Report: Diamondbacks aiming for ‘premier’ starting pitcher

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UPDATE: A deal could still happen, but if it does, Justin Upton will NOT be involved.

3:22 AMThat’s the word from FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. He doesn’t know who it is they’re targeting, but he believes they might be willing to use Justin Upton and/or a top pitching prospect to get it done.

There’s maybe only one possibly available starter in baseball worth both Upton and an arm from the group of Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley, but the Mariners keep saying that they aren’t trading Felix Hernandez. The Diamondbacks would likely be aiming for a young, cost-controlled starter, but any team willing to trade one of them might not be interested in taking on Upton’s salary.

So, who could it be? Tampa Bay’s James Shields? I don’t think he fits the bill here. Jeremy Hellickson might be more to Arizona’s tastes, but the Rays can’t really afford to pair both Uptons and they’re isn’t much incentive for them to trade Hellickson for two top pitching prospects when they have plenty of pitching as is.

Boston’s Jon Lester? That might make sense, given that the Red Sox have asked about Upton in the past, and he shouldn’t require one of those elite pitching prospects to be involved.

Oakland’s Jarrod Parker? It’d be awfully interesting, given that Parker was a Diamondback before being shipped off for Trevor Cahill. Parker doesn’t fit as a “premier” pitcher just yet, but he’s an extremely valuable property, and the A’s have been looking for a big bat after flirting with Hanley Ramirez.

Miami’s Josh Johnson? The word is that the Marlins aren’t moving him, and besides, he doesn’t rate that big of a return when he’s making close to his market value through free agency.

Philadelphia’s Cliff Lee? Lee only has big-time trade value if the Phillies swallow a whole bunch of the $25 million per year he’s due through 2015. Lee for Upton would make some sense on the surface, but that’d be a whole lot of money for Arizona to take on. I’d rather have Upton.

Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo? The Brewers bled a lot of talent trying to make their run in 2011, and they could use an infusion. I don’t think Upton would fit in here, but if the Diamondbacks are willing to give up two of their big three pitching prospects, the Brewers would have to take a long, hard look at such a deal. Gallardo and Hellickson are the two pitchers here (Felix, too, if he counts) that would be worth two from the group of Bauer, Skaggs and Bradley.

Phillies promote Chris Young to pitching coach position

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Chris Young joined the Phillies as their assistant pitching coach last offseason. This offseason he’s getting a promotion: the Phillies just named as their main (um, top? lead? alpha?) pitching coach for the 2019 season. He replaces Rick Kranitz.

Ken Rosenthal, who reported the promotion, says that the Phillies didn’t necessarily want to shake up their pitching coach situation, but that since several clubs wanted to hire Young away, it was either promote him to the top job or lose him. That’s bad news for Kranitz, but he remains under contract for 2019 and will, in the meantime, be allowed to interview elsewhere.

The Phillies pitching staff ranked 11th in runs allowed in the National League in 2018. They were tenth the year before that, but some early season uncertainty and mismanagement by Gabe Kapler and a late season collapse served to hide what was, for most of the season, a bit of a better staff than the year before. The Phillies obviously credit Young for that and want to keep him in the fold.