Phillies

Best of MLB: Twins rally late, beat Royals in 10 innings

Best of MLB: Twins rally late, beat Royals in 10 innings

MINNEAPOLIS -- Pinch hitter Kennys Vargas launched a tying, two-run homer in the ninth inning and Jorge Polanco hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th, lifting the Minnesota Twins over the Kansas City Royals 4-3 on Friday night.

Polanco lofted a soft liner to left field and Joe Mauer beat Alex Gordon's throw to the plate. Al Albuquerque (0-1) walked the first two batters of the inning and reliever Travis Wood walked Max Kepler, loading the bases with no outs for Polanco.

Brandon Kintzler (2-0) allowed two hits in the top of the 10th, but snagged a comebacker to start an inning-ending double play.

Vargas batted for Byron Buxton Vargas following Jason Castro's one-out single in the ninth. Vargas sent Kelvin Herrera's 1-0 offering into the second deck in right-center field.

Vargas was recalled from Triple-A on April 23 and is tied for second on the team with five home runs despite playing just 17 games. Herrera had his second blown save of the season in 10 chances (see full recap).

deGrom, Mets shut down Angels
NEW YORK -- Jacob deGrom dominated until dealing with discomfort in his throwing hand in the seventh, then escaped a no-out, bases-loaded jam that inning to help the New York Mets beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-0 on Friday night and snap a seven-game losing streak.

The Mets avoided their first eight-game skid since losing 11 straight in 2004.

After multiple visits by Mets coaches and a trainer, DeGrom survived the seventh with a strikeout, a juggling catch by shortstop Jose Reyes and Cameron Maybin's flyout.

Jerry Blevins got two outs in his major league-leading 25th appearance, Paul Sewald recorded an out in the eighth and Addison Reed pitched the ninth for his fifth save.

Terry Collins managed his 1,012th game with the Mets, tying Davey Johnson for the most with the franchise. Collins is 498-514 in seven seasons with New York.

Ricky Nolasco (2-3) allowed two runs, one earned, over six innings. Los Angeles had won four straight (see full recap).

Amarista, Rockies thump skidding Reds
CINCINNATI -- Alexi Amarista hit a three-run homer and a run-scoring single during Colorado's eight-run rally on Friday night, and the Rockies extended the best start in their history with a 12-6 victory over the slumping Cincinnati Reds.

The Rockies lead the NL in wins at 27-16, their best mark through 43 games.

Amarista's three-run shot off Lisalverto Bonilla (0-2) sparked the big sixth-inning rally. Nolan Arenado had a two-run homer off Wandy Peralta. Amarista kept it going with an RBI single during his second at-bat in the inning, matching his career high with four RBIs. Colorado sent 14 batters to the plate and piled up nine hits overall.

Cincinnati hadn't allowed that many runs in an inning since 2015, when it gave up 10 at Colorado.

The Reds have lost seven straight, their longest skid since they dropped 11 in a row last May (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.