Phillies

MLB Notes: Astros to sign former Phillies SP Charlie Morton

MLB Notes: Astros to sign former Phillies SP Charlie Morton

HOUSTON — The Houston Astros have agreed to a two-year deal with free agent pitcher Charlie Morton.

The right-hander made just four starts last season for the Phillies before a torn left hamstring ended his year.

The 33-year-old Morton has spent his entire nine-year career in the National League where he played for the Braves, Pirates and Phillies.

Morton is 46-71 with a 4.54 ERA in his career. His best season came in 2011 when he pitched a career-high 171.2 innings in 29 starts and won a career-best 10 games.

Braves: Still seeking another SP
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves may not be finished with the dramatic overhaul of their rotation.

General manager John Coppolella told The Associated Press on Wednesday he hopes to add another starting pitcher, even after agreeing to deals with veteran right-handers R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon last week.

Chicago White Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale might be available in a trade. The Braves apparently would make top prospects available for Sale, an All-Star in each of the last five seasons who could be a trade target of many teams.

The Braves have focused on young pitchers while trading such stars as Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, Justin Upton, Evan Gattis and Craig Kimbrel in recent years. When asked if the team might trade top prospects for a starter, Coppolella said in a text message: "We are considering all options."

Could this be Nick Williams' last hurrah with the Phillies?

Could this be Nick Williams' last hurrah with the Phillies?

Could this be Nick Williams' last hurrah as a Phillie?

Williams was called up from Triple A on Wednesday to replace Jay Bruce on the active roster. Bruce strained his right oblique Tuesday night and was placed on the injured list. Oblique strains tend to sideline a player for 3-5 weeks.

Williams was on a roll at Lehigh Valley, hitting .345 with a 1.032 OPS. Bruce's injury should result in Williams getting his most consistent playing time all season with the Phillies.

However, rookie outfielder Adam Haseley is ahead of Williams on the Phillies' depth chart. Manager Gabe Kapler said Wednesday that the Phillies still don't know what they have in Haseley, the 2017 first-round pick. This is a good chance to give Haseley regular reps and learn more about his major-league ceiling.

The Phillies do know what they have in Williams. In 877 career plate appearances with the Phils, Williams has hit .260/.319/.427. His .746 OPS has been three percent below the league average. He also has not proven to be an overly instinctive or strong defensive player. And the Phillies do not feel comfortable playing Williams in center field, whereas Haseley can play all three outfield spots.

Shortstop Jean Segura has missed two straight games with a bruised heel. In both games, Scott Kingery has started at shortstop. As a result, on Wednesday night the Phillies started Haseley in center, Williams in left and Bryce Harper in right field.

Who ever saw that outfield alignment coming in 2019?

When Segura is ready to return — and the Phillies continue to say the injury is not serious — he will return to shortstop. Kingery will play center field, second base when Cesar Hernandez sits and third base when Maikel Franco sits. 

When Kingery is in center, expect to see Haseley in left field. 

As for Williams, he has been a prime trade candidate all season because of the Phillies' crowded outfield. Even at this point, after injuries to Andrew McCutchen and Bruce, and the ineffectiveness of Roman Quinn, Williams is still in a position where he has to earn reps, Kapler said.

Williams will not be the centerpiece of a big trade. He could be a second or third player in a deal for a good player, or he could be another team's return for a rental player. The Giants would need more than Williams for Madison Bumgarner. But Williams probably gets you a lesser pitcher like a Tanner Roark.

The Phillies didn't expect to call Williams up this week. They wouldn't have if not for the Bruce injury. You have to wonder if keeping him at Triple A would have done more for his trade value. If he struggles again during a two-week major-league stint leading into the July 31 trade deadline, it would probably nullify a lot of that minor-league production to another team.

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At the Yard podcast: SP trade targets, pitching staff in shambles, Bryce Harper's hot streak

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At the Yard podcast: SP trade targets, pitching staff in shambles, Bryce Harper's hot streak

Corey Seidman and Ricky Bottalico break down their favorite starting pitching trade targets, Bryce Harper's best few weeks as a Phillie and Hector Neris' recent struggles in the latest At the Yard podcast.

Plus, thoughts on Neris' suspension, and predictions for how players could be paid in the next CBA.