Phillies

Best of MLB: Twins take down White Sox to snap 13-game skid

Best of MLB: Twins take down White Sox to snap 13-game skid

MINNEAPOLIS -- Byron Buxton homered in his return to the majors, and Trevor Plouffe continued his resurgence with a two-run shot as the Minnesota Twins beat the Chicago White Sox 8-5 and ended a 13-game losing streak Thursday night.

Minnesota got to Chicago starter Jose Quintana, who entered the day leading the American League with a 2.77 ERA. Quintana (11-10) allowed seven runs and seven hits in five innings and saw his ERA rise to 3.05.

Ervin Santana (7-10) escaped trouble to win for the fourth time in five decisions. He gave up 11 hits and two walks, but allowed just two runs as the Twins snapped their losing streak, one off the franchise record for a season.

Brandon Kintzler recorded his 13th save in 14 chances (see full recap).

Yelich, Marlins beat Mets to snap 5-game skid
NEW YORK -- Christian Yelich showed off his bat, legs and glove, capped by hitting a three-run homer that helped the Miami Marlins beat shaky Jacob deGrom and the New York Mets 6-4 on Thursday night to end their season-worst five-game losing streak.

Yelich homered and singled twice, drove in four runs and stole two bases. He also made a dashing, diving catch in center field with the bases loaded and two outs -- that made up for him later dropping a routine fly for an error.

Jose Urena (3-5) outpitched deGrom (7-8) as Miami averted a four-game sweep. Down 6-1, the Mets made it close, boosted by pinch-hitter Asdrubal Cabrera's two-run homer in the ninth off Fernando Rodney.

The Mets fell two games behind idle St. Louis for the second wild-card spot, with the Marlins another game back. Earlier in the day, New York second baseman Neil Walker said he needed season-ending surgery for a herniated disk (see full recap).

Russell's clutch hit gives Cubs win over Giants
CHICAGO -- Addison Russell hit a two-run single with the bases loaded in the seventh inning, and the Chicago Cubs beat the San Francisco Giants 5-4 on Thursday night.

The Cubs spoiled a shaky Jeff Samardzija's return to Wrigley Field and started September on a winning note after going 22-6 to match the 1932 team for the best August in franchise history.

The major league leaders also moved a season-high 39 games over .500 and a jaw-dropping 15 1/2 games ahead of St. Louis in the NL Central -- their largest lead in the standings since the 1907 team finished 17 games ahead of Pittsburgh, according to the Elias Sports Bureau (see full recap).

Braves top Padres for 1st home sweep this season
ATLANTA -- Freddie Freeman homered and the Atlanta Braves broke the game open with a five-run fifth inning, beating San Diego 9-6 Thursday to complete their first three-game sweep at Turner Field this season.

One day after Minnesota dipped below Atlanta to the worst record in the majors, the Braves kept on winning behind a six solid innings from Mike Foltynewicz (8-5) and another strong showing from the hitters. They scored at least seven runs for the fifth straight time at home.

Freeman put Atlanta up in the third with his 28th homer, a two-run liner into the right-field seats off Jarred Cosart (0-2). After Hector Sanchez homered for the Padres in the fifth, the Braves finished off Cosart in the bottom half. Freeman walked with the bases loaded, followed by two-run singles from both Matt Kemp and Anthony Recker.

The Braves' two previous three-game sweeps this season came on the road. They are 22-44 at the Ted (see full recap).

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Phillies' ramped-up rebuild demands starting-pitching upgrade

Let the record show that on a snowy Friday afternoon 10 days before Christmas 2017, the Phillies ramped up their rebuild.

Dramatically.

What other conclusion can be drawn after the club went out and signed Carlos Santana, one of the best offensive players on the free-agent market? With the signing, confirmed by multiple baseball sources, general manager Matt Klentak has attached a new level of importance to the 2018 season.

Just a couple of days ago at the winter meetings in Orlando, Klentak spoke of how 2018 was going to be a time to "find out" more about the team's young core of players. Who would continue to take a step forward? Who would fall by the wayside?

But now that Santana is here, 2018 doesn't feel like it's just a find-out season. It feels like a season in which the Phillies can continue to find out about players — separate the studs from the duds — and also start nibbling around that second National League wild-card spot.

Sure, a lot has to go right for that to happen.

And one of the things that has to go right is Klentak has to land a starting pitcher to slot in around Aaron Nola and the rest of the staff, which has the look of a bunch of No. 4 and No. 5 starters — until someone steps forward.

Santana's deal is for three years and $60 million, according to sources. Three years is a nice get — i.e., it's not cripplingly long — for a 32-year-old (in April) who hits for power, produces runs and does what Klentak likes best: controls the strike zone. (You could say that Klentak added two players who control the strike zone to his lineup Friday as the trade of Freddy Galvis to San Diego for strike-throwing pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos cleared the way for J.P. Crawford to be the regular shortstop.)

The Phillies need to do everything within reason to make sure that the first of Santana's three seasons with the club isn't about simply inching the rebuild forward. The Nationals are the class of the NL East, but the rest of the division ranges from ordinary to awful. The Phils, with an improved offense and bullpen (Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter), can play with the Braves and Mets and clean up on the Marlins, the jewelry store that became a pawnshop, in agent Scott Boras' words.

It's just up to Klentak to get more starting pitching, and he's on the case. He admitted that at the winter meetings. He is particularly fond of young starters with years of control remaining on their contracts. Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer and Michael Fulmer fit this description. It takes talent to get pitchers like that. The Phillies have enough depth of prospects to get one of these guys and their reserves of expendable talent just grew with the Santana signing.

Santana, a switch-hitter who has averaged 25 homers, 85 RBIs and a .810 OPS in eight seasons, is going to be the team's primary first baseman. Rhys Hoskins is going to be the primary leftfielder. That means the Phillies suddenly have a young outfielder that they could deal. Maybe they try to capitalize on Nick Williams' strong half-season in the majors and package him for an arm. Or maybe it's Odubel Herrera or Aaron Altherr.

However it plays out, you can be sure that Klentak will be creative. You can rule nothing out with this guy. The other day, we poo-pooed the Phillies signing Jake Arrieta, who is looking for a long-term deal approaching $200 million. But if Arrieta lingers out there until February and is looking for a two-year landing spot, hey, maybe.

We wouldn't even put it past Klentak to entertain the idea of using Santana at third base a little bit — he did play 26 games there in 2014 — and trading Maikel Franco. The Giants were sniffing around, gathering intel on Franco at the winter meetings. There has to be a reason for that. Also at the meetings, an official from a rival club said the Phillies weren't as aggressive as he expected in trying to move Cesar Hernandez. Could it be that Hernandez would get some time at third if Franco were to be moved? Hernandez is still a trade chip, but he doesn't need to be cashed in until July and by that time Scott Kingery should be here.

There are a lot of ways this thing can go. And with the signing of Carlos Santana — which won't become official until he passes a physical next week — the Phillies have guaranteed that the remainder of this offseason will be a busy one.

It has to be.

The stakes have changed for 2018. The rebuild is still in place, but it has been ramped up. Matt Klentak has improved the bullpen and the offense. Now he has to attack that starting pitching and he has the trade weapons to do it.

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

Source: Phillies agree to $60 million deal with Carlos Santana

The Phillies' busy Friday continued with a pricey free-agent signing.

The Phils have agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with former Cleveland Indian Carlos Santana, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

It is by far the most expensive contract the Phillies have given out under the Matt Klentak-Andy MacPhail regime.

They had the money. When the offseason began, the only player the Phillies had signed to a multi-million dollar deal was Odubel Herrera.

Santana, 31, has always been a high-walk power hitter. From 2011 through 2017, he walked between 88 and 113 times each season, all while maintaining relatively low strikeout totals for a man with such power and plate selection.

In 2016, Santana set a career high with 34 home runs. Last season, he hit .259/.363/.455 with 37 doubles, 23 homers and 79 RBIs.

This addition provides the Phillies with much-needed pop to protect Rhys Hoskins and also gives the Phils added versatility. Santana is a switch-hitter who came up as a catcher, but he hasn't caught since 2014. The last three seasons, he has played primarily first base. In his eight seasons, Santana has also started 26 games at third base and seven in right field.

The move likely means Hoskins will play left field, and it could facilitate another Phillies trade of an outfielder such as Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr or Odubel Herrera.