnny Cueto as a possibility.

Phillies Notes: Asche, Hamels, Nola

The Phillies announced today that Cody Asche has been recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, indicating that the former third baseman’s transition to left field will continue at the Major League level. After being sent to Triple-A to work on the position, Asche batted .295/.358/.393 in 15 games. A corresponding roster move has yet to be announced, but the presence of Asche will further crowd an outfield mix that currently includes Ben Revere, Odubel HerreraGrady SizemoreJeff Francoeur and Darin Ruf. Veterans Sizemore and Francoeur have each struggled at the plate this season, and it seems fair to speculate that Asche’s presence could squeeze fellow lefty swinger Sizemore out of a roster spot.
Here’s more on the Phillies…

Phillies Win/Loss ChartIf you are a Phillies fan, I think you will enjoy this. Available now!