Phillies

Giancarlo Stanton, Shohei Otani, Freddy Galvis' exit? Busy offseason awaits Phillies

Giancarlo Stanton, Shohei Otani, Freddy Galvis' exit? Busy offseason awaits Phillies

The arrival of the annual general managers' meetings, which begin Monday in Orlando, Florida, serves as the unofficial starting point for baseball's offseason.
 
Globally, it will be a busy winter with an international star, Japan's Shohei Otani, hitting the open market, and a proven major-league star, Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, hitting the trade market.
 
Locally, the Phillies will look to continue to make strides in a rebuild that saw them send a handful of players to the major leagues in 2017 and post a 38-38 record over the final 76 games.
 
General manager Matt Klentak is entering his third year on the job. As he heads to the GM meetings, let's examine of a few of the items that could pop up on his offseason to-do list:
 
More change?
Klentak made his boldest move yet as GM when he hired unproven Gabe Kapler as manager earlier this month. Kapler brings the fresh style and youthful voice that Klentak said he was looking for when he reassigned Pete Mackanin to the front office.
 
It's likely Kapler won't be the only bit of change that hits the Phillies this offseason. With shortstop J.P. Crawford having arrived in the majors and second baseman Scott Kingery on target to arrive a month or so into the 2018 season, Klentak will be all-ears listening to offers for his middle-infield tandem of Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez. The goal would be to bring back the team's No. 1 need — starting pitching. 

Hernandez might have more value than Galvis because he still has three years of contractual control. Galvis will be a free agent after next season. It seems likely that at least one these players will be moved, but if the Phils don't find the value they are looking for, they could enter next season much the way they ended this past season: With Galvis, Hernandez, Crawford and Maikel Franco sharing time at three infield positions. It's not a perfect solution but something a progressive front office that has stressed versatility and giving its manager options could consider for at least a while.
 
Starting pitching
Klentak has added starting pitching each of his previous two winters and, despite having built some mid- to back-end rotation depth, he will probably be looking for it again. The Phils' farm system has improved enough in talent and depth that Klentak could look to move prospects if he can get in the hunt for a top, under-control starter such as Chris Archer or Gerrit Cole. Club president Andy MacPhail has spoken time and time again about the risks of signing high-mileage free-agent pitchers and paying for past performance. Given that, and the fact the Phillies still have ground to cover in their rebuild curve, it seems unlikely that the team will be in on Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish. Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, both mid-range free agents, received qualifying offers from their teams so signing them would cost the Phillies a second-round draft pick. It's difficult to see the Phillies, who have put such a premium on building through the draft, doing that. Klentak could look for another salary dump in the Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Clay Buchholz mold, though that hasn't worked out well in the past, or get creative in a trade to bring in a starter he likes.
 
A big trade?
The Phillies have the money and the young talent to consider a trade for a young difference-maker who fits long term, so it's always worth keeping an eye on Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado to see if he becomes available for a trade a year before he's set to hit the free-agent market. Machado has many admirers in the Phillies organization. He has admirers all over baseball, for that matter.
 
As for Stanton, who will be traded … as intoxicating as it would be to see that power bat in cozy Citizens Bank Park, it's just hard to see it happening. He is owed $295 million through 2027, his age 37 season, and would cost the Phillies several top prospects and/or young major leaguers. It would be easier to see the Phillies making an all-out push for Stanton if they were further down the road in their rebuild and had pitching. But right now, at least from this vantage point, it appears to be a long shot.
 
Smaller trades, the bullpen
Kapler made a point to say how much he likes the talent in the Phillies' bullpen, but that probably won't stop Klentak from adding a piece or two. On his way out the door in July, Pat Neshek made a point of saying that he'd like to come back. That could be an interesting free-agent possibility.
 
Catcher Jorge Alfaro is out of options and the Phils seem committed to giving him a serious look behind the plate, and Rhys Hoskins is set to take over full-time at first base. This could leave Cameron Rupp and Tommy Joseph as trade candidates. Franco has been mentioned as a trade possibility, but the Phils seem committed to giving him more time to either develop or build trade value.
 
Otani?
At 23, Otani, the pitcher/outfielder known as the Babe Ruth of Japan, is the kind of young talent the Phillies are trying to build around. You can bet that the Phils will get in line to shell out the $20 million posting fee that it will take to obtain negotiating rights with Otani. But is signing him realistic? His age makes him subject to international signing-bonus limits and with only about $1 million remaining in their pool, the Phils can't match up with the Rangers (who've been angling to get Otani for years) and Yankees, two teams that have over $3 million remaining in their pools and can offer Otani the chance to pitch and swing the bat (he'd like to do that) as an occasional designated hitter. Because of his age and the international bonus limits, teams cannot throw a huge contract at Otani so there won’t be a bidding war. (He will make his initial financial score in an endorsement deal.) He is likely to choose a team that has a history with Japanese players and one where he can win immediately. It's difficult to see that being the Phils.

What if Kruk was the commissioner of baseball?

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What if Kruk was the commissioner of baseball?

On this edition of Krukcast, Gregg Murphy and John Kruk dive into one of life's great hypothetical scenarios. What would Kruk do if he became the commissioner of baseball? From uniform rules to schedule changes, Kruk has a lot of ideas. See if you agree with them (or any of them).

1:30 - Keep the uniforms uniform.
4:00 - Changing a fundamental rule in baseball.
5:30 - A change to the schedule.
8:00 - A day of per week for players?
10:00 - Get rid of September callups?
12:30 - What to do with players busted for PED's?
15:30 - Replay.
17:30 - Check swing rule change.

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How much is too much for Phillies in a Manny Machado trade?

How much is too much for Phillies in a Manny Machado trade?

There has been even more Manny Machado talk than usual in Philly of late. The combination of the recent Phillies-Orioles series and the Phils' winning ways has increased the chatter about whether they should trade for Machado this season rather than wait him out in free agency.

Obvious arguments can be made for both sides. 

Why not make the trade? Because waiting him out until free agency allows you to hold on to all of your young players. 

Why make the trade? Because, as some have argued, it makes you significantly better in 2018 and could create a (pretty unlikely) situation where Machado wouldn't want to leave. I say unlikely because there is literally no recent example of a rental superstar signing with the acquiring team before free agency. Even when guys like Yoenis Cespedes and Matt Holliday re-upped with the Mets and Cardinals, it was only after first testing the market.

Want the most recent example of it actually happening? It was 2002 when Scott Rolen re-signed with the Cardinals shortly after being traded by the Phillies. So we're talking 16 years.

Let's break down all the key points here.

Minuscule chance he signs before free agency
No matter what team might acquire Machado this summer, it makes little sense for him to sign a contract extension before first seeing what other teams will offer this winter. Even if a team like the Phillies, Dodgers or Cubs trades for Machado in July and offers him a $275 million extension, why would he sign it? Theoretically, that same offer would still be there a few months later, and the price would only surge if a bidding war between big-market teams ensues. Which it will.

Machado is such an amazing player that his market will be vast. The fact he can play both shortstop and third base is a huge factor as well. If he could play only one position, the list of fits would be reduced. But even the teams set at both shortstop and third base could move guys around to make room for a superstar.

How much is too much to give up in a trade?
With Machado being a two-month rental this season, the Orioles' asking price just cannot be as high as it would have been last winter or last summer.

Look, for example, at the J.D. Martinez trade from last July. The Tigers dealt him to the Diamondbacks in exchange for a three-player package that almost every analyst deemed light. None of the players the Tigers received were listed among the top 10 D-backs prospects on the major sites.

That was despite the fact that Martinez had gotten off to a great start in Detroit, hitting .305/.388/.630 with 16 homers in 200 at-bats.

Occasionally, there still are overpays for rentals, but it takes the right team and the right fit. In 2016, the Cubs could smell a World Series and traded exciting shortstop Gleyber Torres to the Yankees for two months of Aroldis Chapman. It worked for both teams, with the Cubs winning it all and Torres now playing every day for the Yankees.

The difference with the Phillies in this situation is that they are not merely one piece away like the 2016 Cubs. 

So, what's a legit trade package?
If the Phillies were to offer the Orioles J.P. Crawford, Dylan Cozens and a pitching prospect or two, that might at least get a conversation started.

Some will read that paragraph and immediately react with, "How could you give away 5½ inexpensive years of Crawford for a rental?"

Well ... how valuable is 5½ inexpensive years of Crawford if he's not the player we thought he might be? Crawford is extremely early into his major-league career, but so far he has been below average offensively and inconsistent defensively. He's the kind of player who makes sense in a trade like this because another organization might view him as young enough to reach his ceiling.

With Cozens, he's somewhat blocked in this organization but continues to put up big power numbers at Triple A. For some teams, he'd at least have been given a cup of coffee in the majors already. But the Phillies, at this point, have a surplus of outfielders with Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams, Rhys Hoskins and Roman Quinn (if he can ever stay healthy). The Phils also used their last three first-round picks on outfielders, though all three have underwhelmed to this point.

As for the third piece of this concocted offer, the pitching prospect, we are not talking Sixto Sanchez here. You simply don't get an organization's best pitching prospect for a two-month rental.

But the Phils have more than one intriguing young arm in their minor-league system. Cole Irvin and Enyel De Los Santos have been great this season at Triple A. The Double A guys — Franklyn Kilome, JoJo Romero, Ranger Suarez and Elniery Garcia — have struggled so far but all have potential.

The Orioles need help everywhere, so there's no specific player or position they'd be looking for in return. They just need quality and quantity because they have aging veterans, a truly awful starting rotation and one of the sport's most barren farm systems.