Phillies close to getting Jose Contreras back from surgery

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Jose Contreras’ minor-league rehab assignment got off to a rough start last week, but since then he’s made a pair of good appearances and could be on the verge of returning from elbow surgery.

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Contreras is scheduled to pitch today and tomorrow, testing his arm with back-to-back outings, and if everything goes well he could come off the disabled list as soon as this weekend.

Initially the recovery timetable for his September surgery was 4-6 months, so Contreras being right in line with that is pretty remarkable at age 40. And with Chad Qualls hurting the Phillies could definitely use the bullpen reinforcement.

Report: Giants showed some interest in Phillies’ Maikel Franco at Winter Meetings

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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that the Giants were “sniffing around” on Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco at the recently completed Winter Meetings.

Franco, 25, would be a nice buy-low candidate for the Giants, who don’t have a reliable third baseman yet. Currently, Pablo Sandoval would get the lion’s share of starts at the hot corner. Franco was a consensus top-100 prospect going into the 2014 and ’15 seasons, but hasn’t lived up to the hype over the last two seasons. In 2017, he hit .230/.281/.409 with 24 home runs and 76 RBI in 623 plate appearances.

Moving Franco wouldn’t necessarily solve any problems for the Phillies. After signing first baseman Carlos Santana, Rhys Hoskins is expected to play in the outfield full-time. As a result, the Phillies have too many outfielders with Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams, and Aaron Altherr. Technically, the Phillies could move Santana to third base as he has experience there, but he hasn’t played the hot corner since 2014.

Franco is arbitration eligible over the next four seasons, which might be the most attractive thing about him to other teams.