Phillies release veteran starter Joel Pineiro

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Philadelphia signed Joel Pineiro to a minor-league contract in January, but a three-week look at the veteran right-hander was all they needed to determine he wasn’t worth keeping around.

Today they released Pineiro, who made $8 million from the Angels in each of the past two seasons and would have gotten $1.5 million from the Phillies had he cracked the Opening Day roster.

Pineiro had the ability to opt out of the minor-league deal and become a free agent again if he wasn’t added to the 40-man roster by March 31, so the Phillies are basically just giving him a little extra time to latch on elsewhere.

He posted an ugly 5.13 ERA in 146 innings last season, managing just 3.8 strikeouts per nine innings, but Pineiro did have a 3.64 ERA in 366 innings between 2009 and 2010. At age 32 there’s a decent chance he makes it back to the majors, but the Phillies aren’t exactly hurting for rotation depth.

Report: Padres interested in Maikel Franco

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The Padres may have some interest in acquiring Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, according to a recent report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems unlikely that the team would deal their starting third baseman with J.P. Crawford (fractured left hand) sidelined through July; to that end, however, they signed infielder Danny Espinosa as minor league depth on Friday and have reportedly been eying the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre, among other veteran options.

Franco, 25, entered Sunday batting .255/.297/.425 with nine home runs and a .721 OPS in 229 plate appearances this season. While he has yet to live up to the .280+ average, 1.9+ fWAR he posted during his rookie campaign, he’s been a solid 20+ home run producer over the last few years and shown some stability at the hot corner. He’s also under team control for the next three years and could provide some much-needed insurance behind the Padres’ current third base option, 27-year-old Christian Villanueva.

Rosenthal notes that the Phillies could strike a deal for one of San Diego’s relievers, though no one specific has been connected to the team yet — and the club probably wouldn’t be able to finesse a one-for-one deal given the quality of the Padres’ pitchers. The Phillies’ bullpen has looked downright abysmal over the last month, placing 11th-worst in the league with a collective 5.34 ERA and 0.3 fWAR. Their failure to procure a viable reliever beyond Seranthony Dominguez, Victor Arano and Edubray Ramos lends a certain urgency to any potential deal they make over the next few weeks, though the official trade deadline is still over a month away.