Cliff Lee is officially a free agent, as the Phillies declined the former Cy Young winner’s $27.5 million option for 2016 and instead paid him a $12.5 million buyout.
Lee missed all of 2015 after suffering a torn flexor tendon in spring training and was also limited to just 13 starts in 2014. At age 37 it’s hard to imagine Lee securing a guaranteed multi-year contract on the open market, but contending teams might pursue him with incentive-laden one-year deals. However, because he opted not to undergo surgery Lee may simply retire.
Lee went 41-30 with a 2.89 ERA in 106 starts during his second go-around with the Phillies after signing a five-year, $120 million deal in December of 2010.
Making official what was reported over the weekend, longtime Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has joined the Red Sox as first base coach.
Going from the front office to the field is an uncommon move and doubly so in this case because Amaro has been in the Phillies’ front office–first as assistant GM under Pat Gillick and then as GM–since retiring as a player way back in 1998.
With that said, he’s still just 50 years old and it’s possible that this is the first step toward Amaro some day becoming a manager. He very quickly reached the highest level of the front office and now he’ll try to do the same in an on-field role, which is a fascinating change of direction.
In addition to serving as first base coach the Red Sox announced that Amaro will also be their outfield instructor. He played eight seasons in the majors as a part-time outfielder for the Phillies, Indians, and Angels and also spent parts of 10 seasons in the minors, where Amaro hit .300 with a .400 on-base percentage and more walks than strikeouts and lots of speed.
Domonic Brown was a 25-year-old All-Star in 2013, hitting .272 with 27 homers and an .818 OPS. Today the Phillies dropped him from the 40-man roster and Brown passed through waivers unclaimed by the other 29 teams.
Brown is still just 28 years old and under team control through 2017, but the former top prospect made $2.6 million this season and would be in line for similar money next year via arbitration.
That’s not exactly a huge investment, but Brown hit just .233 with 15 homers and a .634 OPS in 207 games during the past two seasons and any teams interested in picking him up as a reclamation project probably figures they can get him on the cheap as a free agent.
It’s a rapid fall from grace, but he should be able to snag a part-time job for 2016 and is still plenty young enough to get back on track.
Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr hit a ball about 200 feet but it turned into an inside-the-park grand slam against Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals on Friday evening. The Phillies loaded the bases on a walk by Brian Bogusevic, a single by Cameron Rupp, and a bunt single by Jerad Eickhoff. After Freddy Galvis popped out to center field, Altherr stepped to the plate.
Altherr hit a sinking liner right in front of center fielder Michael Taylor, who dove for it but cleanly missed it. The ball skipped towards the fence. Not only did all three runners on base score, but Altherr scored as well without a throw. As FOX Sports on Twitter notes, it’s the first inside-the-park grand slam since Randy Winn in 1999 against the Yankees as a member of the Devil Rays.
Altherr tacked on an outside-the-park solo home run in the fifth inning to boost the Phillies’ lead to 5-1. The outfielder, on the season, is hitting .238/.322/.514 with five home runs and 16 RBI in 121 plate appearances.
ESPN Stats & Info, citing the Elias Sports Bureau, notes that Altherr is the first to have an inside-the-park grand slam and an outside-the-park home run in the same game since 1987.
New team president Andy McPhail hasn’t decided on Ruben Amaro Jr.’s replacement as Phillies general manager yet, but he has decided that Pete Mackanin will stick around as manager.
Mackanin, who replaced Ryne Sandberg as manager in late June on an interim basis, has signed a contract extension for the 2016 season that also includes a team option for 2017.
Mackanin took over a team that was 26-48 under Sandberg and has managed them to a similar 30-46 record. Beginning in mid-July there was a month-long stretch in which the Phillies were playing really good baseball, but they’ve now lost 20 of their last 26 games to limp to the finish line.
As a 64-year-old baseball lifer Mackanin has played, coached, and managed for a bunch of different organizations, including three stints as an interim manager in the big leagues, but this is his first opportunity as a full-time MLB manager. MacPhail signing Mackanin to an extension before picking a new GM makes it pretty clear he’ll be truly calling the shots in the Phillies’ front office regardless of who’s chosen as Amaro’s replacement.