Phillies

Phillies interested in Orioles reliever Zach Britton

Phillies interested in Orioles reliever Zach Britton

NEW YORK – The Phillies will see the Baltimore Orioles for the third time in less than two weeks when the teams play a makeup game at Camden Yards on Thursday.

And you know what that means.

More trade buzz between the teams.

Only now it’s not about Manny Machado.

The Phillies’ affection for Machado is well known and Baltimore’s slugging shortstop/third baseman addressed the matter when he was in Philadelphia last week (see story).

At the moment, however, the Phillies find the asking price for Machado to be too steep. The Phils will keep lines of communication open with the Orioles, but their best shot of landing Machado might come in the offseason when he becomes a free agent.

In the meantime, there’s another Oriole to keep an eye on.

According to a major league source, the Phillies have interest in closer Zach Britton and have spoken about him with Orioles officials.

Britton, a 30-year-old lefty, is a two-time All-Star who racked up 120 saves for the Orioles from 2014-2016. He led the American League with 47 saves in 2016 and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting that season. Britton saved 15 games in 2017 but was limited to 38 games because of a forearm injury.

In the offseason, Britton suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. He returned to action in mid-June and has allowed six runs in 12 2/3 innings over his first 13 games. However, all of those runs came in two appearances and Britton has recently been quite effective, racking up five scoreless innings over his last five outings. Britton has given up just two hits and a walk over that span while striking out four and earning a win and a save.

Like Machado, Britton will be a free agent in the offseason. Phillies officials are not keen on giving up multiples of prospects for a rental player, but Britton’s price will be lower than Machado’s. Pretty much every team looking for relief help will have an interest in Britton, so the Orioles can afford to let his market develop. But the Phillies, who could possibly include Maikel Franco in a package, are in the running for him.

Britton, whose best pitch is a hard, sinking fastball, would be a good fit for the Phillies because he is a proven ninth-inning arm and that would allow manager Gabe Kapler to use power-armed Seranthony Dominguez as a high-leverage bullpen wild card as the second half of the season and the pennant race unfolds.

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

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Phillies' 2020 World Series odds are pretty surprising

Most of the baseball world agrees that the Phillies are improved with the additions of No. 2 starter Zack Wheeler, shortstop Didi Gregorius, and the new contingent of manager Joe Girardi, pitching coach Bryan Price and hitting coach Joe Dillon.

The question is how much improved?

The Phils won 81 games last season, a year after winning 80. Both years, they totally collapsed in September. Both years, a good number of players were simply playing out the string, though the effort level was more questionable in 2018 than in 2019.

Even though the Phillies were quiet this offseason after their two big signings, and even though the NL East is still a beast, they should still exceed 81 wins. If they don't, there's a serious problem. If they don't, the GM probably won't be here to try to rectify things next offseason.

The over/under win totals are out and the Phillies' number is 85.5 at FanDuel and 84.5 at DraftKings.

I'd go over at 84.5. Think about how many injuries the Phillies suffered last season. Think about the talent gap between Wheeler and every Phillies starting pitcher behind Aaron Nola last season. The impact of Girardi, Price and Dillon won't be all that quantifiable, but it is realistic that this revamped coaching staff can conjure a few more wins out of the 2020 Phillies, whether it's in-game decision-making or better instructions given to young players who underperformed last season.

At DraftKings, the Mets' over/under is a game better than the Phillies' at 85.5. The Braves are at 90.5 and the Nationals 88.5. The Marlins are at 64.5, higher than only one team, the Tigers.

Much more surprising are the Phillies' World Series odds. They have the sixth-shortest odds to win it all. Seriously. They're +1800. Here is the Top 10:

Yankees: 3.5/1
Dodgers: 5/1
Astros: 6/1
Braves: 11/1
Nationals: 14/1
Phillies: 18/1
Mets: 20/1
Twins: 20/1
Red Sox: 22/1
Cubs: 22/1

Apparently, the expectation is that the NL Central will be bringing up the rear in 2020. Really, the only NL Central team that improved was the Reds. The Cardinals lost Marcell Ozuna, the Brewers lost Yasmani Grandal and the Cubs didn't spend money on a single major-league free agent.

Four of the top seven teams being NL East teams just shows you how much of a battle these next seven months will be for the Phils.

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Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Phillies prospects Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm make Baseball America's Top 100 list

Baseball America’s always interesting Top 100 Prospects list landed this week and the Phillies are represented with two players in the top half.

Starting pitcher Spencer Howard ranks 27th on the list and third baseman Alec Bohm 28th. Both players are projected to open the coming season at Triple A and get to the majors at some point in 2020. Both have been invited to major-league spring training camp, which begins in less than three weeks in Clearwater. See the complete list of Phillies’ in-house non-roster invites here.

Howard, a 23-year-old right-hander, was the Phillies’ second-round draft pick in 2017. We profiled him here.

In its story on the Top 100 prospects, Baseball America offered this take on Howard: Triple-digit fastball, swing-and-miss curveball and the ability to work the edges of the strike zone, Howard flashes front-end potential.

Bohm, 23, was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. He hit .305 with 21 homers, 80 RBIs and a .896 OPS at three levels, including Double A in 2019. We profiled him here.

Baseball America offered this take on Bohm: Even with questions about whether he’ll have to move to first base, Bohm has the feel to hit and plus power to hit in the middle of the Phillies’ order, and soon.

Shortstop Wander Franco of the Tampa Bay Rays was ranked No. 1 on Baseball America’s list for the second year in a row. The Rays placed eight players on the list. Because of a loaded farm system, the Rays were unable to protect left-hander Cristopher Sanchez on their 40-man roster and the Phillies traded for him in November. Read about Sanchez here.

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed seven players on the list and the Minnesota Twins and San Diego Padres had six each.

The Miami Marlins led National League East teams with five players in the Top 100, including former Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez, who was traded for J.T. Realmuto a year ago. Sanchez ranks 16th on the list and is projected to arrive in the majors sometime in 2020.

The Atlanta Braves placed four players on the list and the Washington Nationals and New York Mets joined the Phillies with two players.

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