Phillies

Updated look at Phillies' 40-man roster after latest moves

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Updated look at Phillies' 40-man roster after latest moves

With Justin Bour placed on waivers last week and expected to latch on elsewhere, the Phillies now have 34 players on their 40-man roster. Gone are the midseason acquisitions like Bour, Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, Jose Bautista, Aaron Loup.

Tuesday is the deadline to protect Rule 5 draft-eligible players by adding them to the 40-man roster. For the Phillies, that will mean adding soon-to-be 22-year-old pitching prospect Adonis Medina, whose name came up in Manny Machado trade talks midway through 2018.

They could also add 22-year-old right-handed reliever Edgar Garcia to the 40. He excelled at Double A this past season with a 3.32 ERA and 10.3 strikeouts per nine, reaching Triple A for five games at the end of the season. 

Here's a look at what is currently on the 40-man roster.

Catchers (2) — Jorge Alfaro, Andrew Knapp

It's hard to imagine the Phillies going into 2019 with this catching duo. Even if they don't bring back Ramos, the Phils need a catcher who can actually block the ball and prevent the wild pitches and passed balls that doomed them all season.

Knapp received 215 and 204 plate appearances the last two seasons. Barring a long-term injury to a catcher, it would be surprising to see him get 100 next season.

Infielders (6) — Carlos Santana, Cesar Hernandez, Scott Kingery, Maikel Franco, J.P. Crawford, Mitch Walding

Three obvious trade candidates in this group: Santana, Hernandez and Franco.

Like the last few offseasons, the Phillies will not give Hernandez away. Trading him now figures to be more complicated than ever, with Hernandez's salary rising and his production slipping last season.

A Franco trade makes sense for the Phillies only if it precedes or follows another third-base move. It would make little sense for the Phils to trade Franco just to play Crawford at third base. Nobody inside or outside the organization can feel totally comfortable with the idea of Santana playing several months worth of games at third.

Walding would obviously be the next to go when the Phils need to create roster space.

Outfielders (6) — Rhys Hoskins, Odubel Herrera, Roman Quinn, Nick Williams, Aaron Altherr, Dylan Cozens

Listing Hoskins here because as of this date, he'd still be penciled into playing left field. The Hoskins-in-LF experiment did not work, though, with him grading out as one of the majors' worst defensive left fielders in a decade.

It wouldn't be a big shock to see Herrera or even Williams traded this offseason if it improves the Phillies elsewhere. Roman Quinn was the Phils' best centerfielder in the second half of 2018 and deserves the inside track to that job as long as he can stay healthy throughout spring training. The defensive component matters a lot, as we saw game-in and game-out last year.

Altherr, despite the bad 2018 season, is worth keeping around because he's cost-controlled, won't fetch much of value on the trade market and could easily be closer to the 2017 version moving forward.

Right-handed pitchers (16) — Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Vince Velasquez, Seranthony Dominguez, Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, Victor Arano, Hector Neris, Edubray Ramos, Luis Garcia, Jerad Eickhoff, Yacksel Rios, Enyel De Los Santos, Drew Anderson

Among last season's five main starting pitchers, Velasquez is the safest bet to be moved. With the Phillies expected to add at least one SP better than him, Velasquez will likely be in the bullpen on opening day if he's still in a Phillies uniform.

In the bullpen, the Phils could look to move one of Neshek or Hunter. It wasn't the most comfortable situation having them around last year. Neshek is clearly a top-notch reliever when he's able to pitch, but there are too many usage restrictions with him in a bullpen Gabe Kapler goes to early and often. Hunter's boisterous personality was met well by some and was taxing on others as the season wore on.

With the Phillies also expected to add bullpen pieces, Garcia's days could be numbered. Among their group of hard-throwing righties, Garcia was the least reliable in 2018. He's projected to make just under $2 million in 2019 through arbitration.

The most variance in this group belongs to Eickhoff, who could win a rotation job in spring training, win a job as the long man, or be sent packing as a piece in a trade.

Left-handed pitchers (4) — Luis Avilan, Austin Davis, Adam Morgan, Ranger Suarez

Obviously an area of need. Avilan's arbitration projection is just north of $3 million and the Phillies can probably find more bang for their buck. 

Davis and Morgan are not lefty specialists.

There are some really good lefty relievers available like Zach Britton and Andrew Miller, but there's also the specialist route with someone like Tony Sipp.

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Phillies beat J.T. Realmuto in salary arbitration hearing

Phillies beat J.T. Realmuto in salary arbitration hearing

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The verdict is in.

The Phillies have beaten catcher J.T. Realmuto in salary arbitration, a person with knowledge of the decision confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. The All-Star catcher will make $10 million in 2020. Realmuto, who made $5.9 million last season, had sought $12.4 million in arbitration.

An arbitration panel heard arguments from both sides during a hearing Wednesday in Phoenix and on Thursday informed the parties that it had decided in the team’s favor.

Realmuto is back from Arizona and was seen hitting in the cage Thursday afternoon at Carpenter Complex but was unavailable for comment.

Despite losing his case, Realmuto will still make a record salary for an arbitration-eligible catcher. The previous record was held by Mike Napoli, who made $9.4 million with the Texas Rangers in 2012.

The Phillies had not been involved in an arbitration hearing since 2008 when they lost to Ryan Howard. He made $10 million that season.

Realmuto attended the hearing and is expected back in Phillies camp on Thursday.

Arbitration hearings can sometimes create hard feelings between a team and a player, but Realmuto has thus far been able to chalk up the entire process to the business of baseball. 

“One way or another, I’m going to be playing baseball in Philly this year,” he said on Monday. “I’m going to either be making $10 million or $12 million, and I’ll be happy either way. I’m blessed to get to do what I do for a living for a lot of money so either way I’m happy.”

Surely, the Phillies hope Realmuto maintains that posture in the coming weeks as the two sides begin to explore a contract extension that will keep the player from becoming a free agent at season’s end.

Realmuto is expected to seek in the neighborhood of $23 million per season, matching Joe Mauer’s record salary for a catcher, over a five- or six-year deal. The Phillies would like to get a deal done during spring training.

“It would be nice to have some resolution prior to opening day just so it’s not a distraction to mostly the player but even to us during the season,” general manager Matt Klentak said earlier this spring. “I still feel very strongly that I would like to do that. Everyone in our organization does.”

The Phillies acquired Realmuto in a trade with Miami in February 2019. He went on to have a big year in his first season in Philadelphia. In addition to making the All-Star team, he was the catcher on the inaugural All-MLB team, and he won both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in the National League. He led all big-league catchers in hits, RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits while swatting a career-high 25 homers. He threw out 37 runners trying to steal, the most in the majors.

The Phillies have an arbitration hearing with reliever Hector Neris on Friday. Neris is seeking $5.2 million and the Phillies filed at $4.25 million. He made $1.8 million last season.

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Pennsylvania Little League bans use of 'Astros' team name

Pennsylvania Little League bans use of 'Astros' team name

Is a local Little League district responding to the Astros' cheating scandal with a harsher sentence than Major League Baseball?

In the wake of Houston's sign-stealing, administrator Bob Bertoni from the District 16/31 Little League - which features teams out of Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley area - said this week he's barred the use of "Astros" as a nickname.

Before you go and rant about what seems on the surface like an odd move, let him explain his decision.

Per the Citizens Voice:

“We are suspending the Astros from our district,” Bertoni said. “In our pledge it says to play fair and that has been our pledge forever. All our leagues represent one major league team or another. To me, we need to use this as an educational tool and teach the kids there are consequences for actions. The Astros cheated and broke the rules. Our kids idolize these teams and players, and this is a team we don’t want to idolize.”

Also of note, Bertoni isn't the first to bar the Astros from his league; last week, leagues in California started the movement by banning the nickname.

Frankly, while it doesn't seem like a necessary choice, it's probably a smart one. Kids love to tease each other, especially in sports. Sticking a group of kids on a team named after the Cheaters Of The Moment is just begging for one game gone awry to lead to weeks of name-calling and secretive teasing about a kid cheating during the game. 

Is it a big deal, in the grand scheme of things? Of course not. We're talking about Little League baseball. But Bertoni's choice to dodge the possibility entirely is probably smart.

Rob Manfred, the ball is back in your glove.

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