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Phillies trade rumors through June 22
by Scott Butler 6/23/15

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 22

Draft Signings: Davis, Degano, Williams, Matheny

Phillies third-round pick Lucas Williams has agreed to an at-slot, $719,800 bonus, Mayo tweets. The high school shortstop was not considered an early-round option by many prospect hounds coming into the draft, but still commanded a full-slot bonus to forego his commitment to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.


June 21

NL East Notes: Gillick

Cole Hamels gave a thumbs-up following a bullpen session this morning, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports, so the ace southpaw is on pace to pitch on Wednesday afternoon against the Yankees.  Hamels missed his last start due to a tight hamstring, and while the injury wasn’t thought to be serious, any concerns about Hamels’ health would impact his trade value.  Here’s some more from the NL East…

--Phillies president Pat Gillick told reporters (including Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer) that the team will “probably” hire a new club president “somewhere in the not-too-distant future.”  Gillick wouldn’t immediately step aside for his replacement, as the plan is to let the new president spend the rest of the season evaluating the roster and club personnel before fully taking over in October.  The Phillies face an extensive rebuild, and Gillick admitted that it might take longer than 2017 or 2018 to return to contention, as he estimated when he stepped into the interim role.

--The future of GM Ruben Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg are two of the top questions facing the new Phillies president, though Gillick reiterated his support for both men, saying they’re doing a “good job” despite the difficulties on the field.

Outrighted To Triple-A: McGowan

The Phillies outrighted Dustin McGowan to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, according to the MLB.com transactions page.  The 33-year-old has struggled with his control this season, leading to a 6.94 ERA in 23 1/3 innings. McGowan’s 21 strikeouts in that time are a solid mark, but he’s also walked 20 hitters, and his ground-ball rate is down significantly from its peak — a trend that began last year in Toronto and has continued in 2015.

Cafardo On Papelbon

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says Jonathan Papelbon would seem to be a great fit for the the Blue Jays, but money continues to be an issue for Toronto.  The Phillies could probably assume a lot of Papelbon’s deal for this year and some of the $13MM vesting option for 2016, but the sense is that Toronto wants to go even cheaper.  Also, they don’t want to give up youngster Daniel Norris to find their late-inning solution.

June 20

Quick Hits: International Spending, Cubans

--A new international signing period will begin on July 2nd, but 2016 is the time for your favorite team to break the bank, per Ben Badler of Baseball America. The Yankees,RaysRed SoxAngels, and Diamondbacks are already unable to spend more than $300K on a player for the next two seasons. The DodgersCubsRoyalsPhillies, and Blue Jays may blow past their bonus limit in the 2015 signing period. That will remove many of the most active teams from the market in 2016. Badler gives a complete description of the international market conditions. It’s well worth a read.

--An influx of Cuban players could soon flood the majors, writes Bill Shaiken of the Los Angeles Times. Cuban players, even those who fall under international spending restrictions, are currently able to negotiate with all 30 clubs. That increases their bargaining power. It’s a big reason why infielder Roberto Baldoquin cost about four times more than the Angels’ entire 2015 amateur draft class. Cubans are currently the third most represented foreign nation in the majors. Opening day rosters included 18 Cubans, 65 Venezuelans, and 83 Dominicans. Cuba has a comparable population to the Dominican Republic. As such, we could see a surge of Cuban players as diplomatic relations continue to thaw.

Phillies Designate Phillippe Aumont For Assignment

The Phillies have announced that they’ve designated righty Phillippe Aumont for assignment. The move clears space for the team to select the contract of righty Seth Rosin, who will presumably join their bullpen.

Aumont was the 11th overall pick in the 2007 draft and was a top prospect in the Mariners organization before heading to the Phillies in Seattle’s 2009 trade for Cliff Lee. He never had great control, however, and problems with walks have continued to plague him since the deal. He pitched 65 innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year, with a 2.35 ERA and 8.0 K/9 but with 5.7 BB/9. His issues with walks have been even worse in the big leagues — he’s allowed 7.0 BB/9 in parts of four seasons, including seven walks in four innings this year. He’s still just 26, and he’s tall (at 6-foot-7) and a hard thrower, so he’ll likely continue to receive chances somewhere, either in the big leagues or the minors.

June 19

Draft Signings: Phillies

Phillies fifth-round pick Bailey Falter, a projectable lefty, gets an above-slot $420K bonus, Jim Callis tweets. Philly took him 144th overall, which came with a $373,100 slot value.


Many Clubs Scouting Jonathan Papelbon

There was a “heavy” scouting presence in attendance for Jonathan Papelbon‘s most recent appearance, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Both the Blue Jays and Cubs are known to have interest in the closer, but Rosenthal now adds that additional clubs have inquired on the reliever.

Meanwhile, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes that the Jays have had a high-ranking scout trail Papelbon for his past 10 contests. He’s only had one save opportunity in that time, though he has pitched in non-save situations. Per Salisbury, determining how much money would need to head to the Blue Jays has been a “significant” hurdle in talks thus far.

Papelbon has pitched well all season and has continued to put up rather excellent results since experiencing a significant velocity drop beginning in 2013. Rosenthal notes that he averaged 94.1 mph in his most recent outing, but he only threw nine pitches, so it’s not necessarily an indicator that his velocity has returned for good. Indeed, a look at Papelbon’s game-to-game velocity charts (via Fangraphs) reveals that the most recent appearance is something of an outlier.

PITCHf/x data shows that Papelbon has upped the usage of his slider in 2015, which may explain the increase in both his swinging-strike rate and his K/9 rate. At 34 years old, it’s unlikely that Papelbon will see a dramatic resurgence in the velocity department, but he’s still managed to post a pristine 1.01 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a career-best 51.5 percent ground-ball rate in 26 1/3 innings this year.

The remaining $7.67MM on his contract is an obstacle, to be sure, as is the $13MM option for 2016 that seems likely to vest. But, at roughly $20.5MM over the coming nine-and-a-half months of regular season games (to say nothing of potential postseason innings), Papelbon’s really not the overpriced asset that he’s often portrayed to be. Depending on the extent to which the Phillies are willing to subsidize an acquiring team, Papelbon could ultimately be looked upon as a below-market asset relative to his production.

Heyman’s Latest: Phillies, Harang, Rays

In his weekly Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by taking a look at a messy situation in Philadelphia. Heyman hears the same rumblings that were first reported by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury — that Andy MacPhail could very well be in line for an executive role with the Phillies. The hiring of MacPhail would bring into question the status of both GM Ruben Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg. While one exec notes that no one could have had much success with the hand Sandberg has been dealt, his calm demeanor hasn’t motivated the team much, and he may have lost the clubhouse at this point. Heyman notes that partial owner John Middleton, who is believed by some to be calling the shots in Philly, may have extra impetus to get a new decision-maker in the door so that a lame-duck GM (Amaro’s contract expires at season’s end) isn’t the primary decision-maker on what could be a franchise-altering Cole Hamels trade. Speaking of Hamels, Heyman notes that interested teams will want to see him pitch at least twice now that he had a start pushed back due to a hamstring strain, thinning the window of opportunity to trade him. As far as Jonathan Papelbon goes, the belief is that he’d approve any trade that sent him to a contending team, though the Cubs might be his preferred fit at this point if he had a say in the matter.

Some more highlights from Heyman’s latest (though there’s more in the column than we can cover here)…

--The Astros like Aaron Harang but are said to be aiming higher when looking at potential trade targets to bolster their rotation.


--The Rays are looking for first base help with James Loney on the disabled list, but Loney’s said to be returning around the All-Star break. Heyman speculates on the possibility of Ryan Howard ending up in Tampa Bay if the Phillies eat some or all of the contract, but I’d think there’d be something of a logjam there once Loney is activated in that scenario.

June 18

Trade Notes: Hamels

NL East Notes: Hamels, MacPhail

The Phillies announced today that a “mild” strain of his right hamstring will prevent Cole Hamels from making his scheduled start tomorrow. Right-hander Phillippe Aumont will be promoted from Triple-A to take Hamels’ place, which will necessitate a 40-man and 25-man roster move, per the team. That’s interesting in its own right, as the DFA of Dustin McGowan today should have opened a 40-man spot for Aumont, though perhaps the team has a different player in mind for that spot. (GM Ruben Amaro stated specifically yesterday that Aaron Nola would not join the team this weekend, ruling him out.) On a larger scale, any injury to Hamels is extra noteworthy as the trade deadline approaches. The Philadelphia ace will be among the most coveted trade chips on the market this July, if healthy. The ailment seems relatively minor at this time, but his health will be a situation to monitor in the coming days, as anything more serious could have serious ramifications.

Here’s more from the NL East…

Phillies Designate Dustin McGowan For Assignment

The Phillies announced today that they have designated right-hander Dustin McGowan for assignment and recalled left-hander Jake Diekman from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

The 33-year-old McGowan has already been outrighted off the 40-man roster once this season but remained with the organization after he cleared waivers. He’ll have the option to elect free agency once again, if he is ultimately exposed to waivers and clears for a second time. The veteran swingman has struggled with his control this season, leading to a 6.94 ERA in 23 1/3 innings. McGowan’s 21 strikeouts in that time are a solid mark, but he’s also walked 20 hitters, and his ground-ball rate is down significantly from its peak — a trend that began last year in Toronto and has continued in 2015.

Diekman, 28, entered the season as one of the more intriguing arms in the Phillies’ bullpen mix but struggled to a 6.75 ERA through 21 1/3 innings before being optioned to Triple-A earlier this month. His brief trip to the minors was as encouraging as Phillies’ decision-makers could possibly have hoped, as he fired seven scoreless innings, allowing just five hits and a walk while punching out seven batters. Diekman whiffed 100 hitters in just 71 innings last year and posted FIP, xFIP and SIERA marks between 2.64 and 2.85, suggesting that he had performed much better than his 3.80 ERA otherwise indicated. He’ll likely rejoin Ken Giles as a setup option for closer Jonathan Papelbon, though he could move into a more prominent role in the Philly bullpen if Papelbon is ultimately traded.

June 17

Phillies Notes: MacPhail, Sandberg, Nola, Lee

The Phillies’ pursuit of longtime baseball exec Andy MacPhail for a position in their front office is “quite real,” a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. (CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury first reported Philadelphia’s interest in MacPhail.) Rosenthal writes that adding MacPhail could create an interesting scenario, as it would potentially put MacPhail, who served as the Cubs’ president when Ryne Sandberg was inducted into the Hall of Fame, in position to fire Sandberg as the Phillies’ manager. Rosenthal writes that many within the industry feel that Sandberg is overmatched, but he adds that if current president Pat Gillick were going to dismiss Sandberg, he’d probably have done so by now. As such, the decision may fall to Gillick’s successor, who could make the move himself or hire a new general manager to do so.

A few more notes on a Phillies team that seems destined for change on the roster, in the front office and in the dugout in the coming months…

--GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters, including MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, that he’s “fully supportive” of Sandberg and expects him to finish out the 2015 season as the team’s manager. Sandberg added that he’s not concerned about potentially being on the hot seat, telling reporters, “I worry about the game today and what has to be done today. That’s the focus and the mindset for me.”

--The Phillies placed Jerome Williams on the disabled list and have yet to announce a starter for Sunday’s contest, but Salisbury writes that it won’t be top prospect Aaron Nola. The No. 7 pick in the 2014 draft, Nola is slated to make his Triple-A debut tomorrow evening and will continue on that schedule. “We have to do what’s right for Aaron Nola and his development and that’s not going to change,” Amaro said of Nola. “And he’s going to be in the big leagues at some point this year. I don’t think there’s any question about that, if he continues to progress the way he’s progressed so far.”

--Within that piece, Salisbury also provides an update on the injured Cliff Lee. Following an exam on Tuesday of this week, it was recommended that Lee hold off from throwing for another three to four weeks. Amaro said that in about a month’s time, the team will have a clearer image of Lee’s future. The former Cy Young winner has been resting a small tear in his flexor tendon in an attempt to avoid a surgical repair that would come with a nine-month recovery timeline.

June 16

Phillies To Sign Top Picks Randolph, Kingery

1:30pm: The Phillies announced that they have reached agreement with a number of draft choices, including second-round pick Scott Kingery, as Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes.  Kingery’s deal is for the full value of his selection, netting him a ~$1.26MM bonus, according to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo (on Twitter).

Kingery, a second baseman out of the University of Arizona, was tapped with the No. 48 overall pick.  Prior to the draft, Kingery took some time to chat with MLBTR’s Zach Links for a comprehensive Q&A about his skill set and collegiate career.  Kingery’s story is a unique one as he went from an undersized walk-on for the Wildcats to becoming one of their premier talents.  The youngster told MLBTR that he received no scholarship offers coming out of high school and he did not envision a major league future for himself back in 2012.

Definitely not. That’s not something that I had in mind going into my freshman year, especially as a walk-on player. I didn’t have a spot on the roster yet for sure, so at that point, I was just trying to find a spot on the team,” Kingery told Links.

Kingery is being advised by David Matranga of PSI Sports.

1:08pm: The Phillies have agreed to sign first-round selection Cornelius Randolph for the full slot value of $3,231,300, reports MLB.com’s Jim Callis (Twitter links). Selected 10th overall, Randolph was advised by and is now represented by Scott Boras. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki tells Callis that the Phillies plan to move Randolph from the infield to the outfield, and Callis notes that Randolph’s bat “will play anywhere.”

A high school shortstop that had committed to Clemson, Randolph’s defense was questioned by many scouts heading into the draft. That did little to detract from the allure of his bat, however. Randolph ranked as the draft’s No. 11 prospect in the eyes of Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel19th on the Top 200 compiled by Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, 20th on Baseball America’s Top 500 and 29th on the Top 100 of ESPN’s Keith Law.

McDaniel praised Randolph’s above-average hitting ability, raw power and strong arm when calling him “maybe the best of a deep crop in the Georgia prep ranks.” Mayo and Callis wrote that 6’1″, 190-pound Randolph “has the tools and approach to hit for power and average.” BA praised his bat speed and the ability to hit for all fields, noting that while scouts are “sure” that Randolph isn’t a shortstop, his home on the diamond could be in left field or at third base. ESPN feels that he profiles as a middle-of-the-order bat but cautions that there could be more swing-and-miss to his game than his mechanics would indicate at first glance.

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