Phillies

Sources: Cesar Hernandez a hot name in Phillies trade talks

Sources: Cesar Hernandez a hot name in Phillies trade talks

It appears as if the Phillies are looking to capitalize on Cesar Hernandez's brilliant second half by making him a trade chip.

According to multiple sources, Hernandez was a hot name in trade talks at the general managers meetings this week in Scottsdale, Arizona.

It all makes sense considering the Phillies have been connected to veteran Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman/outfielder Howie Kendrick, a strong candidate to be traded this offseason.

Kendrick is entering the final year of his contract and that would make him appealing to the Phillies, who have made it clear that they’re looking to avoid long-term commitments that could potentially block the rise of young prospects.

If the Phillies were to trade Hernandez in a separate deal — keep an eye on the other Los Angeles team, the Angels — they could look to acquire Kendrick as a stopgap second baseman, buying development time for Scott Kingery or Jesmuel Valentin.

If the Phillies hung on to Hernandez, Kendrick could get time in left field, where he played 94 games for the Dodgers last season.

Kendrick, 33, is coming off a down year in which he hit .255 with eight homers, 40 RBIs and a .691 OPS. He is a career .289 hitter with a lifetime .749 OPS. A more defined role and a change of scenery in his walk year could make Kendrick a good bounce-back candidate in 2017. He is slated to make $10 million in 2017, but money is not a big issue as the Phillies are willing to take on payroll for short-term fits.

Hernandez, 26, was benched for poor performance several games in late June last season. When he returned to the lineup, he took off and hit .327 with a .421 on-base percentage and an .854 OPS over the final 87 games of the season. That performance surely enhanced his value. The Phillies have prospect depth at second base with Kingery and Valentin — and Freddy Galvis could even get time there when top prospect J.P. Crawford arrives. All of this has put Hernandez in play for a trade.

Kingery, 22, was the team’s second-round draft pick out of the University of Arizona in 2015 and he played his way to Double A in 2016. He is currently playing in the prospect-studded Arizona Fall League and is widely considered the Phillies’ second baseman of the future and a potential quick riser.

Valentin, 22, was the 51st overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Dodgers. The Phillies picked him up for pitcher Roberto Hernandez in August 2014. The Phillies also got relief pitching prospect Victor Arano in the deal. He is pitching in the AFL. Valentin reached Triple A in 2016.

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

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AP Images

Gabe Kapler names Jim Gott Phillies' bullpen coach

Gabe Kapler on Friday added to his coaching staff by naming Jim Gott the Phillies' bullpen coach.

Gott was the minor-league pitching coordinator for the Angels the last five seasons and the pitching coach for the Arizona League Angels the three years prior to that role.

He played for the Blue Jays, Giants, Pirates and Dodgers over 14 major-league seasons as a starter and reliever. Gott, now 58 years old, compiled a 3.87 ERA while making 96 starts and converting 91 saves.

Kapler and the Phillies still need to name a pitching coach and first-base coach. Last week, they named Dusty Wathan third-base coach and hired John Mallee as hitting coach, while retaining Rick Kranitz, who was the assistant pitching coach last season (see story). He could fill the main pitching coach vacancy, although his role is currently to be determined.

In 2017, Bob McClure served the Phillies as pitching coach and Mickey Morandini was first-base coach.

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

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USA Today Images

MLB Notes: Astros' Jose Altuve, Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton claim MVP awards

Houston Astros dynamo Jose Altuve has won the American League MVP award, towering over New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin.

The 5-foot-6 Altuve drew 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Altuve batted a major league-best .346. He hit 24 home runs with 81 RBIs, scored 112 times, stole 32 bases and showed a sharp glove at second base.

The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third. The award was announced Thursday.

Altuve helped lead the Astros to their first World Series championship. Voting for these honors was completed before the postseason began.

Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton won the NL MVP award, barely edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.

In the closest MVP vote since 1979, Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. Stanton led the big leagues with 59 home runs and 132 RBIs (see full story).

MLB: Manfred says pace changes will happen with or without union
Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

There are ongoing talks for a new posting system with Japan to replace the deal that expired Nov. 1, one that would allow star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani to leave the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters to sign with a big league team (see full story).

Mariners: Team makes trade, raises available money for Japan's Otani​
The Seattle Mariners have gained more flexibility if they want to try to sign star Japanese pitcher/outfielder Shohei Otani.

They acquired an additional $500,000 for their international signing bonus pool from the Chicago White Sox in a trade for Brazilian right-hander Thyago Vieira.

Otani, a 23-year-old right-hander, would be limited to a minor league contract with a signing bonus under Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement. The trade announced Thursday increases the Mariners' available money for a signing bonus to $1,557,500. Seattle has spent $3,942,500 on bonuses in the signing year that started July 2 from a pool that rose to $5.5 million with the trade.

The 24-year-old Vieira made his major league debut with a scoreless inning against Baltimore on Aug. 14, his only big league appearance. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 29 games this year for Double-A Arkansas and 0-1 with two saves and a 4.58 ERA in 12 games for Triple-A Tacoma.

Chicago is restricted to a maximum $300,000 signing bonus because it exceeded its pool in a previous year under the old labor contract.