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 meet with Scott Boras, talk Zach Britton and Bryce Harper

Phillies meet with Scott Boras, talk Zach Britton and Bryce Harper

LAS VEGAS — Phillies officials met with super agent Scott Boras at the winter meetings Tuesday, according to a baseball source. 

The two sides discussed a number of matters, including Boras' two big free agents, Bryce Harper and Zach Britton.

The Phillies have had strong, longstanding interest in Britton, a left-handed reliever. They tried to acquire him from Baltimore in a package with Manny Machado in July but were unable to consummate the deal. Months later, Britton remains high on the Phillies' wish list. 

The Phillies have interest in Harper, widely considered the prize of this winter's free-agent market. On Tuesday, the team signed outfielder Andrew McCutchen. While that doesn't rule them out of adding another outfielder like Harper, it could be a signal that the team is more focused on Machado, who they would hope to sign as a third baseman.

The Phillies continue to be in contact with Machado's agents and Machado will visit Citizens Bank Park and meet with Phillies officials in the coming weeks.

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Source: Phillies 'don’t have enough' to pull off trade for catcher J.T. Realmuto

Source: Phillies 'don’t have enough' to pull off trade for catcher J.T. Realmuto

LAS VEGAS — Don't hold your breath on the Phillies landing All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Sure, the Phillies like the Miami Marlins' star. Who doesn't? He will play at 28 next season and is a game-changer on both sides of the ball. He's also two years away from free agency.

And, yes, sources confirm that the Phils have had trade discussions with the Marlins involving Realmuto.

But a person with direct knowledge of those discussions said a deal was unlikely.

"They don't have enough," the person said, referring to the quality of major league-ready prospects that the Phillies could offer compared to other clubs that are interested in Realmuto.

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak likes his current catching tandem of Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp, but he did not shoot down the possibility of an upgrade.

"As an organization, we're high on both Alfaro and Knapp for different reasons, different skill sets," Klentak said at the winter meetings Tuesday. "But if there's an opportunity for us to get better, we'll consider that."

Klentak was asked about reports involving Realmuto in particular.

"If you see rumors connecting us to good players either through free agency or trades, they're probably true," Klentak said. "That doesn't mean we're going to do them but we're in the business of trying to get better. If we can add really good players then we're going to try and do it. I'm not going to refute that we have interest in the top trade targets but I don't know if it will happen."

It is highly likely that the Phillies will add catching depth in the coming weeks. That could come with the signing of a backup-type to a minor-league deal. Otherwise, the 25-year-old Alfaro is going to get the bulk of the reps behind the plate.

"I think what Jorge showed last year was incredible growth for a first-year catcher both on the offensive side and the defensive side," Klentak said. "He cut his strikeout rate every month of the year. His receiving and his framing went from being not great to very good in one year. Obviously, he became more familiar with our pitching staff and how they prepare. So we absolutely think Jorge can and will be our frontline guy."

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