Ruben Amaro wasn’t kidding when he said that interest in some Phillies was rising at the end of the winter meetings in San Diego. Jimmy Rollins has traded his red pinstripes for Dodger blue. Antonio Bastardo has moved across the state to Pittsburgh to bolster the Pirates bullpen. The Phillies dealt the erratic Bastardo, 29, for Joely Rodriguez. The 23-year old had a 4.84 ERA in 30 appearances, (21 starts) but impressed after the season in Arizona Fall League where he posted a 2.38 ERA with 22 strikeouts against well regarded prospects. Expect Rodriguez to start the season on the talent deprived AAA rotation in Lehigh Valley.
Who’s next out the door?
It’s a safe bet that Marlon Byrd never plays another game for the Phillies. Byrd, 37, offers righthanded power, which isn’t an easy commodity to come by. The Orioles have a huge righthanded power-hitting void since Nelson Cruz signed with the Mariners. Byrd has $8 million coming his way in 2015 and an option for that amount in 2016. But that’s not bad compared to what Torii Hunter, 39, signed for in Minnesota. The past his prime Hunter, who will make $10 million in 2015, isn’t on a level with Byrd.
Carlos Ruiz has quite a bit on the odometer but there are a number of teams that can use a capable veteran catcher, who has a reasonable contract. All of that describes Ruiz, who could help a contender. Amaro will try to deal one of the best handlers of pitchers in the game, who has some occasional pop. Don’t be surprised if Ruiz lands with the Texas Rangers.
You know Amaro worked hard to unload Jonathan Papelbon while at the winter meetings in San Diego. Papelbon has been relatively reliable but he’s a luxury for a last place club. Papelbon has been decent but not dominant. Don’t be surprised if the Tigers, who tanked for two consecutive seasons in the playoffs primarily due to leaky bullpens, finally bite. The problem for the Phillies is the contract Papelbon signed.
The biggest issue is the money,” a NL scout said. “He has a bad contract. That’s a much bigger deal than his personality. He’ll be tough to deal but if a team wants to shore up their bullpen and the Phillies eat a lot of cash, there’s a chance Papelbon will be dealt. It’s a very interesting offseason for Philly.”