Michael Saunders to Phillies: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

January 16, 2017 by  
Filed under Fan News

Free-agent outfielder Michael Saunders has agreed to a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies, the team announced on Thursday. 

Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported the news on Jan. 16. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports later reported the deal is worth $9 million with a club option worth $11 million and can be worth as much as $14 million with escalators.

On Tuesday, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported Saunders is expected to take a physical with the Phillies in the next day or two to finalize the deal. Crasnick noted the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays were also in on the outfielder, while the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks had interest as well.

Saunders picked a good time to become a free agent, as his 2016 season with the Blue Jays was his best season in Major League Baseball. Last year marked the first time in his career that he played at least 140 games, with the offensive result showing he warranted the additional playing time that Blue Jays manager John Gibbons afforded him. 


Per Dirk Hayhurst of TSN, one of the big reasons for Saunders’ 2016 breakout was a mechanical change in his swing:

Before coming to the Jays, Saunders’ hands were at a resting position above his shoulders, hovering. Now they’ve come down to the shoulders and as a result, Saunders’ swing is shorter and faster to the ball. His swing also has more trunk and less arms involved in the process. The payout is that Saunders’ power-to-plate coverage ratio has increased. He’s taking the ball out all over the park, and hitting more pitches in the strike zone, especially down and away.

Because there’s a clear mechanical change to explain why he performed better in 2016 than he had at least since 2014, there’s no reason to believe he can’t be an above-average hitter for his new team. 


Heading into his age-30 season, Saunders was one of those under-the-radar sluggers who wasn’t going to break the bank for his new team and can provide middle-of-the-order production. 

The Blue Jays helped give him an opportunity to shine because he was hitting around stars like Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion. He made himself into more than just someone who could take some of the runs batted in they set up for him by getting on base so frequently. 

Finding power is a luxury in MLB, especially in free agency, where teams will often pay top dollar for it. Saunders is a well-rounded hitter who can get on base at a solid clip and will hit 20-plus homers if he can stay on the field. He should provide some pop to a Phillies outfield that looks sorely in need with spring training not far off in the horizon.   

It all adds up to a solid addition for the Phillies in an offseason without great depth in free agency. 

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Odubel Herrera, Phillies Agree to New Contract: Latest Details, Reaction

December 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Fan News

Any thoughts the Philadelphia Phillies had about trading Odubel Herrera have likely gone away after the All-Star center fielder signed a contract extension with the team.

The Phillies announced the five-year extension Thursday.

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported the contract will pay Herrera $30.5 million in guarantees and includes option years for 2022 and 2023.

There had been some speculation about the Phillies exploring trade options for Herrera this offseason. T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reported during the winter meetings the team “might be willing” to deal the 24-year-old. 

Herrera has been a pleasant surprise in two seasons with the Phillies. He was a Rule 5 draft pick in December 2014 after the Texas Rangers kept him off their 40-man roster because they didn’t have a spot available for him. 

With the Phillies embracing a full-scale rebuild, Herrera made the team’s Opening Day roster. He put together a solid debut season with a .297/.344/.418 slash line in 147 games. 

Herrera was even better in 2016, posting a .286/.361/.420 slash line with 15 home runs, 25 stolen bases and 4.2 wins above replacement, per Baseball-Reference.com. He was named to the National League All-Star team for his efforts. 

MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin noted Herrera’s eight wins above replacement in his first two seasons with the Phillies is the second-best mark in team history, trailing only Dick Allen’s 8.8 in 1964-65.

The Phillies’ commitment to Herrera is the latest sign this franchise is heading in the right direction. It’s going to take more time for the farm system, which MLB.com ranked seventh coming into 2016, to release all of its treasures like shortstop J.P. Crawford and outfielder Nick Williams. 

Herrera is a key piece of the foundation in Philadelphia and will be part of the next great wave of Phillies baseball after signing a long-term extension with the franchise.

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Terry Ryan Hired as Phillies Special Assignment Scout: Latest Details, Reaction

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Fan News

Terry Ryan needed only five months to find a new job, with the Philadelphia Phillies hiring the former general manager as a special assignment scout. 

The Phillies announced Ryan’s hiring in a press release on their official website. 

“I have known Terry for more than a decade and have enormous respect for all that he accomplished during his tenure with the Twins,” Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said in the release. “Terry’s work ethic, loyalty and track record as a talent evaluator are simply unparalleled in our game.”

Ryan previously worked with the Minnesota Twins, serving 19 years as general manager in two different stints from 1994 to 2007 and 2012 to 2016. He helped lead the franchise to four American League Central titles between 2002 and 2006, including an appearance in the American League Championship Series in 2002. 

The Twins became one of the American League’s worst teams since 2011, losing at least 92 games five times in the previous six seasons. The team fired Ryan in July due to a reported disagreement with owner Jim Pohlad over how to go about improving the club, per Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.

The role of a special assignment scout can vary depending on the team. Typically, he will be used as one of the last channels of communication to a general manager before the GM decides to make a talent acquisition. 

Even though things fell apart with the Twins, Ryan did oversee a front office that led to the franchise having the best farm system in MLB before the 2014 season, with talent like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano among the top prospects. 

The Phillies are still in rebuilding mode with a promising farm system that will likely start to pay dividends as soon as 2017. Adding another sharp scouting mind to the mix like Ryan will ensure the talent pipeline in Philadelphia continues to stay strong. 

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Jeremy Hellickson Accepts Phillies’ Qualifying Offer: Contract Details, Reaction

November 14, 2016 by  
Filed under Fan News

After having his best season while with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2016, Jeremy Hellickson has decided to extend that partnership by accepting the team’s $17.2 million qualifying offer.  

The Phillies announced the news on Monday after Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball first reported the decision.

Hellickson’s 2016 season flew under the radar because the Phillies were bad, but he quietly turned in the best season of his seven-year career.

One of the big keys for Hellickson’s success last season was staying healthy, which has been a problem for him since 2014, and something he acknowledged in September. 

“I’ve felt good every time out,” Hellickson said, via Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. “Felt good in between starts. I’m recovering like I was early in my career.”

Hellickson doesn’t have top-of-the-rotation stuff with a fastball that FanGraphs clocked at an average of 90.0 mph in 2016, but he’s able to find different ways to succeed without posting gaudy strikeout numbers. 

His ground-ball percentage each of the last two seasons has been over 40 percent, per FanGraphs. The difference between his 2015 and 2016 performances was he got out of the hitter-friendly confines afforded by the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chase Field. 

With the Phillies still in a rebuilding mode but boasting talent at the MLB level like Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera with more coming through the pipeline, like shortstop J.P. Crawford, it’s not inconceivable that there will be a return to relevance soon. 

Starting pitching was an area the Phillies were severely lacking last season. Hellickson and Jerad Eickhoff were the only pitchers to make at least 25 starts and total over 135 innings.

For Hellickson, still just 29 years old, remaining with a franchise that helped him turn in his best season as they continue to add talent and get better makes sense. He will be a stabilizing force in the rotation for the Phillies as they continue to look for those key pieces that will help them become a dominant force in the National League East. 

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Phillies Prospect Matt Imhof Loses Eye in Accident During Training Session

June 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Matt Imhof lost his right eye in a training accident last Saturday.

Imhof explained the situation in an Instagram post:

As many of you know on Friday June 25th I had an accident. A large price of metal hit me in the head/eye resulting in a fractured nose, 2 fractured orbital bones, and most significantly, the loss of vision in my right eye. I was immediately taken to the ER and then transferred to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the #1 eye hospital in the world. That night, the doctors informed me that the damage to my eye was extreme and essentially that my eye had been crushed like a grape. The doctors told me they were going to do everything possible to reconstruct it but in all likelihood I would never regain sight in my right eye. The first surgery was somewhat a success but overall nothing had changed, so after discussions with my family and my doctors, it was decided that the best chance I had to live a normal life was to have my right eye removed and have a prosthetic one put in. This decision was not an easy one to make but to me it seemed like the right one so on Tuesday afternoon I went forward with the surgery. I’m currently still in Miami recovering from surgery but I’m doing well. This has been the hardest week of my life but I’ve had amazing support from my family and friends to help me get through it. For those who have been wishing me well, your support has not gone unnoticed and I appreciate everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers. I had the best doctors in the world doing their best work on me and for that I am grateful as well. Although this injury has been tough it could have been much worse…I’m lucky to still have vision in my left eye…I’m lucky that i didn’t have brain damage…and I’m lucky to be surrounded my the most loving and understanding people in the world. I just wanted to write this message to let everyone know that even though I suffered some bad luck, I’m not dead. I’m gonna be alright, I’m gonna persevere, and I’m gonna succeed. It takes more than this to bring me down. Again thanks to everyone for the support .

CSNPhilly.com noted the accident occurred during a “postgame stretching routine.”

The 22-year-old Imhof was in his second full season of professional baseball after being a second-round pick in 2014. He was pitching in High-A Clearwater before his injury, posting a 3.91 ERA with 48 strikeouts and 43 walks in 53 innings.

Even though Imhof’s stock had dropped off in the last year because of his command struggles, he was regarded as a potential back-end starter who could move quickly as recently as 2015.

Here is what MLB.com said about Imhof in 2015, when he ranked as the Phillies’ 19th-best prospect:

Imhof has a solid three-pitch mix and a good feel for pitching. He throws his fastball in the upper 80s to low 90s. The pitch plays up, thanks to its natural cutting action and the downhill angle he throws from. His breaking ball can be an out pitch, and he also mixes in a changeup.

Though Imhof doesn’t have premium stuff, he was one of the top strikeout pitchers in the country as a junior at Cal Poly. If he can rediscover that success in the Minor Leagues, he could start advancing quickly.

This doesn’t necessarily spell the end of his pitching career. Los Angeles Dodgers phenom Julio Urias has vision problems in his left eye, yet he is doing OK for himself.

Hopefully things work out for Imhof in the future, whatever he decides to do.

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Charlie Morton Injury: Updates on Phillies SP’s Hamstring and Recovery

April 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Charlie Morton will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a hamstring injury on April 23.   

Continue for updates.

Morton Out for 6-8 Months

Wednesday, April 27

The Phillies announced that Morton’s MRI revealed a torn left hamstring that will keep him out for six to eight months. 

MLB.com provided video of Morton’s injury, which occurred after he laid down a sacrifice bunt in the top of the second inning against the Milwaukee Brewers:

The loss of Morton is a huge blow to the Phillies, who are rebuilding and have a collection of starting pitchers trying to rebuild their value (Jeremy Hellickson) or establish themselves in the big leagues (Aaron Nola and Vincent Velasquez).

Morton was in the former category, coming off a bad 2015 in which he posted a 4.81 ERA in 23 starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He could have been a potential trade chip for the Phillies this summer as a back-end starter who is only making $8 million with a mutual option for 2017.

Even with lowered expectations in Philadelphia as the team starts to build for its future, Morton’s injury will alter plans for the Phillies this year. 

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Mark Appel to Phillies: Latest Trade Details and Scouting Report

December 12, 2015 by  
Filed under Fan News

In a surprise twist to a deal that was reported earlier this week, the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies pulled a sleight of hand with 2013 No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel going to the Phillies as part of the Ken Giles trade. 

The deal was made official on Saturday, with the Phillies’ Twitter account confirming Appel as one of five players coming to the team. 

Appel has had a brutal stretch in the minors since Houston took him with the top pick two years ago. He owns a 5.12 ERA with 280 hits allowed, 221 strikeouts and 84 walks in 253 innings. The Astros did promote him to Triple-A last season, but his results continue to lag behind his stuff. 

MLB.com had Appel ranked as the No. 43 overall prospect coming into 2015, highlighting his power stuff while expressing confusion at why the results have never matched: 

Appel’s first half struggles in 2014 were difficult to explain, as his stuff never regressed. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, routinely reaching 98 mph. His changeup and slider give him a pair of above-average secondary pitches.

Appel has a good understanding of pitching and controls his whole arsenal effectively. His all-around package still gives him the chance to become a frontline starter in the big leagues.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark did note that people within baseball no longer see Appel as a future star, making it easier for the Astros to deal him, but this is a clear buy-low situation for the Phillies: 

The Astros failed to unlock what Appel showed at Stanford and convert it to success in professional baseball.

The Phillies can give the right-hander a low-pressure spotlight because they are rebuilding, let him re-establish himself in the minors early next year before giving him a shot in the big leagues next June. 

Appel is not far removed from being the top player taken in a draft that also included Kris Bryant. He may never live up to that billing, yet the 24-year-old has the kind of arm and stuff that every team can dream about. 

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Peter Bourjos to Phillies: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

December 2, 2015 by  
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Needing depth for their rebuilding roster in 2016, the Philadelphia Phillies claimed outfielder Peter Bourjos off waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday. 

Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reported the move. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com added the Phillies avoided arbitration with Bourjos by signing him to a one-year contract.    

Bourjos was originally drafted and developed by the Los Angeles Angels, making his MLB debut in 2010. He became an everyday player in 2011, appearing in 147 games and hitting .271/.327/.438 with 49 extra-base hits and playing stellar defense with 12 runs saved, per FanGraphs, in center field. 

Since that breakout season, however, Bourjos has never been able to hit at the same level. Injuries hampered him along the way, as the Illinois native appeared in 156 games from 2012-13 and needed wrist surgery in September 2013. 

The Angels dealt Bourjos to St. Louis prior to the 2014 season. His offensive struggles continued and limited him to 236 games during that stretch. He posted OPS totals below .650 in each of his two years with the Cardinals. 

Going to Philadelphia is a perfect scenario for the 28-year-old Bourjos. The team will not be competing for a playoff spot this year as the front office continues to build through the minors, so he can play without fear of being demoted and work on showing his bat will play in the big leagues. 

In an ideal scenario for both Bourjos and the Phillies, he will rebuild his value early enough in the year to convince a team it should trade for him at the deadline if it needs help in the outfield. He’s a strong glove in center, so his bat doesn’t need to be great to provide value. 

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Matt Klentak Named Phillies General Manager and Vice President

October 24, 2015 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies‘ search for a new vice president and general manager is over, as the team announced the hiring of Matt Klentak on Monday morning.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe first reported Klentak’s hiring on Saturday, which ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick confirmed at the time.

The Phillies were in the market for a general manager after announcing Sept. 10 they would not be renewing the contract of Ruben Amaro Jr., who had been in charge since November 2008.

Andy MacPhail, who is entering his first offseason with the Phillies as president of baseball operations, said when the search for a new general manager started that the organization wanted to cast a big net to ensure it brought in the best person for the job, per Jack McCaffery of the Delaware County Daily Times:

I would think it would be a mistake if we pigeon-hole ourselves into saying, “We’re going to go for young analytics,” or “We’re going to go for an experienced baseball guy.” I see that out there with other clubs. Why would you restrict your ability to talk to whoever you want? I think you have a responsibility, like I said two months ago, to look at everything.

Klentak previously worked with MacPhail in Baltimore. He spent the past four seasons as an assistant general manager with the Los Angeles Angels under Jerry Dipoto and interviewed for their GM vacancy after Dipoto resigned in July. 

A new era of Phillies baseball has arrived, and there are many reasons to be optimistic despite a 63-99 record in 2015. They were able to integrate young, promising talent like Aaron Nola and Maikel Franco into the big leagues this season. 

There should be more high-upside talent on the way, such as shortstop J.P. Crawford, and MacPhail and Klentak can shape the roster in its image with the winter meetings approaching in December. 

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Phillies GM Search: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation Surrounding Vacant Position

October 9, 2015 by  
Filed under Fan News

In the wave of personnel changes in Major League Baseball since the season ended, the Philadelphia Phillies have been quiet in their pursuit of a new general manager, until now.

Continue for updates. 

Phillies Setting Up Interviews

Friday, Oct. 9

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Phillies have scheduled interviews with MLB senior vice president of baseball operations Kim Ng and Cleveland Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins for their vacant GM position. 

Heyman’s report mentions that former Marlins general manager Larry Beinfest has already interviewed with the team and other candidates could be in play as Phillies president Pat Gillick tries to get the right person for the job. 

Former general manager Ruben Amaro lost his job when the Phillies decided not to renew his contract after the season. 

Ng is the most unique candidate because she has interviewed for GM jobs in the past, including having two interviews with the San Diego Padres last year before the team hired A.J. Preller. She is seeking to become the first female general manager in this country’s major sports. 

Heyman also noted that MLB “isn’t thrilled” with the lack of minority candidates interviewing for any openings, with commissioner Rob Manfred quoted in the piece as saying, “diversity…is a high priority for MLB.”

Manfred did add that he was “comfortable” with decisions made by clubs in the past, hiring the person they viewed as the best and most qualified for the job. 

The Phillies are in a unique situation because they have torn everything down and are trying to build it back up. There are still problematic contracts on the roster, notably Ryan Howard, but last year was the first time it appeared there was a conscious effort to replenish the farm system and get younger. 

Philadelphia’s MLB results didn’t look good, posting the league’s worst record (63-99), but the new general manager will walk into a job with some young talent (Aaron Nola, Maikel Franco) in the big leagues and a lot more—notably, shortstop J.P. Crawfordcoming through the system. 

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