Ben Lively placed on DL, Phillies relief prospect moves up a level

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Ben Lively placed on DL, Phillies relief prospect moves up a level

Updated: 5:14 p.m.

A day after getting shelled in the Phillies’ 8-2 loss to the Diamondbacks, starting pitcher Ben Lively was placed on the 10-day DL with a lower back strain.

“We talked about [his back] in about the third inning of the game," Gabe Kapler said. "It’s something he identified, and he told us that he was able to pitch. And one thing we thought about right away was, ‘how do we keep this guy as healthy as possible?’ That was our number one consideration.

"And then after the game, I had a conversation with Lives, talked through it a little bit more. Now, our mission is to keep him as healthy as possible and get him there as quickly as possible.”

In a corresponding move, Jake Thompson was recalled from Triple A Leigh Valley. But Kapler said Thompson will be coming out of the bullpen and Lively's replacement in the rotation is still to be determined.

“That's TBD," Kapler said of Lively's spot in the rotation. "We have some options internally, we have some options at Triple A, and we’ll think through those.”

Lively, 0-2 with a 6.85 ERA, has been the lone Phillies starter to struggle in April. With Jerad Eickhoff due back soon, Lively’s rotation spot is in jeopardy.

Thompson had allowed five runs (four earned) in five innings out of the Phils’ bullpen before being sent down the second week of April. He made three starts with the IronPigs and struggled mightily his last time out (April 22), allowing 10 earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.

However, in Thompson's last appearance in Philadelphia, he went three scoreless innings in a 20-1 rout of the Marlins on April 7. Kapler liked what he saw that night. 

“His last outing was good for us … He’s got a good slider," Kapler said. "We want to see him continue to develop his slider, we want to see him continue to be a strike thrower. If he’s able to do both of those things, he helps us in these sort of scenarios, in this role specifically.”

In 18 big-league starts, Thompson is 6-8 with a 4.64 ERA. He’s walked 46 and struck out 64 in 95 innings in that role.

Zach Eflin, who has a 4.05 ERA in four starts at Triple A, also struggled in his last start (April 23), allowing six runs in four innings.

Because the Phillies have an off day on May 3, it is possible that a spot starter would be needed only once.

Closer prospect moves up to AAA
In a related move, the Phillies promoted highly-touted relief prospect Seranthony Dominguez from Double A to Triple A.

Dominguez, 23, had a 2.08 ERA for Reading with 18 strikeouts and just two walks in 13 innings. He’s a candidate to be up in the big leagues later this season if he continues to thrive in the minors.

Kapler saw Dominguez pitch firsthand earlier this week at Reading and came away thoroughly impressed.

"He's definitely got the talent," Kapler said when asked if Dominguez could help the Phillies this season. "He's definitely got the demeanor. And one of the things I mentioned yesterday as I was watching him was when we went out for mound visits (during spring training), this was a guy that was completely composed, in some ways similar to the way Scott Kingery's heartbeat is. He was always very cool, calm and collected. Then to come up and dial up 97, 98 (mph) with a nasty slider - those two things in combination lead me to believe he can make an impact."

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Noah Levick contributed to this story. 

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.

Subscribe to Krukcast: Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19

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.