It appeared that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel tipped his hand on the favorite for the starting right field job earlier today, telling reporters that top prospect Domonic Brown “is sort of the first choice there.”
According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhiladelphia.com, the skipper later had to clarify his comments.
“I should have been a little more specific,” the Phillies manager said. “By ‘first choice’ I mean I want to put him out there and play him a lot. He’s going to get a lot of at-bats [in spring training]. That job is up for grabs.”
Yeah, sure. Whatever you say, Charlie.
Some believe that the Phillies might be hesitant to anoint Brown as Jayson Werth’s replacement because he struggled in the Dominican Winter League after batting .210 with a 24/5 K/BB ratio in limited playing time with the Phillies last season. There’s probably some truth to that, but I’m of the opinion that they want to create some competition rather than hand him the job outright.
We aren’t going to learn anything about John Mayberry Jr. and Ben Francisco in the next 45 days that we don’t know already. The Phillies are smarter than that, right? This could all change if he goes 0-for-March, but I expect Brown to be on the Opening Day roster and at minimum, start everyday against right-handed pitching.
Update #2 (6:21 PM EST): Make that $37.5 million, per Heyman.
Update (6:02 PM EST): The deal is for “around” $37 million with deferrals that lower the present-day value, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that free agent 1B/OF Mark Trumbo is close to a deal with the Orioles. He first reported that the two sides were back in touch earlier on Thursday afternoon. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the deal is expected to be for three years and under $40 million.
Trumbo’s market hasn’t developed as he expected. The slugger turned down the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer back in November. Then the Orioles reportedly made a four-year contract offer to him in December but pulled it off the table. Most recently, a report indicated that Trumbo lowered his expectations to a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range.
Trumbo, 31, led the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles this past season. He also hit a solid .256/.316/.433 with 108 RBI in 667 plate appearances. With Trumbo back in the fold and some slight offensive upgrades made, the Orioles figure to have a formidable offense in 2017.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.