The team announced Burnett declined his $12.75 million player option, which makes him a free agent. Burnett, who signed a one-year, $16 million deal with mutual and player options in February, went 8-18 with a 4.59 ERA in 34 starts, pitching with an inguinal hernia most of the season. He led Major League Baseball in losses, earned runs allowed (109) and walks (96).
Burnett received a $1 million buyout from the Phillies for declining their half of a mutual option.
“It’s obviously a frustrating year,” Burnett said on his final start of the season in September. “You come over here and you expect to make an impact. And you make the wrong impact.”
The Phillies are in rebuilding mode, so they hoped they would not have to pay Burnett a hefty sum to pitch for a team that does not expect to contend until 2017 at the earliest. The Phillies can allocate Burnett’s 2015 salary elsewhere, if they choose.
The team lacks starting pitching depth, but if they sign a pitcher on the free-agent market it is expected to be on a short-term deal.
The Phillies are not expected to make a big splash in the free agent market this offseason, unless they sign Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas. If they pass on Tomas or fall short in their pursuit, perhaps they will feel more comfortable eating some of the salaries they owe other players still on the roster.
The Phillies are willing to trade almost anybody this offseason. The biggest name is Cole Hamels, but the list includes Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon, Marlon Byrd, Antonio Bastardo and Carlos Ruiz. The front office would trade Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, too. Utley and Rollins have complete no-trade clauses and both have said they have no plans to waive them, but the prospect of playing on a losing team in the twilight of their careers could get them to reconsider.
During the season, Burnett waffled on whether or not he wanted to pitch next year. Of course, this does not mean he does not want to pitch. He just might not want to pitch for the Phillies. (His agent told FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal that Burnett wants to pitch for a contender.) Burnett expressed his frustration toward Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure during his final start, uttering an expletive following a mound visit.
Burnett said afterward his relationship with McClure was fine, but sources in the clubhouse said Burnett was not happy with the way things went in Philly.
Both parties got what they wanted Monday. The Phillies got financial flexibility. Burnett got the ability to pitch for a winner.
He spent much of the previous two seasons on the disabled list with various injuries, making just 50 relief appearances over the life of his two-year, $12 million contract. His option would have vested automatically at $6 million with 60 innings pitched in 2014 or at $6.5 million with 120 innings pitched in 2013-14. But Adams pitched just 18 2/3 innings this season, and 43 2/3 innings the past two seasons.
Kyle Kendrick and Wil Nieves also became free agents Thursday.
A.J. Burnett has through Monday to accept or decline his $12.75 million player option. Burnett and the Phillies also have a $15 million mutual option, which the Phillies certainly will decline.
It is unclear if Burnett will pick up the option. He has gone back and forth about his desire to pitch next season, although Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week he thought Burnett would pitch.
Burnett went 8-18 with a 4.59 ERA in 34 starts. He led Major League Baseball in losses, earned runs allowed (109) and walks (96). He pitched with an inguinal hernia most of the season, which he had surgically repaired earlier this month.
The entire Phillies coaching staff will return in 2015.
The team said today each coach is signed through next season. The Phillies announced late last month that they had invited every coach to return following a 73-89 campaign in Ryne Sandberg’s first full season as manager.
Sandberg’s coaches include bench coach Larry Bowa, pitching coach Bob McClure, hitting coach Steve Henderson, first base coach Juan Samuel, third base coach Pete Mackanin, bullpen coach Rod Nichols and assistant hitting coach John Mizerock.
Ever wonder why Scott Franzke is so chock full of information during his radio broadcasts?
It turns out he doesn’t have a photographic memory. He uses something called OneNote.
So the next time he brings up a bizarre food item, promotion, stat or story to Larry Andersen, we’ll know how he remembered it.
Could the Phillies be interested in Maddon?
“We have a manager,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said this afternoon. “Ryne Sandberg is our manager.”
So no plans to speak to him?
“Like I said, we have a manager,” Amaro said.
Maddon already has said he wants to manage next season. He told FOXSports.com and MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal that, “I have interest everywhere right now. I’ve got to hear what everyone has to say.”
Sandberg is signed through 2016. The Phillies finished 73-89 and last in the National League East in his first full season after replacing Charlie Manuel in August 2013. He did not have much to work with, but he had his struggles. A lack of communication with players was a problem at times and, like most managers, his in-game decisions were criticized. But interim president Pat Gillick and Amaro have supported him.
“It was a very good learning experience for him,” Amaro said about Sandberg earlier this month. “First time manager on a team that’s an aging team that has an expectation of winning. And with some of the bumps and bruises we had over the course of the year, I think Ryno is the man for the job. I also think Ryno is going through a similar learning process that is associated with being a first-year manager. And so I believe in him. I know that he is dedicated and focused on putting the Phillies where they need to be, and I feel very good about his instincts and ability to get us to where we need to go.”
Maddon’s agent is expected to talk to numerous teams with managers already under contract. Some manager somewhere could suddenly find himself out of a job.
“For me, it’s not my responsibility to think for other organizations,” Maddon told Rosenthal. “I’m controlling what I can. … At the end of the day, I would never ask or tell an organization what to do. That’s not my business.”
Chase Utley will have a shot at his first Gold Glove early next month.
He is one of three finalists for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award for National League second basemen. Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips and Colorado’s DJ LeMahieu are the other two finalists.
Utley committed 11 errors with a .985 fielding percentage this season. Phillips committed two with a .996 fielding percentage, while LeMahieu had six with a .991 fielding percentage. But Utley’s 8.2 ultimate zone rating ranked second to LeMahieu (10.7), according to FanGraphs.
Utley’s 10.4 defense rating also ranked second to LeMahieu (12.7).
They announced today that they signed him to a one-year, $2.5 million contract, which includes performance bonuses. Williams, 32, went 4-2 with a 2.83 ERA in nine starts this year.
“He did a nice job,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “We feel he has some upside. He’s got some versatility. He’ll be given every opportunity to be part of our rotation, but he has some versatility to pitch in the middle (of the bullpen) somewhere if not.”
Williams went 2-5 with a 6.71 ERA in 28 appearances (two starts) last season with the Astros and Rangers before the Phillies claimed him off waivers in August. He is 48-54 with a 4.40 ERA in his nine-year career, so should the Phillies expect some sort of regression to his career averages?
“We looked at the metrics on that,” Amaro said. “A lot of it will depend on him. The way that he performed, it was clear that he had changed his overall approach. If he maintains that approach we believe he can gives us the depth we need. One of our priorities is trying to create some more starting pitching depth.”
Cole Hamels and David Buchanan are the only starting pitchers under contract or team control who finished the 2014 season healthy.
Cliff Lee finished the year on the disabled list with a left elbow injury, although Amaro said Lee is scheduled to begin his throwing program next month. The Phillies expect him to be ready by Spring Training.
A.J. Burnett has a $15 million mutual option, which the Phillies are certain to decline. But even if they do, Burnett has a $12.75 million player option, which he has until five days following the World Series to accept or decline. Burnett has vacillated between pitching again and retiring.
“I’m really kind of neutral on it,” said Amaro, asked if he would be surprised if Burnett turned down that much money. “I knew what it took to get him back and pitching this year. I would assume that he’d want to pitch again. I don’t have that information, but my inclination is that he’s going to want to pitch. He’s a competitive guy.”
Other pitchers on the 40-man roster include Kyle Kendrick, who will become a free agent; Jonathan Pettibone, who had right shoulder surgery in June; and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who became a reliever because of concerns about his ability to stay healthy as a starter.
But Amaro said Gonzalez will enter Spring Training competing for a job in the rotation.
“We’re going to give him every opportunity to be in our rotation,” Amaro said. “We have to try to create as many opportunities for starting pitching as we possibly can. We’re not going to be able to go through a season with five or six pitchers. It’s probably going to take seven to 10 pitchers.”
But can Gonzalez hold up?
“He personally feels more comfortable being in the rotation,” Amaro said. “Whether or not he can provide that remains to be seen. But after speaking with him it was very important to him to be prepared mentally and physically for this offseason to get stretched out.”
The Phillies have a replacement for former assistant general manager of amateur scouting Marti Wolever, whom they dismissed late last month.
They announced today they have hired Braves international scouting director Johnny Almaraz to be their amateur scouting director. He will run the Phillies’ First-Year Player Drafts, which Wolever had done since 2002.
It will be new role for Almaraz.
“We couldn’t be happier to add someone of Johnny’s caliber to our baseball operations staff,” Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said in a statement. “He has established a reputation for being able to identify future Major League talent and brings a great deal of experience to the Phillies.”
Almaraz had been Atlanta’s international scouting director since 2008. His most notable signings are Julio Teheran and Christian Bethancourt. Before joining the Braves in 2006 as director of Latin America operations, he spent 16 years as a scout with the Reds. There he signed amateurs like Adam Dunn, Johnny Cueto and B.J. Ryan.
Wolever had been running the Phillies’ First-Year Player Drafts since 2002, but success had been scattered. MLB.com in June examined the Phillies’ Drafts from 2004-13. Forty-six picks reached the big leagues, which tied the A’s and Rangers for seventh best in baseball.
But the quality of the Phillies’ picks ranked last. According to baseballreference.com, the combined WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of Phillies picks over the past 10 years was 20.7, which was 24.6 points lower than the 29th ranked Blue Jays (45.3). The big league average was 82.7.
In short, he said nothing is off the table. It seems the Phillies are finally open to doing anything in the offseason, which means trading Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, if a deal makes sense to them. Of course, they’re going to try hard to trade Howard, although it will be difficult with the $60 million remaining on his contract. But at least the Phillies are not going into the offseason believing they can still win if everybody stays healthy and performs to their capabilities. 2008 is a long time ago. They’re finally accepting that.
Here is some of what Amaro had to say:
Q: Is the organization acknowledging it held on too long to the idea it will win as long as the 2008 core is together?
A: I think we have to look at everything kind of deeply. My feeling is we need to try to get younger. We need to try to put ourselves in a position to be a little bit more athletic, and we have to put ourselves in position to be open minded about some changes at the major league level. Clearly, we’ve gone for it several times and the last couple years it hasn’t worked for us, and so we have to think about and have been thinking about ways to move the organization forward in a different way other than just adding small pieces to try to be a championship club. I think we have to certainly, and we have been, looking for more long term solutions.
Q: Is anything and everything on the table?
A: We’re staying very open minded. I think we have our philosophies about evaluating players and putting the club together, and we are still evaluating those as well. But we are keeping a very, very open mind as far as our player personnel is concerned. And so I guess you could say there’s nothing that’s really off the table.
Q: Do you feel you have one year to turn things around with your contract expiring at the end of next season?
A: It doesn’t bother me one way or another. I have a job to do and that’s to get the Phillies back to where we can be a perennial contender. And that’s really the ultimate goal. If you wanted to put a stamp on what we’re talking about today it’s about getting the Phillies back to the point where we’re a perennial contender. Does it happen next year? Does it happen in two years? Does it happen in three years? We don’t know yet. But we are in the process … but that’s the goal for long term success, not just the short term success.
The Phillies today announced a tweak to their Minor League player development staff.
They hired Rafael Chaves to be their Minor League pitching coordinator. The Phillies interviewed Chaves to be their big-league pitching coach last offseason before hiring Bob McClure.
Chaves, 46, spent this season as the Dodgers’ special assistant of player personnel after spending five seasons as their Minor League pitching coordinator. He served as Seattle’s pitching coach from 2006-07, so his relationship with Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper, who worked in the Mariners front office from 1987-2008, likely played a role in his hire.
“We are extremely excited to add Rafael to our staff,” Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience and is one of the most respected names in our business when it comes to developing pitchers.”
Carlos Arroyo, who held that role this season, will resume his previous job as the Phillies’ Minor League roving pitching coach.
The Phillies said they will announce their complete player development staff at a later date.