The Phillies this afternoon outrighted Brown from the 40-man roster, effectively ending his nine-year career with the organization. Brown, 28, made the 2013 National League All-Star team, three years after he had been considered one of the top prospects in baseball, but he had struggled since.
Brown had a .650 OPS from the 2013 All-Star break through this season, which ranked 289th out of 339 qualified hitters in baseball, and 16th lowest among 133 outfielders. That, combined with the emergence of other outfielders in the system and his second year of salary-arbitration eligibility, made his departure a certainty. Brown has the right to decline an assignment to the Minor Leagues and become a free agent, which is expected.
“It just didn’t work out,” interim general manager Scott Proefrock said. “We’ve decided we’ve got players who deserve the playing time more than Domonic does.”
The Phillies also outrighted prospects Tommy Joseph and Kelly Dugan and outfielder Brian Bogusevic. The Phillies acquired Joseph in July 2012 from the Giants in the Hunter Pence trade, but concussions derailed a promising catching career. Joseph, who remains under the Phillies’ control next season, moved to first base this year, and the Phillies remain hopeful he can produce enough offensively to become an option at first base in the future.
“There’s an opportunity here, if he can swing the bat and play the position,” Proefrock said. “We don’t really have a first baseman at the upper levels.”
Dugan, the Phillies’ top pick in the 2009 Draft, had been saddled with injuries and was passed on the depth chart by other outfielders. He can become a Minor League free agent five days after the World Series. Bogusevic, like Brown, can immediately become a free agent.
Brown’s exodus is the most notable of the Phillies’ latest roster purge. Just a few years ago, the Phillies believed they had a superstar in the making in the 20th-round selection in the 2006 Draft. But other than a strong first half in 2013, Brown never lived up to the hype.
He was ranked No. 4 among all prospects in 2011. Two of the three players ranked ahead of him were the Angels’ Mike Trout (No. 1) and the Nationals’ Bryce Harper (No. 3).
Today’s announcement follows another two weeks ago when the Phillies outrighted right-hander Justin De Fratus, infielder Chase d’Arnaud, outfielder Jordan Danks, catcher Erik Kratz and left-handers Adam Loewen and Ken Roberts. Right-hander Jonathan Pettibone also was outrighted after being activated from the 60-day disabled list.
The transition is official.
The Phillies announced this morning that Andy MacPhail has officially replaced Pat Gillick as team president. He had been introduced as the incoming president at a news conference in June, but with the caveat that Gillick would remain at the helm through the end of the season.
“As the Phillies begin this new chapter in the club’s history, we are confident that Andy is the right person to lead the organization,” Phillies partner John Middleton said in a statement. “Speaking on behalf of the ownership group, we are pleased with the input Andy has provided over the past few months. His years of baseball knowledge, combined with his passion for the game, are important as he moves forward with his primary objective of developing a championship-caliber team.”
But MacPhail, 62, clearly has not been sitting and waiting for Wednesday to begin making changes. He was very involved before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. He decided Ruben Amaro Jr. would not return as general manager. He also decided Pete Mackanin would remain manager.
MacPhail has been interviewing candidates to replace Amaro, a group that reportedly includes Larry Beinfest, Kim Ng and Ross Atkins. Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo and Angels assistant Matt Klentak also could be candidates, among others.
MacPhail has said he hopes to announce Amaro’s replacement before the end of the month.
Gillick, who replaced David Montgomery as president in Aug. 2014, said last month he did not know about his future with the organization, but Middleton said Gillick will remain for now.
“I would also like to thank Pat Gillick for, once again, providing invaluable leadership to the Phillies for the past 14 months,” Middleton said. “He will continue to assist the front office in an advisory role.”
Gillick, 78, has a small ownership stake with the Phillies, so if he wanted to join a different organization he would have to sell his share.
They announced this afternoon they had outrighted the following players from the roster: right-hander Justin De Fratus; infielder Chase d’Arnaud; outfielder Jordan Danks; catcher Erik Kratz; and left-handers Adam Loewen and Ken Roberts. Right-hander Jonathan Pettibone also was outrighted after being activated from the 60-day disabled list.
“I can’t tell you we would rule out resigning any of these guys,” interim general manager Scott Proefrock said. “We’re just trying to clear up space on the roster. These guys were the first group that we decided to take off.”
De Fratus, Kratz, d’Arnaud and Loewen have the rights to become free agents immediately. De Fratus, Loewen and Kratz were eligible for salary arbitration. Pettibone and Danks can become Minor League free agents five days following the World Series.
Roberts will remain in the Phillies’ system.
De Fratus is the most notable name in the group to be outrighted because he spent the entire season with the team. He went 0-2 with a 5.51 ERA in 61 appearances this season after going 7-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 130 appearances from 2011-14. The Phillies viewed him as a long man by the end of the season, which made the idea of going into salary arbitration with him unappealing.
“We thought there were other guys that had passed him, quite frankly,” Proefrock said.
Expect the roster transformation to continue as the offseason continues.
“I’d say we’re going to be active in continuing this process,” Proefrock said. “We’re trying to get ready for free agency and the other opportunities that present itself in the offseason, whether it be the Rule 5 Draft or Minor League free agents, giving ourselves the best opportunity to be as aggressive as possible as the calendar moves forward.”
Hola, amigos. I know it’s been a while since I last rapped at ya … but I just read Jeremy Affeldt‘s farewell column on SI.com, where he listed the five things he will not miss about baseball.
Fifth on the list? Philadelphia.
Why? The terrible, terrible fans.
Affeldt wrote, “The irony is, while Phillies fans succeed in making many players dread traveling there, they also (not surprisingly) impact the decision-making process of those same players in free agency. Sure, it’s great to play for a rabid fan base, but after experiencing firsthand how powerful that fervor can be when it is channeling extreme negativity, it really makes you think twice about where all that collective anger comes from, and whether you want to subject yourself and your family to that all the time.”
But let’s be real about this. It’s easy to sit in the visitors’ bullpen at Citizens Bank Park and tell your teammate, “I’d never sign here. Not for all the money in the world.” It’s something entirely different to get a competitive offer from the Phillies in the offseason and say, “Nope. Not signing there.”
Affeldt is in the final season of a three-year, $18 million contract. That’s great money for a relief pitcher. Perhaps Affeldt truly is the exception to the rule, but hypothetically speaking if the Giants decided not to resign him following the 2012 season and the Phillies offered him that three-year, $18 million contract, I bet his concerns about Phillies fans would have disappeared. You see, money rules, almost without exception. Jim Thome is one of baseball’s all-time good guys, but he left Cleveland for the mean streets of Philly because the Phillies offered him the biggest contract. Cliff Lee took less money to come to Philly because he loved his time here so much in 2009. Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt waived no-trade clauses to come to Philly because they wanted to win. Raul Ibanez is one of baseball’s all-time good guys. He came to Philly, too.
But this happens everywhere. Not just Philadelphia. Free agents almost always go where the best contract is.
So don’t let Affeldt worry you. There aren’t groups of free agents steering their agents away from Philadelphia because the fans are mean. Are there a few players that might feel this way? Does Philly’s reputation gives some players some pause? I’m sure there are. But quite honestly, those players probably wouldn’t succeed in Philly anyway. If they’re that concerned about the fans then it’s probably for the best.
But to say Phillies fans truly impact the decision-making process in free agency is hyperbole. Believe me, if the money is there or the team is winning (or both, which was the case from 2007-11) the Phillies won’t have any problems signing anybody they want in the future. In fact, I have absolutely no doubt that when the Phillies decide to reenter the free agency pool in a big way they will do just that.
He spoke with reporters before tonight’s series opener against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park, his first time in Philadelphia since the Phillies traded him to the Nationals on July 28 for Double-A pitcher Nick Pivetta. Papelbon said he had no regrets about his time in Philly, specifically, the strong comments he often made about the Phillies, their fans and his desire to be traded.
“If I say something I mean it,” Papelbon said. “I’m not going to take anything back that I’ve ever said or did because I believe that it’s right. I don’t know if I got a bad rap here or whatever, but I can promise you I was far (from) the bad guy on this team. I was one of the few that wanted to actually win and I was one of the few that competed and posted up every day.”
So some folks did not want to win?
“I say it as a team,” Papelbon said.
Papelbon later referred to comments Phillies president Pat Gillick made in the offseason, when he said the Phillies would not compete until 2017 or 2018 at the earliest.
“I think the blame goes all the way from the front office all the way down to the bat boy,” he said. “When you don’t have an organization that wants to win it’s pretty evident when they go out and publicly say, we’re not going to win.”
Asked why Paplebon did not try to show his teammates the winning way, he said, “I did. I tried to do certain things. I tried to bring certain things to attention that would make us better and it just seemed like everything I brought to attention, whether it would be with another veteran or pitcher or infielder or outfielder or another veteran guy, it was just like, to me, it never was accepted in that, hey look, this guy wants to help our team and make us be better. They just kind of all let it fly by the wayside and never really paid attention to what I had to say.”
Papelbon signed a four-year, $50 million contract with the Phillies in Nov. 2011, weeks after the Phillies won a franchise-record 102 games. He went 14-11 with a 2.31 ERA and a franchise-record 123 saves in 234 appearances with the Phillies.
He made two National League All-Star teams with the Phillies. He pitched great. But the Phillies probably will not invite him to Alumni Weekend anytime soon.
“I don’t like the barbeques at the alumni weekend anyway,” he said. “It doesn’t really hurt my feelings. The way I look back on it is I came here as a free agent and I looked to produce day in and day out, and I felt like I did that. We had a lot of injuries and a lot of guys fall by the wayside, but I was still be able to be there and grinding every day and posting up so that’s the way I look at it. It just so happened to be an unfortunate situation where you just lost one game after another.”
Ruben Amaro Jr. became the latest casualty today, when the team announced he will not return as general manager. Amaro served as Pat Gillick’s assistant in 2008. He joins Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels, who were traded in the organization’s rebuilding effort.
“There’s me and Chooch,” Howard said, referring to teammate Carlos Ruiz. “That’s about it. When you come up and you have success with guys – you understand the business aspect of it, you understand things come to an end – but when you’re able to play along Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins or Cole Hamels on a regular basis and build what you’ve been able to build here, yeah, it’s sad to see certain guys go. But at the same time, we understand that’s what happens in the game.
“It’s kind of the same conversation we’ve been having all year. Guys coming and going and all that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, that’s part of the business sometimes. He’s been here since the beginning for me. I wish (Amaro) the best of luck. I appreciate the opportunities that were given to me.”
Scott Proefrock served as Amaro’s assistant general manager since November 2008. He will be interim general manager until Phillies president Andy MacPhail hires a replacement. Proefrock took the news hard, as many in the front office did.
“I was stunned,” he said. “I was surprised the change was made. I know we got a late start on the rebuilding process, but I think we were headed in the right direction. I think we are headed in the right direction. I think we’ve made some positive moves and helped put talent back in the system and a lot of good things are happening in the Minor Leagues. We won three regular season championships in the Minor Leagues.
“Ruben is as much a friend as he was my boss and I owe him a lot. This is not the way I would have liked something like this to happen, but I owe it to the organization to continue what we’ve started in the rebuilding process and keep it going as long as they want me to and go from there.”
MacPhail made a point in his news conference to mention that the first words from Amaro’s mouth when he was told he would not return was to ask about the fate of the people who served underneath him.
“It doesn’t surprise me knowing Ruben and the type of person he is that that would be his first concern,” Proefrock said. “I’ve worked in five different organizations and this is by far the best organization I’ve ever worked in. The way they treat their people, the family atmosphere. I hope I work in this organization for the rest of my career because there’s no place better that I’ve experienced in the game. And I know Ruben was a big part of that.”
Said Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin: “I consider Ruben a friend and it’s a sad day to see him go. I’m not worried about his future in baseball. He is a very talented baseball guy and he’s going to rebound and end up somewhere else, a job that he wants.”
No deal has been finalized, but the teams are moving in that direction. FOXSports.com first reported Wednesday that the Utley trade is “possible today.” CSNPhilly.com reported that if a trade does not happen Wednesday, Utley will remain with the Phillies the remainder of the season.
Trade discussions for Utley had heated up Friday, and the Angels thought they would acquire him before the end of the weekend. But nothing ever happened as Utley has full no-trade rights and can reject any trade.
But things can change with a change of heart or one phone call and talks apparently picked up again Wednesday.
The Phillies placed him on the disabled list today with a broken left wrist, and it seems likely his promising rookie season has ended.
“I don’t think it’s a future issue,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said at Citizens Bank Park. “But we’re going to be cautious with him. We have to be as cautious as we can. He’s too important to us.”
Franco got hit on the wrist with a pitch Aug. 11 in Arizona. X-rays taken that night did not show the fracture and the Phillies believed the injury to be nothing more than a bruise. But as Franco failed to improve in the following days, a MRI exam this week in Philadelphia showed what Amaro described as “a very small, non-displaced fracture of his ulnar styloid,” which is a small bone on the outside of the wrist.
Franco will be in a splint for the next two to three weeks. Amaro said Franco’s recovery could be anywhere from 2-4 weeks, but he also acknowledged it could be longer. Combine the estimated recovery time with the fact there are a little more than six weeks remaining in the season and it seems the Phillies might simply have Franco focus on his health in the coming weeks, and not rush toward a return.
“It’s a big blow,” Amaro said. “He’s having a heck of a year for us. He’s been playing great, a pretty strong force in the middle of the lineup. You can’t do anything about it, a guy got hit and you’ve got to deal with it.”
Franco had hit .277 (82-for-296) with 22 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 48 RBIs and an .830 OPS in 77 games since his promotion from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on May 15. If he had enough plate appearances to quality, he would have the highest OPS among National League rookies.
Cesar Hernandez and Andres Blanco are expected to handle the duties at third base the remainder of the season.
Outfielder Aaron Altherr got recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take Franco’s spot on the roster. Altherr hit a combined .293 (127-for-433) with 32 doubles, five triples, 15 home runs, 67 RBIs and an .854 OPS in 111 games with Double-A Reading and Lehigh Valley. He can play all three outfield positions, so he should have no problem playing during the week.
“He’s going to get a chance to play,” Amaro said. “it’s time to find out a little bit more about Aaron.”
Sources told MLB.com tonight that several teams have made offers for Utley, although no deal is imminent.
The Giants are just one of those teams. San Francisco general manager Bobby Evans confirmed to MLB.com that his team has made an offer for Utley. The Cubs, Dodgers, Angels and Yankees also have pursued him.
One source made one thing clear Thursday: everything is in Utley’s hands. He has 10-and-5 no-trade rights, so he can be traded only if he wants to be traded. If he prefers a team, he can steer the Phillies toward that team. If he does not like what he sees or hears, he can say no.
ESPN.com reported earlier Thursday that Utley wants a playing time guarantee before he goes anywhere. He does not want to ride the bench because he plans to play next season. That makes the Giants’ situation interesting. Utley spends his offseasons in the San Francisco area and the Giants certainly are World Series contenders. But while Giants second baseman Joe Panik is on the disabled list with lower back inflammation, he would expect to play once he is healthy.
It is a small sample size, but in five games since returning from the DL with a sprained right ankle, Utley is hitting .412 (7-for-17) with three doubles, three RBIs and three runs scored. He is hitting .196 with a .564 in 70 games overall, which makes the compensation for Utley an interesting point of discussion. Teams believe Utley can help them, but based on Utley’s performance in the first half they seem unlikely to give up a top prospect for him.
But those who know his thinking say Utley still believes he can play at a high level, and the poor numbers before the All-Star break were the results of his ankle injury and a mechanical flaw in his swing.
Utley has a $15 million club option for 2016 that no longer will vest automatically based on plate appearances. His club option would then drop to $11 million, but the Phillies would be expected to take the $2 million buyout instead. That would make Utley a free agent, and the Phillies are unlikely to resign him because they plan to make Cesar Hernandez their second baseman in 2016.
Utley could be going over his options at this moment. If not, it seems only a matter of time before he does. While nothing seems likely to happen before the end of the night, these things can move quickly.
Asked Sunday in San Diego if he expected to be with the Phillies by the end of the season, Utley said, “Who knows?”
That question could be asked a bit differently at this point: Does he expect to be with the team by next week?
It is a precaution.
Franco got hit on his wrist with a pitch in last night’s 13-1 loss to the D-Backs. He collapsed to the turf behind home plate and he had to be helped off the field. Fortunately for Franco, x-rays were negative and he only suffered a bruise. He said he is day-to-day, saying nobody has mentioned anything about going to the disabled list.
“It’s bothering me a little bit, but I’m fine,” Franco said.
Franco wore the split essentially to prevent him from sleeping on it wrong or having somebody grab his wrist by mistake.
“It’s better than yesterday,” Franco said. “Yesterday I was in a lot of pain. But when I woke up I moved it and it was better.”
Franco is hitting .277 (82-for-296) with 22 doubles, one triple, 13 home runs, 48 RBIs and an .830 OPS in 77 games.