Phillies Remake Roster Quickly Day After Winter Meetings

The winter meetings ended yesterday and then today the Phillies decided to upend everything.

Last things first, the Phillies officially signed Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek, with both taking the empty spots on the 40 man roster. Both deals have large signing bonuses and small annual salaries. This won’t affect luxury tax money, but it does move money around enough that the Phillies could offset a low payroll by front loading their money for when they spend next year.

The first deal of the night was the Phillies shipping shortstop Freddy Galvis to San Diego Padres for RHP Enyel De Los Santos. The Phillies trading Galvis was not surprising, it is no secret that the Phillies were strongly shopping Galvis and listening on his double play partner Cesar Hernandez. Hernandez still could be dealt, but unlike Galvis the Phillies don’t need to move Hernandez. De Los Santos will join a Phillies farm system heavy in pitching. Like many of the arms already in the system, De Los Santos has his flaws. In his case it is a poor breaking ball. Otherwise he has a potentially plus changeup and a mid 90s fastball with life. He profiles as a #4 starter, but there might be some more upside if he can improve his third pitch. It is a good return for an expiring contract on a flawed player.

Then the Phillies decide to get weird. Continue reading…

Tommy Hunter and the 8 Man Bullpen

Another day, another reliever contract for the Phillies. Yesterday the Phillies reportedly agreed to a 2 year $18M deal with free agent right hander Tommy Hunter.  The 31 year old Hunter has been an effective reliever for many year, but last year went to a new level with the Tampa Bay Rays as his strikeout rate shot up. Hunter started throwing his fastball less and harder while at the same time throwing more of his cutter which was around 94 instead of it’s previous 90. With his K% up over 10% on 2016, Hunter was able to post a 2.61 ERA on the season.

Hunter on his own is a solid addition. He isn’t a closer, and he probably isn’t a set up guy for the Phillies, but he should give Gabe Kapler another mid innings arm. This brings us to something that Matt Gelb mentioned yesterday. The Phillies are strongly thinking about going with an 8 man bullpen. In general I am opposed to 8 man bullpens because they leave a team’s bench a bit thin, but in this case the Phillies’ personnel was already leaning heavy towards this strategy. Continue reading…

Phillies Bring Back Pat Neshek and Other Winter Meeting Rumblings

The big news in the baseball world over the past few days is the Phillies bringing back right handed reliever Pat Neshek on what is reportedly a 2 year $16M deal with a team option for a 3rd year. Neshek was the Phillies lone All-Star last year before being traded to Colorado for Jose Gomez, J.D. Hammer, and Alejandro Requena at the deadline. Between the two teams Neshek pitched 62.1 innings with a 1.59 ERA. This deal covers Neshek’s age 37 and 38 seasons, but he has also been very good into his 30s which alleviates some of the concerns. The Phillies won’t be counting on Neshek to repeat his 2017 season, nor are they getting him to be their closer, but the move helps stabilize a Phillies bullpen on the rise. Neshek will rejoin the bullpen core of Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos as well as 2017 breakouts Adam Morgan and Luis Garcia. As of right now it looks like Hoby Milner will join them with the last spot either being filled with another FA acquisition or an internal option like Victor Arano, Yacksel Rios, Ricardo Pinto, or any other starter moving to the bullpen. It isn’t an elite level bullpen, but if Garcia and Morgan can repeat their 2017 seasons, it has the upside to be very good. This might end up a bit of a monetary overpay, but Neshek was very good last year and liked his time with the Phillies, and even if it goes south the Phillies have solidified up the late innings. Continue reading…

Phillies Claim Another Marginal LH Reliever

Even with the IronPigs ending their season yesterday, it appeared the Phillies were out of new additions to the 40 man roster this season. So when Jesen Therrien went down with a season ending arm injury it opened up a roster spot they likely weren’t planning on having.

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Phillies Trade Juan Nicasio for Real Person

When the Phillies acquired Juan Nicasio on waivers on August 31 it looked like a pure salary dump for the Pirates and opportunistic way of shoring up a struggling bullpen for the Phillies. I personally scoffed at the idea that the Phillies would flip Nicasio for anything in trade…

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Phillies To Call Up J.P. Crawford: Looking Forward

This piece is a companion to my J.P. Crawford retrospective on Phillies Minor Thoughts.

The most anticipated transaction in the Phillies system for the best 3+ years was the promotion of J.P. Crawford to the majors. It was a move that was meant represent the start of the new age of Philadelphia baseball. Crawford has slipped a bit from this path, but he is still the Phillies top prospect and his promotion is still probably the biggest event of the Phillies 2017 season. Instead of being the start of the new age of Philadelphia baseball, Crawford will be asked to augment what already looks like a bright future highlighted by Odubel Herrera, Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, and Aaron Altherr. There has been much written about Crawford over the years and what he might mean to the Phillies, but here on the eve of his callup we get a chance to step back and look at his full minor league resume and see what he might be for the Phillies.

It is hard to translate any sort of statistical defensive numbers from the minors to the majors. What we do know from scouting is that Crawford has great instincts at shortstop and a strong and accurate arm. For the most part he is not a flashy player because his body control makes his motions appear smooth, but he is capable of the making the play deep in the hole at short or making a play on pure athleticism.

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Rios Up, Eflin Hurt, and Velasquez Done for the Year

Today the Phillies…

  • Transferred Vincent Velasquez to the 60 day DL
  • Placed Zach Eflin on the 10 Day DL retroactive to 8/19
  • Purchased the contract of Yacksel Rios
  • Recalled Nick Pivetta as the 26th man to start game 2 of the doubleheader

We knew the Nick Pivetta recall was coming and there was a good chance that Eflin going to the DL given the whispers after he left his last start. The Phillies have not yet given a prognosis on Eflin’s recovery. It leaves the Phillies down yet another starting pitcher. With the double header today, the Phillies need another starter anyway, so Mark Leiter Jr will take Eflin’s spot and Thompson will take the hole in the rotation caused by the double header.

To bring up Rios, the Phillies needed a 40 man spot, and so Vince Velasquez’s season comes to an end with this:

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Phillies Call Up Rhys Hoskins

Earlier this week the Phillies announced they were moving their best pure hitting prospect from first base to left field to accommodate Tommy Joseph staying at first base. I have a lot of thoughts about what the move means strategically, but what is done is done. What that move does mean is that the Phillies are finally promoting Rhys Hoskins, just as an outfielder and not a first baseman. For the second year in a row Hoskins is one of the best hitters in minor league baseball, and this time he is doing it in a more neutral environment as opposed to the hitting paradise that is Reading.

Without talking about position or league context, we need to talk about Hoskins the baseball player. At the plate Hoskins features a simple swing, he has a bit of a leg kick, but overall is swing is quiet. He gets good loft with it, but it also isn’t a complete uppercut. Most of his contact is going to be to the pull side, but he does have the power to go the opposite way. When he first came up there were a lot of questions about his raw power, and they are mostly fair as his power is probably plus, maybe it is plus plus. What he has done incredibly well over the years is to refine his approach and pitch recognition. This has allowed him to get the most out of his raw tools, and so while his raw power doesn’t measure up to Dylan Cozens, he is able to match him in actualized production. Hoskins is mostly a fastball hitter, but he will crush mistakes over the plate. He has less frequently expanded the strike zone in the upper levels, but can still chase breaking balls. The complete package is one fairly light on weaknesses. This season he has reverse platoon splits, but only 123 PAs against LHPs so it is hard to read too much into his relative struggles vs them, given that he crushed them in 2016. This year he has walked more than he has struck out vs RHPs which is a stark improvement on last season where he had a 50 to 97 walk to strikeout rate vs same side pitching. Overall he should be an average hitter (.260-.270) with a good on base percentage, and he has the power to hit 30+ home runs a year with an equal amount of doubles. He might have a bit more ceiling than that if he can maintain his AAA strikeout rate, but I would expect it to regress back towards 20% from the 15.8% it is at right now. Continue reading…

Phillies Trade Pat Neshek, Now What?

Last night the Phillies shipped their best relief pitcher out of town for a trio of prospects that won’t be helping the Phillies any time soon. I wrote about those prospects here so I don’t want to just write the same thing here. Instead the Phillies are now down their best relief pitcher right when the team was starting to shown some signs of life. Additionally, after there was a road map for what a trade like this might return, the Phillies opted to go for a completely different route in what they got back from the Rockies. Continue reading…

Phillies Finally Call Up Some Prospects, Also DFA Gomez and Saunders

Matt Klentak finally answered everyone’s angry tweets and comments, and made a roster move!

Let’s start with the named players in this deal. The Phillies have cut ties with their opening day closer and right fielder. Yes, Jeanmar Gomez and Michael Saunders have both been designated for assignment by the Phillies. Both players were supposed to be stop gaps to the future and instead were leaky sieves. Gomez got another crack at the closer role this year, but proved he couldn’t hold down that or a low leverage inning role. Michael Saunders was supposed to be the answer to the Phillies problems in right field (he wasn’t). He had a poor second half in 2016, but still posted a .253/.338/.478 season line. This year he did everything worse but strikeout, instead he traded some of those for more weak contact. In the end, Saunders hit .205/.257/.360 over 61 games and 214 plate appearances. The Phillies had a team option on Saunders and Gomez was a free agent so there is no longer term impact on the Phillies. Continue reading…