Phillies

Freddy Galvis not in Phillies' starting lineup for 1st time in 2017

Freddy Galvis not in Phillies' starting lineup for 1st time in 2017

WASHINGTON — After starting all 140 of the Phillies' previous games this season, shortstop Freddy Galvis was out of the lineup Friday night.

Galvis sat to accommodate rookie J.P. Crawford. The Phillies’ brass wants to evaluate Crawford's readiness for a possible role in April. Crawford played the previous three games at third base. He is expected to play second base on Saturday night with Galvis returning to shortstop.

Galvis' goal of starting all 162 games is dead.

Difficult?

"A little bit," Galvis said. "But it's baseball. You have to understand baseball. It's September. You know what's going on. I just try to play hard and do my best."

Manager Pete Mackanin had hoped to accommodate Galvis' desire to start all 162 games and also get a look at Crawford at shortstop five or six times this month. Mackanin's plan was to use Galvis in the outfield when Crawford played shortstop. Galvis played a game in center field during the Phillies' last homestand, but came down with a bit of a sore arm afterward.

"My arm didn't feel too good," he said. "I'll stay at shortstop now until the end of the season."

Mackanin said he would try to get Galvis into every game by using him as a pinch hitter.

"I think I can do that," Mackanin said.

Mackanin added, "I'd like to see Freddy win the Gold Glove this year. I think he deserves it. I thought he deserved it last year."

San Francisco's Brandon Crawford won the NL Gold Glove at shortstop the last two seasons.

It's not every day that a 27-year-old, Gold Glove-caliber shortstop is not considered a team's shortstop of the future. But this is where the Phillies are at the moment. Though gifted defensively, Galvis does not have the on-base skills that this Phillies front office yearns for. His career on-base percentage is just .286. Crawford has a career on-base mark of .368 in the minors. Phillies officials have not closed the door on Galvis, but they want to see if Crawford can be the guy at the position next season. If they believe he can be, the Phils are expected to shop Galvis for a trade. If not, Galvis will be the guy again next season, his last before free agency.

General manager Matt Klentak has many decisions to make in the infield this winter. Rhys Hoskins is expected to play first base next season with Tommy Joseph going on the trading block. Both Galvis and second baseman Cesar Hernandez could be shopped. (The Phils have a second baseman coming in Scott Kingery. He could arrive a month or so into the 2018 season.) The Phils would listen to offers for third baseman Maikel Franco, though his value is down after a poor season. It's not out of the realm of possibility that Crawford could play third next season. There are a lot of ways the Phils could go.

"There’s been a lot of speculation about our infield and how do you make room for all these players," Klentak said. "That’s something we’re continuing to gather information on right now to help us make that decision. It’s something I’m sure we’ll field plenty of [trade] inquiries throughout the offseason. We’ll just have to see where that takes us. It’s certainly not the end of the world to go into next year with all of these infielders we currently have in the organization. We can make that work. But if there’s an opportunity to utilize that depth to help us in other areas, then we’ll consider that as well."

Klentak added that it was too early to say where Crawford would play in the future, though it sounds like he will be the guy at short.

"It's four days into his major-league career," Klentak said. "I don't want to project too much on his positional future. But I think we've seen enough over the course of his minor-league career to know he's a major-league shortstop. He can play defense at the major-league level. We've seen over the last couple of weeks in the minor leagues and the first few days in the big leagues, he's got pretty good instincts at third base, too. The fact that we have a talented young player that can play multiple spots, it opens a lot of doors for us.

"There's no one way to win a game or to build a winning team. If we have more players that can do more things, that should bode well for the organization."

Even with eye on top talent like Manny Machado, Phillies will give core more time

Even with eye on top talent like Manny Machado, Phillies will give core more time

ORLANDO, Fla. — On Day 1 of the winter meetings Monday, the Phillies' longstanding interest in Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado bubbled to the surface once again. The subject will continue to percolate all winter and beyond as the Orioles mull whether to trade the star player or let him play out the 2018 season, his final one before free agency.

It makes much more sense for the Phillies to try to sign Machado as a free agent next winter rather than surrender prospects — and ultimately big cash in the form of an extension — for him this winter. But if the Orioles create a market for Machado this winter, the Phillies will be in on it. At the moment, all is quiet.

It's no secret that the Phillies have deep pockets and no secret that they will spend big on top talent like Machado once their rebuild gets into the red zone. Klentak confirmed that again on Monday.

"There will come a time when we are one piece away and that one piece is a fill in the blank — starting pitcher, closer, cleanup hitter — and in that moment, when we feel that we are one piece away, or two pieces away, that's when we open up the wallet and we go do what we need to do," he said.

"But for right now, we are on the cusp of getting to where we want to go, to developing this next young core. This is what happened with (Jimmy) Rollins and (Chase) Utley and (Ryan) Howard and (Cole) Hamels. We need to give these guys a chance to become that next group."

The Phillies showed improvement in the second half of last season. They went 38-38 over the final 76 games. Klentak wants to give the team's core the chance to continue its improvement in 2018.

"The most important thing we can do next year is let this young core develop and get the reps that they need to continue their improvement," Klentak said.

"We scored almost a full run more per game in the second half than we did in the first half. That was driven by (Nick) Williams, (Rhys) Hoskins, (J.P.) Crawford and (Jorge) Alfaro joining Cesar (Hernandez), Freddy (Galvis), (Maikel) Franco, Odubel (Herrera), (Aaron) Altherr, (Andrew) Knapp. That's exciting to me. Not only do we need to let that play out, we want to let that play out. 

"We want to see what that group can do now that they're more than three months into their major-league careers. What can they do in their first full season? Or their second full season? Baseball aging curves tell us that these players are likely to get better. How much better? We don't know. But we're only going to find out if we let them play." 

Phillies to upgrade bullpen with impending return of Pat Neshek

Phillies to upgrade bullpen with impending return of Pat Neshek

ORLANDO, Fla. — On the day he was traded from the Phillies to the Colorado Rockies in July, Pat Neshek stood in front of his locker and talked about how much he liked his time in Philadelphia. He gazed into his crystal ball and envisioned himself returning to the Phillies as a free agent over the winter.

The image in Neshek's crystal ball is about to come to life. The Phillies are on the verge of re-signing the 37-year-old right-hander, multiple sources said on Monday, the first day of baseball's winter meetings. When the deal is wrapped up in the next few days, it will be worth $16.25 million for two years with a club option for a third.

"We've been talking with the agents of a bunch of relief pitchers and we're on the goal line with one," said Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, who initially acquired Neshek in a trade with Houston 14 months ago then watched the pitcher deliver four outstanding months that landed him on the National League All-Star team.

There is not a no-trade clause in Neshek's new deal, so the Phillies could peddle him once again if they are not in contention. The Phillies got three prospects for Neshek in July — infielder Jose Gomez and right-handed pitchers J.D. Hammer and Alejandro Requena. Hammer was recently named to the Arizona Fall League's All-Prospect team.

Neshek pitched in 43 games (40 1/3 innings) for the Phillies in 2017 and gave up just five runs while walking five and striking out 45. In Colorado, Neshek continued to shine. He finished the season with a 1.59 ERA in 71 games. Overall, he pitched 62 1/3 innings and gave up just 11 earned runs while walking six and striking out 69.

Neshek is expected to help set up for Hector Neris and complement Luis Garcia, Adam Morgan, Edubray Ramos and Hoby Milner, all relatively young relievers who showed breakthrough signs in 2017. The Phillies could continue to add to their bullpen before the winter is complete. Sources say they have shown interest in free-agent lefty Jake McGee.

"I think we’re open-minded to bringing in multiple bullpen reinforcements," Klentak said. "One of the goals leading into next season is to improve our run prevention. Obviously, there are a lot of ways we can do that. One way — and this is sort of the simple narrative — is to address our starting pitching. We will continue to explore ways to improve our starting pitching, but I also think we need to be prepared to improve our run prevention in other areas. Improving our bullpen is one way to do that.

"I think if we can run out a bullpen of seven or eight guys that are all high-leverage type arms, then we can start matching up in the fifth or sixth inning. If there are days when our young starters throw 100 pitches to get us through five or six innings, we shouldn't be in a position where that’s taxing our bullpen because we have the ability to carry an eighth bullpen member next year. We shouldn’t be in a position where we lose our competitiveness in the sixth inning because we should have a deep bullpen where we start throwing really good players out there early in the game. If it turns out that’s the best way for us to improve our run prevention, then that’s the way to do."

The Phillies will continue to look for starting pitching at these winter meetings and beyond. They are open to trading Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez and would look to get starting pitching in a deal for one of them. The Angels, according to sources, covet Hernandez as both a second baseman and leadoff man, but the Phillies' asking price is high.

Also on Day 1 of the winter meetings ...

The Phillies lost outfielder Cameron Perkins and infielder Engelb Vielma on waivers to Seattle and Pittsburgh, respectively. With two openings on the 40-man roster, the Phils can add a player in Thursday's Rule 5 draft. They have the third overall pick.

"I would expect that we would take advantage of the third pick in some form or fashion," Klentak said. "Whether we draft a player and retain that player or draft a player and make a trade, I think we’ll look to do something with it. That was a big part of why we put the two guys on waivers that we did. It was just to free us up to be able to participate on Thursday."