Phillies rebuild not off to a smashing start

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Phillies GM Ruben Amaro was burnt the first time he ever had to sell, giving Cliff Lee away to the Mariners for three modest prospects, none of whom have made any sort of contribution so far, after the 2009 season. Take two isn’t looking like a big success either, as he doesn’t appear to have gotten any potential stars in return for two-thirds of his outfield in Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino today.

Pence was sent to the Giants for catcher Tommy Joseph, outfielder Nate Schierholtz and right-hander Seth Rosin, a return that pales in comparison to the package of first baseman Jonathan Singleton, right-hander Jarred Cosart, outfielder Domingo Santana and right-hander Josh Zied that they gave up to get him from Houston a year ago.

Joseph, who is hitting .260/.313/.391 as a 20-year-old in Double-A this year (he turned 21 two weeks ago), is a fine prospect with a chance to be a perfectly solid starting catcher come 2014. That’s good timing for the Phillies, since Carlos Ruiz will be a free agent after 2013. However, Ruiz is a fan favorite having an outstanding year, and even though he’ll be 35 in 2014, there’s a good chance the Phillies will want to keep him around. Plus, while Joseph is the better bet, the Phillies already had a pretty good Double-A catching prospect in Sebastian Valle. Certainly, having an extra catcher is a good thing, but Joseph lacks All-Star potential and wasn’t the ideal centerpiece here.

The Phillies know what they’re getting in Schierholtz, a 28-year-old who has hit .270/.319/.412 in 1,209 major league at-bats. Because he’s a very good defensive right fielder, he’s a reasonable option as a platoon starter against right-handers. But he’s a complementary player, and guys like him aren’t hard to come by in free agency. The Phillies will probably pay him close to $2 million in arbitration next year.

Rosin, a 2010 fourth-round pick, didn’t rank among the Giants’ better prospects. He had a 4.31 ERA in five starts and 29 relief appearances for Single-A San Jose this season.

Victorino was traded to the Dodgers for right-handers Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin. I like Lindblom despite his weak peripherals, but as a flyball pitcher, he’s not a great fit in Citizens Bank Park. I still think he’ll prove to be a fine setup man in front of Jonathan Papelbon. The 25-year-old has a 3.02 ERA in 47 2/3 innings out of the pen for the Dodgers this year. Because he’s given up nine homers, he has a FIP of 5.05.

Martin, a 2008 first-round pick, is a long shot, though the 23-year-old has managed to bring his walk rate down to a reasonable level while going 8-6 with a 3.58 ERA and a 112/61 K/BB in 118 IP for Double-A Chattanooga this year. Odds are that he’ll be a reliever if he does make it.

In a vacuum, that’s still a pretty good return for two months of Victorino. Still, it’s only so much better than the supplemental first-round pick than they would have gotten had he left in free agency this winter. The haul for Pence wasn’t impressive, and it’s clear that his likely $14 million salary in arbitration next year scared off some suitors. That’s not Amaro’s fault; he just gave up too much to get Pence in the first place.

Report: Martinez, Nationals agree to contract extension

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WASHINGTON — Manager Dave Martinez and the Washington Nationals have agreed to work out a contract extension that will keep him in charge of the club beyond next season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

The person confirmed the news to The Associated Press on Friday on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made.

Martinez led the Nationals to the franchise’s first World Series championship in 2019, his second season as the team’s skipper.

When he initially was hired, Martinez signed a three-year deal with a club option for 2021 that had not yet been picked up by the Nationals.

After a title defense slowed by injuries and inconsistency during a 60-game season delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, Washington was 23-34 and last in the NL East before facing the New York Mets on Friday night.

It’s the second game of a season-ending four-game series at Nationals Park.

Martinez was sporting his World Series ring on his right hand when he spoke to reporters via a video chat before word emerged Friday afternoon of a change to his contract.

“The coaching staff and myself decided to wear it for the last week of the season, so we’ve been wearing it this whole week. It’s kind of cool,” Martinez said about his ring. “Come Sunday, it goes off and goes back in its little shiny box. But it’s kind of nice to look down and look at it.”

Asked earlier in the week whether he would like his up-in-the-air contract status resolved before the season ends, Martinez said his agent and Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo had been discussing the matter.

“I love it here. I don’t see myself going anywhere else,” Martinez said then. “I appreciate the family. I appreciate this organization. We’ve built a special relationship here, so I hope I get a chance to stay for many, many years.”

Then he paused for five seconds before adding: “The sooner, the better, though.”