No initial roster moves for Phillies as rosters expand for September

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No initial roster moves for Phillies as rosters expand for September

MIAMI — The Phillies’ travel agent could be feeling left out.

On Friday, the first day in which major-league rosters can expand by as many as 15 more players, no new Phillies rookies arrived at Marlins Park, and there was a simple reason for that.

The kids, most of them at least, are already here, many of them called up long ago.

There was one new arrival on Friday. Veteran reliever Juan Nicasio, who was acquired off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday — which happened to be his 31st birthday — showed up.

But other than that, it was all quiet on the roster front.

“A lot of the young guys who we would’ve called up are already here,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

Mackanin has a point, and here’s a look:
Catcher Andrew Knapp made his major-league debut on April 6. Phillies right-hander Mark Leiter made his major-league debut on April 28, two days before right-hander Nick Pivetta.

Righty reliever Ricardo Pinto came up May 31. June brought Ben Lively (June 3), lefty reliever Hoby Milner (June 24) and rightfielder Nick Williams (June 30).

On July 29, righty reliever Jesen Therrien made his debut. And August brought first baseman Rhys Hoskins (Aug. 10) and righty reliever Yacksel Rios (Aug. 22).

All 10 of those rookies are still on the roster. And Jorge Alfaro, who was a September call-up last season, is also already here (Aug. 4).

September reinforcements, likely next week, could include outfielders Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr, both of whom are trying to rehabilitate hamstring injuries.

Herrera, in a rehab game at Double A Reading on Thursday, went 2 for 2 with two runs scored, two RBIs, one homer to dead center and one bat flip.

“Odubel may be a little bit ahead of Altherr,” Mackanin said. “But they are both doing OK.”

As for 22-year-old shortstop and 2013 first-round pick J.P. Crawford, he could join the Phillies on Tuesday.

“I’m not sure who’s coming, but there are a few names who have been dropped,” Mackanin said. “I will find out in the next day or two. Our Triple A season ends Monday, and I imagine we will see somebody on Tuesday.

“It’s always exciting to see young players, to see how they look, especially if they are coming to the big leagues for the first time. It’s always fun to welcome them to the big leagues. This is a big step for all of them.”

The 2017 Phillies, more than most teams, certainly know all about that.

Phillies make a pick and a trade in Rule 5 draft

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Phillies make a pick and a trade in Rule 5 draft

The Phillies were active in Thursday's Rule 5 draft. With the third pick, they selected right-hander Nick Burdi from the Minnesota Twins and spun him to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a trade that netted them $500,000 in international signing bonus money.

That $500,000 goes into the Phillies' current pool and must be spent by June 15. 

The Phillies also lost 22-year-old outfield prospect Carlos Tocci to the Chicago White Sox, who in turn traded him to the Texas Rangers. Tocci must stay in the majors for all of 2018 or be offered back to the Phillies.

More coming ...

Phillies turn sights to starting pitching after adding relievers at winter meetings

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Phillies turn sights to starting pitching after adding relievers at winter meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. — Matt Klentak's trip to the winter meetings netted two veteran relievers, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter.

Now, Klentak's focus becomes starting pitching. He'd like to add at least one before spring training begins, and chances are good that he will.

"We will probably slow down on the reliever front for a little while," the Phillies general manager said on Wednesday, Day 3 of the meetings. "I think for right now, we’ll probably shift our focus back toward the starting pitcher market, see what comes of that and just be patient with it.

"My expectation is that we will have another move before we go to spring training. I would not be surprised if we’re done for the winter meetings, but I would be surprised if we’re done for the offseason."

The Phillies have probed the free-agent market — big-ticket items such as Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are unlikely — and spent the fall gauging other teams on which starters could become available in trades.

"I couldn't handicap the way it'll happen or even if it'll happen," Klentak said. "I think we're continuing to stay engaged with some agents. There's a few teams we've talked to about trades, some short-term options, some more controllable options. I just don't know.

"We've said as an industry and the Phillies have talked about this for a long time: it's so important to be able to develop your own starting pitchers because to acquire them in a trade is incredibly expensive in terms of player capital and to acquire them in free agency is incredibly expensive in terms of total dollars. Maybe never in our history has it been more important to develop starting pitchers."

In recent seasons, the Phillies have added starting pitchers (Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Clay Buchholz) near the end of their contracts. The Phils could still do that and have the money to take on a salary dump. But there would be merit to taking on a younger pitcher who has more contractual control, and the Phillies have the prospects to get in the hunt for Chris Archer, Gerrit Cole or Michael Fulmer, three pitchers who fit this profile.

The Phillies have a logjam in the middle infield with J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery pushing Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez. Galvis and Hernandez are both available for trades. Officials from other clubs say the Phillies have been aggressive in shopping Galvis. The Phils will look to get pitching for Galvis, but the return might not be robust because he is a rental player who will be a free agent after the 2018 season. Hernandez figures to bring a better return because he has three years of contractual control remaining. A person from a club that has spoken to the Phillies about Hernandez said the Phils are looking for two pitchers for him.

Another starting arm is needed to complement a group of starters that includes Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson and Ben Lively.

It's possible the Phils could also look for a veteran outfielder to come off the bench. But it's just as possible that the Phils give in-house prospect Roman Quinn a chance to be that guy. Quinn, a dynamic, speedy switch-hitter, has been plagued by injuries throughout his minor-league career, including last season when he missed significant time at Triple A with an elbow injury. He will turn 25 in May. It might be time to bring him, even if it means filling a reserve role.

"This is a year we want to find out about our young kids," Klentak said. "If we can find out about Roman Quinn, we would like to do that. On the flip side, if we have a chance to bring in a great makeup, complementary player that can help our young kids and show them the ropes a little bit, then we’d be open to that, too. That’s not likely to be an early offseason venture."

Also, as the rest of the offseason plays out, the Phils will monitor the availability of Miami outfielder Christian Yelich. The Phils have long liked Yelich and would certainly try to make a play for him. But as much as the Phillies like the player, Klentak has made it clear he's not in a hurry to subtract core players and prospects. That could hurt the Phillies' chances because it would take a big package of talent to get Yelich.

The Phillies pick third in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday morning. They will likely make a pick, but there's a strong possibility they will make it for another club and quickly trade the player. If the Phils lost someone in the draft, it could be outfielder Carlos Tocci or lefthander Brandon Leibrandt.

Klentak hinted that hard-throwing pitching prospect Seranthony Dominguez would begin transitioning to the bullpen in spring training. Mark Appel will also make the move to the bullpen.