Phillies Expected to Sign Joaquin Benoit

UPDATE: According to Matt Gelb, the deal is worth $7.5 million.

According to Jim Salisbury, the Phillies have reached an agreement with right-handed reliever Joaquin Benoit, pending a physical. Benoit split last season almost evenly between the Mariners and the Blue Jays. He was terrible in Seattle and amazing in Toronto, and the main culprit (as these things usually go) was an increased walk rate and home run rate in Seattle. Taken as a whole, his last season was not very different from his prior seasons, once you account for his advanced age. I think it would be unwise to expect better than the 2.81 ERA he posted over 48 innings in 2017.

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2016 Phillies Report Card: Jeremy Hellickson

As we made our bold predictions to start off the 2016 baseball season, I guessed that Jeremy Hellickson would be a halfway decent reclamation project for the Phillies. Looks like I was right. (I also predicted that the Blue Jays would win the World Series so what the hell do I know?)

At any rate, thank you Jeremy Hellickson. Your relatively decent season made me look like a relatively decent prognosticator. With a 12-10 record, 3.71 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 154 Ks, this was Hellickson’s best season since his 2012 campaign.
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Phillies Free Agency Tidbits

Jeremy Hellickson Extended Qualifying Offer

The Phillies extended a Qualifying Offer to Jeremy Hellickson before the 5PM deadline yesterday. He was one of ten players who received the qualifying offer and the only starting pitcher. Reliever Kenley Jansen also received the offer from the Dodgers. Here is a list of all the players to receive the QO:


As you can see, Jeremy Hellickson falls right near the average player to receive a QO. This validates the opinions of our staff from several weeks ago. It may seem weird to see Jeremy Hellickson among the top free agents this year, but after a surprisingly effective 2016 and a free agent class that’s bereft of talent, that’s exactly where he belongs. MLBTradeRumors has him as their No. 7 Free Agent this year, predicting a 4 year, $60 million contract, so don’t expect him to accept the Qualifying Offer. If Hellickson moves on from the Phillies, the team that signs him will be required to give up their top unprotected draft pick, and the Phillies will get a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round.


Chooch Traded

This is only tangentially related to the Phillies, as they weren’t involved in the transaction, but Phillies Legend Carlos Ruiz was traded yesterday from the Dodgers to the Mariners for left-handed reliever Vidal Nuno. Following a thoroughly ordinary 2016 (7.82 K/9, 1.69 BB/9, 1.69 HR/9 in 58.2 innings), Nuno will likely provide depth for the Dodgers’ bullpen. Fun fact: he is one of only three relievers to allow as many or more home runs than walks in 2016, along with Carlos Villanueva of the Padres (who is somehow only 33) and Hector Rondon of the Cubs.

Chooch was bound to get traded or not have his option picked up after the season due to the presence of starter Yasmani Grandal and prospect Austin Barnes on the Dodgers roster. However, he did bounce back from his terrible 2015 to post a 99 wRC+ in part time duty in 2016, which must have been enough for the Mariners to pick up his $4.5 million option for 2017. He will back up the perpetually mediocre Mike Zunino, who spent 79 games in the minors in 2016. There’s a chance for Chooch to get some decent playing time for the Mariners.

Positional Preview: Prospects

So, let me clear something up here, right off the bat. Maybe you’ve already figured this out, but, technically, “Prospects” is not a position. However, on the 2016 Phillies, prospects are as important a subset of the roster as any. And so, if I haven’t completely blown your mind, I hope you’ll follow along with me as I take a look at a handful of guys who will be worth watching in spring training, and in their minor league seasons at Reading and Lehigh Valley.

Star Potential Up The Middle: J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams

It’s been said before about a thousand times, and I’m not sure I can add much to the conversation here, but let me try: JP Crawford has awesome dogs. Have you seen them? Beautiful. Here’s one of them.

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Spring Storylines – Twenty-Six Guys Who Can Play Some Center Field

Gone are the days of Michael Martinez. Gone are the days of John Mayberry Jr. Gone are the days of “maybe Cesar Hernandez” and “I don’t know man, Grady Sizemore?”. The 2016 Phillies have actual center fielders coming to camp to back up an incumbent. Odubel Herrera enters the spring with a firm grip on a starting role, but behind him, there is a crowd vying for the other outfield spots. Almost all of them have at least some ability in center, and one of them might even push El Torito to a corner.

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Spring Storylines: The Phillies’ (Temporary) Middle Infield Problem

By now you’ve probably heard of the Phillies’ next great shortstop, J.P. Crawford. The global top-10 prospect is likely to be manning the dirt at Citizens Bank Park sometime this summer, and if not, he’ll certainly be there for good on Opening Day 2017. In the meantime, you’ll be subjected to another season of a lot of Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez. As much as I like both players’ personalities, their games aren’t exactly indicative of first division regulars, or even major league starters. The 26-year-old Galvis is a known quantity at this stage of his career, and his career 72 wRC+ tells you everything you need to know. He’s a (very) low-OBP bench/utility guy who can hit a homer once a month. Hernandez was, as you may recall, anointed as the team’s second baseman by former General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., before Chase Utley could even drag himself out of the trainer’s room.

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Pending Arbitration Cases for the Phillies

The Phillies have three players in line to file for arbitration prior to tomorrow’s filing deadline: Jeremy Hellickson, Jeanmar Gomez, and Freddy Galvis. Unless they agree to contract terms this week, the three players will each exchange contract figures with the team on Friday. If they remain unable to agree to terms in the upcoming weeks, they will go to a hearing in February where an arbiter will choose either the salary figure submitted by the team or the one submitted by the player.

Arbitration essentially guarantees a raise to eligible players on their previous season’s salary and uses back of the baseball card statistics as a basis to determine how large the raise will be. (Note: As a result, this is one area of baseball in which stats like pitchers wins or RBI, which are often ridiculed around these parts, are very consequential.) Here are the projected 2016 salaries for the Phillies’ eligible players according to the arbitration projection model developed by Matt Swartz at MLB Trade Rumors:
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Would Justin Upton on a One-Year Deal Make Sense for Philadelphia?

Recently there have been whispers that teams are considering free agent Justin Upton on a one-year deal. While it’s not unprecedented for a free agent saddled with draft pick compensation to settle for a one-year deal — Nelson Cruz signed with the Orioles at 1/$8M just before spring training two offseasons ago after rejecting a qualifying offer for Texas — I find it extraordinarily difficult to buy that there’s much substance to these rumors. Cruz was 33, a one-dimensional player fresh off a PED suspension, and coming off three consecutive sub-2 fWAR seasons. Upton is 28, can still handle a corner outfield position, maintains an attractive power-speed combo at the plate, and is coming off three consecutive 3+ fWAR seasons. He’s not quite as attractive a free agent as Jason Heyward was, but he’s not far behind and he’s certainly no 2013-2014 offseason Nelson Cruz.

A mega-deal for Upton was a given when this offseason began and yet it’s January and Upton remains unsigned. Upton isn’t alone, fellow outfielder Yoenis Cespedes remains unsigned and Alex Gordon re-signed with the Royals just two days ago. Whatever the reasons for the lag in the position player free agent market, I find it hard to imagine that there’s been a seismic shift that prevents Upton (or Cespedes) from getting their expected paydays. But the whispers do raise a fascinating hypothetical: If Upton is available on a one-year deal, could the Phillies be a fit?

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Phillies Sign Bailey & Mujica

The Phillies have signed veteran right-handed relievers Andrew Bailey and Edward Mujica to minor league deals with invitations to big league Spring Training, putting a ribbon on a total bullpen overhaul that shifts the team from a homegrown crew to a grab bag of reclamation projects and newer, shinier organizational arms. Bailey is a Proven Closer who began his career in Oakland, but has dealt with a litany of injuries and hasn’t pitched more than 40 innings in a season since 2011. Mujica saved 37 games for the Cardinals in 2013, thus earning the Proven Closer tag as well, but has spent most of his career as a 7th/8th inning guy. The two newest Phillies, who were born three weeks apart in 1984, will compete for late-inning duties with David Hernandez and Ernesto Frieri, also recently signed by the Klentak regime.

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