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Major League Baseball’s free-agent class is about to get bigger. This year’s deadline for offering arbitration to eligible players is set for Monday, Dec. 2. Teams have a couple choices, barring a trade involving the player in question: they can offer arbitration — thus opening themselves to the possibility of a hearing — or they can pass, relinquishing their rights to the player and setting them free. Those who shake loose tend to then sign one-year pacts, making them attractive targets for other clubs.

In preparation for the tender deadline, we’ve compiled a list of eight players worth watching. That doesn’t mean every player will be non-tendered — indeed, some might be traded; or simply tendered — but it does mean there’s sufficient reason to believe the players in question could be elsewhere come 2020 Opening Day.

Do note that the players are presented in alphabetical order, and that arbitration prize projections are courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors.
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Jackie Bradley BOS • CF • 19
BA.225
R69
HR21
RBI62
SB8

Jackie Bradley Jr. (and his projected $11 million arbitration prize) has been an obvious non-tender candidate ever since the Red Sox set their eyes on avoiding the luxury tax. Whomever lands Bradley Jr. will be getting a useful player with one year of team control remaining. He remains an above-average center fielder thanks more to his feel for the position than his athleticism. Meanwhile, at the dish, he’s best used in a platoon role, as he can threaten a league-average on-base percentage and run into 40-plus extra-base hits versus right-handed pitching. The overall package adds up to an average player, albeit one who should serve as someone’s most-days starter.
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C.J. Cron MIN • 1B • 24
BA.253
R51
HR25
RBI78
SB0

You have to feel a little bad for C.J. Cron, who could well end up on his fourth team in four years due to a projected arbitration prize of nearly $8 million. He’s the same player he’s ever been: strong enough to run into 25-plus homers with enough playing time, yet otherwise limited. He doesn’t walk, he hits a lot of pop-ups, and he’s not exactly blessed defensively. Cron will probably end up making it five in five, and perhaps even six in six barring an unexpected turn of events.
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Maikel Franco PHI • 3B • 7
BA.234
R48
HR17
RBI56
SB0

It’s fair to conclude that Maikel Franco’s career has not gone according to plan. Once a top prospect, he’s likely headed for the open market due to a slew of underwhelming performances a projected prize nearing $7 million. He’s been a below-average hitter in three of his four full seasons, and he does himself no favors with subpar glovework. Franco did walk more in 2019, but he’s all but helpless against any pitch with a wrinkle. He’ll get another look because that’s the way the game goes; just don’t be surprised if, based on his larger body of work, it ends up being his last substantive big-league run. (Keep an eye on Franco’s teammate, Cesar Hernandez, as well.)
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Kevin Gausman CIN • SP • 46
ERA5.72
WHIP1.42
IP102.1
BB32
K114

Kevin Gausman would probably be safe on the Reds roster were it not for a projected prize of nearly $11 million. He showed promise late last season as a reliever, posting a 5.80 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22 innings in Cincinnati (most of which came out of the bullpen). Gausman leaned on his fastball and splitter throughout the year, but could retrieve his mothballed slider if some team wants to give him a look-see in the rotation. He’s not too far removed from being a decent starter, so don’t discount the possibility.
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Corey Knebel MIL • RP • 46

Were these decisions made with only performance in mind, then Corey Knebel (projected prize of more than $5 million) would have nothing to worry about. Over his last two seasons, he’s struck out nearly 15 batters per nine innings while accumulating a 169 ERA+. Yet “his last two seasons” do not include 2019, as he missed the duration of the year due to Tommy John surgery. Our guess is that Knebel will be tendered, but it’s at least possible the Brewers, who have to add multiple starters this winter, could look to save some coin here or elsewhere — especially if they have any concerns about how his rehab is coming.
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Jurickson Profar OAK • 2B • 23
BA.218
R65
HR20
RBI67
SB9

Jurickson Profar looked like a savvy acquisition by the Athletics last winter. He then had a miserable first half, hitting .212/.276/.370 while battling the yips. He was better down the stretch (.228/.342/.479 in the second half), but the Athletics always have to be mindful of their expenses — especially now that they’re no longer receiving revenue-sharing money. Profar is projected to make $5.8 million through arbitration. The A’s could look to move Profar and fill their second-base void with someone else. (Blake Treinen is another arbitration-eligible Athletic who could be on the move.)
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Addison Russell CHC • 2B • 27
BA.237
R25
HR9
RBI23
SB2

The Cubs shouldn’t have tendered Addison Russell last winter. He’s projected for a $5.1 million arbitration prize this go around, and it seems unlikely they repeat their mistake.
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Aaron Sanchez HOU • SP • 18
ERA5.89
WHIP1.62
IP131.1
BB68
K115

Aaron Sanchez (and his $5.6 million projection) probably would have been safe were it not for September shoulder surgery. There’s at least some chance he doesn’t pitch next season, which was slated to be his final under team control. He’ll presumably end up signing a one-year pact with a club option — with Houston, at a reduced rate, or elsewhere.
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Tick tock, gentlemen.

The nation’s sixth-largest city and its many surrounding suburbs are waiting to hear the fate of Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, pitching coach Chris Young, general manager Matt Klentak and others.
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All staying? All gone? A combination of the two?

Five days following a second consecutive September thud that ended the Phils season under Klentak and Kapler, there is no news.
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Meanwhile, seven other Major League Baseball teams are working to fill their managerial voids: Giants, Padres, Cubs, Mets, Royals, Pirates and Angels.
[More Sports] MLB ignores grassroots with plan to whack minors »

The reported list of managerial candidates is significant: Joe Girardi, Joe Maddon, Buck Showalter, Mike Matheny, Bob Geren, John Gibbons, Brad Ausmus, Don Kelly, Mark Loretta, David Ross, Dusty Wathan, Joe McEwing, Jeff Banister, Raul Ibanez, Will Venable and Carlos Beltran, among others.

Tick tock, gentlemen.

Regardless of what decisions are made in the coming hours, days and weeks, the Phillies’ 2020 roster is expected to be considerably different from this year’s version.
Bryce Harper delivered in every aspect of the game in the first of his 13-year contract with the Phillies.
Bryce Harper delivered in every aspect of the game in the first of his 13-year contract with the Phillies. (Nick Wass/AP)

Bryce Harper’s relentless energy and hustle will be front and center in Year 2 of his 13-year contract. J.T. Realmuto’s contract will get done because, well, he’s the game’s best all-around catcher. Aaron Nola will be in line to make 30-plus starts with a focus on throwing more strikes.
[More Sports] Phillies hire Joe Dillon, former Nats assistant, as hitting coach »

But, who else comes along for the ride as the Phils look to make the playoffs for the first time since 2011?

Here are some projections:
Seranthony Dominguez could be anyone from an electric, late-inning option to a spectator, depending on the health of his right elbow.
Seranthony Dominguez could be anyone from an electric, late-inning option to a spectator, depending on the health of his right elbow. (Ed Zurga/Getty)
Who will be here (18 listed alphabetically)

Jose Alvarez, pitcher

Jake Arrieta, pitcher
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Seranthony Dominguez, pitcher

Zach Eflin, pitcher

Edgar Garcia, pitcher
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Deivy Grullon, catcher
[More Sports] Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Reading Fightins announce Hispanic heritage/alternative jersey nights, name changes for 2020 »

J.D. Hammer, pitcher

Bryce Harper, outfielder

Rhys Hoskins, first baseman

Scott Kingery, infielder/outfielder
[More Sports] Phillies focus on Joe Dillon as hitting coach after Mets re-sign Chili Davis »

Andrew McCutchen, outfielder

Brad Miller, infielder/outfielder

Adam Morgan, pitcher

Hector Neris, pitcher
[More Sports] Geography won’t keep Gerrit Cole from the Phillies, agent Scott Boras says »

Aaron Nola, pitcher

J.T. Realmuto, catcher

Jean Segura, infielder

Ranger Suarez, pitcher
[More Sports] Gabe Kapler named manager of San Francisco Giants »

PROJECTIONS: Realmuto’s contract should be priority No. 1, then get to work on the starting rotation behind Nola. Miller and Suarez earned the opportunity to stick around after being among the few highlights in another dismal September. Eflin earned his spot with a consistently good final seven starts. McCutchen is aiming to return from ACL surgery on opening day. Morgan was stellar until his first injured-list stint (7.16 ERA in final 16 games before a season-ending injury). Alvarez proved durable and reliable. Depending on health and what the club does with Pat Neshek (club option) and free agent Tommy Hunter, Garcia and Hammer could start the year in Triple-A. Grullon needs to improve his defense before the club can expect a reliable backup catcher.
Maikel Franco almost certainly has played his last game for the Phillies.
Maikel Franco almost certainly has played his last game for the Phillies. (Matt Slocum/AP)
Who is gone (15)

Jerad Eickhoff, pitcher

Maikel Franco, third baseman

Odubel Herrera, outfielder
[More Sports] Phillies’ search for hitting coach focusing on Matt Stairs, Joe Dillon, Chili Davis »

Jared Hughes, pitcher

Mike Morin, pitcher

Logan Morrison, first baseman/outfielder

Pat Neshek, pitcher
[More Sports] Phillies’ 2020 payroll commitments should allow for another winter of big spending »

Juan Nicasio, pitcher

Blake Parker, pitcher

Jose Pirela, infielder/outfielder

Edubray Ramos, pitcher
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Sean Rodriguez, infielder/outfielder

Drew Smyly, pitcher

Nick Vincent, pitcher

Nick Williams, outfielder
[More Sports] Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto wins Silver Slugger Award »

PROJECTIONS: Franco and Williams have played their last games for the Phillies. The injuries and setbacks are too many to keep Eickhoff, a true gentleman who appeared in only 15 games total the last two seasons. It’s hard to imagine Herrera is anything but persona non grata to the Phillies after he was charged with domestic assault. Vincent (1.93 ERA with Phils) may find his way back.
The Phillies would like to see Adam Haseley prove he’s an everyday center fielder because of Roman Quinn’s health and Odubel Herrera’s status.
The Phillies would like to see Adam Haseley prove he’s an everyday center fielder because of Roman Quinn’s health and Odubel Herrera’s status. (Matt Slocum/AP)
In limbo (14)

Victor Arano, pitcher

Jay Bruce, outfielder

Enyel De Los Santos, pitcher
[More Sports] Phillies will seek both quality and quantity as they remake pitching staff »

Corey Dickerson, outfielder

Phil Gosselin, infielder

Adam Haseley, outfielder

Cesar Hernandez, second baseman
[More Sports] Phillies decline options on Jason Vargas, Pat Neshek and Jared Hughes amid flurry of roster moves »

Tommy Hunter, pitcher

Cole Irvin, pitcher

Andrew Knapp, catcher

Nick Pivetta, pitcher
[More Sports] A look at the best available baseball free agents — plenty of pitchers for Phils to pick from »

Roman Quinn, outfielder

Jason Vargas, pitcher

Vince Velasquez, pitcher

PROJECTIONS: The Phillies must decide if they think Grullon (caught 17% would-be base stealers, 12 passed balls in Triple-A) will grow this offseason to produce more than Knapp (29%, three passed balls, .318 on-base percentage). Hunter has age and injuries working against him. Irvin and De Los Santos have undefined roles working against them, though Irvin’s stuff came back in September. Arano must get healthy and have a good spring, neither of which happened in 2019. Vargas has a club option with a $2 million buyout. One would believe he was a gap start until Klentak or another GM gets serious about adding rotation pieces. Bruce could come back in a bench role. The health of McCutchen and Quinn and how the club values Haseley are factors. Free agent Dickerson likely heads elsewhere to start. Velasquez is a frustrating talent who could be a reliever, starter or left fielder. It appears time to move on from Hernandez and it’s hard to justify keeping Pivetta’s baggage. The Phils could do a lot worse than Gosselin on the bench. They did the last two years.
There is a good chance David Robertson never pitches again for the Phillies.
There is a good chance David Robertson never pitches again for the Phillies. (Alex Brandon/AP)
In spirit only (1)

David Robertson, pitcher

PROJECTIONS: Robertson (elbow) likely won’t pitch again for the Phillies. The 34-year-old probably is out for 2020, the final year of his two-year, $23 million deal … or $169,118 per pitch.
Others on 40-man roster (2)

Arquimedes Gamboa, infielder

Adonis Medina, pitcher
[More Sports] Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto wins first career Gold Glove »

PROJECTIONS: It may be time to pull the plug on Gamboa, a 22-year-old Double-A shortstop who hit a combined .203 the last two seasons. He earned $555,000 in 2020, or $8,284 per hit. Medina, also 22, limped to the finish line in Reading (8.24 ERA, .305 batting average against in his final seven starts). But he’s probably not going anywhere unless the Phils package him for an MLB starter.

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At a news conference announcing his appointment earlier this week, new Phillies manager Joe Girardi talked about the importance of filling the open pitching and hitting coach roles with the right people.

The Phillies locked down Bryan Price as pitching coach. He’s been pitching coach with Seattle, Arizona and Cincinnati — he also managed the Reds — and is about as highly regarded in baseball circles as they come.

It’s not known who the Phillies are targeting for hitting coach, but here’s a thought:

Kevin Long was hitting coach for much of Girardi’s time as manager of the New York Yankees from 2008 to 2017. Girardi has admitted publicly that he is a fan of Long’s work.

It’s doubtful that the Phillies could orchestrate a Girardi-Long reunion in Philadelphia. Long just completed his second season as Washington Nationals hitting coach by raising the World Series championship trophy over his head. No way the Nats let him go.

But how about his assistant?

Joe Dillon is the Nats’ assistant hitting coach and he’s gaining recognition around the game for marrying new-age science with old-school principles in coaching hitters. Long, in fact, has called Dillon “the best assistant hitting coach in the baseball.” Anyone of that distinction, coming off a World Series title, would seem to be in line for advancement in the game.

Would Long talk up his trusted assistant to his old pal Girardi for an opportunity in Philadelphia?

You never know. Maybe something to watch.

• It’s remarkable that just two years after hiring first-time manager Gabe Kapler and one year after hiring first-time pitching coach Chris Young, the Phillies have done a complete about-face and hired a manager and pitching coach who are both loaded with big-league experience.

General manager Matt Klentak said experience was prioritized in hiring Girardi because, “We’ve reached a place where it is time to win … and that lends itself to a guy who has done that … and that’s by and large why we placed such a premium on prior experience.”

The Phillies improved by one game from 2018 to 2019 to finish .500 and in fourth place in the NL East. With their lack of top starting pitching and overall lack of starting pitching depth, it’s difficult to envision them competing for the division title next season — barring a major upgrade in pitching this winter, which we would not rule out given owner John Middleton’s hefty checkbook and desire to improve.

Regardless, the Phillies’ sudden obsession with experience in important field-level leadership roles seems to be tacit acknowledgment that previous hires were viewed as mistakes.

The firing of Kapler was engineered at the ownership level and Klentak was against it. He admitted that he was a big fan of Kapler at that remarkable press conference announcing the manager’s firing. The mandate to seek experience in the new manager clearly came from above, and it appears two other significant hires this offseason were encouraged from above, as well. Pat Gillick, who owns a small piece of the team and still serves as an adviser in the organization, is a big believer in Price, who was the Mariners’ pitching coach when Gillick was that team’s GM. Sources say Gillick pushed for Price. Girardi and Klentak were very much on board with the hire, but it is notable that Gillick flexed some influence.

Earlier this month, the Phillies hired Brian Barber for the important position of amateur scouting director. Barber, a top scout with the Yankees for many years, beat out in-house candidate Greg Schilz, who had seemed to be in line for the position when he came aboard as the No. 2 man in the department in the fall of 2016. Passing over Schilz was a surprise to many observers, but in this case the Phils went outside the organization and, again, appeared to rely on experience, or at least experienced eyes, in making that call. Word is Barber came very highly recommended from well-regarded Yankees front office man Jim Hendry. Hendry is very close with Phillies president Andy MacPhail. The two were together in Chicago when MacPhail was president of the Cubs and Hendry was GM. In fact, Hendry was mentioned as a candidate for the Phillies’ GM job after MacPhail joined the organization in 2015. Ultimately, the Phillies, at the behest of an ownership group looking to move into baseball’s new world, targeted a GM with more of a background in analytics.

That ended up being Klentak. His job is now on the line and he needs these new hires to help save it.

• Sources have confirmed multiple reports that infield coach Bobby Dickerson is headed to San Diego, where he will become bench coach. It’s not a surprise as Dickerson was a personal mentor to Manny Machado when they were together in Baltimore.

Dickerson’s departure is real loss for the Phillies. He’s an outstanding baseball man and tireless worker.

In other coaching matters, Young had a year left on his deal when the Phillies dismissed him as pitching coach. He was offered a chance to stay in the organization in another role, but sources say he will move on.

• Curious to see where Maikel Franco ends up. The Phillies will need spots on the 40-man roster soon and Franco’s time is clearly up in Philadelphia. A team like Texas, Baltimore or Detroit could look to acquire Franco in a deal. The Tigers scouted the Phillies extensively over the final weeks of the season, making you wonder if something possibly bigger could be brewing between the two clubs.

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Extending J.T. Realmuto should be one of, if not the top priorities for the Phillies this offseason.

After being acquired in a trade with the Miami Marlins that sent a highly talented phenom to Miami, J.T. Realmuto more than proved his worth in a Phillies uniform this season. He contributed heavily at the plate and behind the dish, en route to winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.

Heading into the free agency period next offseason, Realmuto would be extremely sought after by any team that needs help with a backstop. It should be the Phillies utmost responsibility to keep him in the red and white pinstripes by locking him into a contract extension, because without J.T., they simply won’t be the same team.

Realmuto’s 2019 season statline reads as follows. 25HR, 83RBIs, .275 average. And not to be forgotten, Realmuto knocked 36 doubles and almost stole double-digit bags as a catcher. Granted, it doesn’t deviate from his previous season with the Marlins, but it proves Realmuto can be expected to be consistently productive at the plate.
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What sets Realmuto apart from other catchers in this league is the way he finds success in multiple phases of the game. With one of the quickest, if not the best, pop-times in the league that combines with a plus arm, Realmuto is feared by base-stealers for his prowess at getting the ball to second in record time.

At the plate Realmuto led all catchers with 148 hits, 36 doubles, and 83 RBI, while also hitting a career-high 25 home runs.

It proves he’s the total package, but what are the Phils going to need to do to keep a guy like J.T.? Well, as Puff Daddy would say, “It’s all about the Benjamins.”

The Phils will have the advantage of Realmuto being under contract for one more season, but after said year he will demand top-dollar in the 2020 market.

This makes it all the more important to get a long-term deal done right now.

Considering his production and relatively young age of 28, J.T. could demand $100 million-plus in total contract value when offensive output is weighted. If his contract was placed in the 5-6 years range with no opt-outs, the Phillies could reasonably offer $20 million per year, and that might be a bargain given last his 2019 production.

Buster Posey has the largest guaranteed contract for a catcher with $159 million over eight years, and Yadier Molina’s deal averages $20 million, the highest average annual value at the position.
Next: Phillies: 5 options to play at third base in 2020

While he’ll age just like any other player, Realmuto’s bat could give him an everyday spot at another position such as first base or potentially someday as a designated hitter. For my money it’s not going to be if the Phillies extend Realmuto, but when they do it. The time is now, and it’s going to be exciting to see what Realmuto can make out of a long career in a Phillies uniform.

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The Phillies will pursue Gerrit Cole. The Phillies have an interest in Madison Bumgarner. The Phillies would love to sign Stephen Strasburg. Cole Hamels would love to return to Philadelphia.

It’s going to be all pitching all the time for the Phillies during this Hot Stove season, and since super agent Scott Boras is once again running the show — both Cole and Strasburg are his clients — you should probably be prepared for this to go on for a while.
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For the good of the game, let’s hope it doesn’t drag into spring training again this year.

You’re signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox every Thursday during the Phillies offseason. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @brookob. Thank you for reading.

— Bob Brookover ([email protected])
Phillies catcher Deivy Grullon hit 42 homers the last two seasons in the minor leagues.
YONG KIM / Staff Photographer
Phillies catcher Deivy Grullon hit 42 homers the last two seasons in the minor leagues.
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The 26th man

It’s not nearly as sexy as acquiring a Cy Young Award-level starting pitcher for $250-$300 million, but Phillies general manager Matt Klentak and his team of decision makers will have a new situation to ponder in 2020 when rosters expand from 25 to 26 players.

Klentak talked at length about that addition this week at the general manager meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“I think it’s going to be fun to watch because I think you’re going to have different teams that approach that very differently,” Klentak said. “You may have some rebuilding clubs that are going to use that as an opportunity to give maybe an unproven player more playing time. For contending teams, you might find they are using that roster spot on some sort of specialist. Not necessarily a pitcher, but a pinch runner or pinch hitter or a defensive specialist.”

While rosters will expand to 26, pitching staffs will be limited to 13, which had become the most common number for almost every major-league team in recent years.

One possibility for some teams is to keep three catchers, although that seems unlikely for the Phillies since they have J.T. Realmuto, who started a major-league-leading 130 games at that position last season.

“Given that J.T. plays as much as he does, I think if we were going to carry a third catcher, we would want that player to probably be able to play somewhere else and/or be more of an offensive bench threat,” Klentak said.

Andrew Knapp, the Phillies’ backup catcher each of the last three seasons, has come under fire for a lack of offensive production, but his .318 on-base percentage was actually higher than 14 of the 21 backup catchers who had between 100 and 200 at-bats last season.

Deivy Grullon, who got his first big-league cup of coffee in September, appears to be more of an offensive threat than Knapp. Grullon hit 21 homers each of the last two seasons at double-A Reading and triple-A Lehigh Valley. His 77 RBIs last season were tied for eighth in the International League, a remarkable rank for a catcher.

Both Knapp and Grullon have the ability to play first base.

Klentak was asked if the Phillies needed to upgrade at backup catcher from Knapp.

“To be fair to Andrew, J.T. relative to just about anybody is going to be a huge gap,” Klentak said. “More than anything, the reason J.T. played so much is because J.T. is really good and he’s really durable and he wants to play.

“I think it’s really difficult for any player, but especially a relatively young player like Knapp, to adjust to a bench role when they’ve been a regular most of their lives. I was encouraged by the way he played in the last week to 10 days when he had a chance to play a little more regularly. I thought his at-bats were good.

“The other thing I’ll say on Knapp is, he’s a really strong and influential guy in the clubhouse. He’s very close to his teammates, he’s a leader in the clubhouse, and that’s another thing we have to make sure we appreciate with whatever decision we make. I think the pairing of Realmuto and Knapp is generally pretty good and can continue to be, particularly with the 26th man, which is likely going to add another bat off the bench and limit the number of pinch-hitting opportunities for the backup catcher.”
The rundown

Nothing like Scott Boras Day at the GM meetings and winter meetings, and the first installment came Wednesday in Scottsdale, Ariz. While rumors have swirled that Houston All-Star pitcher Gerrit Cole would prefer to sign with a West Coast team, Boras indicated his client would happily accept a check signed by Phillies managing partner John Middleton.

Surprise, surprise, look who’s back in a managerial chair. Well, Gabe Kapler actually prefers a standing desk in his office, but you get the idea. Kapler was hired by the San Francisco Giants and Scott Lauber listened to him field a lot of tough questions Wednesday at his introductory news conference. The Phillies will face Kapler and the Giants from April 27-29 in San Francisco, and Kapler and his team will come to Philadelphia for a four-game series from Aug. 6-9.

If Middleton wants to spend big again on free agents this offseason, which seems likely when you have a class that includes Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Madison Bumgarner, Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson, among others, he can probably do so without taking the Phillies over baseball’s luxury-tax threshold of $208 million. Scott Lauber examined the Phillies’ payroll commitments already in place.

Matt Klentak knows pitching is the team’s No. 1 priority this offseason, but he also knows that it’s not just about dollars and years. The GM has concerns about giving up too many draft picks by signing high-level free agents.

Former Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is looking for work after leaving his advisory role with the New York Mets. Amaro told me he would love to return to Philadelphia in some capacity, and that might be possible in some sort of broadcasting role.

Juan Castro, best known around here for making a terrific play at third base to complete the late Roy Halladay’s 2010 perfect game in Miami, was hired as the Phillies’ infield instructor late last week. He replaces Bobby Dickerson, who left for a job in San Diego.
Important dates

Nov. 20: Teams must set their 40-man rosters for the Rule 5 draft.

Dec. 9-12: Winter meetings in San Diego.

Feb. 11: Phillies pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

March 26: Opening day against the Marlins in Miami.
Baltimore Orioles infielder Jonathan Villar originally signed with the Phillies for $105,000 as an international free agent in 2008.
Julio Cortez / AP
Baltimore Orioles infielder Jonathan Villar originally signed with the Phillies for $105,000 as an international free agent in 2008.
Stat of the day

If you are still an avid reader of the print edition, you will find an extensive story in this Sunday’s Inquirer about the Phillies’ quest for an international superstar like Washington’s Juan Soto and Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. Some of the Phillies’ best international signings have helped them acquire players via trade, with the most recent example being the deal that brought them All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto from Miami. The two key players going the other way were catcher Jorge Alfaro and pitcher Sixto Sanchez, both of whom had good seasons.

Alfaro hit .262 with 18 home runs and 57 RBIs for the Marlins, and Sanchez went 8-6 with a 2.76 ERA in 20 starts at high-A Jupiter and double-A Jacksonville. Sanchez struck out 103 and walked just 21 in 114 innings.

The Phillies’ best international signing from the past was infielder Jonathan Villar, who hit .274 with 33 doubles, five triples and 24 home runs with Baltimore. The Phillies traded Villar, 28, to Houston as part of the Roy Oswalt deadline deal in 2010.
From the mailbag

Send questions by email or on Twitter @brookob.

Question: After demolishing AFL pitching this Autumn, it is indisputable that Alec Bohm is the real McCoy. After applying himself diligently, Bohm has made solid improvement in his defense at 3rd base. His lateral movement is improved and there is no questions about his arm. Still, some scouts (who likely haven’t seen Bohm since last Spring Training) say he is destined for 1st base. The Phils need a 3rd baseman badly. Yet, Bohm will be in the Show by May. Why are the Phillies said to be considering Anthony Rendon or Josh Donaldson when Bohm is so close? If Bohm’ s future is at 1st base, what does that mean for Rhys Hoskins? Even though his slump extended to the end of the season, he still is one of the best power hitters in MLB. Where are they going with this? Thanks so much for your excellent insight. I look forward to you covering Hot Stove.

— Roger S., via email

Answer: Thanks for the question and for being such an avid reader, Roger. Alec Bohm did follow up a stellar minor-league season with a great showing in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .361 with a .925 OPS in 19 games against top competition.

With Hoskins at first base and Bohm knocking on the big-league door, it does create an interesting situation for the Phillies. I personally don’t think the Phillies will sign either Rendon or Donaldson because they will spend the big bucks on pitching. Maybe they’ll try to sign Mike Moustakas on a short-term deal and continue to let Bohm develop for one more year while also finding out if Hoskins can overcome the problems he had in the second half of last season.

There is one important thing to remember. It seems likely that the designated hitter will be coming to the National League in the not-too-distant future, and under that scenario, every team in the league is going to want another hitter capable of putting up big power numbers. So if the Phillies did decide to sign Rendon or Donaldson to long-term deals, they could have a middle of the order in two years with Bohm, Hoskins, Bryce Harper and either Rendon or Donaldson.

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With already completing a trade to in this year’s MLB FanSided offseason simulation, it was time to head to the free agent market to find a way to improve the team.

For the last few years, the MLB Division at FanSided has put together an offseason simulation with the sites playing General Manager. I am in charge of the Pittsburgh Pirates offseason simulation this year. Each team has been able to submit trades to one another as well as trying to bid on free agents.

Yesterday, I discussed my trade with the Philadelphia Phillies (Phillies TBOH). The trade had the Pittsburgh Pirates sending outfielder Starling Marte and reliever Keone Kela to the Phillies. Coming back to the Bucs in the deal was a package of four prospects, including three who are close to MLB ready. The list included top pitching prospect Adonis Medina, outfielder Adam Haseley, catcher Deivy Grullon, and infield prospect Kendall Simmons.

While the trade made with the Phillies was supposed to help bring in talent that will help in a shorter time frame, the team still needs plenty of help. When looking at the free-agent market, I thought it was important to not just add some starting pitching depth, but some quality starting pitching depth. On top of that, it was important to find a quality left-hander for the rotation, something the team has been missing in the last few years.

So as General Manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates I extended a reasonable, two-year contract offer to free-agent pitcher Wade Miley. Miley was getting a lot of one year offers and so the second year was a big part of getting a deal done. Financially speaking, the deal was worth $17.5 million or, $8.75 million per season. A two-year deal seemed like a perfect fit on the Pittsburgh Pirates end of things. This gives them a quality lefty to help compete and win games with a growing team. Also, he would be back for 2021 when the team projects to really compete.
LHP
Free Agent: Wade Miley
Starting Pitcher Career Numbers: 85-82, 4.23 ERA, 7.15 K/9, 49% Ground Ball Percentage

Wwith it being a two-year deal, it is a relatively safe deal to make. He would be easy to flip in a trade if he was not performing well enough, or if he was really performing well and a team was looking to get a starter with contractual control. Really, the contract made a lot of sense from all angles in terms of team success or value of a solid, left-handed starter.

Miley pitched for the Houston Astros last season and was with the Brewers in 2018. Over the last two years, Miley has had somewhat of a career resurgence. In 2018 he was really impressive in his 16 starts with the Brewers posting a 2.57 ERA. He followed it up with a 3.98 ERA with Houston this past season. While he regressed some, he still put up a strong season and if he repeated those results he would be worth $8.75 million per season.
Next: Trade with Phillies

With Miley slotting into the rotation, it gives some extra flexibility to potentially deal one of the starters. With the change over in management, it might be the time to just move on from Chris Archer. He is owed $9 million this upcoming year and has an option for 2021. Miley has been much better than Archer the last two seasons and would essentially replace him at a cheaper rate. To say the least, there has been a decent bit of interest for Archer by other FanSided GM’s so it seems likely that a deal will be struck.

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Since 2012, the Phillies have non-tendered contracts to three arbitration-eligible players; Maikel Franco and Cesar Hernandez could soon join that list.

As Thanksgiving has come and gone, the next important date of the Major League Baseball offseason is just days away: Monday’s 8 p.m. deadline for clubs to decide whether to “non-tender” their arbitration-eligible players.

When an arbitration-eligible player becomes “non-tendered,” their previous club is declining to offer them a contract for the upcoming season; therefore, the player is immediately made a free agent.

Players are up for non-tender consideration if they are on the 40-man roster and have fewer than six years of Major League service time. Reasons players could be no-tendered include that the club believes a salary increase they would receive in arbitration exceeds their on-field value, and/or that the club simply wants to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

The Phillies have nine players eligible for arbitration this offseason: LHP Jose Alvarez, RHP Zach Eflin, 3B Maikel Franco, 2B Cesar Hernandez, C Andrew Knapp, LHP Adam Morgan, RHP Hector Neris, C J.T. Realmuto, and RHP Vince Velasquez.

While Eflin and Realmuto are surely locks to be tendered contracts by Monday’s deadline, the same cannot be said for Franco and Hernandez.

The Phillies have been rumored to be trying to trade either player, and have already explored options for their replacements in the infield, such as Didi Gregorius, Mike Moustakas, and Josh Donaldson, among others.

Click through to see the three most recent players, since 2012, that the Phillies have decided to non-tender and the avoid arbitration process with.

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manager
Local Sports

Nov 26, 2019
Mitch Rupert
Sports reporter
[email protected]

SUN-GAZETTE FILE Williamsport Crosscutters manager Pat Borders speaks with members of the media during media day in 2016 at Bowman Field.

Pat Borders will return as manager of the Williamsport Crosscutters for the 2020 season, the team confirmed Monday. It will be the former World Series MVP’s sixth season at the helm of the Cutters, the longest tenure of any manager in franchise history.

Borders is scheduled to be in Williamsport on Jan. 15 for the Crosscutters’ annual Hot Stove Banquet. He will be appearing at the event along with ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian and former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Greg Luzinski Kurkjian is returning to the banquet for a second consecutive season.

No other member of the Cutters’ coaching staff has been announced.

In five seasons leading the Philadelphia Phillies’ short-season Class A affiliate, Borders has accumulated a 191-185 record and is the franchise’s career leader in managerial wins. In 2019, Williamsport finished 32-43, but was tied for the league’s best record over the season’s final 38 games. The Cutters also finished third in the league in team ERA.

Five former Cutters under the tutelage of Borders have gone on to play Major League Baseball — Adam Haseley, Seranthony Dominguez, Cole Irvin, Ranger Suarez and Jacob Waguespack.

In his first season with Williamsport in 2015, he guided the Crosscutters to the league’s best regular-season record and a Pinckney Division championship. His 46-30 mark that season is the third-best record in club history. It was the team’s first division title since 2001.

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The Phillies on Thursday announced that they had claimed reliever Robert Stock on waivers from the San Diego Padres.

Stock, 29, is a power-armed right-hander who has racked up some big strikeout totals in his career. He’s also allowed an abundance of hits, particularly in 2019.

Stock pitched 10 2/3 innings in the majors in 2019 and struck out 15. He walked eight.

He struck out 12.7 batters per nine innings in 28 1/3 innings at Triple A, but also allowed 11.4 hits per nine innings.

Stock has appeared in the majors the last two seasons with the Padres. He had a 2.50 ERA in 32 games with the Padres in 2018.

Stock missed time in 2019 with a biceps injury. He will compete for a spot in the Phillies’ bullpen in 2020 — if he stays with the club. The Phillies in recent seasons have made several waiver claims at this time of year only to lose the player on waivers a few weeks later.

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The Phillies announced that they’ve acquired lefty Cristopher Sanchez from the Rays in exchange for minor league infielder Curtis Mead. Sanchez has been selected to the 40-man roster, per the team, as have three other players: right-hander Mauricio Llovera and left-handers Garrett Cleavinger and JoJo Romero.

The 22-year-old Sanchez had been with the Rays since they signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2013. He has pitched almost exclusively in the low minors since then, and is now coming off a season in which he threw 34 innings of 1.85 ERA ball with 9.53 K/9, 3.44 BB/9 and a 54.1 percent ground-ball rate at the Single-A level.

The Australian-born Mead, 19, signed with the Phillies since May 2018. He impressed over 175 plate appearances in 2019 at the rookie level, where he batted .285/.351/.462 and hit four home runs.