Phillies

Phillies go down to the wire as they seek trade-deadline upgrade

Phillies go down to the wire as they seek trade-deadline upgrade

BOSTON — While the Phillies got ready to test themselves against the best team in baseball Monday night at Fenway Park, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak was hunkered down at Citizens Bank Park trying to pull off a move to improve his club before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline.

Klentak traded for switch-hitting infielder Asdrubal Cabrera on Friday and best guess is he will make another move before the deadline. The focus remains adding a bat to the outfield/bench mix and a reliever, possibly a lefty.

The Phillies have continued to monitor the starting pitching market. They are always interested in top-tier starters under team control — i.e., Chris Archer, Michael Fulmer, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler — but the prices are high on those pitchers and there’s no guarantee they will be moved. Adding a starting pitcher could allow the Phillies to move Nick Pivetta to the bullpen, where his strikeout arm could be a weapon. If the Phils were to look for more of a mid-rotation starter or swingman, they could consider someone like Texas Rangers lefty Mike Minor, who is signed through 2020. The Rangers are listening on pretty much everyone.

Possible outfield/bench bats include Curtis Granderson. The Phillies made an offer to Baltimore that would have netted them Adam Jones. But Jones is not ready to waive his no-trade rights. Sometimes minds can change closer to the deadline.

Before Monday night’s game against Boston, manager Gabe Kapler was asked if he believed a trade was coming.

“My feel is that up until the last moment, Matt is going to be working his fingers to the bone and that has been what he’s been doing to this point, looking to upgrade either marginally or making a significant impact,” Kapler said. “He’ll continue to do that to the finish line and anything he needs from me in the way of support or how something that he’s identifying will fit our group, I’m going to be there for him.

“But I will reiterate what I’ve said for the last 10 days: Everything that we need to be successful going forward is in that [clubhouse]. We are here in first place because of the men in that room, and, again, if they take a small step forward, continue their development and get a little better, we win a lot of games from here on out.”

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Jayson Werth always had a hunch his pal Bryce Harper would end up a Phillie

Jayson Werth always had a hunch his pal Bryce Harper would end up a Phillie

CLEARWATER, Fla. — On the one-year anniversary of his decision to join the Phillies, Bryce Harper received a visit from an old friend Friday. 

The visitor did not need directions to the Phillies' clubhouse. Jayson Werth spent four seasons with the Phils and helped the team win the World Series in 2008 before moving on to Washington, where he played with Harper for six seasons.

Werth became a mentor to Harper in Washington and as Harper's service-time clock ticked toward free agency, Werth always believed there was a chance his friend would find his way to Philadelphia.

"I always thought this would be a possible destination for him, even way back when, for a bunch of reasons," Werth said. "Kind of where the team was, the money was right, the owner was right, the town's right.

"But more than anything else," Werth added with widening eyes, "Citizens Bank Park is just an awesome place to hit. We always talked about that.

"I don't want people to think I was pushing him there. As players, you just have those conversations. We talked about every stadium while we were stretching in the outfield, while we were on airplanes. I couldn't even figure out how many hours I spent talking to this kid, so stuff like that comes up."

In his seven seasons with the Nationals from 2011 to 2017, Werth tormented the Phillies by hitting .291 with a .922 OPS, 15 homers and 45 RBIs in 52 games.

Werth's 16 career homers in Citizens Bank Park — he hit one as a member of the Dodgers — are second-most at the park by a visiting hitter. David Wright of the New York Mets hit 22 in the park.

Harper hit .260 with an .882 OPS, 35 homers and 114 RBIs in his first season with the Phillies last year. He had a .939 OPS, 20 homers and 63 RBIs at home.

Werth had a love-hate relationship with Phillies fans. They mostly loved him when he wore the red pinstripes and mostly rode him when he moved on to Washington.

He laughs about it now.

"As bad as they can be, they can also be really good," Werth said. "I took it with a grain of salt. It was kind of fun. I was getting booed off the field and at the same time, I was probably playing my best baseball every game I was there. So it was good. It raises everything."

By now Philadelphia fans are familiar with Harper's fiery, hair-flying style of play.

"I always thought that would be something Philadelphia would love," Werth said.

Werth retired in 2018 so both he and Harper were gone from Washington when the Nationals, after failing to make it past the Division Series four times in seven years, finally won the World Series last fall.

Harper watched the entire World Series on television and was thrilled for his old friends.

Werth actually attended the World Series games in Washington and was in attendance for the Nats' Game 7 clincher in Houston.

He felt he had to be.

"I was looking for closure," he said. "It felt like it closed the book on my career, like mission accomplished, job well done. 

"I signed there when nobody wanted anything to do with that place. Harper was a first-round pick when they were coming off 100-loss seasons. Me, Bryce, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and a bunch of other guys in 2011 and 2012 kind of turned the franchise around and the fruits of that labor were ripe for the picking last year, finally. So I was elated for those guys and the owners, the front office, (GM) Mike Rizzo, the whole thing."

Werth did not visit the victorious Washington clubhouse after Game 7.

"That wasn't for me," he said. "It was for those guys."

Harper is entering the second season of a 13-year, $330-million contract with the Phillies. The Phillies are banking on him leading the club to a World Series title one of these years.

It's something Harper, a former National League Rookie of the Year and MVP, badly wants.

"He wants to win," Werth said. "He's got everything. There's really not much on the list for him except that.

"He's the type of kid that grew up wanting to be a Hall of Famer. Most kids grow up wanting to be big leaguers. He grew up wanting to be a Hall of Famer. The ring, winning a championship, the parade, all that stuff comes with it. That's not a stretch for me to think those are things he wants."

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Phillies Talk podcast: Opinions on Bryce Harper after a year in Phillies pinstripes

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Phillies Talk podcast: Opinions on Bryce Harper after a year in Phillies pinstripes

Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman got together for a lil' Phillies Talk on the one-year anniversary of the Bryce Harper signing. Aside from their opinions and big-picture takeaways from Harper's first year with the Phillies, the guys discussed Zack Wheeler's imminent debut, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen.

• Zack Wheeler debuts Saturday — what are we looking for?

• Some Phillies hitters thrilled to not have to face Wheeler anymore.

• Why so much Jean Segura at 3B early in camp?

• Defensive upgrades in the infield.

• Where is Andrew McCutchen? How does the knee look?

• Recalling the buzz in Phillies camp when Harper signed.

• The overlooked aspect of Harper's first season in Philly.

• How many Phillies records can Harper set?

• Honesty from J.T. Realmuto about Phillies pitchers, coaching changes and disrespect from the outside.

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