Christian Yelich

If only the Phillies could have pulled off that Christian Yelich trade ...

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If only the Phillies could have pulled off that Christian Yelich trade ...

The Phillies were interested in Christian Yelich for years. They weren't alone — every front office is interested in a very good, ascending player on a team-friendly contract.

But the Phils wanted him badly. What was there not to like? He's a five-tool player who always had the most important tool, the ability to hit.

When Derek Jeter took over the Marlins and the purge began, Yelich was made available. The Brewers beat out other offers, trading Miami a package of outfielders Lewis Brinson and Monte Harrison, middle infielder Isan Diaz and right-handed pitcher Jordan Yamamoto.

Brinson, Harrison and Diaz were all regarded as top-100 prospects league-wide at some point over the last two years. Brinson was the biggest name of the group, a former first-round pick by the Rangers.

You may recognize Brinson's name from the Phillies' prior dealings with Texas. As reported by our Jim Salisbury, when the Phillies negotiated the Cole Hamels trade with the Rangers, they chose Nick Williams over Brinson because they thought Williams was closer to the big leagues.

The Rangers ended up trading Brinson to the Brewers on Aug. 1, 2016, for Jonathan Lucroy, and then the Brewers used him to acquire Yelich, the favorite to win NL MVP.

No player who changed teams this past offseason has made more of a difference than Yelich. J.D. Martinez would be next on the list but is a DH. Yelich adds value with his above-average defense and speed.

Since the All-Star break, Yelich leads the National League in batting average, slugging, OPS, homers, RBI and runs scored. He's done it for a team that clinched a postseason berth Wednesday and is still fighting to win the NL Central. 

On Tuesday night, Yelich added to his MVP case with a three-run triple and a three-run homer over the desperate Cardinals.

The Brewers acquired Yelich and Lorenzo Cain on back-to-back days this offseason. Those moves may end up deciding the National League pennant.

The Phillies, meanwhile, will likely make their splash this offseason. Adding Carlos Santana and Jake Arrieta were more so B-level moves, and there's obviously no comparison between the 2018 production of those duos.

Not acquiring Yelich was a bummer for every team involved in the trade talks other than the Brewers. It especially hurt the Phillies, who saw him up close for five years and figured what he would be capable of as he reached his prime and in a more hitter-friendly ballpark.

Aside from Aaron Nola, the Phillies haven't been able to develop a star in recent years. Rhys Hoskins is a very, very good player and could finish his first full season with 35 homers and 100 RBI, but he doesn't have the all-around package of a Christian Yelich, who was on the cusp of superstardom.

Players like Yelich don't become available often. Perhaps he would have cost more for the Phillies to acquire than the Brewers because the Marlins didn't want to face him 19 times a year. Perhaps it would have required more than just a comparable package from the Phils involving Williams and several prospects at Single A or Double A.

But every difference-making extra-base hit from Yelich this summer and as he enters his prime will be a reminder of what could have been.

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Longtime Phillies target shipped to Brewers

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Longtime Phillies target shipped to Brewers

MIAMI -- Miami Marlins general manager Michael Hill was traveling Thursday to participate in a series of marathons when he swung the team's latest trade, sending center fielder Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers for four prospects.

And so the Marlins' dismantling marathon continues.

Yelich became the fourth starter traded by the Marlins as they reduce payroll and rebuild their weak farm system under new CEO Derek Jeter. The Marlins earlier dealt away major league home run champion Giancarlo Stanton, stolen base champ Dee Gordon and All-Star left fielder Marcell Ozuna.

Hill made the trade as he began a trip to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Former Marlins executives David Samson and Jeff Conine are also taking part in the charity event.

"I'm boarding a plane for South Africa," Hill said. "The job goes with you wherever you are. When the opportunity presents itself to make our organization better, you do what you need to do."

Miami acquired highly regarded outfielder Lewis Brinson, infielder Isan Diaz, outfielder Monte Harrison and right-handed pitcher Jordan Yamamoto. Brinson, Diaz and Harrison were rated among the Brewers' top 10 prospects.

Yelich batted .282 with 18 homers and 81 RBIs last year, and he is a career .290 hitter. In the wake of Miami's earlier deals this offseason, he said he preferred to play elsewhere rather than be part of a rebuilding effort (see full story).

Mets: Reyes reportedly agrees to 1-year, $2M deal
NEW YORK -- Jose Reyes and the Mets have agreed to a $2 million, one-year contract for the infielder to remain in New York, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because the agreement was subject to a successful physical. Reyes can earn an additional $500,000 in bonuses, the person said.

Now 34, Reyes was a four-time All-Star shortstop with the Mets from 2003-11 and left after winning the NL batting title to sign a $106 million, six-year contract with Miami. He was traded in November 2012 to Toronto and in July 2015 to Colorado, which released him in 2016 after Reyes served a 59-day domestic violence suspension.

He returned to New York, came up to the major leagues in July and batted .267 with eight homers and 24 RBIs in 279 plate appearances.

Reyes remained with the Mets last year and was among their most versatile players, appearing in 80 games at shortstop, 36 at third base, 28 at second base, one in center field and one in left. He hit .246 with 15 homers, 58 RBIs and 24 steals in 561 plate appearances.

New York has been active in the offseason, agreeing to a $39 million, three-year contract with outfielder Jay Bruce, a $14 million, two-year deal with reliever Anthony Swarzak and a deal for a $545,000 with first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

General manager Sandy Alderson said this week the team is looking at more infield options in a late-developing free agent market.

Padres: Team says social media accounts hacked
SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Padres say their social media accounts were hacked early Thursday and posts were made that suggested the team had either agreed to terms with free agent Eric Hosmer or that a deal was imminent.

"Messages that were inaccurate and unauthorized were posted," the team said in a statement. "MLB Cybersecurity is now investigating the matter, and we apologize for any confusion."

A photo of a smiling Hosmer in a Kansas City Royals uniform was posted on the Padres' Instagram account. It was deleted a few minutes later.

On the Padres' Twitter account, someone posted "Stay tuned ..." followed by a bulging eyes emoji, and then posted Hosmer's Twitter handle.

They also were deleted.

The Padres have offered Hosmer a seven-year deal.

Phillies turn sights to starting pitching after adding relievers at winter meetings

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Phillies turn sights to starting pitching after adding relievers at winter meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. — Matt Klentak's trip to the winter meetings netted two veteran relievers, Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter.

Now, Klentak's focus becomes starting pitching. He'd like to add at least one before spring training begins, and chances are good that he will.

"We will probably slow down on the reliever front for a little while," the Phillies general manager said on Wednesday, Day 3 of the meetings. "I think for right now, we’ll probably shift our focus back toward the starting pitcher market, see what comes of that and just be patient with it.

"My expectation is that we will have another move before we go to spring training. I would not be surprised if we’re done for the winter meetings, but I would be surprised if we’re done for the offseason."

The Phillies have probed the free-agent market — big-ticket items such as Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are unlikely — and spent the fall gauging other teams on which starters could become available in trades.

"I couldn't handicap the way it'll happen or even if it'll happen," Klentak said. "I think we're continuing to stay engaged with some agents. There's a few teams we've talked to about trades, some short-term options, some more controllable options. I just don't know.

"We've said as an industry and the Phillies have talked about this for a long time: it's so important to be able to develop your own starting pitchers because to acquire them in a trade is incredibly expensive in terms of player capital and to acquire them in free agency is incredibly expensive in terms of total dollars. Maybe never in our history has it been more important to develop starting pitchers."

In recent seasons, the Phillies have added starting pitchers (Jeremy Hellickson, Charlie Morton, Clay Buchholz) near the end of their contracts. The Phils could still do that and have the money to take on a salary dump. But there would be merit to taking on a younger pitcher who has more contractual control, and the Phillies have the prospects to get in the hunt for Chris Archer, Gerrit Cole or Michael Fulmer, three pitchers who fit this profile.

The Phillies have a logjam in the middle infield with J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery pushing Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez. Galvis and Hernandez are both available for trades. Officials from other clubs say the Phillies have been aggressive in shopping Galvis. The Phils will look to get pitching for Galvis, but the return might not be robust because he is a rental player who will be a free agent after the 2018 season. Hernandez figures to bring a better return because he has three years of contractual control remaining. A person from a club that has spoken to the Phillies about Hernandez said the Phils are looking for two pitchers for him.

Another starting arm is needed to complement a group of starters that includes Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson and Ben Lively.

It's possible the Phils could also look for a veteran outfielder to come off the bench. But it's just as possible that the Phils give in-house prospect Roman Quinn a chance to be that guy. Quinn, a dynamic, speedy switch-hitter, has been plagued by injuries throughout his minor-league career, including last season when he missed significant time at Triple A with an elbow injury. He will turn 25 in May. It might be time to bring him, even if it means filling a reserve role.

"This is a year we want to find out about our young kids," Klentak said. "If we can find out about Roman Quinn, we would like to do that. On the flip side, if we have a chance to bring in a great makeup, complementary player that can help our young kids and show them the ropes a little bit, then we’d be open to that, too. That’s not likely to be an early offseason venture."

Also, as the rest of the offseason plays out, the Phils will monitor the availability of Miami outfielder Christian Yelich. The Phils have long liked Yelich and would certainly try to make a play for him. But as much as the Phillies like the player, Klentak has made it clear he's not in a hurry to subtract core players and prospects. That could hurt the Phillies' chances because it would take a big package of talent to get Yelich.

Notes
The Phillies pick third in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday morning. They will likely make a pick, but there's a strong possibility they will make it for another club and quickly trade the player. If the Phils lost someone in the draft, it could be outfielder Carlos Tocci or lefthander Brandon Leibrandt.

Klentak hinted that hard-throwing pitching prospect Seranthony Dominguez would begin transitioning to the bullpen in spring training. Mark Appel will also make the move to the bullpen.