Tag Archives: Didi Gregorius

With Zack Wheeler on board, updating the latest Phillies rumors

The Baseball Winter Meetings open on Sunday, December 8 in San Diego and the ‘Hot Stove’ season in Major League Baseball is already fully underway with hot new rumors coming out every day.

The Philadelphia Phillies were expected to be one of the most active teams in free agency and perhaps in the trade market as well during this off-season period.

With his job squarely on the line, general manager Matt Klentak is under the spotlight, tasked with filling a number of holes in order to elevate his now .500 team to a genuine 2020 contender.

The Phillies landed one of the top starting pitchers on the free agent market in right-hander Zack Wheeler. Reports this afternoon are that he will receive a five-year contract with a total value at over $110 million.

There were also reports that Wheeler had received a higher offer from the Chicago White Sox than the $118 million total dollars which he will receive from the Phillies.

However, Wheeler’s wife is a Jersey girl, and that appears to have been a decisive factor once the offers were relatively close. The Phillies also beat out the Chisox for Bryce Harper last off-season.

The Phillies have been linked to a number of top free agent names to this point. They cannot possibly land every big name that the fan base is hoping to add. However, they surely will be successful in luring at least one or two talented veterans.

Let’s take a quick look at the very latest rumors involving the Phillies interest and involvement in the pursuit of the most interesting players available.

Starting Pitchers

Cole Hamels – He was “the people’s choice”, as Phillies fans wanted him back. Hamels also telegraphed that he wanted to return and was willing to settle for a one-year deal to return to the club with whom he starred for a decade.

It turns out that he got that deal – but from the division-rival Atlanta Braves. It was announced this afternoon that Hamels and the Braves had agreed to a one-year, $18 million deal.

Time to turn the page here, Phillies fans. We’ll get to cheer him again one day at his Wall of Fame ceremony. But before then, count on him getting booed strongly next season at Citizens Bank Park.

Gerrit Cole – The Yankees are making a big push to land Cole. However, many believe that the Newport Beach, California native genuinely wants to pitch on the west coast. The Phillies have the money to be in this discussion, but I just don’t see the interest on his part.

The Dodgers, Angels, and Padres are probably going to end up as the finalists for Cole, with the Yankees trying to shove their way in with lots of money and that old Bronx Bomber prestige and history.

Stephen Strasburg – After meeting with Cole on Tuesday, the Yankees are spending their Wednesday meeting with Strasburg. If they feel that Cole is committed to the west coast, Strasburg could become New York’s main target, which could blow any other team out of the water…assuming the big righty is interested in pitching in the Bronx.

There have been no major rumors involving a Phillies link to either Cole or Strasburg, unless you count this afternoon’s generic “the Phillies are looking at Strasburg” tweet from Jon Heyman.

My guess is that the club has already been informed by their agent, Scott Boras, that the Phillies would be secondary options for the two biggest pitching prizes.

Madison Bumgarner – Back in May, MadBum put the Phillies on his no-trade list. However, that was strategic per Rosenthal. Bumgarner didn’t want to leave San Francisco, and listed as many teams as he could who appeared likely to go after him at that time.

Rosenthal did a nice sales pitch for Bumgarner earlier today on MLB Network. It has been about a week since any talk linking him with the Phillies. But Jon Morosi reported that reps of the player and team have been in touch, and Morosi also stated that the Phillies are “actively interested” in the veteran lefty.

Hyun-Jin Ryu – The Phillies could really use a left-hander, if not two, for the starting rotation. Scott Lauber lumped the Korean southpaw in with Wheeler and MadBum this afternoon as a possible Phillies target.

Dallas Keuchel – Well, since the Braves snatched Hamels, perhaps the Phillies could snatch up Keuchel, who pitched last season in Atlanta?

After he shut the Phillies down in a September start for the Braves, Keuchel called out Phillies management for not going after him when the pitcher was available and the club had a need per Jim Salisbury at NBC Sports Philadelphia:

I mean, if you don’t come calling what is there for me to be mad about? I think a lot of those guys over there in the front office are second-guessing themselves, and, I mean, I would too.

There have been no rumors linking the pitcher and the team. But if the Phillies aren’t seriously looking at him at this point, they have to be letting their egos get in the way.

Infielders

Didi Gregorius – The hottest name linked to the Phillies thus far this off-season, Gregorius is a favorite of new manager Joe Girardi from his years with the Yankees.

While I personally don’t think Gregorius is a major upgrade over incumbent shortstop Jean Segura defensively, he would bring more pop to the Phillies lineup.

Salisbury reported this morning that “the Phils are engaged in talks with free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius.” It would appear to be more than speculation or rumor at this point.

Cutting ties with Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco opens two spots on the Phillies infield. The club already has the potential to fill second base with Scott Kingery. Watching how they choose to align the 2020 infield will be one of the more interesting Phillies situations this off-season.

Josh Donaldson – The Phillies have a hole at third base with the Franco non-tender. Kingery is not a good option on an every day basis. Top prospect Alec Bohm is nearly ready, and could push his way to Philly no later than mid-summer of the 2020 season.

So, the question becomes would the Phillies shell out big bucks and tie up third base for multiple years. That is what it will likely take to land Donaldson, who played on a one-year contract in Atlanta last season and is not likely to settle for such a deal again.

There have been no real rumors linking the team and player other than a Monday tweet from Morosi that the Phillies were “maintaining contact” with reps for both Gregorius and Donaldson.

Anthony Rendon – While a big ex-Nationals reunion joining Bryce Harper with Strasburg and/or Rendon would be wonderful on the field, it likely wouldn’t work on the Phillies balance sheets.

Rendon is going to be the highest-priced position player free agent this off-season. The Dodgers have already met with he and Strasburg, and many feel that Rendon will end up with the Texas Rangers, with whom he has also already met.

Two weeks ago, Corey Seidman of NBC Sports Philly called Rendon “the perfect fit” for the Phillies. However, there has been nothing to really link the team and player directly to this point.

In my opinion and that of most others, the Phillies need to add not one, but two more proven veteran starting pitchers to their rotation.

The Phillies have successfully landed Wheeler with a lengthy contract at a high salary. Should they now fall short on the other arms listed previously you can expect them to shop for a pitcher in the “third tier” of free agents.

Were that to happen, arms such as Rick Porcello, Tanner Roark, Alex Wood, and Julio Teheran to get a longer look from the club. But this is not what the Phillies want or need, not really.

Wheeler adds a much-needed talented arm. He gives them a nice 1-2 punch with Aaron Nola. What would go well now would be a battle-tested and still talented left-hander. Someone like Bumgarner.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

Decision time arrives for Phillies on Franco, Hernandez

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A non-tender of Hernandez could prompt the Phillies to move Segura to second and sign Gregorius for shortstop

 

What has become known as the “non-tender” deadline in Major League Baseball will arrive on Monday at 8:00 pm EST. Teams ostensibly have until that point to offer 2020 contracts to arbitration-eligible players.

For two such players who have been starters with the Philadelphia Phillies for the last five seasons – third baseman Maikel Franco and second baseman Cesar Hernandez – it could mark the end of their time with the ball club.

The actual rule as negotiated with the MLBPA (the player’s union) basically states that all arbitration and pre-arbitration eligible players on the 40-man roster with fewer than six years of big-league service time must be offered (tendered) a contract for the upcoming season (2020) by this deadline or they will immediately  become a free agent.

While Franco has appeared in parts of six MLB seasons he has just 4.157 official years of accumulated service time. Hernandez has appeared in parts of seven seasons, but has just 5.154 official service time years.

Should the Phillies choose to tender a contract to either or both, they would be agreeing to settle on a specific salary amount over the next few months. If they choose to non-tender either or both, the player(s) join the list of available free agents this off-season.

By non-tendering either Franco or Hernandez the Phillies would in essence be waving goodbye.

I am sure there would be public pleasantries from general manager Matt Klentak along the lines of “we really like these guys and appreciate what they brought to the ball club over the last few years, but we felt it was best at this time for both the players and the team that we turn the page.

For me, these two players are little more than reminders of a half-dozen years of mostly losing baseball. Signing and trading them is not a legitimate option. What team is going to surrender anything of real value for either guy?

Saying goodbye to either or both  would then create holes in the lineup. However, they are holes that can be filled by more talented and likely more productive players who are either already on the roster or available via free agency.

SECOND BASE

The simplest and best answer to non-tendering Hernandez would be to finally turn over the everyday second base position to Scott Kingery.

I’ve explained ad nauseam in other pieces and podcasts that second base is Kingery’s natural position. It is where he played during the final two years of his college career and his three minor league seasons. In 2017 he was the Gold Glove Award winner for the minor leagues at the position.

Another option would be to slide the current shortstop, Jean Segura, over to second base. This would mean either making Kingery the everyday shortstop or signing a free agent. The Phillies have been linked to free agent Didi Gregorius in this type of scenario.

Though he has been a shortstop for the vast majority of his eight-year big-league career, Segura was the every day second baseman with the Arizona Diamondbacks during the 2016. He led the National League with 203 hits that season and finished 13th in NL MVP voting.

Though he can athletically handle the position on a short-term basis or in an emergency, Kingery is not a legitimate everyday shortstop. If the club really wants to move Segura, it would be imperative that they sign someone like Gregorius.

THIRD BASE

Cutting ties with Franco would likely mean that the Phillies have decided to go hard after one of the three top available free agents at the position: Anthony Rendon, Josh Donaldson, or Mike Moustakas.

If they non-tender Franco but keep Hernandez, they could also choose to make Kingery the everyday third baseman. However, just as with shortstop, this is not a legitimate spot for Kingery as a regular starter.

Should the Phillies cut ties with both Franco and Hernandez, it almost certainly means that they plan on using Kingery as a regular at one of the three infield positions.

The Phillies might decide that the third base free agents are simply too expensive, and believe that they have the future at the position here already in top position prospect Alec Bohm. In that scenario, maybe they tender Franco, figuring that Bohm will turn him into 2020 in-season trade bait.

The Phillies could also conceivably sign both Gregorius and a new third base free agent. But that is spending a lot of money which could perhaps be better used in paying for the two starting pitchers they also need.

SHORTSTOP

If you choose to non-tender Hernandez and slide over Segura, it opens a hole here. Again, the hole would be filled by either Kingery (less than ideal) or a free agent such as Gregorius.

For me, the best option is to simply keep Segura at short, make Kingery the everyday second baseman, and go hard after a third baseman in free agency.

CENTER FIELD

Kingery played 65 games and made 57 starts in center field during the 2019 season. By the end of the year it was rookie Adam Haseley out there most often. Haseley appeared in 40 games in center field, making 36 starts.

I’ve gone on record that the Phillies should go after a more proven veteran via the trade route, someone such as Jackie Bradley Jr.of the Boston Red Sox.

This is Kingery’s second-best, though I believe it is a distant second-best, defensive position. He played it during his first two years of college ball. However, a look into the stats reveals that while he occasionally makes a highlight reel play, he also doesn’t make all of the routine plays handled by natural center fielders.

It is possible that the Phillies will choose to tender Hernandez and bring him back for one final season at second base, leaving Kingery out in center field for one more year, with Haseley as a reserve outfielder.

Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors has estimated that Franco would receive $5.7 million and Hernandez $11.8 million on one-year deals with the Phillies for the 2020 season. That $17.5 million could pay the 2020 salary of a strong starting pitcher or one better position player.

This will not be an easy decision for Klentak to make. However, it would be very easy for me. The “KISS” principle is at play here: Keep It Simple Stupid.

These are two limited players for whom there are better options available. Cut the ties. Move on. Look to the future, not at the past.

The Phillies should non-tender both Franco and Hernandez, move Kingery to second, start shopping hard for a third baseman, and start working the phones for a center fielder. One man’s opinion. We’ll find out what the team actually chooses by late Monday.

 

MORE RECENT PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES CONTENT:

Manny Machado close to a decision, with Phillies a strong finalist

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Machado would immediately make the Phillies an NL East contender

The Philadelphia Phillies have been linked to superstar infielder Manny Machado for some time now. Going back to the approach of the 2018 non-waiver trade deadline and on through the early months of this current off-season, Phillies fans have waited to see if the young superstar might choose to make Philadelphia his long-term baseball home.

Based on numerous reports across the baseball landscape over the past 24 hours that wait may soon be over. The Phillies are reportedly one of three finalists for his services, joined by the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees.
For the past few weeks it appeared as if the Yankees were emerging as favorites. However, New York just agreed to a deal with free agent Troy Tulowitzki. While that deal doesn’t necessarily knock the Yanks out of the Machado sweepstakes, it does appear to mitigate their need on the left side of the infield.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Philadelphia wrote today that the Yankees signing of Tulo absolutely has some bearing on their interest in Machado: “The signing is seen as inexpensive insurance should the team fail to sign Machado. It also could be a negotiating signal to Machado that the Yankees won’t wait forever.
The Yanks would use Machado at shortstop, the position he has publicly stated as a preference, for at least the first few months of the 2019 season. Incumbent Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius needed Tommy John surgery on his right throwing elbow back in October, and could miss at least the first half of the upcoming season.
But longer term, New York would have to work out that shortstop situation. That positional usage could also be an issue with the Phillies, who obtained shortstop Jean Segura in a trade with the Seattle Mariners earlier this off-season.
In the Phillies case, they could either overpay to get Machado to play third base, which would make incumbent Maikel Franco trade bait, or they could flip Segura over to second base. Segura received NL MVP votes during the 2016 season when he spent the entire year as the Arizona Diamondbacks starting second baseman.
Salisbury commented on the possibility of the Phillies possibly needing to overpay Machado to keep him out of the Bronx:

“The Phillies like the idea of using Machado at third base and would probably have to significantly outbid the Yankees to land him. The Phillies have been gearing for this offseason for years and have the resources to do just that — if Machado would say yes to their offer.” ~ Jim Salisbury

It is still believed that the Phillies have offered up to a 10-year deal valued at between $300-350 million to Machado. The White Sox had previously been rumored to be willing to go the same 10 years. However, Bruce Levine at 670 The Score, one of Chicago’s leading sports talk stations, reported this afternoon that the Chisox are falling short of that level offer:
Reports of the White Sox offering ten plus years for Manny Machado or Bryce Harper are ”Without any substance and flat out wrong “ according to high ranking industry sources . Wh Sox will not be giving offer of more than 7 years for either player.

553 people are talking about this

Considering recent long-term free agent deals signed by youngish free agents such as Jason Heyward, who got eight years from the Chicago Cubs back in December of 2015, and Eric Hosmer, who received an eight-year deal from the San Diego Padres last off-season, a 10-year deal taking either Machado or fellow star free agent Bryce Harper through their age 35 seasons is not out of line.
Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors commented on just that fact regarding the two 26-year-olds:

“Either player could quite reasonably still be productive in their age-35 season, when a ten-year deal would conclude…It’s almost impossible to see Harper or Machado taking less, considering that both have delivered considerably more superstar-level production than either Heyward or Hosmer at the time of their deals.”

Jeff Passan at ESPN reported earlier today that in the wait for decisions from Machado and Harper, the infielder is likely to make his choice first, and that decision could come soon.
“Machado is going to sign first, and perhaps soon, choosing from among the New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox. While one cannot rule out a mystery team — agent Dan Lozano is keeping a tight lid on the proceedings, just as he did when the Miami Marlins were among the final bidders on Albert Pujols — Machado’s fit among the known interested teams is strong enough not to necessitate a furtive suitor.”

There is a very real chance that we could get a Machado decision by this coming weekend or sometime next week. If he goes to the Yankees, the Phillies would throw their considerable financial resources towards Harper.
If Machado chooses to play in Philly, it will be interesting to see if the Phillies then drop out of the Harper sweepstakes or take a shot at landing both superstars.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as Phillies remain a finalist as Manny Machado readies to make his decision

Red Sox continue fighting off Yankees, who lower own magic number

Pedroia scores tie-breaking run in Boston’s victory

The Boston Red Sox took 15 innings to gain a win on Friday night over the host Tampa Bay Rays. But win they did after scoring seven times in the top of the 15th, going on to a 13-6 victory.

The victory lowered Boston’s “Magic Number” for clinching the American League East Division crown to 13 over the New York Yankees.

The Yankees had earlier kept the pressure on their longtime arch-rivals with an 8-2 win in the Bronx over the Baltimore Orioles.

With that win, New York remained three games behind Boston. However, the Yanks also lowered their own “Magic Number” to just 10 in order to clinch at least an AL Wildcard playoff berth.

In Tampa, Dustin Pedroia led off the top of the 15th for Boston by reaching on an error. The result left him as only the third batter in the history of the Red Sox to go 0-9 in a game. Three singles, a double, and another error later, and the Bosox had completed their seven-run outburst.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts had four hits for Boston. Mookie Betts and Mitch Moreland each had three, while four other Red Sox registered multi-hit games.




“Our guys have done such a good job as we’ve gotten into some of these really long games, almost marathon-type games, and they don’t quit, they keep digging for a little extra,” Boston manager John Farrell said per Connor Mount for MLB.com following the game.

Meanwhile, up in Yankee Stadium, a two-run homer off the bat of Didi Gregorius broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 5th inning. The Yankees then put together a three-run rally in the bottom of the 7th, and got a solo home run from Greg Bird in the bottom of the 8th to put it away.

“We have to bear down in these last couple weeks and go for the playoffs,” Gregorius said per Roger Rubin for MLB.com following the game. “That’s what we’re shooting for.”

Luis Severino pitched eight strong innings for New York, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out seven. The 23-year old raised his record to 13-6 on the season with the victory.



Both series continue through this weekend. Next week, the Red Sox will stay on the road, visiting both Baltimore and Cincinnati for three games each. 

The Yankees will remain at home to open next week against Minnesota, with the Twins battling for their own playoff lives in that AL Wildcard race. New York ends the week by traveling north to Toronto to face the Blue Jays in what will be their final road trip of the regular season.

Starlin Castro reaching his full potential in the Bronx

To the surprise of some, the New York Yankees are on top of the American League East Division standings
The Yankees current 24-13 record has the club 1.5 games up on the second place Baltimore Orioles.
One of the biggest keys to the surge by the latest incarnation of the Bronx Bombers to the top of the standings has been the play of second baseman Starlin Castro.
Castro was dealt by the Chicago Cubs at the 2015 Winter Meetings to the Yankees. In exchange, New York received pitcher Adam Warren and a player to  be named later. That PTBNL turned out to be infielder Brendan Ryan.
Castro was always seen as having dynamic offensive potential. The Cubs hierarchy simply believed that he had reached the peek of his skills, and that they had better in-house options.
At the time of the trade, the Cubs had both Javier Baez and Addison Russell ready for full big league opportunities. In fact, Russell broke into the starting lineup on the North Side as a second baseman in 2015, as Castro had been established as the Cubs starting shortstop.
Castro was signed out of his native Dominican Republic, and in 2010 made his big league debut. He finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting that season after hitting .300 with 31 doubles, 10 steals, and 41 RBI over 503 plate appearances.
The following year of 2011, Castro led all of Major League Baseball with 207 hits. And in three of the four years between 2011-14, Castro was a National League All-Star.

FROM WINDY CITY TO BIG APPLE

With the development of Baez and Russell, the Cubs saw an opportunity to bring in a valuable arm in Warren for a player they believed was unwilling to change his approach in order to improve his game.
For the Yankees part, they saw that dynamic offensive package in a player who was still young. The then 25-year old was plugged into a retooling Yankees lineup at second base in the first season of the post-Derek Jeter era.
In his first season in pinstripes, Castro hit .270 with 21 homers and 70 RBI. This year, the now 27-year old is entering his prime, and his production has exploded. He is currently hitting for a .351/.387/.545 slash line with seven homers, 26 RBI, 29 runs scored, and nine doubles.
Those statistical figures are either first or second in the Yankees regular lineup. As quoted by Billy Witz for the New York Times earlier this month, Yanks GM Brian Cashman commented on his approach and production:
“If you focused on the negatives, you can get tripped up and frustrated, but if you focus on what he does well, you’ll appreciate what he brings to the table. You watch his at-bats play out, and you see he’s not Wade Boggs working the count. But he is a tough out. You get him 0-2, 1-2, that’s when the at-bat starts. He’s a tough out and a very dangerous hitter, and I don’t think he’s a finished product.”
While he is never likely to be a Gold Glove defender, Castro holds his own defensively at the Keystone position. Teaming with defensive whiz Didi Gregorius helps, as does his own offensive value.

CUBS WIN SERIES, YANKS GET YOUNG TALENT

The trade with Chicago has proven a bit convoluted. The Yanks reacquired Warren last July, along with a package of highly considered minor league prospects, in exchange for closer Aroldis Chapman.
That deal certainly worked out for the Cubs. Chapman proved to be a lights-out closer on a World Series championship team. But the Yankees may benefit greatly in the long run.
One of the prospects received in last summer’s deal is shortstop Gleyber Torres. He is now the top prospect in the system and one of the top prospects in baseball.
The New York Yankees are already at the top of the divisional standings. If Cashman is proven correct that Castro can still improve, he may prove pivotal in helping them stay there.