*** Welcome to the 2019 Major League Baseball 'HOT STOVE' season *** updates here on the PHILLIES and all of MLB all winter long ***

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Carlos Santana trade to the Twins may make most sense for Phillies

Embed from Getty Images
Speculation on a Santana trade is increasing with the Twins a logical destination

Much speculation has developed in recent days that the Philadelphia Phillies could be looking to deal away first baseman Carlos Santana.
While I had previously pushed that possibility here at Phillies Nation, the notion gained real traction with a report earlier this week from MLB insider Ken Rosenthal that the Phillies were “shopping the hell” out of Santana.
It should be fairly obvious as to why the Phillies would be trying to move on from this player and contract. Spending $40 million over the next two years for a 33-34 year old whose best position is also best for your top current offensive player, Rhys Hoskins, seems to make little sense.
But with that in mind, are there any teams out there for whom Santana would make sense? Where might Phillies GM Matt Klentak look to find a match in such a trade?
Tim Dierkes at MLB Trade Rumors examined the situation in detail today and came up with a case for 14 different teams, nearly half of the clubs in Major League Baseball, to add Santana to their mix.
In breaking down Santana himself as a player, the limited number of teams who are probably actually looking to add such a player, the financial situations of the other ball clubs, and the other available options on the market, Dierkes made the following observation:
“…in reality there are enough cheaper alternatives on the market that the Phillies will have to kick in at least $10MM, or else take back a contract or attach a prospect.”
Less than a handful of teams would appear to actually make sense in such a deal. A genuine case can be made that a match could be found with the Houston Astros, Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, and Minnesota Twins.



As Dierkes pointed out in his piece, Joe Mauer has retired and Logan Morrison is now a free agent. Those two combined to handle 140 games at the first base position in Minnesota in the 2018 season.
Minnesota has just $24.5 million in guaranteed contracts on the books for next season, and none at all in 2020. Cots Contracts estimates the Twins payroll for next season to reach just past the $70 million mark, and then drop precipitously in the 2020 campaign.
With the team’s payroll having exceeded the $100 million mark in six of the last eight seasons, peaking at nearly $129 million last year, Minnesota can certainly afford the Santana contract. At the very least they could afford half of the deal, which would help the Phillies financial situation.

Philography series to resume with Phillies retired number legends

Embed from Getty Images
Phillies legends Schmidt, Carlton, Bunning to be covered as 'Philography' series resumes

It was just over four years ago that I first decided to write mini-biographies about famous Philadelphia Phillies figures of the past. The effort was largely for me. I have always enjoyed history and biographies of influential and famous figures from the past, not just sports-related.
While I knew the “baseball card” information on most of the players, I knew very little about their backgrounds. Where did they come from? What was the specific path leading them to Philadelphia?
If they played for another team, what achievements did they enjoy with that club? How did their career, and in some cases their lives, come to an end? Did they enjoy a post-baseball career?
Out of this natural curiosity on my part the “Philography” series was first born. I decided that I wanted to write about the playing careers, and touch on other aspects of the lives, of some of my own Phillies favorites of the past. The series would begin with a star player from my youth, “The Bull” himself, Greg Luzinski.
Over the next two months, I produced a new piece each week, picking from the team’s past in no specific pattern: Mitch WilliamsChris ShortVon HayesPlacido PolancoJim KonstantyDick AllenDick RuthvenGrover Cleveland “Pete” AlexanderDarren Daulton,
Paintings and memorabilia adorn the walls and fill the
halls on the Hall of Fame level at Citizens Bank Park
The Philography series was officially born. I then made the decision that this would become a regular off-season project, to write a handful of Phillies mini-bios each fall and winter.
In December 2015 a piece on Larry Bowa was produced, and we were off and running once again. A month later I reached back in time to produce a piece on Sherry Magee. Before spring training began for the 2016 season there would be installments on Kevin StockerGranny Hamner, and the only female to appear thus far, Edith Houghton.
The series returned in December of 2016 with a piece on Bob Boone, and I made a decision to push the series in a specific direction for the first time. That off-season, I would go after the Phillies all-time best catchers who hadn’t previously been covered. With Daulton and Boone in the books, the series continued with Wall of Famer Mike Lieberthal and old-timer Red Dooin.


And then the series was shelved. Last off-season saw a number of changes in my life, and most of my writing took a back seat for a while. I returned to regular baseball writing this summer upon joining the staff here at Phillies Nation. And now, the series will be making its return as well.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Phillies are likely to spend big this off-season

Embed from Getty Images
The Phillies have the money to sign Harper and the will to spend that and more

The baseball world is waiting. Waiting for all of the talk, rumor, and speculation that has characterized the start of the ‘Hot Stove’ season to turn into action.
In few other cities is that talk more heated than right here in Philadelphia. The hometown Phillies would appear to have a ton of money to spend and the will of ownership to spend that money.
Last week here at Phillies Nation, I made the case that the team could afford to sign Bryce Harper as a free agent, perhaps Manny Machadoas well, keep paying homegrown stars Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins, sign a free agent pitcher such as Patrick Corbin, and still have enough to make a legitimate play for Mike Trout when he becomes a free agent in two years.
Rob Huff at MLB Trade Rumors did a great job with his piece today in breaking down the Phillies projected 2019 payroll. In that piece he largely paints a picture that would seem to support my theory.
Early on in this piece, Huff describes well the hot seat that GM Matt Klentak finds himself sitting on right now:
“While Klentak appears to have strong support from ownership, the fourth year of a rebuild is traditionally moving time: if it’s going to work, the wins need to show up and in a big way.”
Huff then moves through a breakdown of the current roster and payroll situation, correctly (in my mind) reading the Hoskins, Carlos Santana, and Jake Arrieta issues.
On Maikel Franco, who some seem to think the Phillies are going to trade this off-season (a move I do not support), Huff again gets it right by stating that Franco “…may represent a tough non-tender decision in future years if he continues to struggle getting on base, but for now, he has age, power, and pedigree on his side, justifying his $5.1 million figure.
Getting to the issue of the Phillies possible pursuit of Harper and Machado, we see that Huff agrees with me:
“…they’re definitely players for Harper and Machado, and from a purely financial perspective, it’s within the realm of possibility that they could be contenders to sign both young stars.”


Principal owner John Middleton is on record as being willing to spend significantly to improve the roster.
Huff wraps up his piece with a six-point list of circumstances which point to his conclusion that “…the Phillies are going to spend and spend big.”
Those six include the clubs need to add an impact bat or two at any position other than first base. They also include a history showing that the club has been willing and able to support payrolls nearly double the average spent over the last three seasons. Finally, there is a front office and ownership group willing and motivated to spend.
Huff projects the Phillies payroll to come in around the $160 million mark for the 2019 season. This would leave them with the possibility of spending an additional $50 million in staying under the Luxury Tax.
That is a significant figure by itself. However, should Klentak be able to dump Santana on some team willing to pay any of the $20 million owed him, that available figure would rise. It would rise again should the Phillies do as I suggest, and non-tender Hernandez.
Being able to move Santana and Hernandez off the payroll could free up another $15 million for new and future salaries. Huff makes the same case that I made, and that many others have made, that the Phillies have money to spend and the need and desire to spend it. And now, we all wait.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as "Phillies expected by MLBTR to spend and spend big this winter"

Monday, November 12, 2018

Carlos Santana reportedly being shopped aggressively by Phillies

Embed from Getty Images
Less than a year after signing him the Phillies are looking to move on from Santana

There are more moving parts involved in the Philadelphia Phillies off-season roster machinations than any other team in Major League Baseball.
The 2018 Phillies vaulted to the top of the National League East Division only to collapse to finish with a sixth straight losing record. General manager Matt Klentak is now ready to shake things up in order to make the club a genuine long-term contender.
Last December, Klentak made his first real big free agent signing when he added first baseman Carlos Santana, formerly of the Cleveland Indians. Santana was given a guaranteed three-year, $60 million contract that would cover his ages 32-34 seasons.
In return for the first $20 million this past season, Santana slashed .229/.352/.414 for the Phillies. He ripped 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and scored 82 times.
Those stats were pretty close to his career averages. Over his first eight seasons in Cleveland, Santana slashed .249/.365/.445 and averaged 22 home runs, 73 RBI, and 72 runs.
Earlier this month our Tim Kelly here at Phillies Nation published a piece that included a quote from Klentak on Santana’s performance: “Honestly, yeah. His season was very Carlos Santana-ish. He has been as consistent a performer as just about anybody in the league for the last seven or eight years.


The problem isn’t that Santana didn’t live up to his career numbers. The problem is committing this young Phillies team to an aging Santana for three years. A limited player who, despite the Phillies attempts to move him across the infield to third base, is only a first baseman.
Another problem with Santana was that the Phillies already had their first baseman in Rhys Hoskins, another player who has no other defensive position at which he is even marginal. That despite the Phillies attempts to push him out to left field.
In a report from our Drew Rhoades here at Phillies Nation just last week, Fancred’s Jon Heyman was quoted that the Phillies plan for 2019 is “…to have Carlos Santana play some third base and Rhys Hoskins to play some first base.”
051715_franco_600-300x225.gif
Would the Phillies really move on from the younger and still-controllable Franco, a natural third baseman, to put the aging, expensive Santana at the Hot Corner?
The Phillies seem to be compounding their defensive problems and pushing young players out in order to fit Santana in to their lineup. First moving Hoskins to left field, now possibly benching or trading Maikel Franco?
This was the classic “square peg in a round hole” scenario. There is simply no place here for Santana. There never was. It was, in my oft-stated opinion, an illogical, unnecessary, and wasteful signing in the first place.
Now comes word from one of the most informative and reliable of all MLB insiders, Ken Rosenthal, that the Phillies are actively looking to trade Santana.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Veteran's Day: Two players with Phillies ties died in the 'War to End All Wars'

Embed from Getty Images
Nearly 117,000 Americans died fighting in World War I

Today is Veteran’s Day, when we honor those who have served in the American military, past and present. This year, Veteran’s Day just happens to fall on the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I.

The “War to End All Wars” famously came to a close when an armistice was signed among the combatants at the “11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month” in 1918 after more than four bloody years of battle.
Nearly 10 million died and more than 20 million more were injured among the combined armed forces of the Allied powers, which included the United States, and the Central powers led by the German Empire. Over 7.5 million civilians were also killed on the combined sides.


Major League Baseball teams were not immune from the casualties. Large numbers of players fought in the war, and a number of them never returned home.
Among those killed were two men with ties to the Philadelphia Phillies organization, Eddie Grant and Bun Troy.
Grant was born on May 21, 1883 in Franklin, Maine. He was nicknamed “Harvard Eddie” for the simple reason that he was a graduate of that prestigious Ivy League institution.
After signing with the Cleveland Naps (now Indians) in 1905, Grant made his big-league debut with them, appearing in two games that year. He was ultimately released, signed on with Jersey City of the Eastern League, and then had his contract purchased by the Phillies in August 1906.
Gant would play for the next four seasons as a regular with the Phillies, appearing in 527 games as the team’s starting third baseman. The team produced a winning record in three of his four seasons from 1907-10. He led all of baseball in at-bats in both 1908 and 1909, and in plate appearances in 1909.
On November 12, 1910 the Phillies packaged Grant along with starting center fielder Johnny Bates and solid pitchers Lew Moren and George McQuillan to the Cincinnati Reds.
In exchange the Phillies received Hans Lobert and Dode Paskert, who proved to be upgrades at the hot corner and in center field, as well as a pair of pitchers who never really panned out in Fred Beebe and Jack Rowan.
Then in June 1913, Grant had his contract purchased by the New York Giants. This led to his lone World Series appearance. That fall he got to pinch-run in the top of the 10th inning of Game 2 at Shibe Park against Connie Mack‘s Philadelphia Athletics.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Paul Goldschmidt among possible Phillies trade targets

Embed from Getty Images
Cleveland willing to entertain offers for veterans including ace Corey Kluber

Much of the talk surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies during these early days of the Hot Stove season has understandably centered on some of the big-name free agents.
The Phillies have a great deal of money available to spend, and so they should be major players for some of the top available talents. However, free agency is just one way in which the team can improve itself.
Earlier this week, Scott Lauber at Philly.com quoted Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, a man squarely on the hot seat this off-season, in regards to the team’s approach:
“Part of the fun of this offseason is we don’t know which way we’re going to go. It could be a starter. It could be a reliever. It could be a hitter. It could be a defender. It could be some combination of that. It could be trades. It could be free agency. To be able to consider any opportunity is exciting.”
The staff at Sports Illustrated released a piece on Friday in which they explored some high-profile names reportedly on the trade block, and then tried to match those players with teams they felt were “Best Fits” for the players.
The Phillies were listed as such in relation to one big bat and a pair of star pitchers. The bat is that of Arizona Diamondbacks impact first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The pitchers were right-handers Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, publicly placed on the trade block by the Cleveland Indians.


As stated by SI, Goldschmidt would “…easily improve any lineup of any contender. From here, the best fits look to be the Yankees, Rockies, Nationals, and Phillies, with the Astros a potential dark-horse.
Goldschmidt turned 31-years-old in September, so will play at that age all of next season. He is signed through next season at $14.5 million, a bargain for the level of production that his big right-handed bat yields.
Goldschmidt was born in the area in Wilmington, Delaware but he grew up in Texas. Over his eight seasons, ‘Goldy’ has crushed 209 home runs and roped another 267 doubles. His career slash line reads at .297/.398/.532 and he has been a National League all-star in each of the last six seasons.
He has four Silver Sluggers and three Gold Gloves on his mantle, and was the NL’s Hank Aaron Award winner in the 2013 season during which Goldschmidt led the league in homers and RBI.
While his bat would improve most any lineup, it would be hard to see a genuine fit for Goldschmidt with the Phillies. The team already has Rhys Hoskins, who should be filling the first base position down in South Philly for at least the next half-dozen years.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Phillies targeting lefty pitching this off-season per Jim Bowden

Embed from Getty Images
Former big-league GM Jim Bowden has inside info on Phillies targets

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Matt Klentak and his counterparts across Major League Baseball have now wrapped up the annual GM meetings, held over the last three days in Carlsbad, California.
This morning, Jim Bowden reported for The Athletic that he had reached out to sources inside the Phillies organization, along with the other 29 organizations.
The former GM and MLB Executive of the Year obtained information as to the club’s “biggest needs and priorities for the next month and the remainder of the winter“, and then gave his opinion as to which players the team might target in trades and as free agents.
Two of the needs and priorities for the Phillies would be fairly obvious to any fan who followed the team this past season: improving the offense and defense.
The Phillies ranked 29th of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball in errors committed despite ranking just eighth in total chances handled. This caused the club to also finish 29th in fielding percentage.
Offensively the club finished tied for 21st in runs scored and OPS. Despite a supposed emphasis on reaching base, the Phillies finished tied for 18th in baseball in on-base percentage. They were 15th in home runs and 23rd in stolen bases.
Among the bats that Bowden mentions as being on the Phillies radar are the two biggest free agent names, two frequently linked to the club: Manny Machado and Bryce Harper.
Also mentioned as possible free agent targets for the club in the outfield are Michael BrantleyA.J. Pollock, and Andrew McCutchen. Trade targets in the outfield ranks among those rumored as available are Mitch Haniger and Kevin Kiermaier.
Infielders who Bowden believes that the Phillies will be looking at are free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson and shortstop Jose Iglesias.
Every pitcher attached to the Phillies by Bowden is a southpaw. The list includes free agent lefty starters Patrick CorbinDallas KeuchelGio Gonzalez, Hyun-jin Ryu and J.A. Happ, and left-handed reliever Zach Britton.


Also on Bowden’s list as Phillies pitching targets are Japanese lefty Yusei Kikuchi and Seattle Mariners left-hander James Paxton, rumored to be available on the trade market.
We’ve covered the Phillies interest in a number of these players already here at Phillies Nation this off-season. Continue to follow us as the days and weeks move along, and more and more of these logs are tossed onto the Hot Stove fires. We’ll have all of the most reliable Phillies rumors and reports, as well as stories on any deals that actually get done.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as "Lefty pitching reportedly among Phillies top priorities this off-season"

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Phillies have enough to sign Bryce Harper and still go after Mike Trout in two years

Embed from Getty Images
Signing Harper (L) would not preclude also signing Trout (R) and others

There is an old saying when discussing finances – you can’t have it all. Nearly everyone, even most wealthy folks, have to make choices at some point about how to spend their money.
Back in April of this year, Forbes released their annual Major League Baseball team values. The Philadelphia Phillies came in at ninth on the list with a $1.7 billion value attached.
But just because the Phillies are valued that highly doesn’t mean they can spend a billion dollars on player salaries.
How much can the team actually spend? Can they really afford a free agent contract of the magnitude that Bryce Harper or Manny Machado would surely command?
If the Phillies lay out the huge sum that it will cost to bring one or both of those young superstars to Citizens Bank Park for the 2019 season and well into the next decade, how would that affect their ability to put together a further competitive roster?
The team and the fan base certainly would like to be able to afford homegrown young stars Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins. And what about the ultimate Phillies fan pipe dream, bringing Mike Trout home when he becomes a free agent in a couple of years?
Well, I’m here to tell you that it can all get done. Well, at least most of it. In the end you might not have it all. But you will have a lot, and what you do have should excite you.


FISHING FOR TROUT

First, let’s assume that you really, really want the Phillies to sign Trout when he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. That is your ‘Plan A’, the one thing that you want above all others, with everything being equal.
I don’t have to stretch my assumptions to believe that is the case. Any Phillies fan who has been listening to talk radio and following the fans on social media for the last couple of years knows full well that bringing Trout to South Philly is their dream.
Let’s assume it is your dream. What would that take? What might a long-term Trout contract look like?
Figure in what Harper and Machado are likely to get this year. Factor in that Trout will turn 29-years-old when he hits free agency in the fall of 2020. Know that he will have already made over $146 million by that time.
Trout may be looking for the same 10-year deal that will likely be the ask to land either Harper or Machado, even though he will be a couple of years older than both players are now. Such a deal would take Trout through his age 38 season, basically the rest of his career.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Matt Klentak on the hot seat as the weather gets colder and baseball's Hot Stove warms up

Embed from Getty Images
That chair is getting hotter under Klentak's butt as the weather gets colder

Major League Baseball’s off-season “Hot Stove” began to heat up in front offices all across the game this past weekend. Dozens of players became free agents eligible to negotiate with all 30 clubs at that point.
Over three days beginning today in Carlsbad, California the MLB general managers are meeting. While most of the work they undertake will be of the procedural type not directly involving player movement, the groundwork for future deals can certainly take place here.
The Phillies and their fans need look no further than their last World Series champions for proof that important deals can actually get done at the MLB General Manager meetings.
It was 11 years ago tomorrow, on November 7, 2007 at these very same meetings that Phillies GM Pat Gillick swung a deal with Houston Astros GM Ed Wade. Gillick obtained closer Brad Lidge and infielder Eric Bruntlett in that trade in exchange for pitcher Geoff Geary and a pair of prospects, outfielder Michael Bourn and infielder Mike Costanzo.
Flash-forward just over a decade later, and it’s general manager Matt Klentak who will be attempting to either swing such a deal or lay the groundwork for one that he hopes will prove just as beneficial for today’s version of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Klentak is clearly on the hot seat this off-season. If not with Phillies ownership, then certainly with the club’s fan base. Since being hired to the position in October 2015, his moves have proven to be a mixed bag to this point.
“I’m not going to make decisions because of what they mean to me for my job security” ~ Matt Klentak, September 2018
To be fair, the team that he inherited was a disaster. Three straight losing seasons, each worse than the last, had left the Phillies as the worst team in baseball when he arrived.
However, it is arguable as to how much the situation has actually improved on his watch. While the Phillies reached the 80-wins plateau for the first time in a half-dozen years this past season, it was a sixth consecutive losing campaign, the third in a row under Klentak.
It would be difficult to take an objective look at the Phillies anticipated regulars for the 2019 season at this point and find any homegrown position player who looks to have their lineup spot secured for years to come.


Rhys Hoskins, drafted under the regime of previous GM Ruben Amaro, should have such a claim to the first base position. However, Klentak went out and spent $60 million unwise dollars on an aging Carlos Santana last December, presumably relegating Hoskins to an out-of-position role in left field for the foreseeable future.
Klentak made what seemed an astute move back during spring training of 2018, signing the club’s top prospect Scott Kingery to a team-friendly six-year contract with three additional club-option years.
Kingery, another Amaro draftee and a minor league Gold Glove second baseman, was then switched to shortstop at the big-league level. It was a position where he had played just two games over three minor league seasons, and he struggled mightily both at the plate and in the field.
Klentak also handed a $30 million contract guaranteed over five years to Odubel Herrera, a player whose baseball brain betrays him far too regularly, and whose play has steadily deteriorated since signing the deal.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Phillies young ace Aaron Nola named as a Cy Young Award finalist

Embed from Getty Images
Phillies young ace Aaron Nola named a Cy Young Award finalist for first time

Major League Baseball announced the finalists for its 2018 major awards today, and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola was named as one of the three finalists for the National League Cy Young Award.
The 25-year-old Nola enjoyed a breakout campaign for the Phillies this past season. Becoming the team’s ace, the young right-hander went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA, 0.975 WHIP, 175 ERA+, and 3.01 FIP.
Nola allowed only 149 hits this year in 212.1 innings across 33 starts with a 224/58 K:BB ratio. His 10.5 WAR mark was the best by any pitcher in the game and the second-highest in all of baseball, just ahead of Mike Trout and just behind Mookie Betts.
The other finalists announced for the award were Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals and Jacob deGrom of the New York Mets.
Scherzer went 18-7 with a 2.53 ERA, 0.911 WHIP, 168 ERA+, and 2.65 FIP. Over 33 starts the 34-year-old allowed 150 hits in 220.2 innings pitched with a 300/51 K:BB ratio and 8.8 WAR mark.
The right-hander already has three Cy Young Awards on his mantle at home. Scherzer won the American League Cy Young Award with Detroit in 2014 before taking home the honors for the National League in each of the last two seasons with Washington.
The 30-year-old deGrom went 10-9 with a 1.70 ERA, 0.912 WHIP, 216 ERA+, and a 1.98 FIP. He yielded 152 hits across 217 innings over 32 starts with a 269/46 K:BB ratio and 9.6 WAR mark.
A two-time NL All-Star, deGrom was the 2014 National League Rookie of the Year. The righty finished seventh in 2015 and eighth a year ago in previous NL Cy Young Award voting results.


View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

.@AaronNola027 finished this season 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA and 224 strikeouts over his 33 starts.

Thank you, Ace, for one heck of a 2018!