Tuesday, December 8, 2015
Expect Some Moves To Be Made This Week
Talks Centering Around Giles – Could Ken Giles be the next closer traded this offseason? Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said on Monday afternoon at the Winter Meetings that he is receiving numerous calls about Giles, who went 6-3 with a 1.80 ERA and 15 saves in 17 opportunities as Philadelphia's closer in 2015. Sources have confirmed that the Astros and Marlins are just two of the teams that have called the Phils about Giles. "I don't know how much I really want to say about that, but yeah," Klentak said. "There's a lot of interest in him because he's good, and because he's young, and because he's cheap. We'll see. I don't know how that's going to shake out. If he's with us, we'll be very happy he's still with us." Interest in Giles could pick up as the Meetings continue through Thursday. The Padres traded Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox last month, and Reds closer Aroldis Chapman could essentially be off the market in light of a domestic violence investigation reportedly stemming from an October incident in which he allegedly fired eight gunshots into his home's garage. Enter Giles, whose stock may rise with fewer options available to contending teams. In theory, Giles should fetch a top prospect or two because he is paid significantly less than Kimbrel and Chapman and cannot become a free agent until after the 2020 season. The Padres received four prospects from the Red Sox, including outfielder Manuel Margot and shortstop Javier Guerra, the No. 25 and No. 76 prospects in baseball, respectively, according to MLBPipeline.com. The other two prospects San Diego acquired -- infielder Carlos Asuaje and left-hander Logan Allen -- ranked among Boston's top 30. Reports prior to Monday's news of the investigation into Chapman had the Dodgers sending the Reds at least one of their top prospects for the left-hander. "Yeah, potentially," said Klentak when asked if a strong package for Chapman -- agreed to before news of the investigation -- would put the Phillies in a good spot. "But markets evolve in their own ways at certain times of the year and how a trade market correlates with the free-agent market and vice versa. Sometimes it seems like it should lead in a certain direction and it leads the opposite way. I don't know. Am I curious [about a Chapman deal]? Sure. But we're still kind of taking that day by day, and we'll see how it plays out. "I've said this before, and I'd appreciate it if you guys wrote it again. We like Ken Giles. We want Ken Giles on our team. We want more players like Ken Giles. But we also have to be opportunistic when opportunities present themselves to make us better in both the short and long term. And we're going to explore that and other things while we're here." Speaking in general terms, Klentak said he thinks that the Phillies can make at least one roster move this week (other than a Rule 5 Draft selection). That could mean an additional starter for the rotation or an additional veteran for the bullpen. "I think one thing we've all learned over the years of the Winter Meetings, trades, free-agent signings, they can come together pretty quickly," Klentak said. "I just know what I've read on the Zack Greinke contract -- it sounds like that came together in a few hours. Not suggesting that we're doing something like that, but I think especially when you get people face to face and are balancing a lot of different ideas, decisions can come to pass pretty quickly. Nothing is sort of on the table to get done imminently here, but I would hope that we have talked to enough agents and clubs here that I think, just kicking the tires, that hopefully something would come together before we leave."
Franco Files Grievance – Two top rookie third basemen, Kris Bryant of the Cubs and Maikel Franco of the Phillies, have filed grievances claiming their teams manipulated their service time to delay their eligibility for free agency. In at least Bryant's case, the grievance was filed early this past season. The story was first reported by Yahoo on Monday. Bryant, the unanimous choice for the National League Rookie of the Year Award this season, opened the year at Triple-A Iowa despite leading the Majors in home runs during Spring Training. At the time, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said the club wanted Bryant to "get into a good rhythm." Franco also opened the season at Triple-A, playing for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. He was recalled on May 15 and remained in the big leagues for the remainder of the season, also spending time on the disabled list with a broken left wrist. In 80 games, Franco had 14 homers, 50 RBIs and an .840 on-base plus slugging percentage. Because of the timing of his promotion, he accrued 170 days of big league service time, two days short of a full season. Grievances over service time are not unusual. Settlements can be reached. If not, they will be resolved by an arbitration panel. Bryant, who hit 26 homers with 99 RBIs and an .858 OPS, ended up with 171 days of service time. Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, a player must have six full years of service time to become a free agent. The Phillies had no comment on the development. It should be pointed out that neither team president Andy McPhail nor general manager Matt Klentak was with the organization when the decision was made to recall Franco. Franco's agent, Ryan Royster, told MLB.com the story shouldn't be blown out of proportion. "This is a road we're going down now, but I don't want to comment about anything happening behind the scenes or what could happen in the future," Royster said. "Maikel is a Phillie, and he's happy there. He's happy with the fans and he's happy with the city. He wants everyone to know that." Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was also conciliatory. "We've known about this since May," Hoyer said Monday. "We've had a great relationship with Kris, we have a great relationship with [Bryant's agent, Scott Boras]. They obviously decided to file a grievance in May, and nothing has changed since then. The fact that the news came out today doesn't change anything about where we are. "Obviously, we feel like we were in the right, but I'm not going to comment on the case, or open this back up. For us, it's been, what, seven months? I'm thrilled for Kris; he had a great year. Couldn't have been more excited that he was Rookie of the Year. This [grievance] is something that will be handled with due process."
Questions About Howard’s Future With Phillies – Ryan Howard's future with the Phillies has been questioned for some time, and those questions have increased since Andy MacPhail and Matt Klentak replaced Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro Jr. as president and general manager, respectively. It could be beneficial for both parties to part ways, but the Phils have had no success moving Howard because of his contract. He is owed $25 million next season, plus $10 million on a 2017 club option. But Klentak knows that if Howard remains with the organization, they need to make it work. That's why Klentak, Howard and Howard's agent had a meeting at Citizens Bank Park just before Thanksgiving. "We talked for an hour," Klentak said on Monday afternoon at the Winter Meetings. "It was really positive." So will Howard be engaged if he returns next season, knowing the team would like to trade him? "I will tell you that based on the hour or so I spent with him two weeks ago, I think so," Klentak said. "I think he was genuine. Everybody was very honest with each other, and he seemed genuinely excited and energized looking forward to next year. I don't know the guy, that's the first time I met him, but boy, I sure believed it. I think so. And I am, too. That energized me. We talk about an environment and energy and makeup and culture. It certainly came across that way." Of course, a cynic might ask, What does Howard have to be energized and excited about? He certainly knows that his time with the Phillies is nearing an end, one way or another, and he knows that if he returns, he will be playing on a rebuilding team that does not consider him part of its future. "I think honesty helps a lot," Klentak said. "Just laying the cards on the table and talking about the realities of our team and him and everything about him -- what he's been through with the Phillies, both good and bad. I think just sort of talking that through on a personal level is refreshing. Again, it was very positive. I'm sure there will be more dialogue as we go, and as we get through the season people talk to him a lot. I'm encouraged." Klentak and manager Pete Mackanin said that nothing has been decided about Howard's playing time next season, although a platoon at first base with Darin Ruf is a possibility. "If Ryan Howard is performing, Ryan Howard is going to play," Klentak said. "If he's not, he'll play less. And that's not specific to Ryan, that's true to everyone on our club and probably just about everyone in baseball."
Rodriguez Outrighted – The Phillies outrighted left-hander Joely Rodriguez to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, leaving 37 players on the 40-man roster. "The timing of that was designed to make sure that if things did pop up here and happen quickly, we had enough roster spots to cover it," Klentak said. "But we didn't do it for any particular imminent trade or free-agent signing." The Phils acquired Rodriguez last December for left-hander Antonio Bastardo. Rodriguez went 7-10 with a 6.12 ERA in 32 appearances last season with Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley.
Moves Are Certain To Be Made – The Phillies have landed at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. While they are not expected to make huge splashes this offseason, they could make things interesting this week. Expect to hear some talk surrounding Phillies closer Ken Giles, who is available for the right price. Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has said it is not his goal to trade Giles. But if a team steps up, like the Red Sox stepped up to acquire closer Craig Kimbrel from the Padres, it would be a surprise if Klentak did not pull the trigger. The opportunity to acquire a few top prospects for a pitcher that essentially would pitch only 60-80 innings next season would seem impossible to resist. MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availabilities on MLB.com -- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin meets with reporters at 4 p.m. on Tuesday -- as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 11 a.m. ET and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 10 a.m. ET. "We're still trying to make our core better -- and that's been the organization's goal from the beginning of the winter, and it's still our goal," Klentak said. "We want to be opportunistic with whatever presents itself and make our club better in the long and short term. It's been an organizational goal of mine and ours to augment our pitching. That continues. ... I don't have a short list of clubs or agents I want to meet with, but I'm certain we'll be very active in talking with a lot of people and pursuing a lot of opportunities that will present themselves." Even if the Phillies do not trade Giles, they will continue to pursue a veteran starter. They certainly need at least one to complement a mostly inexperienced group that figures to include at least Jeremy Hellickson, Aaron Nola and Jerad Eickhoff -- with Adam Morgan, David Buchanan, Alec Asher and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez competing for jobs. "Nothing is imminent at this moment," Klentak said. But that can change with one face-to-face meeting or one text message this week at the Winter Meetings. Stay tuned.
The Phillies finally put an end to the season finishing in last place in the NL East with a record of 63-99. Given the departures, aging stars, injuries, and bipolar performances, this has ended up being one of the worst seasons in franchise history! However, at least Ryan Madson got another ring this year.