Phillies Acquire Charlie Morton

The Phillies’ winter of stockpiling pitching depth continued today with the acquisition of starting pitcher Charlie Morton from the Pittsburgh Pirates. Morton is a 32-year-old veteran back-of-the-rotation starter most famous in Philadelphia for his dead-on Roy Halladay impression.

Results wise, however, Morton will never be mistaken for Halladay. He’s a sinker-baller who is at his best when he induces ground balls. Since revamping his delivery a la Halladay after the 2010 season, his numbers are relatively pedestrian: 624.1 IP, 3.96 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 93 ERA+, 16.3 K%, 8.2 BB%, 58.2 GB%. The reliance on ground ball contact could potentially create problems with a Phillies infield defense that still remains questionable. He is only under contract for one more season, though, and an established rotation arm like Morton is a natural fit for a young rotation in transition like the Phillies current mix.

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Meet The New Bullpen

With the departure of Jonathan Papelbon, Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus, and, now, Ken Giles, the Phillies bullpen is in the midst of a massive overhaul. Of the 13 relievers currently on the Phillies 40-man roster, four were on the 40-man at the start of spring training last season — Elvis Araujo, Luis Garcia, Mario Hollands, and Hector Neris. A fifth reliever, Jeanmar Gomez, was in Clearwater as a non-roster invitee on a minor league deal. Everyone else is brand spankin’ new. So what does the bullpen look like as currently constructed?

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Phillies Likely to Select Rays’ Tyler Goeddel in Rule 5 Draft

J.J. Cooper of Baseball America hears from two sources that the Phillies are likely to select outfielder Tyler Goeddel from the Rays with the first overall pick in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday. That’s right: not only does one get the first overall pick in the amateur draft for finishing with baseball’s worst record, one also gets the first pick in the Rule 5 draft.

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The Phillies Should Pass on Kenta Maeda

The Hiroshima Carp of Japan’s Central League will post right-hander Kenta Maeda, as Jason Coskrey pointed out on Twitter on Thursday. Interested teams will have to submit a $20 million posting fee for the right to negotiate with Maeda. Teams which fall short in the bidding war will have their posting fees returned. The $20 million will go to the Carp as compensation; it is not considered part of Maeda’s actual contract.

There has been a run on starting pitching in free agency lately, with Jordan Zimmermann, David Price, Zack Greinke, John Lackey, and Jeff Samardzija all coming off the board. With some salary boundaries now defined and some competition out of the picture, Maeda should draw a fair amount of interest. Some have suggested that the Phillies, firmly in the next phase of their rebuilding process, should pursue Maeda. They should instead stand pat on this particular international talent.

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Phillies Discussed Ken Giles with the Astros

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported earlier today that the Phillies and Astros discussed a potential trade involving closer Ken Giles. The Phillies asked about young pitchers Lance McCullers and Vincent Velasquez. Crasnick adds that the Phillies have received a lot of trade interest in Giles and that trade talks are likely to intensify at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tennessee.

At the GM meetings in November, Matt Klentak said that “it’s not a goal” for the Phillies to trade Giles, as MLB.com’s Paul Casella reported.

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Evaluating the Phillies Outfield Options

UPDATE: The Phillies announced that they’ve claimed outfield defensive guru, Peter Bourjos, on waivers about two hours after I posted this. Bourjos is entering his final year of arbitration and adds very little on offense. Feel free to disregard everything below but read it anyway because, hey, everybody needs a baseball fix.

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In what figures to be a relatively quiet offseason for the Phillies, there are still moves to be made to address their 2016 roster. So far they’ve begun to fill holes in their rotation through the acquisition of Jeremy Hellickson and they’ve loaded up on relief arms through three waiver wire claims (Dan Otero, A.J. Achter, and Michael Mariot) and a minor league contract for James Russell. They will still likely bring in another arm or two for rotation depth, but the one glaring hole remaining to be addressed is in the outfield.

As it stands the Phillies have four players listed as outfielders on their 40-man roster: two of their likely starters for 2016 (Aaron Altherr and Odubel Herrera), a converted third baseman with a murky future (Cody Asche), and a 22-year-old prospect (Roman Quinn) whose absolute earliest reasonable major league ETA is September 2016 . Added into the 2016 mix are two infielders with outfield experience: Darnell Sweeney and, dare I say it, Darin Ruf. It is likely the Darin Ruf Outfield Experiment is at a stage now which includes the following disclaimer: to be used in case of Roy-Oswalt-to-the-outfield emergencies only. Consequently, without a major league acquisition this winter, the Phillies commit themselves to an untenable situation where the starting outfield is Asche-Herrera-Altherr and the backups are Sweeney and Ruf. A move is inevitable, so what are the options?

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Phillies Have Four Decisions Ahead of Non-Tender Deadline

Update (5:20 PM EST): The Phillies avoided arbitration with Andres Blanco and recently-acquired outfielder Peter Bourjos, agreeing on one-year contracts worth $1.45 million and $2 million, respectively, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that the other three players — Hellickson, Gomez, and Galvis — will be tendered contracts. We should hear specific dollar amounts shortly.

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Teams must decide by midnight tonight whether or not to tender arbitration-eligible players a contract for the 2016 season. Players and their respective teams can then negotiate a contract. If they can’t reach an agreement, they will go before a salary arbitrator. The two sides will make cases for why the player should be paid X or Y, and a salary arbitrator will choose either X or Y, no in-between. Typically, teams prefer to avoid arbitration with their players if possible.

Back in September, I looked ahead at the Phillies’ potential non-tender candidates. Among the players covered in detail, the Phillies already cut ties with Domonic Brown, Justin De Fratus, and Adam Loewen, as expected. They have four arbitration-eligible players remaining: the recently-acquired Jeremy Hellickson, Andres Blanco, Jeanmar Gomez, and Freddy Galvis.

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