Phillies

Phillies to upgrade bullpen with impending return of Pat Neshek

Phillies to upgrade bullpen with impending return of Pat Neshek

ORLANDO, Fla. — On the day he was traded from the Phillies to the Colorado Rockies in July, Pat Neshek stood in front of his locker and talked about how much he liked his time in Philadelphia. He gazed into his crystal ball and envisioned himself returning to the Phillies as a free agent over the winter.

The image in Neshek's crystal ball is about to come to life. The Phillies are on the verge of re-signing the 37-year-old right-hander, multiple sources said on Monday, the first day of baseball's winter meetings. When the deal is wrapped up in the next few days, it will be worth $16.25 million for two years with a club option for a third.

"We've been talking with the agents of a bunch of relief pitchers and we're on the goal line with one," said Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, who initially acquired Neshek in a trade with Houston 14 months ago then watched the pitcher deliver four outstanding months that landed him on the National League All-Star team.

There is not a no-trade clause in Neshek's new deal, so the Phillies could peddle him once again if they are not in contention. The Phillies got three prospects for Neshek in July — infielder Jose Gomez and right-handed pitchers J.D. Hammer and Alejandro Requena. Hammer was recently named to the Arizona Fall League's All-Prospect team.

Neshek pitched in 43 games (40 1/3 innings) for the Phillies in 2017 and gave up just five runs while walking five and striking out 45. In Colorado, Neshek continued to shine. He finished the season with a 1.59 ERA in 71 games. Overall, he pitched 62 1/3 innings and gave up just 11 earned runs while walking six and striking out 69.

Neshek is expected to help set up for Hector Neris and complement Luis Garcia, Adam Morgan, Edubray Ramos and Hoby Milner, all relatively young relievers who showed breakthrough signs in 2017. The Phillies could continue to add to their bullpen before the winter is complete. Sources say they have shown interest in free-agent lefty Jake McGee.

"I think we’re open-minded to bringing in multiple bullpen reinforcements," Klentak said. "One of the goals leading into next season is to improve our run prevention. Obviously, there are a lot of ways we can do that. One way — and this is sort of the simple narrative — is to address our starting pitching. We will continue to explore ways to improve our starting pitching, but I also think we need to be prepared to improve our run prevention in other areas. Improving our bullpen is one way to do that.

"I think if we can run out a bullpen of seven or eight guys that are all high-leverage type arms, then we can start matching up in the fifth or sixth inning. If there are days when our young starters throw 100 pitches to get us through five or six innings, we shouldn't be in a position where that’s taxing our bullpen because we have the ability to carry an eighth bullpen member next year. We shouldn’t be in a position where we lose our competitiveness in the sixth inning because we should have a deep bullpen where we start throwing really good players out there early in the game. If it turns out that’s the best way for us to improve our run prevention, then that’s the way to do."

The Phillies will continue to look for starting pitching at these winter meetings and beyond. They are open to trading Freddy Galvis or Cesar Hernandez and would look to get starting pitching in a deal for one of them. The Angels, according to sources, covet Hernandez as both a second baseman and leadoff man, but the Phillies' asking price is high.

Also on Day 1 of the winter meetings ...

The Phillies lost outfielder Cameron Perkins and infielder Engelb Vielma on waivers to Seattle and Pittsburgh, respectively. With two openings on the 40-man roster, the Phils can add a player in Thursday's Rule 5 draft. They have the third overall pick.

"I would expect that we would take advantage of the third pick in some form or fashion," Klentak said. "Whether we draft a player and retain that player or draft a player and make a trade, I think we’ll look to do something with it. That was a big part of why we put the two guys on waivers that we did. It was just to free us up to be able to participate on Thursday."

Rhys Hoskins puts on a show at Home Run Derby but runs into some bad luck

Rhys Hoskins puts on a show at Home Run Derby but runs into some bad luck

Kyle. Freakin'. Schwarber.

Rhys Hoskins put on a show in the Home Run Derby Monday night in Washington, D.C., but he, unfortunately, faced off against Schwarber in the second round and Schwarber went off.

Hoskins hit 20 in the semifinal round, which to that point was the most all night. Schwarber started rather slowly, but began cranking jack after jack and hit his 21st just as the four-minute clock expired.

It was a dramatic walk-off from Schwarber, but he actually had 30 more seconds to play with because he hit two homers farther than 440 feet and was awarded some extra time.

In the other semifinal, Bryce Harper beat Max Muncy 13-12. Smh. Harper went on to knock off Schwarber in the final round to claim the Home Run Derby title.

In all, Hoskins hit 37 homers in two rounds, with the deepest two going 466 and 463 feet. He homered on nearly half of his swings.

An extremely impressive first showing in the derby for Hoskins, who may want to return because of the unfinished business.

First round

Leading off the derby, Hoskins cranked 17 jacks to upset 1-seed Jesus Aguilar, who hit 11.

With 17, Hoskins tied Muncy for the most in the first round, though Muncy and Harper stopped before time expired because they had already beaten their opponent.

Hoskins just had a much quicker pace than Aguilar, who took his time between swings, as did his pitcher.

Entering the night, Hoskins was 11/2 to win the derby, per Bovada. Aguilar had the second-shortest odds at 7/2, behind only Harper.

A cool moment occurred midway through the first round when Hoskins called his one permitted timeout and fist bumped with Harper, who was expressing awe at the ease of Hoskins' homers.


More on the Phillies

Phillies 1st-rounder Adam Haseley honored after dynamic opening week at AA

ap-adam-haseley-phillies.jpg
AP Images

Phillies 1st-rounder Adam Haseley honored after dynamic opening week at AA

Adam Haseley had one heck of a first week in Double A.

The Phillies' first-round pick in 2017 (eighth overall) was promoted to Double A Reading on July 11 and responded by going 5 for 13 (.385) with a double, two homers and two walks in his first four games.

As a result, Haseley was named Eastern League Player of the Week in his very first try.

Haseley has already been promoted four times over the last calendar year. Last summer, he began in the Gulf Coast League, was promoted to Low A Williamsport after three games, then made it to Class A Lakewood by season's end. 

He began this season at High A Clearwater and earned the promotion to Reading after hitting .300 in 354 plate appearances.

All told, Haseley has hit .296/.352/.423 with 27 doubles, seven triples and 10 homers in 616 plate appearances in the minors. 

The 22-year-old University of Virginia product was a more polished prospect than the previous year's No. 1 pick, Mickey Moniak

Moniak, who turned 20 on May 13, has hit .242 with a meager .268 OBP in 75 games at Clearwater this season. The power has been slow to come around, and Moniak has slashed just .247/.290/.350 in 999 plate appearances the last three seasons.

There's still plenty of time for Moniak, but he can't be satisfied with how he's hit to this point, nor can an organization that used the first overall pick in the draft on him. Some baseball people have questioned whether Moniak will grow strong enough to consistently drive the baseball as the quality of pitching he faces increases. 

Rounding out the first-round pick updates, Cornelius Randolph has struggled even more than Moniak. Randolph, drafted 10th overall in 2015, has hit .215 with one home run in 80 games at Double A this season. 

Randolph was drafted for his offense specifically but things haven't clicked yet. He's hit .252/.346/.362 with 17 homers in 1,328 plate appearances since being drafted.

More on the Phillies