Phillies

Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta no longer unrealistic for Phillies

usa-yu-darvish-jake-arrieta.jpg
USA Today Images

Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta no longer unrealistic for Phillies

We know the Phillies have money to spend.

We know they do their due diligence with most/all notable names on the free-agent and trade markets.

We know that they're enticed by next winter's free-agent class, which includes the big names like Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, potentially Clayton Kershaw.

And we know that rarely are there such things as bad one-year deals.

The Phillies have been in touch with the representatives of Yu Darvish and "most high-profile free agents," The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported Wednesday.

It goes along with the thinking reported here that the Phils would not be interested in a multi-year megadeal for a star but would consider a short-term contract if the player lingers long enough in free agency.

"Unlikely Phils would be high bidder, but if player fell into their range — preferably short-term — they might jump," Rosenthal wrote.

The Phils have kept tabs on the starting pitching market all winter, just in case (see story).

The Phillies' current projected payroll for 2018 is around $64 million. Even by adding a pitcher like Darvish or Jake Arrieta to a one-year deal worth, say, $25 million, the Phils still wouldn't have an egregiously high payroll. In fact, they'd still have one of the 10 lowest projected payrolls. It would make them a whole lot more competitive in 2018 and perhaps more intriguing to next year's class. 

For Darvish or Arrieta, the appeal would be a high one-year salary and the ability to retest free agency in a year, when their value is likely higher. Darvish had an ugly World Series with the Dodgers, while Arrieta had a 3.53 ERA after posting a 2.42 ERA the previous three seasons.

Staying in the NL would make sense for both if they want to reestablish some more value. 

There are definitely many ballparks more pitcher-friendly than Citizens Bank Park, but will one of those NL teams with a spacious park have enough money and enough interest in Darvish or Arrieta? The Brewers, for example, have been connected to Darvish but Miller Park is homer-friendly with a great batter's eye.

When the offseason began, there seemed to be a zero-percent chance the Phils ended up with a free-agent ace. The odds are still long, but the more time that goes by, the more likely the starting pitching market gets to a place in which they feel comfortable enough to pounce.

Tim Tebow's chances of actually playing in majors

uspresswire-mets-tim-tebow.jpg
USA Today Images

Tim Tebow's chances of actually playing in majors

Could "Tim Tebow in the major leagues" actually be a thing in 2018?

The mere suggestion that Tebow could one day rise to baseball's highest level sounded crazy in the summer of 2016 when he signed with the Mets.

One former Phillie referred to it as a "slap in the face."

Longtime baseball man Larry Bowa said this in August 2016:

"Whosever idea it is, they don't respect the game of baseball. It's a hard game. You don't come in at age 28 or 29. I'm not saying he's not a good athlete, but this is a hard game and there are a lot of good athletes in pro ball that never get to the big leagues. 

"I don't think it can happen. There are guys 28 or 29 that are getting released everyday. How can you take 10 years off and all of the sudden be facing guys throwing 95, guys throwing sliders?"

Yet here we are in spring training 2018 and Mets GM Sandy Alderson has said he expects to see Tebow play in The Show.

"Somebody asked me whether I think he'll be a major league player at some point," Alderson told reporters Sunday. "I think he will play in the major leagues. That's my guess. That's my hope, and to some extent now after a year and a half, a modest expectation."

Bovada has set Tebow's odds of playing in the majors in the 2018 or 2019 regular season at 6/1. If you bet against him, it's 1/10, meaning a $100 bet would win you $10.

Tebow played at two levels in 2017: Class A and Class A Advanced. He hit .226/.309/.347 with 24 doubles, eight homers and 52 RBIs in 486 plate appearances. He walked 43 times and struck out 126.

Nearly all of Tebow's minor-league innings have come in left field, where he had 10 errors and two outfield assists in 2017.

Tebow last appeared in the NFL in the 2015 preseason with the Eagles. He went 21 for 36 for 286 yards with two TDs and an interception, adding 82 yards on 14 carries with a TD on the ground but failing to make Chip Kelly's 53-man roster.

Bombs away! Nick Williams takes aim on manager's car in batting practice

Bombs away! Nick Williams takes aim on manager's car in batting practice

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A week into camp, Nick Williams looks primed to build on last year’s impressive rookie season.

Williams has been launching balls in batting practice and manager Gabe Kapler loves it — even if it means he’ll be charged for a little damage to his rental car.

On Tuesday, Williams clubbed a ball far over the fence at Mike Schmidt Field. It landed on the roof of Kapler’s rented Ford Explorer, leaving a dent that would hold a couple of servings of creamed spinach.

“I would trade a Nick Williams home run for a dent in a rental car any day of the week,” Kapler said Tuesday.

“I’m glad he said that,” Williams said Wednesday morning, “because it felt kind of good to hit it.”

Later on Wednesday, Williams put on another power display at Schmidt Field. It was so impressive that Cesar Hernandez considered leaving the field, grabbing his keys and moving his car.

“I just missed Cesar’s car,” Williams said with a laugh.

Kapler was again impressed with Williams’ round of BP.

“Today we had a nice little breeze coming in from right field,” Kapler said. “The breeze did not stop Nick Williams from destroying the baseball and almost hitting my car for a second day straight.

“If he is destroying cars and it happens to be mine, no problem.”

Kapler has no intention of parking elsewhere in coming days. In fact, he likes the idea of Williams using his car for target practice.

“We’re going to make it a bull’s-eye for him,” Kapler said. “That’ll be a running joke. It’s a great way to build relationships. It’s part of the whole scientific plan to make this work.”

Williams, 24, arrived in the majors in June of last season. He played in 83 games and hit .288 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs and an .811 OPS. Like a number of players on the roster, he would benefit from fewer strikeouts and more walks (97/20 in 343 plate appearances last season), but a week into camp, Kapler likes the hitting potential he sees in the young outfielder.

“He’s really shining,” Kapler said. “He really is. He walks around with a perpetual smile on his face.

“Our hitting coaches are enthused about the bat path. The way he sort of lofts the ball to the middle of the field. Some hitters, when they strike their best ball, it’s on the ground. But Nick, when he makes his most solid contract, it has a nice loft to his swing. And in the middle of the field, there aren’t many guys who can drive the ball like he can.”

The Phillies have four outfielders worthy of regular playing time. Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera line up to play left field and center field, respectively. Williams will get time in right. Aaron Altherr can play any outfield position.

Kapler is reluctant to assign roles at this point in camp. But he is confident he can find all four playing time.

“I’m not concerned about that,” he said. “Between pinch-hitting, interleague, someone getting a tweak and missing a week, the occasional rep at first base [for Hoskins], they’re all going to get a ton of reps. I envision plenty of at-bats to keep everybody satisfied, healthy and performing well.”