Phillies

Why Phillies went the Jason Vargas route 2 days before trade deadline

Why Phillies went the Jason Vargas route 2 days before trade deadline

Updated: 6:05 p.m.

The Phillies have traded for a starting pitcher. It remains to be seen how much of an upgrade he will provide.

The Phils acquired veteran lefty Jason Vargas from the New York Mets on Monday afternoon. Vargas, 36, is 14-year veteran. He has pitched to a 4.01 ERA in 94 1/3 innings this season.

The Phils are sending 26-year-old catcher Austin Bossart, a Penn product, to the Mets. Bossart had been playing at Double A Reading. He is considered a good defender but was hitting just .195 in 200 at-bats.

Vargas is owed about $2.7 million for the remainder of this season. He has an $8 million option or a $2 million buyout next season. The Phillies are also getting money from the Mets in the deal.

Vargas is expected to go into a Phillies’ rotation that just recently added a lefty in Drew Smyly. Whether that means Vince Velasquez goes back to the bullpen or Zach Eflin fills a role other than starter remains to be seen. Jake Arrieta’s spot in the rotation could also be a possibility as he has been pitching with a bone spur in his elbow. Arrieta has said he plans to continue to pitch, but he has experienced discomfort lately.

It’s not a shock that the Phillies picked up a pitcher on the downside of his career. Team officials have indicated that they are not willing to give up the prospects it would take to get top-of-the-line starting pitching. The Phillies, 6 ½ games back in the NL East and a game back in the wild card race, prefer to hang on to their top prospects.

To make room for Vargas on the 40-man roster, the Phillies designated reliever Yacksel Rios for assignment.

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J.T. Realmuto feeling 'blessed' as he heads into arbitration showdown with Phillies

J.T. Realmuto feeling 'blessed' as he heads into arbitration showdown with Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto will participate in Tuesday’s workout before taking a flight to Phoenix for Wednesday’s salary arbitration hearing.

Realmuto is dreading the long flight, not the hearing.

“One way or another, I’m going to be playing baseball in Philly this year,” he said. “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.”

Realmuto is actually seeking $12.4 million. The Phillies have filed at $10 million. The arbitration panel will select one figure or the other. There is no middle ground (more details here).

Realmuto, who made $5.9 million last year, is in his third and final year of arbitration and is scheduled to become a free agent after this season. To date, the highest-paid catcher in that class was Matt Wieters, who avoided a hearing with Baltimore and made $8.275 million 2015. Catcher Mike Napoli actually made more — $9.4 million — in a negotiated settlement with the Texas Rangers in 2012, but he was in his fourth year of arbitration because of his Super-Two status with the Anaheim Angels in 2009.

So, no matter how the arbitration panel rules, Realmuto’s 2020 salary will be a record for an arbitration-eligible catcher.

Once Realmuto’s 2020 salary is established, the Phillies will turn their attention to negotiating a long-term contract extension with him. 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 by opening day to avoid any potential distractions. Would Realmuto negotiate during the season?

“We haven’t gotten there yet,” Realmuto said. “I’ll talk with my agent and we’ll communicate with Matt (Klentak, the general manager) and let him know.”

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Joe Girardi asks Phillies players to give him their hearts — and their trots

Joe Girardi asks Phillies players to give him their hearts — and their trots

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Joe Girardi officially opened his first Phillies spring training camp by telling the players to give him their hearts.

“He knows if he can get our heart, he’ll get our best on the field,” J.T. Realmuto said.

Both Girardi and managing partner John Middleton stressed that the goal was to play deep into October. The Phillies have not been to the postseason since 2011.

Middleton reminded the players of the passion that Philadelphia fans have and urged them to give back to the fans by playing the game hard and respecting it.

Girardi roamed the fields of Carpenter Complex during the workout. He lightened the mood at the end of a base-running drill by asking a group of players, including Jean Segura, to show off their home run trots.

“Just to have some fun,” Girardi said after the workout.

The home-run trot "drill" came with some instructions.

“Make sure you run hard before you know it's out,” he told the players. “The big thing is if you run hard to first, there is a great chance it'll be out by then. Then you don't get caught on first base or caught on second base when you should be a base ahead. Just run hard.”

Phillies pitchers will begin throwing live batting practice during Tuesday’s workout.

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