Phillies to sign Matt Szczur, according to sources

Phillies to sign Matt Szczur, according to sources

The Phillies are about to sign a player with a resume chock-full of impressive — and important — accomplishments.

According to sources, Matt Szczur, the 30-year-old outfielder from South Jersey, has agreed to sign a minor-league contract with the Phils. The deal will include an invite to major-league spring training camp.

Szczur — pronounced SEE-zur — has spent parts of five seasons in the majors with the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres. He is a product of Lower Cape May Regional High School and Villanova University. He was a two-sport star at Villanova.

On the football field, Szczur was a dynamic receiver and return specialist for Villanova’s 2009 NCAA FCS national championship team. He racked up 270 all-purpose yards in the title game win over Montana and was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player.

On the baseball field, Szczur was an all-Big East player and a fifth-round draft pick of the Cubs in 2010. He played in 107 games for the Cubs team that won the World Series in 2016.

Szczur’s accomplishments extend beyond the playing field.

Off the field, he did something extraordinary when he took time off from his junior year baseball season at Villanova in 2010 to donate bone marrow that ultimately helped save the life of a young girl from Ukraine who had battled leukemia. Szczur’s life-saving gift started with his involvement in the Andy Talley Bone Marrow Foundation. Talley was Szczur’s football coach at Villanova. Szczur has subsequently started his own charitable enterprise, the Szcz The Day Foundation.

Szczur hit .259 with five homers and 24 RBIs in 185 at-bats for the World Series champion Cubs in 2016. He was traded to San Diego in 2017. He spent parts of that season and the 2018 season in the majors with that club. He signed a minor-league deal with Arizona last season and hit .322 with eight homers, 28 RBIs and a .967 OPS in 44 games at Triple A Reno. His season was shortened by a quad injury.

The Phillies are set at the corner outfield spots with Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper and Adam Haseley is going to get a chance to hold down the center field spot with Roman Quinn in the picture as well. Szczur will give the Phillies some outfield depth and his ability to play center field is a plus. He is an excellent defender at all three outfield positions and could push for a spot on the big club as active rosters will expand from 25 to 26 men in 2020.

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Philly sports holiday gift guide with the iron throne, Gritty galore and more!

Philly sports holiday gift guide with the iron throne, Gritty galore and more!

The holiday season is officially in full swing and with the season of giving just a few weeks away, I’m sure you’ve completely finished your shopping right? Ha, I kid, I kid — there’s always a few who wait until the last minute to finish their shopping … or even start for that matter.

Buying anything for those die-hard Philadelphia sports fans in your life seems simple … typically the go-to gifts are jerseys, tickets to an upcoming game and signed memorabilia.

But what do you do if you already crossed those off the list previously and want to get a little creative? It’s time to step outside of the box and go the more non-traditional approach.

Luckily for you, I’ve gathered a few of those non-traditional options for each Philly team to speed up your shopping process.

Let’s get to it!

Sixers

• This optical illusion light seems like the perfect add-on gift for any Sixers fan and the price is pretty reasonable.

• Well, who wouldn’t want a stuffed Joel Embiid? The pictures showcasing the item alone may be enough for you to add it to the cart.

• An absolute classic that any Sixes fan would love to rep:

• Still looking for that big gift for that certain someone? Well, if they’re a Sixers fan and music lover, this may be the way to go.

• Know anyone big on tailgating? Maybe even hosting barbecues in the warmer weather? Well, they’re going to need some form of entertainment, right?

Eagles

• Go birds? Go birds.

• There’s honestly no better way to start your morning … maybe just wait a few more weeks before busting this mug out and the NFC East has been decided.

• A perfect addition to your desk at work. A phone charger and a way to rep your favorite team!

• For that special someone who just loves to grill on game days. This apron is going to be a win in just about every scenario because there’s a pocket specified to hold your beverage of choice.

• Put the biggest Eagles fan you know to the test with this book, filled with 500 questions of Eagles history.

Phillies

• The perfect addition to any fan cave:

• This may be the coolest bottle opener I’ve ever seen.

• Even though I’ve never seen Game of Thrones ... and with the comments on how poor the final season was, I’m not jumping to start it anytime soon. Sue me. Anyways, this Rhys Hoskins bobble head on the iron throne would be perfect for anyone who’s a fan of both!

• Know anyone out of town that may be a little homesick? This may be the perfect gift for them.

• Why buy a plain boring blanket when you can gift this one? Much more fun.

Flyers

• These hoody blankets are perfect for the hockey season and cold winter months. Wear it on the couch to watch the game — heck — bring it to the game and stay warm by the rink. No judging here.

• The older you get, the more exciting it is to get new office supplies. This is a real thing, I swear. And these Travis Konecny chirp pencils? These could be the perfect stocking stuffers!

• Nothing says an unusual gift like a soda can mini-fridge to store your … well, soda cans.

• I mean, who wouldn’t want a Hulk-like looking foam fist that holds a drink?

• The LegendarySportsPrint shop has some great gifts for teams across the four major league sports, but this one of Bobby Clarke and Bernie Parent would be the perfect addition in an office, fan cave or really any room in the house.

(Bonus) Gritty gifts!

It only seemed fair to put these in their own category simply because there are so very many options.

• These prayer candles created for famous icons are absolutely hysterical. But a Gritty one? A must have.

• Who wouldn’t want a streaking Gritty bobble head for their work desk? If anyone’s buying, I’ll take 12.

• And I saved the best gift for last but certainly not least. This one speaks for itself.

Winter meetings complete, what’s next for Phillies?

Winter meetings complete, what’s next for Phillies?

SAN DIEGO — A year ago, Phillies officials left the winter meetings with much of their offseason work still in front of them.
 
Manny Machado was still a front-burner free-agent item. Bryce Harper was still in the background and J.T. Realmuto was headed to Atlanta, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, New York … anywhere but Philadelphia.
 
You know the rest of the story.
 
Spring training had already begun by the time the Phillies settled their offseason last year. A year later, Phillies officials departed the winter meetings on Thursday with their heavy offseason lifting complete.

The Phils signed free-agent pitcher Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million contract last week and free-agent shortstop Didi Gregorius to a one-year, $14 million deal at the meetings this week. The signings left the Phils about $5 million under the $208 million luxury-tax threshold for the coming season and the club will be mindful of that. It’s likely — though not certain — that any further moves the Phillies make will qualify as tweaks.
 
Here are a few things to keep an eye on over the remainder of the offseason.

The starting rotation

Aaron Nola and Wheeler give the Phillies a “1 and a 1-A,” as manager Joe Girardi said.

Jake Arrieta is healthy and will be ready to go Day 1 of camp and Zach Eflin will hold down a job. Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez are slated to battle for the fifth job, though it would not be surprising to see the Phils bring back Drew Smyly on a minor-league deal to join the fight. The Phils were keeping an eye on Rick Porcello to see where his market was headed, but he signed for one year and $10 million with the Mets. Lefty Wade Miley could be someone to keep an eye on, depending where his market goes. The Phils are committed to having top prospect Spencer Howard start the season in Triple A, but he could have a major impact as the season goes on. The Phils will watch Howard’s workload — because of injury, he pitched under 100 innings last year — so adding bargain depth is a must.

The bullpen

At the moment, it looks like a fairly unchanged unit. The Phils are banking on Adam Morgan and Seranthony Dominguez being healthy again and Hector Neris, Jose Alvarez and Ranger Suarez carrying a heavy load again. Pivetta, Velasquez or both could be used in the ‘pen, depending on the depth that is added in the rotation. If the Phils want to push the tax, they could make a play for former Yankee Dellin Betances. Someone from the system like Garrett Cleavinger or Connor Brogdon could surprise in spring training. How about Tommy Hunter? The Phils put a lot of time into his rehab after elbow surgery last year. Could he be a fit on a bargain deal? Ditto for Jared Hughes and Mike Morin.

The bench

Former All-Star and .300 hitter Josh Harrison has been signed on a minor-league deal. He can play anywhere and figures to have a good chance to make the club. Phil Gosselin, another jack of all trades, is coming back on a minor-league deal and the team has shown some interest in free agent Matt Szczur. Brad Miller remains a free agent and a potentially good fit. Jay Bruce will add power off the bench. Andrew Knapp returns as backup catcher but it would not be surprising to see the Phils sign one or two more veteran catchers to push for work and add depth. Remember, Girardi has said he’d like to keep Realmuto to between 120 and 130 games so he is fresh in October. “That’s where the prize is,” Girardi said. Austin Romine would have been a nice fit, but he signed with Detroit. 

Trades

While it appears as if most of the team’s major moves are done, general manager Matt Klentak and his group will continue to stay engaged on the trade front and you never know if one could materialize. Nick Williams could be dealt. Miami has long liked him. Velasquez could be dealt for some salary relief, particularly if the Phils are able to add starting pitching depth. The Phils would surely listen on Jean Segura, but he has three years and $45 million left on his deal so that would not be easy.
 
Could the Phils make a major trade?
 
After seeing the Realmuto deal come together so quickly last February, it can’t be ruled out. Even something crazy is possible. By crazy we mean Kris Bryant. Yes, he’d be a nice fit as the Phils make a quick push at a title before he becomes a free agent. But it’s a real long shot and it would probably cost top prospect Alec Bohm, and it would definitely push the Phillies over the luxury tax threshold, though managing partner John Middleton has said he would go over it for the right championship-caliber opportunity. Maybe that’s Bryant. There will continue to be buzz about him and the Phillies will continue to be connected to him as long as there is.
 
J.A. Happ could be another guy to watch on the trade front. The Phils made him an offer last winter and he signed with the Yankees. The Yanks are now eager to move his $17 million salary and might attach a good prospect to the package to help make the deal. Happ would put the Phillies over the tax, but, given the Phils’ need for more pitching, it might it be worth rolling the dice on the left-hander having a bounce-back year if and only if the Yanks attach a good prospect or two to the deal. 

What about Herrera?

The end of the winter meetings begins to put spring training in focus and the Phillies have a big decision to make before then: Do they bring Odubel Herrera to camp? Do they release him? The Phils would eat most of his salary to trade him, but there has been no interest.
 
We dealt with the Herrera situation more deeply in this story.

Realmuto's extension

Sometime before spring training, the Phils are expected to pursue a contract extension with Realmuto.

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