Christian Yelich

Longtime Phillies target shipped to Brewers

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Longtime Phillies target shipped to Brewers

MIAMI -- Miami Marlins general manager Michael Hill was traveling Thursday to participate in a series of marathons when he swung the team's latest trade, sending center fielder Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers for four prospects.

And so the Marlins' dismantling marathon continues.

Yelich became the fourth starter traded by the Marlins as they reduce payroll and rebuild their weak farm system under new CEO Derek Jeter. The Marlins earlier dealt away major league home run champion Giancarlo Stanton, stolen base champ Dee Gordon and All-Star left fielder Marcell Ozuna.

Hill made the trade as he began a trip to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Former Marlins executives David Samson and Jeff Conine are also taking part in the charity event.

"I'm boarding a plane for South Africa," Hill said. "The job goes with you wherever you are. When the opportunity presents itself to make our organization better, you do what you need to do."

Miami acquired highly regarded outfielder Lewis Brinson, infielder Isan Diaz, outfielder Monte Harrison and right-handed pitcher Jordan Yamamoto. Brinson, Diaz and Harrison were rated among the Brewers' top 10 prospects.

Yelich batted .282 with 18 homers and 81 RBIs last year, and he is a career .290 hitter. In the wake of Miami's earlier deals this offseason, he said he preferred to play elsewhere rather than be part of a rebuilding effort (see full story).

Mets: Reyes reportedly agrees to 1-year, $2M deal
NEW YORK -- Jose Reyes and the Mets have agreed to a $2 million, one-year contract for the infielder to remain in New York, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the agreement was subject to a successful physical. Reyes can earn an additional $500,000 in bonuses, the person said.

Now 34, Reyes was a four-time All-Star shortstop with the Mets from 2003-11 and left after winning the NL batting title to sign a $106 million, six-year contract with Miami. He was traded in November 2012 to Toronto and in July 2015 to Colorado, which released him in 2016 after Reyes served a 59-day domestic violence suspension.

He returned to New York, came up to the major leagues in July and batted .267 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 279 plate appearances.

Reyes remained with the Mets last year and was among their most versatile players, appearing in 80 games at shortstop, 36 at third base, 28 at second base, one in center field and one in left. He hit .246 with 15 homers, 58 RBIs and 24 steals in 561 plate appearances.

New York has been active in the offseason, agreeing to a $39 million, three-year contract with outfielder Jay Bruce, a $14 million, two-year deal with reliever Anthony Swarzak and a deal for a $545,000 with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

General manager Sandy Alderson said this week the team is looking at more infield options in a late-developing free agent market.

Padres: Team says social media accounts hacked
SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Padres say their social media accounts were hacked early Thursday and posts were made that suggested the team had either agreed to terms with free agent Eric Hosmer or that a deal was imminent.

"Messages that were inaccurate and unauthorized were posted," the team said in a statement. "MLB Cybersecurity is now investigating the matter, and we apologize for any confusion."

A photo of a smiling Hosmer in a Kansas City Royals uniform was posted on the Padres' Instagram account. It was deleted a few minutes later.

On the Padres' Twitter account, someone posted "Stay tuned ..." followed by a bulging eyes emoji, and then posted Hosmer's Twitter handle.

They also were deleted.

The Padres have offered Hosmer a seven-year deal.

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.

Notes
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.

Marlins continue fire sale by trading Marcell Ozuna

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Marlins continue fire sale by trading Marcell Ozuna

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Miami has agreed to trade left fielder Marcell Ozuna to the St. Louis Cardinals, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, the third All-Star jettisoned by the Marlins this month in an unrelenting payroll purge under new CEO Derek Jeter.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreement had not been announced and was subject to a physical.

"Ozuna is one of those names that you have to have great respect, especially as much we see him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said at the winter meetings. "We're at that necessary point of talking through health always, no matter what the player is. It's not just a formality."

An All-Star the past two seasons, the 27-year-old Ozuna set career bests this season with a .312 average, 37 homers and 124 RBIs. He is eligible for salary arbitration and likely will earn more than $10 million. He can become a free agent after the 2019 season.

Miami traded second baseman Dee Gordon to Seattle last Thursday for three prospects and dealt right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, the reigning NL MVP, to the New York Yankees on Monday for second baseman Starlin Castro and two prospects. The Cardinals had a deal in place for Stanton last week, but he invoked his no-trade clause and blocked the move.

"I was just very impressed the fact that we were involved in those conversations," Matheny said. "Unfortunately, that didn't work, but I think that just kind of parlayed into, OK, now what are we going to do?"

Ozuna likely will be in the outfielder with Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham. St. Louis could trade right fielder Stephen Piscotty.

Matheny wouldn't commit to an alignment.

"Something we're appreciative of is the humility of our players to maybe go to a spot where they haven't been before," he said. "You go in with your ideals of what you would like to see, and you're going to have to be flexible."

Center fielder Christian Yelich could be the next to exit the downsizing Marlins, bought by Bruce Sherman's group on Oct. 2.

Miami had a $116 million payroll on Aug. 31, up from $81 million at the end of last year, and is intent on reducing obligations. Stanton was owed $295 million over the next decade, and Gordon $38 million through 2020.