That’s what Tom Verducci at SI is saying in light of their “aggressive” pursuit of Roy Halladay, the prize for whom they currently stand as the front runner. He quotes Brewers’ GM Doug Melvin as saying that between the Halladay stuff and some of their other recent moves, the Phillies are “creating a powerhouse” in the NL, raising the bar for other teams just like the Yankees have raised the bar in the American League.
Or maybe the Red Sox. Says Verducci: “The Phillies represent the biggest growth brand in the baseball
industry, similar to how the Red Sox began to rise in 2003 under new
ownership.” All that’s missing, it seems, is an equally aggressive and astute rival. As for now, the Mets are occasionally aggressive, but not all that astute. The Braves are the opposite. The Marlins never seem all that interested in contending for more than a year at a time before tearing it all down and the Nats need a lot more time.
Will this eventually lead to a rise in the NL’s fortunes? Maybe too early to say, but we can say this: right now they stand as the favorites to land Halladay, and that’s without even putting their top prospects like Kyle Drabek on the table. At least not yet. Verducci says that Philly is even exploring bringing in a third team to the deal. A deal they very obviously want to make happen. And that Roy Halladay wants to make happen too, according to various reports.
Halladay-Lee-Hamels as the top three. A lineup chock full of All-Stars. Maybe a new closer in John Smoltz. Can anyone say Yankees vs. Phillies, part II?
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.