*** Phillies first Grapefruit League game - Friday, February 22, 1:05PM vs Tampa Bay Rays *** Spring Training updates here on the PHILLIES and all of Major League Baseball ***

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Manny Machado reportedly opts to stay in the SoCal sun - in San Diego

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Machado will be playing in the SoCal sun for years to come

According to a number of reliable sources, the San Diego Padres have come to an agreement with free agent infielder Manny Machado.

The deal is reportedly for 10 years and $300 million, which would make it the largest total dollar value guaranteed contract in American sports history. There is also reportedly a player opt-out after the fifth year in the deal.
This deal also pushes the Padres, who entered the pursuit late in the off-season as a “mystery team”, over the $100 million total salary mark for the first time in franchise history.
With top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr considered nearly ready at shortstop, the Padres could either play Machado at third base and go with Luis Urias at short for now, or begin 2019 with Machado at short until Tatis is ready.

The Phillies were considered an early favorite for Machado, who met with club officials back in December at Citizens Bank Park. Despite both sides saying all of the right polite things, nothing seemed to ever get close between the Phillies and Machado.
The Chicago White Sox were considered co-favorites for Machado’s services at one point. The Chisox added Machado’s brother-in-law, Yonder Alonso, and signed their workout partner Jon Jay in order to help lure the free agent. Chicago reportedly had a seven-year, $175-million dollar offer on the table for the infielder and were confident in their chances.
Don’t be surprised if the White Sox now shift their full focus and resources into a battle with the Phillies in trying to lure Bryce Harper, with the San Francisco Giants and his former Washington Nationals team also still in the hunt.
The Machado contract is certainly going to establish a base in Harper negotiations. It would not be surprising to see the outfielder get something along the lines of a 10-year deal worth between $325-350 million with a similar opt-out.

A number of veteran free agent infielders could help the Phillies improve their depth

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Veteran Jose Iglesias could help the Phillies infield depth

Most of the talk surrounding the Philadelphia Phillies and the pursuit of further free agent help rightfully surrounds the big names of outfielder Bryce Harper and infielder Manny Machado.
However, the club could still use a more veteran option as a reserve infielder. That would cease to be the case if Machado is signed and both Hernandez and Franco remain with the team, but that scenario seems like a long-shot at best.
As things stand today the Phillies starting infield would be made up of first baseman Rhys Hoskins, second baseman Cesar Hernandez, shortstop Jean Segura, and third baseman Maikel Franco.
Manager Gabe Kapler has also announced that Franco would be directly challenged in spring training by Scott Kingery, who remains blocked at his natural position by the presence of Hernandez, who is in the final year of his contract.
Only two other infield options are currently on the Phillies 40-man roster. One of those is 21-year old Arquimedes Gamboa, who is not likely to see big-league action this season, and who isn’t much of a prospect in any event. The other is Mitch Walding, a 26-year-old corner infielder who has 19 big-league plate appearances to his name.
The club has a handful of players with infield experience who are signed and participating at spring training as non-roster invitees: Malquin Canelo, Phil Gosselin, Austin ListiGift NgoepeGregorio PetitAustin Romine, and Sean Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was probably the most attractive of those options, the one with the best chance to actually help the Phillies at the big-league level. The 33-year-old has 11-years of experience in Major League Baseball and has played every position on the diamond except catcher and pitcher.
Unfortunately, Rodriguez has now reportedly suffered a torn right meniscus (knee tendon) and may require surgery. Depending on the severity and the pace of his recovery it could mean that he won’t be able to play until later in the summer.
There do remain some veteran free agent options should the Phillies decide to look outside of the organization for infield bench help. One of those is former two-time NL All-Star Josh Harrison, who has started in MLB at both second base and third base, and who has also filled in at shortstop and the outfield. I wrote about him here at Phillies Nation almost exactly one month ago.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Phillies fans are going to have to wait on Mike Trout

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Phillies fans have never been shy about their affection for local guy Mike Trout

If you follow discussions among the Philadelphia Phillies fan base on social media you know that it is difficult to go more than a couple of days without someone admonishing the team to “bring home” the best player in baseball, Mike Trout.
It takes just a glance at the career of the “Millville Rocket” to understand the desire of fans to see the native of that South Jersey town play his home games in the Phillies red pinstripes.
While the Phillies were setting a franchise record with 102 wins during their last winning season back in 2011, Trout was breaking into Major League Baseball with an extended 40-game cup of coffee with the Los Angeles Angels.
During his official rookie campaign a year later, Trout captured the American League Rookie of the Year honors. He slashed .326/.399/.564 that year with 30 home runs, 65 extra-base hits, 49 stolen bases, and 129 runs scored.
Trout has now played in eight big-league seasons. He has been the AL Most Valuable Player twice and finished runner-up for the honors on three occasions. During his seven full seasons the lowest that he has finished in AL MVP voting has been fourth.

Now 27-years-old, Trout has 240 career homers, 648 RBI, 793 runs scored, and 189 stolen bases with a .307/.416/.573 career slash line. The OPS mark of .990 that he has put together during that period is the best in all of baseball. He is also a seven-time American League All-Star and six-time Silver Slugger Award winner.
Trout now has a 64.3 career WAR mark, tied with Roy Halladay for 144th in baseball all-time. With a typical season in 2019 he would move past a couple of dozen Hall of Famers including Halladay, Willie McCoveyAndre DawsonCraig BiggioErnie BanksDuke Snider, and Roberto Alomar.
Trout has never won a Gold Glove Award and yet is widely considered among the best center fielders in the game. Early in his career, television highlight shows featured him frequently. His everyday excellence in this area of the game simply seems to now be taken for granted.
Trout did not commit a single error last year, the only center fielder in Major League Baseball who can make that claim. In fact, he has not committed an error since April of 2017.
But the affection for Trout extends beyond his phenomenal on-field performance for Philly sports fans. Trout is one of us. He grew up as a fan of Philadelphia sports teams. Trout tailgated at the 2008 World Series. He is one of the biggest fans of the Philadelphia Eagles that you are going to find.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that when responding to questions about the Phillies current free agent search, Trout showed that he fully understands the passion and interest of the fan base by referencing his own situation.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Fifth starter Zach Eflin will try to solidify Phillies rotation spot

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Obtained in trade for an icon, Eflin tries to solidify a rotation spot

Spring has sprung, if not in Philadelphia, then at least down in Clearwater, Florida where the Phillies are working out daily with temperature highs in the 70’s and lows in the 60’s.
There is a great deal of building enthusiasm surrounding the 2019 ball club. A young roster that held first place for much of last summer has been bolstered by an influx of talented veterans. And there remains the exciting possibility that a young superstar could still show up in camp one of these days.
The Phillies are clearly improved in their lineup. Former NL MVP Andrew McCutchen takes over in left field and a pair of All-Stars are now at shortstop and behind the plate in Jean Segura and J.T. Realmuto. The already strong bullpen has added David Robertson and others to a deeper mix.
Whether or not the Phillies are able to bring in one of the young superstars Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, there is a good chance that success or failure in the upcoming season is going to largely depend on the performance of the starting pitching rotation.

Right now that rotation is fronted by young ace Aaron Nola and veteran Jake Arrieta. The former was an NL Cy Young Award finalist a year ago, the latter has won the award during his career. The club’s current #3 and #4 starters, Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta, are seen by many as talented arms who could each break out with big seasons this year.
The current fifth starter is often overlooked, but right-hander Zach Eflin has a chance to emerge as a vital contributor to the 2019 Phillies ball club.
A native of Orlando, Florida, Eflin was chosen by the San Diego Padres in the supplemental first round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft at 33rd overall. On December 18, 2014, Eflin was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of a five-player deal. The very next day the Dodgers flipped Eflin to the Phillies in exchange for an aging Jimmy Rollins.

Eflin was obtained by the Phillies as part of the Jimmy Rollins trade with the Dodgers in December 2014. (Arturo Pardavila III/WikiCommons)
He immediately became one of the Phillies top prospects, with Baseball America rating him fourth-best in the organization prior to the 2015 campaign. Pitching that summer at Double-A Reading, Eflin went 8-6 with a 3.69 ERA and was named to the Eastern League all-star team. He also pitched for the silver medal-winning Team USA in the Pan Am Games.
The following season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Eflin upped his game. He went 5-2 with a 2.90 ERA, allowing just 49 hits over 68.1 innings across 11 starts with a fabulous 55/11 K:BB ratio. For that performance, Eflin received his first big-league opportunity in early June.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Andy MacPhail addresses the media at Phillies 2019 spring training

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Team president Andy MacPhail addressed the media at 2019 spring training

The Philadelphia Phillies have been running their decision-makers out in front of the media this week as spring training has gotten underway down in Clearwater, Florida. Two days ago it was manager Gabe Kapler, and yesterday general manager Matt Klentak took his turn in front of the press.
Today it was president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail who sat down and provided organizational updates and then answered questions from the gathered media members.
MacPhail started off wanting to provide a history of how the Phillies got to the point where they are today during his tenure with the club. That tenure began when he was hired as a special assistant to then-president Pat Gillick in June 2015. MacPhail would succeed Gillick as the club president at the conclusion of that season.
I don’t think this organization really committed to a rebuild until July of 2015,” said MacPhail, obviously equating that start with his arrival in town. He went on to list some of the player salaries shed in the aftermath of his arrival, and then said that the contract savings were used to make “a series of significant investments in the infrastructure of the franchise while our payroll was diminished.

Those investments came in the areas of facilities, personnel, and technology.
Funds invested in the area of facilities took a number of forms, including a new Phillies academy opened in 2016 in the Dominican Republic, which is a traditional hotbed of amateur baseball talent.
There were also improvements made last year at Citizens Bank Park, including major changes to the fan experience in the right field area of Ashburn Alley. MacPhail said there will be further noticeable improvements this year to the third base/outfield area.
Fans who live and travel in the area have noticed scaffolding around the perimeter of the ballpark during this off-season. This was described by MacPhail as part of a process that the organization is undergoing in applying for their Safety Act to help “create an environment where it is a much more secure and safe place for our fans.
MacPhail also told of “a huge new building that’s being built” on Darien Street near the ballpark which fans will notice as they arrive to games for the 2019 season. He said that when he addressed the personnel area, there would be further explanation of what this building would be used for, but never specifically got back to the topic, unless this will be the place to house the new hires.
Funds invested by the club in the personnel area took on three forms: traditional baseball roles, “new ground” areas as far as the Phillies interest in hiring people to such positions, and finally the hiring of new personnel on the business side.

Bryce Harper has made his decision, per Washington sports talk host

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A Washington radio host is reporting Harper has made a decision

Everyone in Phillies Nation has been waiting with growing impatience for a final decision from free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.
If the alleged “real good source” to 106.7 The Fan sports talk broadcaster Chris Russell is to be believed, the process for Harper may be now winding to a close.
Russell stated on the air on Thursday that the superstar outfielder’s decision would “come in the next 24 hours” and added that he did not believe that Harper would be returning to the Nationals.
Then today, Russell joined local Philly FM sports talk Philly 94 WIP’s Midday Show and stated the following:
“… I’m led to believe by the people that I’ve talked to that are close to the situation—and I have, again, a real good source that has helped me through this process, let’s just leave it at that, that Bryce was in a mood to celebrate yesterday.”
Now, the source said, ‘I believe it’s done.’ I don’t have concrete, 100 percent proof for you guys. I wish I did, otherwise I would have it and I would be running around with it. But I don’t have that, so I want to caution everybody in Philadelphia. But that’s what I was lead to believe, that this thing is now decided."
Russell went on to elaborate that if no formal contract has yet been extended, then there may simply have been an agreement reached. That would mean that specific contract details need to be worked out before any actual announcement might come.

Ben Krimmel at the 106.7 The Fan further quoted Russell: “I was, again, led to believe that there was some stuff going on yesterday in Las Vegas that indicated to me and my source that Bryce Harper was done with this decision. But it could still take a couple of days to get everything ironed out.
Information from Russell’s supposed source might be given a bit more credence than some of the other information coming out regarding the Harper situation. It was this source that revealed the San Francisco Giants recent interest in the free agent slugger.
Phillies general manager Matt Klentak stated yesterday that he believes the club has enjoyed a strong off-season and responded to the many fans who have been vocal in expressing that, despite all of the team’s moves to date, the failure to land either Harper or Machado would prove fatal to the club’s chances of truly competing in the 2019 season.
Klentak was quoted by Matt Breen at Philly.com: “The notion that we hear is that if we fail to sign a big free agent, then it’s a failure of an offseason. I don’t agree with that. I’m not trying to throw cold water on the idea that we may still sign a free agent. We are going to continue to explore that market because there are several really good free agents out there.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Aaron Nola agrees to long-term contract with Phillies

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Nola emerged as a true ace during the 2018 season

The Philadelphia Phillies and starting pitcher Aaron Nola have agreed to a four-year contract per an announcement from the team this morning.
The deal allows the team and its emerging young ace hurler to avoid an arbitration hearing which would have taken place tomorrow.
Nola will receive a $2 million signing bonus. He will then receive salaries of $4 million for the coming 2019 season, $8 million in 2020, $11.75 million in 2021, and $15 million in 2022. For the 2023 campaign he can earn $16 million, or there is a $4.25 million buyout.
Should the contract be fulfilled in its entirety, Nola would receive just shy of $57 million total. The deal would cover what could have been his first two years of free agency. Should he remain healthy, this would enable him to become a free agent at age 30 following the 2023 season – unless the Phillies can work out an extension prior to that point.

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Nola was the Phillies first round pick at seventh overall in the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft out of Louisiana State University. An advanced college prospect, he was able to reach the big-leagues the following summer.
Over his first four seasons in a Phillies uniform, Nola has put together a 41-28 record with a 3.35 ERA, 1.139 WHIP, and 3.24 FIP. He has allowed 493 hits over 569 innings across 93 games, all as a starter. Nola has a career 597/155 K:BB ratio.
Last season, Nola enjoyed a true breakout campaign. He went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA and 0.975 WHIP, striking out 224 opposing batters over 212.1 innings. Nola was also named to his first National League All-Star team. For that performance he was named as an NL Cy Young Award finalist, finishing third in the voting. He also received NL MVP votes.
Three weeks ago, Nola represented the Phillies at Hopkinson Elementary School located in Philadelphia’s Juniata section as part of Major League Baseball’s Shred Hate campaign. He presented the kids with a strong anti-bullying message that day per Todd Zolecki at MLB.com: “We all need to respect each other and be friendly, because that’s what we remember. We want as many friends as we can have.
A growing fan favorite, Nola opens this season at age 25 at the beginning of what should be his prime years, through which this contract will take him. He is obviously a key homegrown piece to the Phillies plans as they hope to return to consistent contending status.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Phillies long-term answer at third base just might be Maikel Franco

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With rumors swirling, Franco hopes to prove he is the third base answer

There were rumors floating around during much of the off-season that the Philadelphia Phillies were possibly going to be moving on from third baseman Maikel Franco.
It would be understandable if that theory grew from the possible signing of young superstar infielder Manny Machado. If the Phillies indeed were to sign Machado, and if he were to agree to play third base with Jean Segura staying at shortstop, then Franco would clearly be expendable.
However, such speculation should never have been considered as likely. For one thing, the Phillies had a number of realistic competitors for the services of Machado. For another, Machado had already made it known publicly that he wanted to play shortstop. Also, the Phillies were involved in the pursuit of Bryce Harper, and were unlikely to sign both players.

None of that stopped folks such as NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Corey Seidman from making statements such as this one regarding the Phillies incumbent third baseman:
It’s difficult to see, short of replacing Franco with someone like Machado or Mike Moustakas, why this would necessarily be the case. Neither Phillies management nor manager Gabe Kapler has done or said anything to indicate that “Franco is not their 3B of the future.
The public pursuit of Machado doesn’t say that at all. What that says is that management recognizes that the team desperately needs a truly dynamic bat for the middle of their order. It speaks to the impact talent of Machado, not to any lack of talent regarding Franco.
Though he was able to play in 10 games, Franco missed most of last September with various injuries. Despite ultimately playing in just 131 games he banged 22 home runs in 433 plate appearances. He also hit a career-high .270 while raising his OBP by 30 points, his slugging percentage by 58 points, and his OPS by 90 points from the 2017 season.
Had he been given the health of his first two full years as the Phillies starting third baseman, Franco was on a 30-homer, 90+ RBI pace last season before that final month.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Future murky for Aaron Altherr entering the 2019 season

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Aaron Altherr's future role with Phillies is up-in-the-air entering 2019

Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies have been focused on potential changes to the starting lineup for the 2019 season for obvious reasons. A team that hopes to become a contender had problems both producing runs and playing defense a year ago, yet battled for the division lead into September.
The club began to make improvents in the outfield with the December free agent signing of veteran Andrew McCutchen. Slotting the 32-year-old former National League Most Valuable Player into left field allowed the Phillies to switch Rhys Hoskins back to his more comfortable position at first base.
The specter of Bryce Harper also continues to hang over the incumbent outfielder mix. If the Phillies are successful in their pursuit of the free agent superstar, he and ‘Cutch’ would be everyday starters on the outfield corners for the Phillies for the next three years, the length of McCutchen’s contract.
Whether the team actually lands Harper or not, this is going to be a pivotal season at the start of a defining period in the career of one of those outfielders, Aaron Altherr.
Signed for the upcoming 2019 campaign at $1.35 million, Altherr cannot become a free agent until after the 2021 season. Unless he is traded or released, he is going to be with the Phillies for the next three years. Having turned 28-years-old last month, Altherr is due to be with the Phillies through what will be the prime years of his career.

Though he only actually lived there for the first six months of his life, Altherr is one of the few European-born players in Major League Baseball. He was born in Landstuhl, Germany to a mother serving in the U.S. Air Force and a father who was a professional soccer player.
The Phillies selected Altherr as an 18-year-old in the ninth round of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft out of an Arizona high school. Following the 2010 season he was ranked among the Phillies top ten prospects by Baseball America.
Altherr spent the next three years rising incrementally through the Phillies farm system, spending the entire 2012 season with Low-A Lakewood and the entirety of 2013 with High-A Clearwater.
By the time he arrived at Double-A Reading for the 2014 season the big-league Phillies were still trying to transition from the popular, successful core group of players who had been consistent winners in the previous decade.
Altherr didn’t have a great year at Reading, slashing just .236/.287/.399 over 120 games. But his 14 homers, 43 extra-base hits, 12 stolen bases and solid play in center field demonstrated athleticism that the team’s decision-makers at the time saw as potentially valuable.
That summer, Altherr received his first looks at life in the Majors when he appeared in two games. On June 16 in Atlanta he was called on to pinch-hit for reliever Mario Hollands in the top of the 12th inning of a 1-1 tie with the host Braves. His first big-league plate appearance saw Altherr face right-hander Anthony Valvaro and resulted in his making the final out of the inning by flying out to center field.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Philography: Mike Schmidt

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Michael Jack Schmidt, the greatest player in Phillies history

This Philography series has now weaved its way through 20 individuals who have played a big part in the history of the Philadelphia Phillies franchise. So it is perhaps fitting that we now take a look back at the career of #20 himself, the greatest player in franchise history, Mike Schmidt.
Philography began with 18 pieces that I wrote during each off-season between 2014-17. Over the last few months I re-introduced the series here at Phillies Nation with two of the players whose actual uniform numbers the Phillies have retired: Richie Ashburn and Jim Bunning.
Entire books can be written – have been written – in order to fully tell the story of one of the greatest players in the history of Major League Baseball. I’m not going to try to do that here. If you are interested in getting in deeper, check out a fine biography at this link written back in 2010 by Rob Maaddi titled Mike Schmidt: The Phillies’ Legendary Slugger.
In order to keep this to a reasonable article-length piece, I will simply rehash the early playing career, and then key on the 1980 highlights of the greatest third baseman in the history of the game, with a little background tossed in here and there. It should make for a great introduction for younger fans, and a fun bit of nostalgia for those who, like me, actually got to see him play.


Schmidt was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio and stayed home to play college baseball at Ohio University. He was a shortstop in those days and was selected at that position to the 1970 College Baseball All-America Team after leading the Bobcats to the College World Series.
With the sixth pick in the second round of the 1971 MLB Amateur Draft, the Phillies selected Schmidt at 30th overall. That was just one pick after the Kansas City Royals had chosen a California shortstop by the name of George Brett.
Schmidt described his contract signing process in a 2015 piece by Matt Monagan for MLB.com’s Cut 4:
The next day, Mr. Lucadello (Phillies scout Tony Lucadello) came to the house, pulled in the driveway, opened his trunk and he pulled out a typewriter. He pulled a typewriter out, walked in the house, set the typewriter down, had a piece of paper and said, “We’re prepared to offer Mike $25,000 if he’ll sign with the Phillies right now.” And my father said, “No way. Come back when you can give us $40,000.” We ended up settling on $37,500 and I went out and bought a Corvette for $7,000.
As an advanced college prospect, Schmidt went straight to Double-A Reading that same summer. He appeared in his first 74 professional games there, hitting .211 with eight homers and 31 RBI over 268 plate appearances.
With a full off-season of rest, Schmidt moved up to Triple-A Eugene for the 1972 season and really showed his ability. He slashed .291/.409/.550 while slamming 26 home runs and driving in 91 runs over 131 games.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Phillies fans clearly prefer Bryce Harper to Manny Machado

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Phillies fans clearly want to see Bryce Harper in red pinstripes in 2019

The Philadelphia Phillies and at least a handful of other Major League Baseball organizations have been doing a dance all off-season for the two biggest free agent names on the market.
Everyone who follows baseball – anyone who really follows sports at all for that matter – has been well aware that Bryce Harper and Manny Machado are those two big names.
The two 26-year-olds hit the open market together in a situation that had most MLB clubs salivating, plotting, and planning for at least a couple of years. The Phillies were perhaps more financially prepared for this off-season than any other team.
And after making moves to sign Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson as free agents and bring in Jean SeguraJ.T. RealmutoJuan Nicasio and Jose Alvarez via trades the Phillies are roughly $37.5 million below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold for the 2019 season.
For the 2020 season the Phillies can get out from under the contract of Cesar Hernandez and a handful of relief pitchers. They currently project at more than $113 million below that CBT threshold for next season per Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
In short, the Phillies are getting a little bit tight for this upcoming 2019 season if they indeed wish to remain below the CBT. That is assuming they don’t swing a couple of deals to give them a bit more room at some point. However, things really could open up after this year.
Perhaps the most respected MLB insider around, Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic, wrote the following today regarding the Harper and Machado situations:
“Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, and Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, both are believed to be seeking at least $300 million.” ~ Ken Rosenthal

Neither wants to sign first, knowing once one of the players goes off the board, the other will benefit from gaining the sole attention of the remaining suitors.
Rosenthal went on to particularly address the position of the front office down at Citizens Bank Park, writing that the Phillies: “sitting on “stupid money,” figure they will get one of the two stars, knowing they can top any offer."

This is pretty much the same story that has been floating around for at least weeks now. But things are indeed beginning to change. The Phillies signing of top reliever David Robertson a month ago and then yesterday’s trade for J.T. Realmuto have signaled that they are “all in” to win immediately.
On Friday morning, Rosenthal had Phillies manager Gabe Kapler on the phone from Clearwater, where the skipper is preparing for next week’s official opening of spring training camp. Rosenthal asked Kapler “If you could address Bryce and Manny right now, what would you say about the 2019 Phillies?

Sean Rodriguez signs with Phillies and could bring veteran versatility to club

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The Phillies signed Sean Rodriguez and invited him to spring training

The Philadelphia Phillies announced the signing of another free agent on Friday morning. Unfortunately, he once again is not the name that fans are hoping to hear.
Sean Rodriguez is a 33-year-old (turns 34 in late April) multi-positional player with 11 years of big-league experience. The Miami, Florida native was originally drafted by the Anaheim (now Los Angeles) Angels in the third round of the 2003 MLB Amateur Draft out of a Miami high school.
Rodriguez rose through the Angels minor league system before finally making his Major League Baseball debut during the 2008 campaign. After appearing in 71 games for the Angels over the 2008-09 seasons he was dealt to the Tampa Bay Rays in December 2009 as the player-to-be-named-later in a trade in August of that year in which the Angels had landed pitcher Scott Kazmir.
Rodriguez would play five seasons with Tampa Bay, becoming a versatile piece for manager Joe Maddon, who used Rodriguez at every position other than pitcher or catcher during that time. He also appeared in a dozen postseason games with the Rays between 2010-13, with seven of those coming as a starter.

In December 2014, Tampa Bay shipped Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he would help the Bucs reach their third consecutive NL Wildcard Game. After two years in the Steel City, Rodriguez signed with the Atlanta Braves as a free agent. The Braves dealt him back to the Pirates in August 2017, and Rodriguez again played last season in Pittsburgh.
Over his 11-year career, Rodriguez has slashed .226/.300/.380 with 77 home runs and 119 doubles over 2,761 plate appearances. His best season came in 2016 with Pittsburgh when he produced career highs of 18 homers and 56 RBI, slashing .270/.349/.510 over 140 games.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Phillies once dealt top prospect pitcher Kyle Drabek to help land Roy Halladay

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Kyle Drabek was the key piece in package to bring Roy Halladay to the Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies completed a big trade this afternoon, landing all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Miami Marlins. As part of the package sent to Miami, the Phillies gave up their top prospect, pitcher Sixto Sanchez.
As with most deals in which a team parts with its number one prospect for a veteran, there was a segment of the Phillies fan base who vocally lamented the inclusion of Sanchez in this trade.
What those fans need to remember is that prospects are one thing and one thing only – an asset for a Major League Baseball organization. That asset could one day come up to the big club and help the team win directly. They could also be utilized as a chip in a deal to help improve the big club. Both are legitimate uses of prospect talent.
A decade ago, the Phillies dealt away another top pitching prospect in a big trade for an all-star. That pitching prospect was named Kyle Drabek, and he was used as a piece to acquire a veteran pitcher named Roy Halladay.
One comment that I read today opined that the talent levels of Drabek and Sanchez were completely different. I also saw someone make the argument that Drabek was dealt for a “Hall of Famer”, while the Phillies “only” got a modest catcher upgrade for Sanchez. I think those arguments are specious and ignore the actual facts and talent levels of the players involved at the time of the respective deals.
Let’s travel back nearly a decade in time. When Baseball America released their 2010 Prospect Handbook, one of the most respected prospect reports in the game, Drabek was rated as the Phillies #2 prospect behind outfielder Domonic Brown.
While some Phillies fans might scoff at that, the fact remains that back then, Brown was considered one of the very top prospects in the entire sport. In fact, Brown would reach a point where he was ranked as the #1 prospect in all of baseball. Three different evaluators from Baseball America released their individual Top 50 Prospects lists in that publication.
Jim Callis ranked Drabek as the #18 overall prospect in the game and the fifth-highest ranked pitcher. John Manuel had Drabek at #16 overall, and the sixth-best overall pitching prospect. Will Lingo placed Drabek at #30 overall and the game’s ninth-rated pitching prospect.
In his scouting report, the son of 1990 NL Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek was said to possess “the organization’s best curveball, a power downer that he can bury or throw for strikes.” There were scouts that gave the pitch a 70-grade. He also threw a fastball that usually ran in the low-90’s with “solid-average life.
Drabek’s athleticism, coordination, and competitiveness were all considered at the top of the charts. In short, the right-hander selected at 18th overall in the first round of the 2006 MLB Amateur Draft by the Phillies was considered as close to a can’t-miss prospect as you can get.