The Rangers are looking for an upgrade in the outfield. As such, the club has discussed speedy center fielder Billy Hamilton with the Reds, per MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. Sullivan adds that the still-rebuilding Phillies might be willing to trade center fielder Odubel Herrera which would create a match with the Rangers.
Herrera, soon to be 25 years old, was originally signed in the summer of 2008 as an amateur free agent by the Rangers. The Phillies selected him from the Rangers in the Rule-5 draft two winters ago. Herrera had an outstanding rookie campaign in 2015, batting .297/.344/.418 in 537 plate appearances. He was able to maintain that production in 2016, finishing with a .286/.361/.420 triple-slash line with 15 home runs, 49 RBI, 87 runs scored, and 25 stolen bases in 656 PA. Herrera was the Phillies’ lone representative in the All-Star Game.
Herrera has shown the ability to play above-average — though inconsistent — defense. He strikes out a fair amount but showed a massively-improved eye at the plate last season, boosting his walk rate from five percent to nearly 10 percent. What might be most attractive to interested teams, however, is likely the fact that he’s under team control through the 2020 season.
As the free agent market is not particularly robust, teams in need of upgrades may be forced to make trades which works out well for teams like the Phillies.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets will try veteran Jose Reyes in the outfield during spring training ahead of the 2017 season. Reyes, who has been in the majors over parts of 14 seasons, hasn’t logged any time in the outfield as a professional baseball player.
Despite Reyes’ involvement in a domestic violence issue last offseason, the Mets acquired him after the Rockies released him in June, following a 51-game suspension. He hit .267/.326/.443 with 25 extra-base hits, 24 RBI, and 45 runs scored in 279 plate appearances, spending most of his time at third base in place of the injured David Wright.
The Mets’ outfield is set with Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto plus one of Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce. Reyes and Juan Lagares would serve as backups.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.