Amaro: Phils would eat money in right deal

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Amaro: Phils would eat money in right deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A few leftover notes from Day 2 of the winter meetings:

• Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. shot down rumors that Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels were on the trading block (see story). The Phillies are open to dealing Domonic Brown for the right return and they are eager to move closer Jonathan Papelbon, who is owed $26 million the next two seasons.

The Phillies would have to eat some of Papelbon’s salary or attach him to a more coveted player if they were to find a taker.

Amaro does not talk about the specifics of potential trades, but he was asked, in general, if he would be willing to eat salary in a deal.

“We’ve done it before,” he said. “If it makes us better.”

The Phils ate $22 million in salary when Jim Thome was traded to the White Sox in Nov. 2005. The Thome trade cleared a spot for Ryan Howard.

• The Phils have about $140 million committed to 12 players for 2014. Amaro expects a payroll similar to the one the club had in 2013, in the neighborhood of $165 million.

“We should be contending with this kind of payroll, at $165 million or $170 million, wherever it shakes out,” he said.

• The Phils have the fourth pick in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday morning. They love to do business in the draft that once landed them Shane Victorino, Dave Hollins and fan favorite Michael Martinez -- but cost them George Bell.

The Phils could lose a player in the draft. Pitcher Hector Neris and Seth Rosin could interest other clubs. So could outfielder Leandro Castro.

Pete Mackanin opens up about Phillies' prospects with trade deadline looming

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Pete Mackanin opens up about Phillies' prospects with trade deadline looming

If the Phillies do the expected and shake up their roster before the July 31 trade deadline, the minor leaguers manager Pete Mackanin would most like to see are reliever Jesen Therrien and first baseman Rhys Hoskins.

Mackanin was quick to add the play of the Phils’ current first baseman, Tommy Joseph, complicates matters when it comes to Hoskins.

“Tommy Joseph’s been doing well enough to where you just can’t forget about Tommy,” Mackanin said before Saturday’s game against Milwaukee. “So that becomes an issue.”

Joseph entered Saturday’s game slashing .249/.310/.449, with 15 homers and 45 RBIs. His homer total led the team. Hoskins, while slumping lately, was slashing .279/.373/.550 for Triple A Lehigh Valley heading into Saturday’s game at Durham. He had 21 homers and 70 RBIs.

“We’d all like to see Rhys Hoskins,” Mackanin said. “There’s just a matter of him getting playing time.”

Therrien, a right-hander, began the season with Double A Reading, going 2-1 with a 1.26 ERA in 21 games while converting seven of eight save opportunities. That resulted in a promotion to Lehigh Valley. He had not recorded a decision before Saturday, but in 16 games owned a 1.75 ERA while converting both his save chances.

Mackanin expects another righty reliever, Edubray Ramos, to return to the big-league club at some point. Ramos was 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in nine games with the IronPigs before Saturday.

The manager also remains high on outfielder Dylan Cozens, despite Cozens’ low batting average (.236) and high strikeout total (130, in 352 at-bats) for Lehigh Valley. Cozens, who owned a .314 on-base percentage and .469 slugging percentage entering the game at Durham, had accumulated 22 homers and 61 RBIs.

“I think he’s going to be a heck of a hitter with power,” Mackanin said. “He strikes out an awful lot, but I’d still like to see him. I’d like to see what he does up here. I’m not politicking for him, but I would like to see him.”

Mackanin had little to say about shortstop J.P. Crawford, who has begun to show some pop after a slow start at Triple A. 

“That’s a positive,” Mackanin said of Crawford, who overall is slashing .221/.332/.356.

The play of Freddy Galvis this season has made that a moot point.

“I wouldn’t want to have to replace him,” Mackanin said. “That’s how important I think he is right now to us.”

Mackanin also adopted a wait-and-see stance on catcher Jorge Alfaro, who began Saturday slashing .246/.300/.360 for Lehigh Valley, with six homers and 40 RBIs.

“I look at the numbers, and statistics mean something,” the manager said. “If you’re hitting in the .240s, that doesn’t necessarily warrant a promotion to the big leagues.”

Mackanin did add that Alfaro has shown improvement defensively, and added that his youth (24) and tools work in in favor.

“He’s just been inconsistent,” Mackanin said. “He’s a tool player. Tools are great, but we want the potential to come out.”

Medical report
Mackanin said outfielder Daniel Nava is “day to day” with a strained left hamstring sustained in Friday’s game against the Brewers.

The manager also said outfielder Aaron Altherr, on the disabled list since July 15 with a strained right hamstring, has made “very good progress” and could be activated as soon as Tuesday.

Matt Klentak plays coy about Phillies' interest in Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich

Matt Klentak plays coy about Phillies' interest in Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich

Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, speaking before Saturday’s game against Milwaukee, chose his words carefully when asked about speculation that the Phils are interested in trading for Miami outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich.

“We have talked to each of the other 29 teams at least once sometime in the last three weeks, Miami being one of them,” he said. “But I hope in my career that you will never get me to comment on a specific player.”

He added that the Phillies, while expected to be sellers at the July 31 trade deadline, are “open-minded to the idea of adding, particularly controllable players (that) make sense for us.”

Someone then asked, at least partially tongue in cheek, if they would be OK inheriting a 10-year contract, a reference to the amount of time left after this season on the 13-year, $325 million contract Stanton signed before the 2015 season.

“Depends on the player,” Klentak said. “Never say never.”

The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo speculated on June 17 the Phillies have the money and prospects to deal for Stanton and Yelich, and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported Thursday the Phillies, Giants and Cardinals “are among teams showing strong interest in multiple Miami Marlins outfielders.”

Marcell Ozuna is the other Miami outfielder attracting attention.

Heyman added, however, that there is “almost no chance” Stanton will be dealt before July 31, citing the stumbling blocks as his no-trade clause and the pending sale of the Marlins — i.e., that a new owner might want to have a megastar like Stanton on hand to build around.

As for the Phillies, Klentak said, “We are open, and we have had conversations with certain teams about players where we would, if you’re looking at it in a binary way, be acting as the buyer. But … you understand that it doesn’t make sense for us to do that for a short-term asset.”

But there would be interest, he added, if it’s “a player that we believe would be with us for a long enough period of time to impact the long-term fate of this franchise.”

In general, Klentak said that “the dialogue has been pretty consistent” with other teams, and that while other clubs have consummated a handful of deals already, the activity should pick up as the deadline nears.

The Phillies did not make a deal before the July 31 deadline in 2016 but shipped Carlos Ruiz to the Dodgers before the waiver deadline at the end of August. This year, they have a handful of veterans on expiring contracts – starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, relievers Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit, utilityman Howie Kendrick and outfielder Daniel Nava — who might be appealing to a contender.

“Whether it’s now, whether it’s August, whether it’s the winter meetings, whether it’s spring training, no matter what, it’s generally still the same calculus: Does this potential transaction make sense for this franchise at this time?” Klentak said when asked about the likelihood of an August deal. “And there are a variety of factors that play into that. Whether a player is likely to get through trade waivers in August is a factor.”

He also stopped short of saying that any of the team’s minor league prospects — prospects who would presumably be involved in a potential deal with Miami — is untouchable.

“For any general manager to say they wouldn’t do anything, just doesn't make sense,” he said. “You really and truthfully don’t know what opportunity will present itself later down the road. There’s definitely players in our system that we’re more protective of than others.”