Phillies

What role will new Phillie David Robertson fill and does his arrival mean a trade is coming?

What role will new Phillie David Robertson fill and does his arrival mean a trade is coming?

The Phillies signed a very good late-game reliever in David Robertson on Thursday.

OK, in what role will he pitch?

General manager Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler were reluctant to tab one person as their closer last season, but they've indicated they may be willing to do that if they were ever to come up with an accomplished closer.

Robertson, who has saved more than 30 games three times in his career, has the résumé.

Will he be the guy?

Klentak was noncommittal.

"He's going to pitch high-leverage innings for us," Klentak said. "That's what he's been doing for most of his career and he's been doing it very consistently, very effectively for a long time. I don't expect that that will change.

"Obviously, the fact that he has experience pitching the ninth inning is something that was very appealing to us. I expect that he will pitch the ninth inning at times but I also know with Seranthony Dominguez and others back there, that we are likely to continue to use guys in a variety of roles late in the game. But make no mistake, we are signing David Robertson to get big outs for us late in the game."

Does Robertson have a preferred role?

"I don't," the pitcher said. "As long as I get opportunities to pitch at the back end of games, I'm happy. Sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth inning …

"I'm willing to pitch any point in the game. Baseball is heading in that direction. There will always be lockdown closers, but there's a good mix of guys like me who will pitch anywhere."

Before signing Robertson, the Phillies pursued Andrew Miller, a lefty who has been very successful bouncing around the late innings, pitching wherever needed in high-leverage situations. Miller signed with St. Louis.

In addition to Robertson and Dominguez, the Phillies are likely to consider Hector Neris as a candidate to close games. He lost the feel for his splitter in 2018 and his confidence suffered. But after a stint in the minors, he came back and dazzled, striking out 35 of the 69 batters he faced over the final six weeks.

However it shakes out, the trio of Dominguez, Neris and Robertson will be busy late in games.

The addition of Robertson gives the Phillies some serious right-handed depth in the bullpen. They could hang on to it because it always seems to come in handy or look to package some of it in a trade. A veteran such as Tommy Hunter or Pat Neshek could be used in a trade.

"I don't know how aggressive we're going to be in shopping our players because we like the group we have right now," Klentak said. "I think if we go into the season with the group we have plus the depth we have, we're setting ourselves up to have a real advantage in the bullpen throughout the year. Having said that, we also know that there may be opportunities to deal from that group to address other areas and we're going to be open to that. I would not say that we are actively engaged on that at this point, but it's something we'll be open to."

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Phillies, J.T. Realmuto move on to Act 2 of contract drama

Phillies, J.T. Realmuto move on to Act 2 of contract drama

CLEARWATER, Fla. — All along, J.T. Realmuto's salary arbitration hearing was just going to be the first act in one of the biggest storylines of the spring in Phillies camp.

Regardless of whether the arbitration panel ruled in favor of Realmuto or against him, he was going to be well paid in 2020.

Realmuto ended up losing the case but will make $10 million this season, a 69 percent raise from last season and a record amount for a catcher eligible for salary arbitration. 

Realmuto, who had sought to make $12.4 million, said he was not disappointed with the amount of money he will make, but in the arbitration system that views catchers through a different prism than other position players.

"It's so outdated," he said. "There's a separate catchers' market. That's what the team's main case was on, that you can't go outside of the catchers' market. But if you line my numbers up with position players, that's where our figure comes into play. It's never happened before where catchers go out of the catchers' market, but it's not in the rules that says you can't. The team knows that they had a pretty strong case just for that and they took advantage of it.

"I wanted to do something for future catchers and that didn't work out for us. In that aspect, I'm disappointed, but I'm not disappointed in my salary."

Now that the hearing has come and gone, the Phillies and Realmuto will turn their attention to negotiating a long-term contract extension.

Realmuto said the hearing left him with no ill will toward the club and he's still open to a deal.

"What we went through in arbitration, what we went through in the hearing doesn't change anything from my outlook," the All-Star catcher said.

The stakes will be a lot higher in Act 2 of this contract drama because Realmuto can become a free agent after this season.

The Phillies have said they'd like to get a deal done by opening day so that gives them about five weeks.

With the ability to walk at the end of the season, Realmuto has more leverage in extension talks than he did in arbitration. But playing out the season would come with risks such as health and poor performance. Are they risks Realmuto would be willing to take?

"I haven't really thought about that yet, to be honest," he said. "Me and my agent have been focused on arbitration for the last couple of months. We haven't had those conversations. We'll have those conversations and relay them to (general manager Matt Klentak)."

Realmuto, who turns 29 in March, is expected to seek a deal that could approach or beat $23 million per season — that would match Joe Mauer's record average annual value for a catcher — over five or six years.

He was asked if a record AAV was a goal.

"Again, I haven't even spoken with my agent about that," he said. "I have no idea what's going to happen. I can't predict the future. I don't know where we're going to go with it. Obviously, we'll have those discussions. Whether it matches up or not, that's to be determined."

Realmuto went through a full workout Friday. After taking batting practice at Spectrum Field, he stopped and chatted with John Middleton, the team's managing partner, who had been watching quietly off to the side. The two men talked for about 10 minutes and walked off the field together. Maybe they were talking about who has the best grouper on Clearwater Beach. Maybe they weren't.

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Philadelphia having existential meltdown after report of Phillie Phanatic's 'new look'

Philadelphia having existential meltdown after report of Phillie Phanatic's 'new look'

You don't see anybody clamoring for them to put lipstick on Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Or a pair of Air Jordans on Michelangelo's David.

Some masterpieces are works of art that should live on forever as great artists intended.

That's how many in Philadelphia seem to feel about the Phillie Phanatic this afternoon following Jim Salisbury's report that our beloved green mascot will undergo some cosmetic and likely physical changes that will debut this Sunday down in Clearwater when the Phils play their first game of spring training.

It's worth noting: da Vinci and Michelangelo aren't currently embattled in any legal issues that we know of at the moment. Because they're dead.

That said, people are worried about this "new-look" Phanatic will mean for their well being. A sampling:

Fans of the big green fella from the Galapagos will have to wait until Sunday to see if their freakouts were unwarranted or if they're going to have to find a new mascot to idolize. It's going to be a long weekend for them.

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