Phillies

Add Royals' dynamic utilityman Whit Merrifield to Phillies' trade wish list

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Add Royals' dynamic utilityman Whit Merrifield to Phillies' trade wish list

Mike Moustakas isn't the only Kansas City Royal to keep in the back of your mind as the MLB trade deadline approaches. The Phillies are also interested in Royals super-utilityman Whit Merrifield, according to MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi.

Merrifield is a dynamic player. The 29-year-old has speed, pop, the ability to hit for average and to play six different positions.

Merrifield hit .288/.324/.460 last season for the Royals with 32 doubles, 19 homers and an AL-leading 34 stolen bases.

This season, he's hit .290/.359/.414 with 25 doubles, five homers and 16 steals.

He typically plays second base for the Royals but wouldn't be playing there much if the Phillies acquired him. Merrifield's also started 11 games in center field this season and 19 in the corner outfield since the start of 2017.

The Phillies would have use for a player like Merrifield at third base and in the corner outfield at times. A right-handed hitter, he's hit a ridiculous .382 in 117 plate appearances this season vs. lefties.

Merrifield makes just $570,000 this season and is under club control through the end of the 2022 season. He won't start making what he's actually worth until 2021.

Because of Merrifield's offensive and defensive versatility and his team-friendly contract, he will be pricy to acquire in a trade. The Royals probably don't have a single more attractive player than Merrifield so they'd need to feel good about the return they get, and they're under no pressure whatsoever to move him right now. He'd still have plenty of trade value in six or 12 months, too.

If the Royals do move Merrifield this month, the Phillies could interest them with a combination of starting pitching prospects or borderline MLB-ready pieces like Dylan Cozens or Roman Quinn. Players like Maikel Franco and J.P. Crawford may be dangled as well. The Royals, like the Orioles, need help everywhere.

On June 29, our Jim Salisbury reported that Royals scouts have been watching the Phillies' farm system (see story).

That was in relation to a potential deal for Moustakas, a rental who would cost less. But the discussions and prep work done by both sides could also play a role in a bigger trade for Merrifield.

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James Paxton trade affects Phillies in several ways

James Paxton trade affects Phillies in several ways

The Yankees are getting James Paxton from the Mariners, as first reported by Jon Heyman of Fancred. It's a move that has a few ramifications for the Phillies.

The Mariners are acquiring pitching prospect Justus Sheffield, OF Don Thompson-Williams and RHP Erik Swanson for Paxton, who is 30 years old and perpetually hurt but so good when he's on the mound. Paxton has a 3.42 career ERA with even better earned run estimators — he limits the homers, strikes out more than a batter per inning, all that good stuff.

The move potentially crosses Patrick Corbin off of the Yankees' list, ridding the marketplace of a top bidder for the top free-agent pitcher.

That's not a certainty, though. The Yankees could still look to sign Corbin to a lucrative deal, putting together a rotation of Corbin, Paxton, Luis Severino and Masahiro Tanaka.

Paxton was a name that teammate Jim Salisbury mentioned a few weeks ago in reference to the Phillies' search for a top-of-the-rotation lefty starter (see story). Robbie Ray was the other, and with the D-backs potentially exploring Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke trades, them moving Ray is a good bet this offseason.

As for Corbin, it just doesn't seem the Phillies will be the team that outbids all others. As the top pitcher on the market, he's still in line for nine figures. While free agency has been reined in the last few years, there have still been eight starting pitchers since 2015 to get contracts of at least $100 million: Yu Darvish, David Price, Stephen Strasburg, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann.

Perhaps if the market comes back to the Phillies with Corbin as it did with Jake Arrieta, they'd pounce. But it's unlikely with every team always in the mix for pitching.

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Phillies face Braves in national spotlight to kick off 2019 season

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Phillies face Braves in national spotlight to kick off 2019 season

With the Phillies expected to spend this offseason, there will be more national attention on them next season than in nearly a decade.

And that’s reflected in the schedule. On March 31, 2019, it’s the Phillies and Braves on the first ESPN Sunday Night Baseball telecast of the season. The 7 p.m. game is their third of 162. 

It’s the Phillies’ first time leading off Sunday Night Baseball since 2009, when they also hosted the Braves. They lost 4-1 that night behind Brett Myers. Jumpin’ Jack Taschner was the first man out of the ‘pen. Time flies. 

The big question is who will be hitting in the heart of the Phillies’ order to provide run support for Aaron Nola that night. The Braves could also make a splash this offseason. They’re not ordinarily a big spender, but their young talent is the envy of much of the league. Atlanta could lose free agent Nick Markakis this offseason, which would thrill the Phils.

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