Looks Like Matt Carle Could Be Heading to Free Agency

Looks Like Matt Carle Could Be Heading to Free Agency

We are less than 48 hours away from the opening bell sounding for free agency in the NHL, and the Flyers have yet to reach a pact with Matt Carle.

As Tim Panaccio reported on Thursday, it looks like the defenseman will be testing the market. While talks are said to be continuous and amicable, and Carle's agent was forthcoming about his client's wish to stay in Philadelphia, the door was left wide open for a quick escape. Here's Kurt Overhardt:

“We continue to talk to them but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is available on July 1. But we’re going to continue to talk to the Flyers. Just move forward accordingly.”

According to Panotch, management prefers Carle's cap hit is not in excess of $5 million. However, there are reasons to believe he will get a significantly better offer after July 1. Opinions on Carle's value vary greatly, and the fact is the free agent pool is not exactly teeming with quality blue-liners.

After trading Washington for his rights, the Calgary Flames agreed to terms with D-man Dennis Wideman on a five-year, $26.25 million deal on Wednesday. You can bet Carle and his agent noticed. It's believed this type of deal may be just the starting point for a player of Carle's caliber once he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

In the eyes of many Flyers fans, Carle had an up-and-down season in 2011-12, and that's putting it mildly. Some don't want to see him back in Orange and Black at any price. Polarizing as he is though, the front office is in a bit of a pickle. Defense was their chief concern for much of last season, and while the issue was addressed to an extent with the acquisition of Luke Schenn, losing Carle likely would undo much of that progress.

Even if you honestly believe it would be addition by subtraction, failure to sign or supplant Carle equates to further reliance on an oft-injured, aging veteran like Andreas Lilja, or Adirondack's finest: Marc-Andre Bourdon and Erik Gustafsson.

Still, the Flyers are probably in the right by not making it rain for Matt Carle. They can negotiate into free agency, and if at that point somebody comes along and makes Carle a rich(er) man, so be it. Even in this barren market, he's not quite an irreplaceable player -- even though who they would get to replace him remains an unsolved mystery.

>> Despite talks, Carle could test free agency [CSN]

Shocker: Phillies interested in getting one of baseball's best players

Shocker: Phillies interested in getting one of baseball's best players

We're all looking forward to the free-agent class of 2018.

If Maikel Franco doesn't shape up, the Phillies could make a hard push for Manny Machado. Franco after a two-game benching is back in the lineup for this afternoon's game against the Rockies (see story).

Then, of course, there's Bryce Harper, who earlier this month agreed to a one-year, $21,625,000 deal for next season. 

And guess what? If Harper becomes a free agent after next season, the Phillies would be interested in signing him.

Really?

According to a FanRagSportsNetwork, citing a Phillies source, the Phils would be interested luring Harper to Philly.

Shocker. 

It'd be big news if a Phillies source said the team wasn't interested in signing Harper. 

Anyway, the story also quotes a National League scout.

“Could you imagine what he could do in that ballpark playing 81 games a year in that bandbox?” the scout said.

Chances are every Phillies fan has already imagined it. Harper this season alone is hitting .351/.400/.784 with five homers and 12 RBIs in nine games against the Phils. In three games at the Bank, he's hitting just .250 with a homer and two RBIs.

But in 38 career games at CBP, he's hitting .296/.361/.627 with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs.

In 89 career games against the Phillies, he's hitting .282 with 20 homers and 54 RBIs.

At the risk of stating the obvious, here's one thing to remember: If the Phils sign Harper, then he'd no longer benefit from facing them.

Today's Lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phillies try to snap skid

Today's Lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phillies try to snap skid

Well, this hasn't gone well. 

Coming into Thursday afternoon's game against the Rockies, the Phillies have lost five straight. They've lost nine of their last 10. They've lost 20 of their last 24. 

At 15-29, they're not just the worst team in the NL East. They're not just the worst team in the National League. 

Through 44 games, the Phillies are the worst team in baseball. 

Just to make it to a .500 record this season, they would need to go 66-52 (.559) the rest of the way. 

Their four-game series against the Rockies will mercifully come to a close on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. In the first three games of the series -- all losses -- the Phils have been outscored 23-5. 

Maikel Franco returns to the four-hole as the Phillies try to snap out of their funk.

The Phillies on Thursday also activated right-handed pitcher Jeanmar Gomez from the disabled list. Gomez takes Adam Morgan's spot on the roster. Morgan was reassigned to Triple A Lehigh Valley after throwing three scoreless innings during the Phillies' 7-2 loss to the Rockies.

Gomez hasn't pitched since May 4 because of an elbow injury. He began the season as the Phillies' closer but was demoted after blowing two saves and allowing seven runs in his first five innings. In 11 1/3 innings this season, Gomez has a 7.94 ERA.

Here's the full lineup: 

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Michael Saunders, RF
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P