Giancarlo Stanton expects to begin minor league rehab assignment Wednesday

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There may still be a reason to pay attention the Marlins over the final two months of the season, as Giancarlo Stanton’s return from right knee surgery is just around the corner.

According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, Stanton expects to begin a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday with High-A Jupiter.

Stanton underwent surgery on July 8 to remove loose bone and cartilage fragments from his right knee. He believes he’ll need about four or five rehab games in anticipation of a possible return on August 10 against the Dodgers when the Marlins begin a six-game homestand.

Stanton, 22, is hitting .284/.364/.554 with 19 home runs, 50 RBI and a .919 OPS in 80 games this season. The Marlins are 4-11 since his last game on July 7 and have traded Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante during his absence. We could see more deals before Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.