First, the Phillies did, in fact, offer starter Jeremy Hellickson the $17.2MM qualifying offer. Surprisingly, he accepted it. I'm glad this move worked out for the Phillies. Obviously there's a risk of injury and/ or regression, but if Jeremy does even 70-80% as well as last year, it'll be a win for the Phillies. If he didn't accept, I would have stood by what I said earlier: we need[ed] to resign him to a 2-3-year deal.
The Phillies were able to shore up their offense by adding Howie Kendrick in a trade with the Dodgers for Darin Ruf & Darnell Sweeney. Ruf, 30, has been shuttled back and forth between Allentown and Philly the last 4 years. He got opportunities, albiet not lengthy ones, but failed to capitalize on the chances he was given. The 25-year-old Sweeney, oddly enough, is back with the Dodgers. Darnell was part of the deal that sent Chase Utley to them and Sweeney got the call as soon as he arrived. Both players spent most/ all of 2016 in AAA. Kendrick played for the Angels and the Dodgers. His playing time cut last year, he became a utility player (2B, OF, 1B?) and suffered a bit - most notable is his BABIP last year was .300: a great number by the usual standard (.275-.305 for most) but down from a career .335-.340 BABIP. He'll play LF this year and possibly some IF when Crawford comes up. CF goes to Hererra and RF is open.
The Phillies also shored up their bullpen but more is needed. They traded money or a player to be named later for Pat Neshek. so he joins Gomez, Neris, Ramos, and others. The core was overused but did well enough that only a few depth moves will suffice. Neshek is a great start. But guess who's available? Good Ole' Kentucky Joe Blanton. Remember him? He reinvented himself as a reliever and middle relief (innings 5-7) is something the Phillies need. I'd say go for it, despite the need to move on from 2008.
And my phinal piece of news - the Pharm system: MLB, as I may have mentioned in an earlier post but no doubt you heard, has ranked our Pharm No. 1 in the majors. Here's one reason why we deserve it - we have 13 top-30 players requiring protection from the Rule 5 draft (Friday deadline):
3. Nick Williams, OF
6. Dylan Cozens, OF
10. Mark Appel, RHP
11. Andrew Knapp, C
15. Ricardo Pinto, RHP
17. Nick Pivetta, RHP
19. Elniery Garcia, LHP
21. Malquin Canelo, SS
22. Carlos Tocci, OF
23. Ben Lively, RHP
26. Jose Pujols, OF
28. Alberto Tirado, RHP
29. Deivi Grullon, C
Thanks to MLB prospects expert J. Mayo for this list. We have about 24 hours to decide who to protect (8-choose-13 - a great problem to have):
- OF: There is no need for Tocci given his age (21 Y.O.). I think with Williams and Cozens, we're pretty much set, which leaves Pujols out. I don't think Jose will be taken by another team.
- C: Knapp is a lock and with Ellis worth re-signing and Rupp & Alfaro here, there's really no room for Grullon.
- IF: Despite Crawford not needing protection, his prominence and proximity to the majors prevents the Phils from protecting Canelo.
- LHP: Garcia, being the only lefty on this list, is a lock to be protected.
- RHP: Lively, a starter, is a sure lock and could even make the team out of Spring Training. Appel, also a starter, didn't do so well. Leaving him off will be a low (but non-zero) risk option. Pivetta has done very well and is worth keeping, making it a battle of Pinto vs. Tirado.