Results tagged ‘ Ruben Amaro Jr. ’
The Phillies said they had interest, but how much is uncertain.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said today the organization had contact with Moncada’s agent until Monday, when MLB.com reported Moncada agreed to a record-breaking $31.5 million contract with the Red Sox.
Did the Phillies offer him a contract?
“I’m not going to get into it,” Amaro said.
Moncada is under 23 and had not played five years in the Cuban professional league, which put him under different amateur guidelines than Cuban outfielder Yasmany Thomas, who signed a $68.5 million deal in December with Arizona. Under Moncada’s guidelines, the Red Sox must pay a 100 penalty because they surpassed their annual international bonus allotment. In essence, they paid $63 million for the 19-year-old prospect.
The Red Sox also cannot spend more than $300,000 on any international player for the next two signing period (2015-16 and 2016-17). Of course, if Moncada lives up to the hype (many compare him to Robinson Cano) he would be worth it.
But then Cole Hamels told USA Today he wants to win and “I know it’s not going to happen here.”
It sounds like manager and pitcher are not on the same page. But Ruben Amaro Jr. and Sandberg said today they had no problem with Hamels’ comments. How could they? The Phillies front office has said the organization is rebuilding for the future and the process could take at least a couple seasons before the team can be a postseason contender.
“Maybe I would have liked for him to have chosen his words a little differently, but it’s totally understandable,” Amaro said Thursday. “Cole wants to win. I think everyone is on the same page. We all want to win.”
Sandberg said he spoke with Hamels about those words. He said Hamels told him that he made those comments “a while ago and it didn’t reflect on his feelings coming into camp. I think it was unfortunate timing and it wasn’t a reflection on how he feels coming into camp.”
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale wrote Wednesday’s story. He said he interviewed Hamels for the story Tuesday.
Perhaps Hamels completely changed his feelings from Tuesday to Thursday, when Phillies pitchers and catchers held their first workout at Carpenter Complex.
Perhaps Hamels simply does not want to ruffle any feathers.
But Hamels has said numerous times he does not want to spend his prime years on a losing team. He told USA Today his limited no-trade clause would not scuttle a trade to a contender.
“He’s one of those guys that sits in the sweet spot for us,” Amaro said about Hamels. “He’s going to be a tremendous asset if he stays with us, and if we get to the point where we move him, it’s going to be because we get assets back that are going to move us forward. He’s in our camp. I fully expect him to pitch on Opening Day for us. I’m glad to have him. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game and I’m happy to move forward with him and get us going back on track.”
Amaro said he has talked to veterans like Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee since they have arrived in camp. Each player has indicated in the past they would like to play for a winning team.
“There’s a lot of talk about us rebuilding and these (veterans) being disgruntled and all of that stuff,” Amaro said. “(But) these guys are all professionals, and they’re going to play and pitch and they’re going to do their best to win baseball games for the Phillies, I’m sure of that.”
Of course, there are other ways to add youth.
They could take a run at Cuban free agent Yoan Moncada, who is a highly regarded 19-year-old middle infielder. The Phillies have seen him play and they like him. They already have 20-year-old shortstop J.P. Crawford in the system, so a Crawford-Moncada combination in the middle of the Phillies’ infield (many project Moncada as a second baseman) is intriguing.
“We know him well,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said today. “He’s a very good prospect. He has a chance to be a very good player. He checks off a lot of the boxes, but we’re not the only team that would be interested in Yoan Moncada. But that’s all I can say.”
There are significant penalties to consider. Moncada is under 23 and has not played five years in the Cuban professional league, so a team will pay a 100 percent penalty to sign him, if they exceed its annual international bonus allotment. The Phillies are less than $100,000 under their $3,221,800 cap for the 2014-15 international signing period, which runs from July 2, 2014, to June 15 this year. So if the Phillies would pay Moncada a $25 million signing bonus, they essentially would pay $50 million.
Then are future considerations, too. If a team exceeds its international budget by 15 percent – a certainty with Moncada – it is prohibited from spending more than $300,000 on any international player for the next two signing periods (2015-16 and 2016-17). In other words, if there are players similar to Moncada down the pike, the Phillies could not engage any of them until July 2, 2017.
“It is clear that those penalties are significant,” Amaro said. “That is part of the process.”
It is worth noting the Phillies did not enter serious negotiations with Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who signed a $68.5 million contract with the Diamondbacks in December. The Phillies would have paid no penalties to sign Tomas because he is not under 23 and did not play fewer than five years in the Cuban league.
The Phillies still passed, expressing concerns about the price tag and his conditioning.
Knowing that, would they then enter a bidding war for Moncada? They would have to feel very confident about the player and be willing to surrender signing any talented international players over the next two-plus years.
“You can’t miss on a guy that may be that significant a risk,” Amaro said.
Amaro’s contract expires at the end of the year, and his status is unclear following a pair of 89-loss seasons, including a last place finish in the National League East in 2014, despite a franchise-record $180 million payroll. Montgomery and Gillick have expressed their support for Amaro, but Montgomery acknowledged today on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM that the Phillies’ ownership group is watching closely and a collective decision will be made about Amaro’s future.
“We think we have a pretty quality guy in that role,” Montgomery said. “At the same time, I have a partnership group … they are looking at this closely as well. The reality is that we have a GM that we think is effective. We have a Hall of Fame GM in our midst as well. If Pat spends an entire year or two close with Ruben, I think he’ll have a very good idea to how effective Ruben is and collectively a decision will be made.”
Amaro has traded Jimmy Rollins, Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo this offseason as the team rebuilds for the future. Gillick has said the team will not be competitive until 2017 or 2018, but signs of improvement at the big-league level and encouraging progress from the team’s prospects could help Amaro’s cause.
“Some guys want to stay on a losing team?” he said, expressing a desire to be traded. “That’s mind-boggling to me.”
Yahoo! Sports reported today that the Phillies and Brewers have been in serious discussions about sending Papelbon to Milwaukee – the same place he expressed his desire to be traded — although it will not be easy. Papelbon has a limited no-trade clause and reportedly can block a trade to Milwaukee, although it is highly unlikely he would if given the choice. He also makes $13 million this season and has a 2016 club option worth $13 million that automatically vests if he finishes 48 games this season.
Papelbon is likely to ask a team to pick up the club option before he waives his no-trade rights, although getting the option to automatically vest should not be an issue if he stays healthy. He has finished no fewer than 52 games each of the previous eight seasons, and has averaged 56.4 games finished in that span.
But the prospect of spending another season in Philadelphia might be enough for Papelbon to accept a trade. The Phillies are trading their veterans and said they are unlikely to contend again for another three seasons. It is worth noting similar reports surfaced about Roy Oswalt in 2010, saying he absolutely would not accept a trade to Philadelphia unless the Phillies picked up his 2012 club option. But in the end, faced with spending another season in Houston or getting a shot at a World Series in Philadelphia, Oswalt waived his no-trade rights without the option being picked up.
Papelbon vigorously shook his head no in July when asked if his no-trade clause would be an issue in facilitating a trade.
But the Phillies and Brewers still would have to agree upon how much salary the Phillies would eat and the prospects the Phillies would receive in return.
The Brewers finished 82-80 last season, six games behind the Giants and Pirates for a National League Wild Card berth. The Brewers just traded Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers, but are looking for backend bullpen help.
Papelbon would help a contender. He went 2-3 with a 2.04 ERA and 39 saves in 43 opportunities last season. His 90.7 save completion percentage ranked sixth out of 29 qualifying closers in baseball. His 0.90 WHIP ranked 19th out of 185 qualifying relief pitchers.
His velocity has declined in recent seasons, but last season he learned how to pitch more effectively without it.
Of course, it is believed one reason Papelbon has been difficult to trade is the perception he is a problem in the clubhouse. Major League Baseball suspended him seven games in September after he grabbed his crotch after a blowing a save in Philadelphia. He also has been critical of the Phillies’ front office and coaching staff, although the team’s young relievers have said he has been a positive influence in their development.
“I think there’s a couple clubs out there that could use somebody to close,” Phillies interim president Pat Gillick said this week. “Ruben (Amaro Jr.) has talked to some people. Maybe something will materialize. But the guy has saved 120 games in three years. His record speaks for itself.”
And the notion Papelbon can be difficult?
“I hate to say Pap is Pap,” Gillick said, “but he’s a competitor who likes to win. He goes out there day in and day out. I don’t think at any time this season or during the time we’ve had him that he’s begged out of a situation. Relievers as a group are a little quirky. They’re a little different.”
Cliff Lee missed much of last season with an injured left elbow, but Ruben Amaro Jr. said last night that Lee has thrown three or four times off a mound recently without any issues. Amaro said Lee is expected to be ready to go when Spring Training opens next month.
That is significant because if Lee can stay healthy and pitch effectively, he could become a valuable trade chip come July.
“There’s plenty of teams out there that need pitching, especially when you talk about top of the rotation left-handers,” Amaro said. “They don’t fall off trees. I know there are going to be more than one or two contenders out there.”
He uttered the word “anxious” a few times this afternoon at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where Major League Baseball is holding its Winter Meetings. He is entering his second full season as Phillies manager and the team is in the beginning stages of a massive rebuild.
He is waiting like everybody else to see who exactly will be in the Phillies’ clubhouse in Spring Training.
“The goal of the organization is to get younger,” Sandberg said. “That is what this winter is all about.”
But there is another reason to be anxious. Managers are frequent casualties in rebuilds. Sandberg is signed through 2016 with a club option for 2017, but Phillies interim president Pat Gillick said the Phillies are unlikely to contend until 2017 at the earliest.
“Well, you know, he said probably might not contend,” Sandberg said.
But is he concerned he will be allowed to see the rebuild to completion?
“Well, I’d say after last year that this is the necessary thing to do is to get young and get more athletic,” he said, evading the question. “I think that helps in defense. That helps in scoring runs. It also starts to form a new core group. So with that being necessary and being a part of that, I’m excited about that possibility of seeing that started.”
But after finishing the season on the disabled list with a strained left flexor pronator, there is no chance Lee is traded until July. Ruben Amaro Jr. said today Lee has begun his throwing program and it is going well, which would be good news. The Phillies would like to trade Lee at some point, but it will be difficult. Lee is owed a guaranteed $37.5 million, which includes a $25 million salary in 2015, plus a $12.5 million buyout on a $27.5 million club option for 2016. The option automatically vests if Lee pitches 200 innings in 2015 and does not finish the season on the disabled list with a left elbow or shoulder injury.
“He’s got no issues,” Amaro said. “He’s in his normal program now. I think he probably won’t get on the mound until January.”
Amaro said Lee will be ready to go come Spring Training in February.
“That’s what we think,” he said. “Talked to (head athletic trainer) Scott Sheridan this morning about it and he’s on a normal schedule now. Of course unless he has some sort setback.”
But are they?
The Phillies have seen Tomas multiple times over the past several weeks and sources said they believe he could be a productive power hitter in the big leagues, which is something they desperately need. But they also said some in the organization have continued concerns about Tomas’ conditioning and defense.
Tomas has been linked to a $100 million contract, but sources said the Phillies will not approach a nine-figure deal. One source told MLB.com’s Paul Hagen today the Phillies have cooled on Tomas as a result.
That said, if the asking price drops in the coming weeks the Phillies could be in play.
It could happen. While the Giants, Padres, Royals and Braves are some of the teams mentioned as potential destinations for Tomas, he does not have the offer he seeks. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, who reported Atlanta’s interest in Tomas, said Tomas will attend next month’s Winter Meetings in San Diego.
That indicates nothing is imminent.
The Red Sox signed fellow Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $75 million contract this summer. Sources said the Phillies never seriously pursued Castillo because they liked Tomas more. But it is unclear if how much further north they would go above $75 million, if at all.
For comparison’s sake, the White Sox signed Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal, the Dodgers signed Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million deal and the A’s signed Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million deal.
Each of those players has been a tremendous value.
Tomas’ agent Jay Alou said at last week’s GM Meetings that Tomas has “a lot more power” than Abreu, who hit 36 home runs this season on his way to the American League Rookie of the Year Award.
The Phillies need power like that. They also need to get younger. Tomas just turned 24 this month. It seems like a great fit for many reasons, including the fact the Phillies have nobody close to fitting Tomas’ description in their farm system (i.e. young power hitter close to big-league ready).
But Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. sounded frustrated when asked at the GM Meetings about signing a Cuban free agent like Tomas.
“Just because one guy did well signed from one country doesn’t necessarily mean the next guy is going to do well,” he said. “It doesn’t mean the guys before or after that are going to do well. It’s all individual. We’ll try to scout the players and try to project them in a way that you feel necessary and go from there. It’s like saying, ‘This Dominican player played real well one time so we’ve got to sign Dominican players.’ It’s ridiculous.”
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.”