ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Phillies have been downplaying the possibility of trading closer Ken Giles, but notes that teams which have spoken with the Phillies expect them to trade the right-hander this winter or by the trading deadline at the end of July.
Giles, 25, has burst onto the scene as an elite reliever, brandishing a fastball that can reach triple digits while compiling a 1.56 ERA and a 151/36 K/BB ratio over 115 2/3 career innings. He took over as the Phillies’ closer when Jonathan Papelbon was dealt to the Nationals this past July. Giles will not be eligible for arbitration until after the 2017 season and can’t become a free agent until after the 2020 season.
The Padres’ trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox will serve as a barometer for the Phillies. While Kimbrel is an established hurler, Giles is younger, cheaper, and under team control for longer. The Red Sox sent four players, including highly-regarded outfield prospect Manuel Margot, to the Padres in the deal, so the Phillies would likely ask for a similar or better return. Indeed, Stark quotes an anonymous executive who suggests the Phillies are looking for “two or three” high-ceiling prospects.
The Phillies are under no pressure to trade Giles to facilitate their rebuilding process. They’re expected to become competitive again within the next two or three years, and Giles likely would be productive and affordable enough to contribute to a playoff-contending ballclub. So if the Phillies can’t find an offer that whets their appetite, they can simply hang onto Giles.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays have drawn trade interest in relievers Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee. In particular, the Astros and Tigers were among the teams expressing interest. Additionally, Topkin notes that the Rays are open to dealing another starter, potentially Drew Smyly or Matt Moore.
Boxberger, 27, is under team control through 2019 and is not yet eligible for arbitration. He led the American League with 41 saves this past season, also compiling a 3.71 ERA and a 74/32 K/BB ratio over 63 innings. The right-hander was impressive in the first half but faltered in the second half, with respective split ERA’s of 3.25 and 4.33.
McGee, 29, is entering his third of four years of arbitration eligibility after earning $3.55 million in 2015. He made his season debut on May 17 after undergoing arthroscopic elbow surgery in December. The lefty finished with a 2.41 ERA and a 48/8 K/BB ratio over 37 1/3 innings.
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that the Phillies will have Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez compete for a spot in the starting rotation during the spring if he’s healthy. The Phillies signed Gonzalez to a three-year, $12 million deal in 2013, but haven’t gotten much out of the investment as the right-hander has mostly been injured.
In 5 1/3 innings out of the bullpen in 2014, Gonzalez allowed four runs on nine hits and three walks.
Matt Klentak, the Phillies’ new GM, had this to say about Gonzalez:
“If he’s performing and he gives us the best chance to win, just like with any other player, we will give that player the chance to go out and compete,” Klentak said. “If he doesn’t, just as if anybody else doesn’t, we’re going to find the best guys to take the field and give us a chance to win.”
The Phillies recently acquired Jeremy Hellickson from the Diamondbacks but they are still trying to round out the back of their rotation and make sure they have rotation depth, a luxury which they did not have this past season. Only two teams got fewer innings from its starters than the Phillies did (892 2/3) — the Rockies and D-Backs.
On MLB Network Radio on Sunday, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said that the club “would like to sign a top-of-the-rotation starter,” MLB.com’s Cash Kruth reports. “And by that, I mean a No. 1, 2 or 3 starter,” Duquette said.
There are a number of top-of-the-rotation starters available in free agency. Among them: David Price, Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, as well as Jordan Zimmermann, Yovani Gallardo, and John Lackey. The Orioles currently have just shy of $58 million committed to four players with 11 potential arbitration cases to settle, but only three of them are in their third or fourth years of arbitration eligibility, so they ostensibly have a bit of breathing room before matching last year’s $119 million Opening Day payroll total.
Duquette mentioned that the Orioles will also be looking at outfielders along with starting pitching.
Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Padres are shopping outfielder Matt Kemp and starter Tyson Ross. This comes as no surprise, particularly after the Padres sent closer Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox on Saturday.
Kemp, 31, is owed $21.75 million over each of the next four seasons for a total of $87 million. Ross, 28, is entering his third of four years of arbitration eligibility after earning $5.25 million this past season. He’ll earn a pay raise of at least several million dollars.
Kemp struggled to begin the season but had a solid second half and ultimately finished with a .265/.312/.443 triple-slash line, 23 home runs, and 100 RBI in 648 plate appearances. He’s been able to stay healthy in each of the past two seasons, which is a good sign for interested teams.
Ross had another strong season, finishing 2015 with a 3.26 ERA and a 212/84 K/BB ratio over 196 innings. The 84 walks led the majors, but it was the lowest walks total ever to lead the league, so there’s that.