The Phillies have been aggressively shopping for controllable pitching this winter, as the team has “inquired on just about every young starter that could be traded this winter,” Matt Gelb and Matt Breen of Philly.com report.  This list of targets include their previously-reported interest in Chris Archer, and the Phillies also checked in with the Blue Jays about Marcus Stroman and the Royals about Danny Duffy.

It’s clear that Philadelphia is looking to take its rebuild to the next level, after signing Carlos Santana and even adding veteran relievers Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek on multi-year contracts.  The rotation remains a major need for the club — Aaron Nola is the only member of a young projected starting five that looks like a solid bet for 2018.  It has been expected that the Phillies would try to land at least one veteran innings-eater this winter, though they’re apparently also setting their sights higher for a pitcher that could contribute when the team returns to contention.

Of the two new names mentioned in the Phillies’ search, Stroman is by far the less likely to be available.  The Jays are planning to contend in 2018, and moving Stroman would be an even bigger indicator of a total rebuild than even a trade of Josh Donaldson, given that Donaldson is only under contract for one more season.  Stroman, by contrast, still has three years of arbitration eligibility remaining.  MLBTR projects him to earn $7.2MM this winter through the arb process, and while Stroman’s price tag will continue to grow through his arbitration years, Toronto will happily shoulder that cost if Stroman keeps producing as he did in 2017.  Stroman posted a 3.09 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 2.65 K/BB rate and a league-best 62.1% grounder rate over 201 innings, cracking the 200-inning threshold for the second consecutive season.

Duffy, on the other hand, has already drawn a lot of trade attention this winter, with the Cubs, Yankees, and Orioles reportedly among the teams interested.  The Royals seem to be on the verge of a rebuild given all of their expected free agent losses, though they aren’t yet “aggressively shopping” Duffy’s services.  It was just 11 months ago that K.C. locked Duffy up on a five-year, $65MM extension with the hope that he would be one of the cornerstone pieces of the next era of Royals baseball, though it remains to be seen just how extensive a rebuild the Royals may have in mind.  If the team hopes to reload over a year or two, Duffy will still be an asset for when Kansas City aims to once again open a contention window.

If a longer rebuild is necessary, the $60MM remaining on Duffy’s contract makes him a logical trade chip.  The Phillies certainly have the open payroll space to accommodate his salary; Santana, Neshek, Hunter, and Odubel Herrera are the only players beyond the 2018 season.  Philadelphia has widely been expected to target the top stars of next year’s free agent class, though the team has gotten a jump-start on that plan now by landing Santana.  Given the Phillies’ payroll flexibility, they could try to land their desired pitching help by offering to take another big and/or undesirable contract off the the other team’s hands with little prospect capital going back in return.  (In the Royals’ case, for instance, the Phillies could offer to take on Ian Kennedy’s deal in order to land Duffy.)

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The latest from Citi Field…

  • The Mets have been linked to a possible reunion with Jay Bruce all offseason, and a Mets source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News that the free agent is looking for a four-year contract.  This represents a shift in Bruce’s asking price, as he and his representatives began the offseason in search of a five-year pact worth $80-$90MM and reportedly were still sticking to that demand at the start of December.  Of course, starting with a high number is a common tactic in any negotiation, so it isn’t surprising that Bruce has limited his demand, particularly since the free agent market as a whole has yet to truly kick into gear.  Even four years may be too long for the Mets’ liking — while Bruce would be a valuable contributor at first base or in a corner outfield spot, New York has Michael Conforto (once he recovers from shoulder surgery) and rookie Dominic Smith slated for those spots over the long term.  The Rockies, Blue Jays, and Mariners have also been linked to Bruce at various points over the winter, though Seattle’s acquisitions of Ryon Healy and Dee Gordon may have lessened their desire for Bruce’s services.
  • A source “expressed skepticism” to Newsday’s Marc Carig (Twitter links) that the Mets and Indians would be able to work out a deal involving second baseman Jason Kipnis.  New York has been connected to a wide array of players as it tries to address its hole at the keystone, though with other trade avenues seemingly closing up, it was looking like Kipnis could be the Mets’ top option.  With the Mets also apparently open to taking on salary instead of moving prospects in trades, Kipnis seemed like an even clearer target; one rival executive described Kipnis as one of “the most attainable” second basemen left on the market given that the Tribe seems eager to get his $30.5MM in remaining salary off their books.

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Here are the latest minor moves from around the baseball world…

  • The Twins signed infielder Taylor Featherston and outfielder James Ramsey were among those signed to minor league contracts, as per their MLB.com transactions page.  Featherston has a .477 OPS over 244 career PA with the Angels, Phillies, and Rays, and is best known as a defense-first player, primarily at second base but also seeing significant time at third and shortstop.  Ramsey, chosen 23rd overall by the Cardinals in the 2012 draft, was dealt to Cleveland in a one-for-one trade for Justin Masterson in July 2014 but has since struggled to live up to his early potential.  Ramsey has spent the last three seasons at the Triple-A level for the Indians, Dodgers and Mariners.
  • The Brewers signed left-hander Mike Zagurski to a minors deal, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter).  Zagurski pitched in parts of five big league seasons with the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Yankees, last appearing in the Show during the 2013 campaign.  Zagurski has since spent two seasons in Japan and pitched in the Tigers’ farm system in 2017.
  • The Giants announced their player development staff for the upcoming season, including the hiring of former right-hander Matt Buschmann in one of five Assistant Director Of Player Development positions (Buschmann will focus on run prevention).  Originally a 15th-round pick for the Padres in the 2006 draft, Buschmann spent 11 seasons in pro ball, though he didn’t pitch in 2017 after being released from his minor league deal with the Blue Jays in early April.  Buschmann’s career did include a brief taste of the majors, appearing in three games (4 1/3 IP) for the Diamondbacks in April 2016.  We at MLBTR wish Buschmann the best as he embarks on his post-playing career.

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The Giants announced on Friday that Travis Ishikawa will become the new hitting coach for one of the franchise’s two Arizona League rookie ball affiliates.  The hiring seemingly brings an official end to Ishikawa’s 15-year playing career — he didn’t play last season after being granted free agency following the 2016 campaign.

Ishikawa was originally a 21st-round pick for the Giants in the 2002 draft, and though he suited up for five other teams over the course of his career, only two of his 15 seasons were spent entirely outside of the Giants organization.  That long tenure in San Francisco earned him World Series rings in 2010 and 2014, with Ishikawa playing a particularly notable role in the latter championship year.  Ishikawa’s walkoff homer in Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS clinched the series for the Giants and sent them back to the Fall Classic; it was just the fourth time in history that a league championship series had ended on a home run.

Appearing in parts of eight MLB seasons, Ishikawa produced a .255/.321/.391 slash line and 23 homers over 1050 career plate appearances with the Giants, Pirates, Brewers, Orioles, and Yankees.  His strong reputation as a defensive first baseman is borne out in advanced metrics, with a 13.2 UZR/150 and +17 Defensive Runs Saved over his career.

We at MLBTR wish Ishikawa a happy retirement from playing, and wish him all the best as he embarks on his new career in coaching.

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The Padres have announced the signing of right-hander Jordan Lyles to a one-year deal with a club option for the 2019 season.  Lyles’ deal is a Major League contract.  To create roster space, lefty Travis Wood has been designated for assignment.

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The Angels have released outfielder Jared Hoying, MLB Trade Rumors’ Steve Adams reports (Twitter link).  The team granted the release so Hoying could pursue an opportunity playing in South Korea.

Hoying and the Angels agreed to a minor league deal earlier this offseason.  The Rangers outrighted Hoying off their 40-man roster in October, paving the way for his free agency and subsequent deal with Los Angeles.

A 10th-round pick for the Rangers in the 2010 draft, Hoying spent his entire pro career in the Texas organization, hitting .260/.320/.444 over 3544 career plate appearances in the minor leagues.  Hoying played most games in center field but saw significant time at all three outfield spots.  He made his big league debut in 2016 and saw action in each of the last two seasons for the Rangers, posting a .220/.262/.288 slash line over 126 PA in the majors.

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MLBTR Originals

Posted: December 17, 2017 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Here’s the roundup of original content from the MLB Trade Rumors writing staff over the last two weeks…

  • It’s already been a notable winter for major trades, and Jeff Todd lists the offseason’s top 60 possible trade candidates that could still be in new uniforms coming Opening Day.
  • Arguably the biggest name on that top-60 list is Orioles third baseman (or shortstop?) Manny Machado, who has been the subject of heavy trade speculation over the last week.  Steve Adams examined the market for potential Machado trade partners, evaluating all 29 teams on the likelihood that Machado will be wearing their uniform come Opening Day.
  • Live from the Winter Meetings, Steve Adams attended Giancarlo Stanton’s introductory press conference as a Yankee, which included Stanton’s discussions of talks with the Giants and Cardinals over waiving his no-trade protection, his excitement at joining the Yankees, and his displeasure at the constant management controversy and lack of on-field success that marked his time with the Marlins.
  • MLBTR’s Free Agent Profiles series examines the winter’s top names on the open market, outlining their strengths and weaknesses while trying to identify teams that could be interested in a signing.  Recent entries include Carlos Santana (by Kyle Downing), Yu Darvish and Mike Moustakas (both by Mark Polishuk).  Since Kyle’s piece, of course, Santana was already taken off the board by a surprising suitor — the Phillies reached agreement with the veteran slugger on a three-year, $60MM deal.
  • The Angels have been the talk off the offseason, keeping Justin Upton out of the free agent market via an extension, and then adding Shohei Ohtani, Zack Cozart, Ian Kinsler to the roster.  Still, with several question marks remaining, Connor Byrne asked the MLBTR readership if they felt the Halos had enough for a return to the postseason in 2018.  (At the time of this posting, 61.64% of those polled felt the Angels will indeed make the playoffs.)

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