Tag Archives: Winter Meetings

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:

Carlos Santana: bad signing by the Philadelphia Phillies

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The Philadelphia Phillies agreed to terms with veteran free agent first baseman Carlos Santana this past week.

Per a report from Phillies insider Jim Salisbury on December 15, the formal signing will take place pending the results of a physical exam.

This was a wholly unnecessary signing, and I believe that in the end it will prove to have been a waste of $60 million dollars.

The Phillies are mostly a young team. They are finishing up a rebuilding program that has seen major changes within the organization over the last few years. Now the club is trying to find a few more talented veteran pieces that will help their young nucleus move forward in the standings.

Santana (Twitter: @TheRealSlamtana) would appear to fit the bill in a handful of ways. He will turn 32 years old by the first week of April. He has seven full years of big league experience. Santana certainly fits the “veteran” bill.

He also fits in a couple of other ways. The Phillies could use a bit more power and patience in their batting order. Santana has averaged 24 home runs over those seven full seasons, which were all spent with the Cleveland Indians in the American League. His career .365 on-base percentage demonstrates plate discipline that is generally lacking with the Phillies lineup.

Defensively, while Santana will never be an NL Gold Glove Award winner, he does field the position well. His 6.7 rating on the SABR Defensive Index led the American League, and ranked fifth among all MLB first basemen.

Bleacher Report ranked Santana at #12 in their Top 25 First Basemen of 2017 list. Their Zachary Rymer stated the following:

 “Swing-wise, Santana was once again one of the most extreme pull hitters in MLB. This made him vulnerable against shifts, but his pickiness allowed for consistent contact and his strength and solid loft allowed for relatively easy power.”

Santana is a veteran who hits home runs, gets on base, and fields his position well. So what’s not to like?

First would be his age, and the contract. As previously stated, Santana turns 32 years old at the start of the season. The Phillies have reportedly offered him a three-year, $60 million deal with a team option for a fourth year. The contract commits the team to him at least through his age 34 season, and makes him one of the top 50 highest paid players in baseball history based on average annual value.

That 24 homers per year? It’s just an average, one that is propped up by a 34 homer campaign in 2016. He has never otherwise approached that number. He also has a pair of 27 homer seasons upping that average. Those two seasons came four and seven years ago, respectively.

Santana is not an elite middle-of-the-order offensive performer, but he will be paid like one. He has just a career .249 batting average, and has failed to reach the .260 mark in six of those seven full seasons. He has averaged just 80 RBI per full season. That’s not bad at all, but nothing special for a 3-4-5 hitter in your lineup.

From what I have seen in my 47 years following Phillies baseball, Carlos Santana does not appear to be the kind of player who is going to sell tickets and merchandise. There will not be a boatload of Santana shirseys and jerseys flying off the Majestic Clubhouse store shelves. This is not another Jim Thome signing. Not even close.

The Phillies are paying $20 million per year for the next three years (at least) for a guy who has received MVP votes just once. A realistic best-case season for Santana would be a .250 batting average with 20-25 homers and 80 RBI.

Finally, the Phillies already had a strong first baseman who appeared set there for years to come. Rhys Hoskins banged 18 homers, drove in 48 runs, scored 47 times, and had a .396 on-base percentage in less than half the number of plate appearances as Santana was given.

Hoskins only turns 25 years old during spring training in March. He is not arbitration eligible for another three years, and cannot become a free agent until after the 2024 season. He is clearly a big part of the Phillies future.

Also, Hoskins is a first baseman, not a left fielder. He can passably play left field, sure. If the Phillies could stick Greg Luzinski, Pete Incaviglia, and Pat Burrell out there and win pennants, then they can probably do the same with Hoskins.

But Hoskins best position is first base, he was already there, and the team has not upgraded that position with the Santana signing. For me, and many others, defense is a key component in winning championships. Hoskins in left field weakens the overall defense.

The Phillies should have entered 2018 with Hoskins as their first baseman. If they wanted to spend big money, they should have done it on the mound or elsewhere. If there was nothing available elsewhere, then should have saved their money for another opportunity, either at the trade deadline or next off-season.

There is an argument being made in some circles that this will free up the Phillies to deal one of their other corner outfielders for that much-needed starting pitching. Really? Who would that be? Who is going to give you a valuable starting pitcher in exchange for Aaron Altherr or Nick Williams? Really.

I am not saying that Altherr and Williams are not good players. Both are good outfielders and solid hitters. But neither is a difference maker for another lineup. Neither seems the type to get another club to come up off a legitimate starting pitcher.

To me, the Phillies would have been better off keeping what they had and letting them play in the 2018 season. Keep Hoskins at first base, let Altherr and Williams play full-time on the outfield corners. Largely with that configuration, the Phillies went 23-19 after mid-August in 2017.

Pocket that $20 million until a chance came to add a Manny Machado or a Bryce Harper, or a big pitcher. Maybe a couple of those. Sure, it will take more than $20 million for those guys. So apply the $20 million towards that cost.

The Phillies MLB insider, Todd Zolecki, speculated that the Phillies may be hoping for a run at .500 with the Santana signing. That would make them more attractive next off-season for big free agents like Harper or Machado.

For me, the Phillies lineup without Santana was ready to make such a run. Standing pat would have kept $20 million in the bank that would have been better spent elsewhere.

I get the sense that the Phillies spent money here simply because they had it to spend, and didn’t want to be accused of once again doing little or nothing to improve the club. They saw a move that they could justify, and made the best deal that they could.

The Phillies picked up a couple of nice right-handed bullpen pieces in Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter. They also made a move that I have been hoping for, trading away the over-rated Freddy Galvis to open up shortstop for J.P. Crawford. Those moves, I can get behind.

But the Phillies did not sign a 27-year old Carlos Santana, one who was going to be with them for the next half-dozen years as they became a consistent contender while he played in his prime. They are paying a lot of money for a good, not great, player who will be on the back end of his career.

Had they signed Santana for one year, I could have accepted it. Maybe even one with a mutual option, with less guaranteed per year. But three years and $60 million for a 32-year old player at a position that was already covered? If finalized, this will prove to be a bad signing by the Philadelphia Phillies.

White Sox Potential Winter Meetings Deals

The Chicago White Sox are almost certain to be among the most popular and influential players as the 2016 MLB Winter Meetings unfold in National Harbor, Maryland.
The White Sox went an extremely disappointing 78-84 this past season. That resulted in a fourth place finish in the AL Central Division.
It was a fourth consecutive losing season on the South Side of Chicago. This followed a long run of contention that had spanned the better part of two decades.
Now the White Sox also have to contend for the hearts and attention of fans in a two-team city. The other franchise is, or course, the young and exciting new World Series champion Chicago Cubs.
The White Sox were legitimate division crown contenders in the majority of seasons between 1990 and 2012. They won the AL Central five times in that span, and were the 2005 World Series champions.
In the eyes of most industry talent evaluators, the Chisox minor league talent is among the bottom five in the game. So there is not much help coming from within the organization.
Four of the last five AL pennant winners have come from the division. This includes the defending champion Cleveland Indians. But the AL Central could become very competitive in the next few years.
It is the job of general manager Rich Hahn and VP Ken Williams to make sure that Chicago gets back to that regular contending status. To that end, they are going to have to start replenishing the young talent in the organization.

TIME FOR A SALE?

One way to do that is to trade some of the team’s more attractive players for packages of highly rated prospects. There is no more attractive asset than left-handed starting pitcher Chris Sale.
Sale will turn 28 years old as spring training draws to a close next season. He has won 70 games over the five seasons in which he has been a starting pitcher.
He has been an AL All-Star for each of those five straight seasons as a starter. Sale also has finished among the top six in Cy Young voting each of those years.
Sale is not only young and talented, he is also very affordable. He currently is owed $38 million over the next three seasons. Only the 2017 season at $12 million is guaranteed. The ensuing two years are each on team options of $12.5 and $13.5 million.
The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, are believed to be in the market for Sale. So are two NL East rivals, the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals.
Among the other contending teams who have been mentioned in Sale rumors are two traditional National League powers in the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals. The Texas Rangers, who have never won a World Series but who are among the favorites in 2017, are also linked to the southpaw ace.

OTHER CHISOX TRADE ASSETS

If they want to really rebuild, the White Sox could also shop lefty starting pitcher Jose Quintana, who turns 28 years old in January. 33-year old righty Miguel Gonzalez might draw some interest as well.
Among the position players who the Chisox could move, first baseman Jose Abreu and third baseman Todd Frazier could be attractive to suitors. They turn 30 and 31 years old respectively early in 2017, and are likely more valuable as trade pieces than Chicago building blocks.
The Chicago White Sox would be smart to put all of these players names out there, playing contenders off one another. The returns in two or three potential trades could quickly turn around the future fortunes of the organization in a positive direction.

2016 Baseball Winter Meetings Preview

Major League Baseball will conduct the annual MLB Winter Meetings just outside of Washington, D.C. this year. 
The formal location is National Harbor, Maryland, a waterfront development along the Potomac River.
The headquarters for this year’s meetings, which run from December 4-8, will be the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center.
There the folks from MLB Network will set up a broadcasting hub to bring all of the action to fans everywhere. 
Interviews with baseball executives, managers, general managers, player agents and others will highlight much of the activity.
The Winter Meetings have historically been a time and place for many of baseball’s biggest offseason deals to get done. 
In the years before the development of instantaneous communication such as the internet, these face-to-face meetings were the place that GMs would negotiate and consummate numerous trades.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL

It was at the Winter Meetings that Roger Maris went from Kansas City to the New York Yankees, Frank Robinson from Cincinnati to the Baltimore Orioles, Gary Carterfrom Montreal to the New York Mets, and Rickey Henderson from Oakland to the Yanks.
Blockbuster deals have become less common in more recent years. Still, deals do get done. Many more have the groundwork laid for later completion.
Miguel Cabrera moved from the Florida Marlins to the Detroit Tigers in 2007 for a package that included a young pitcher by the name of Andrew Miller. The Tigers struck again three years later, landing pitcher Max Scherzer as part of a three-team deal with Arizona and the Yankees.
There have been a number of high-profile free agent signings that have been finalized at the Winter Meetings as well.
A year ago, Ben Zobrist left the World Series champion Kansas City Royals to sign with the Chicago Cubs. He would go on to win the World Series MVP this season as the Cubs ended their 108-year title drought.

MORE THAN THE DEALS

The Winter Meetings are not just about the trade and free agent talk. They are also a networking and job-seeking opportunity. There will be a number of formal meetings workshops and industry presentations.
Other events held within the Winter Meetings include a formal Banquet, Awards Luncheon, Gala, and the Baseball Trade Show, among many others.
Over the next few days, I will be taking a look around baseball at some of the more high-profile organizations as the Winter Meetings draw closer.
Who might swing the big blockbuster this year? Who might sign on as a free agent with a new organization? Those are the questions that I will examine over these next few days. Stay tuned, the Hot Stove is about to really heat up!

Goodbye, JRoll

Jimmy Rollins reportedly dealt to the LA Dodgers
Goodbye Jimmy Rollins. The Phillies have reportedly traded their shorstop and team leader. I’m not surprised at all. And yet it’s still a bit of a shock.
Just yesterday at around 4:20pm, I published an article here at TBOH titled “Utley and Rollins Going Nowhere“, flat-out stating that I didn’t believe that either Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley would be traded, at least right now.
I was wrong. Rather, I read the consistently mixed messages coming from the Phillies wrong. 
I had actually based my statement on one made by Ruben Amaro. The Phillies GM had stated that neither player was willing to waive their 10-and-5 rights, calling it a “challenge” when talking trade with other teams.
Amaro had gone into even more detail
, saying “They are very loyal guys. They have comfort here in Philadelphia. They have established roots here in Philadelphia. I think they love playing for the fans here, particularly when we are winning.
Unfortunately, not only are the Phillies not winning, they have publicly stated that they don’t expect to be winning for the next couple of seasons, which likely would coincide with the last couple of seasons in both Rollins and Utley’s careers.
And so, apparently, Jimmy changed his mind. The Phillies traded their iconic franchise all-time Hit King to the Los Angeles Dodgers today in exchange for a package rumored to be 2 minor league pitchers.
A local Philly radio broadcast featured an appearance from MLB insider Jayson Stark late on Tuesday evening. Stark stated that he had reason to believe that one of the arms coming to Philly was going to be lefty Zach Lee.
Now come rumors that the Dodgers were also inquiring on the entire Phillies doubleplay combo, meaning Chase Utley. Without making the Rollins deal official, LA traded their 2nd baseman, Dee Gordon, to the Marlins. 
Gordon was dealt to Miami for a package that included hot, young lefty pitcher Andrew Heaney. Could Utley also go to Los Angeles, with Heaney in the package back to the Phils? Could the teams still be trying to figure a way to include Cole Hamels?
Stay tuned as we continue to explore the fascinating breakup of the Phillies recent glory era players. And goodbye, Jimmy Rollins. More words needed on the emotion behind that goodbye. More will be coming.