Phillies

Phillies in serious pursuit of free agents Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius

Phillies in serious pursuit of free agents Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius

On Tuesday night, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak described the free-agent pitching market as “slow moving.”

By Wednesday morning, the pace had picked up significantly and Klentak and the Phillies are right in the middle of it.

Multiple sources confirmed an ESPN report that the Phillies are in serious pursuit of right-hander Zack Wheeler.

Wheeler, 29, has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency in his career, but he possess elite stuff — his 97-mph average velocity was fourth-best in the majors in 2019 — and is seen as a pitcher ready to blossom into a major difference-maker.

With Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg sitting at the top of the free-agent market and looking at deals that could rise above $200 million, Wheeler has become a much coveted second-tier option for teams. The Reds, Rangers, White Sox, Angels and Yankees are all seen as being in the mix along with the Phillies. It will likely take a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $100 million to land Wheeler. The Phillies, in win-now mode and desperate for starting pitching, have financial resources and could meet that price.

Cole and Strasburg could linger on the market for some time as agent Scott Boras, who represents both pitchers, seeks megadeals for his two studs. The industry belief is that Wheeler will sign sooner than Cole and Strasburg, possibly even before the winter meetings kick off this weekend in San Diego.

Wheeler, profiled here last month, has long been considered a good fit for the Phillies. There was even talk of the Phillies making a play for him at the trade deadline last July, but the New York Mets hung on to him.

In addition to Wheeler, the Phils are engaged in talks with free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius, who is a favorite of new manager Joe Girardi.

So far the off-season has been quiet for the Phillies. Landing Wheeler and Gregorius would get things moving in a good direction. Stay tuned. Things are hot.

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Gabe Kapler and Giants make historic coaching hire with Alyssa Nakken

Gabe Kapler and Giants make historic coaching hire with Alyssa Nakken

With all of the chaos currently consuming the league, it may have been overlooked that the Giants and Gabe Kapler have made a historic coaching hire.

Alyssa Nakken has been named one of Kapler's assistant coaches. She will be the first woman on a major-league coaching staff.

Can anyone say girl power?

Nakken is also a chairperson for the Giants' Employee Resource Group. This group promotes diversity and equality within the organization.

And as a female, with her intelligence and determination and hunger and drive to excel — I understand some of her responsibility is keeping her fingers on the pulse of the culture — it’s invaluable. She’ll broaden the scope and perspective, and I applaud Gabe for doing this.

-Kathy Strahan, Nakken's former coach in an interview for the San Francisco Chronicle

This is a moment that could change the mold of the league in the new decade.

Women belong in sports and are here to stay. And this single hire has the potential to open numerous doors in the future for both the league and anyone who wants to be a part of it.

You can read more about the hire and get to know Nakken at the San Francisco Chronicle.

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After 29 other teams pass, Phillies send Odubel Herrera to minor leagues

After 29 other teams pass, Phillies send Odubel Herrera to minor leagues

As expected, Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera quickly cleared waivers on Thursday. He has been assigned outright to Triple A.

Herrera was designated for assignment on Tuesday. The move immediately removed him from the Phillies’ 40-man roster and cleared a spot for outfielder Nick Martini, who was claimed off waivers from Cincinnati.

Herrera, 28, was involved in a domestic abuse incident in New Jersey in May. Though legal charges were eventually dropped, he served an 85-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s policy against domestic violence. As a matter of procedure, he was reinstated to the 40-man roster in November, but that hardly assured his future with the club, even though he is signed through 2021 and owed $20 million.

When Major League Baseball and the Players Association forged its joint policy on domestic violence, both sides agreed that a player violating the policy could not be punished by being released or having his contract voided.

On Tuesday, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said there were “sound baseball reasons,” for removing Herrera from the roster. He pointed to Herrera’s inconsistency and struggles last season and the fact that the Phillies had added outfielders Jay Bruce and Adam Haseley to the roster after Herrera’s suspension.

“The construction of our outfield now is very different than it was last spring when Odubel was first suspended,” Klentak said.

The Phillies plan to give Haseley a shot to win the starting centerfield job in spring training. He will be pushed by Roman Quinn.

Herrera could very well be on his way out of the organization, but he’s not there yet. He is expected to report to minor-league spring training camp, where he will continue to collect his full salary while working toward regaining a role with the big-league team or trying to catch the eye of a team that might be interested in trading for him. So far, there has been no trade interest. 

Participating in minor-league camp does not ensure that Herrera will be with a Phillies’ minor-league club during the regular season. He can still be released at any time, as long as the Phillies establish that the move is for baseball reasons, as they did earlier this week when they designated him for assignment.

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