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Justin Bour activated; did his oblique really heal in 10 days?

Justin Bour activated; did his oblique really heal in 10 days?

Updated: 5:50 p.m.

Just 10 days after he was placed on the DL with an oblique strain, Justin Bour was activated Sunday by the Phillies. 

The news was surprising given the ordinary recovery timetable for an oblique injury. Position players, on average, miss 27 days with the injury. It’s rare for a player with an oblique issue to make it back before three weeks. 

Now, Bour’s activation doesn’t necessarily mean he’s ready to play right away. With expanded rosters in September, the Phillies can activate him days before he’s actually ready as a just-in-case move. It’s not as if he’s taking someone’s spot on the roster. 

(Update: Kapler said after Sunday's game that Bour would have been available off the bench and could play Monday in Miami.)

The Phils could obviously use Bour’s powerful left-handed bat. In tandem with Jose Bautista, he gives the Phillies a legit pinch-hit home run possibility from either side of the plate. 

The timing of his activation is appropriate with Daniel Murphy and the Cubs in town. Baseball fans all over the country, along with the Cubs themselves, were shocked that Murphy slid through every NL team in the waiver order to get to the Cubs. The Phillies let Murphy pass through likely because they had so recently acquired Bour via revocable trade waivers and felt they didn’t have enough room on the 25-man roster for another lefty bat with defensive limitations. 

It’s easier to criticize the Murphy non-acquisition now with Cesar Hernandez’s continued slump. Since July 1, Hernandez is 45 for 200 (.225). He’s hitting 41 points lower on the season than he did in 2016 or 2017. 

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Phillies' chances of re-signing Wilson Ramos increased this week

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Phillies' chances of re-signing Wilson Ramos increased this week

Overshadowed by the James Paxton trade was the Nationals' signing Monday of catcher Kurt Suzuki to a two-year, $10 million contract — his second stint in Washington.

Suzuki leaves Atlanta, where he had the two best seasons of his career, hitting .276/.341/.485 with averages of 16 homers and 50 RBI in just 348 plate appearances. In 2017, four of his 19 homers came in 10 games against the Phillies.

Aside from the NL East change of scenery, what does this have to do with the Phillies?

It helps the cause in re-signing Wilson Ramos, if the Phils are indeed as interested as they should be. 

Ramos spent seven seasons with the Nationals, and the Nats tried in 2018 to reacquire him before the Phillies did. Had they not inked Suzuki, they likely would have again explored a reunion with Ramos.

Yasmani Grandal, because he is a year younger than Ramos and has less of an injury history, is viewed as the top free-agent catcher, even after the ugly postseason. However, Grandal declined the $17.9 million qualifying offer from the Dodgers, meaning the team that signs him will forfeit a high draft pick — either a pick preceding or following the second round, based on the signing team's revenues and market size.

That is meaningful. It could make a catching-needy team think twice about prioritizing Grandal over Ramos.

The teams that stick out in the race for catching — i.e. Grandal or Ramos — are the Phillies, Braves, Mets, Rockies, Red Sox, Astros, Angels and Twins. Removing the Nationals from the equation helps. 

The Phillies could, perhaps unrealistically, talk themselves into thinking they don't need Ramos in 2019, that they're seeing enough improvement from Jorge Alfaro. Many inside the Phils' organization remain high on Alfaro because of things like exit velocity, arm strength and pitch-framing. But there is obviously so much more that goes into being a productive major-league catcher. Alfaro in 2018 struggled in all phases of receiving other than framing. He struggled to block balls, and in some befuddling moments struggled to catch strikes. He also has struck out nine times more than he's walked as a major-leaguer.

Could Alfaro be a productive catcher if he fixes a few major deficiencies? Sure. Will that happen in 2019, which figures to be a win-now year for the Phillies? Tough to bank on.

If the Phillies feel comfortable with where Ramos is physically, they should bring him back on a two- or three-year deal. They may have to slightly overpay to get a deal done quickly, but it's worth it at a position that offers as little offense leaguewide as catcher. It probably makes more sense for Ramos to go to the AL, where he can be preserved as a designated hitter at times, but 31-year-olds eying their last big payday tend to follow the money.

When Ramos was actually able to bat in the middle of the Phillies' order in the second half of 2018, he was awesome. He hit .337/.396/.483 with 10 extra-base hits and 10 walks and 101 plate appearances. 

Even if the Phillies make the big Bryce Harper splash, it would still be nice to have Ramos in the five- or six-hole.

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Phillies add Adonis Medina and 2 others to 40-man roster, avoid losing them in Rule 5 draft

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Phillies add Adonis Medina and 2 others to 40-man roster, avoid losing them in Rule 5 draft

The Phillies on Tuesday added three minor-league prospects to their 40-man roster, thus protecting them from being selected by another club in next month’s Rule 5 draft.

The team added right-handed pitchers Edgar Garcia and Adonis Medina as well as middle infielder Arquimides Gamboa.

Garcia, a 22-year-old reliever, split the 2018 season between Double A and Triple A and recorded a 3.64 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP in 52 games. He struck out 72 batters and walked 27 in 64⅓ innings and held opposing hitters to a .206 batting average. He could push for work in the Phillies' bullpen sometime in 2019.

Medina, 21, is one of the organization’s top starting pitching prospects. He went 10-4 with a 4.12 ERA in 22 games (21 starts) for Single A Clearwater in 2018. He struck out 123 and walked 36 in 111⅓ innings. He projects to pitch at Double A in 2019.

Gamboa, 21, is a talented defensive shortstop who could eventually be pushed to second base as top prospect Luis Garcia rises. A switch-hitter, Gamboa batted just .214 with a .304 on-base percentage in 114 games at Clearwater in 2018. He struck out 111 times.

Among those left unprotected were outfielder Jose Pujols and catcher Deivi Grullon.

Pujols, who turned 23 in September, was the Florida State League player of the year in 2018. He hit .301 with 18 homers, 58 RBIs and a .887 OPS in 95 games at Clearwater. He struck out 127 times in 352 at-bats.

Grullon, a rugged 22-year-old, hit .273 with 21 homers, 59 RBIs and a .825 OPS in 90 games at Double A Reading.

The additions left the Phillies’ 40-man roster at 38. Justin Bour remains on the roster even though multiple sources say he has cleared waivers. The next important roster date arrives on Nov. 30, which is the deadline for offering a contract to a salary arbitration-eligible player.

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