Phils head into Meetings seeking the right deals
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies have been active, but they've hardly been the biggest movers or shakers in baseball this offseason.
They acquired right-hander Jeremy Hellickson in a trade. They acquired outfielder Peter Bourjos and relievers Dan Otero, A.J. Achter and Michael Mariot off waivers. They signed reliever James Russell to a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training. They cut ties with outfielder Domonic Brown and Justin De Fratus.
"It's all about opportunity," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said on Thursday. "When I started [on Oct. 28], our roster was pretty low, so we've had some roster spots to work with, and we've taken advantage of that."
The Phillies are expected to make these types of moves the remainder of the offseason. Do not expect them to commit $100 million or more to a single free agent.
But that doesn't mean the Phillies will be boring. Expect to hear Ken Giles' name a lot next week at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. While Klentak has said it is not his goal to trade the Phillies' 25-year-old closer, Klentak is open to it.
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 11 a.m. ET and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.
Pitching -- The Phillies need to acquire at least one more veteran starter to help a young and inexperienced rotation. They could use a veteran reliever, too. Especially if the Phillies trade Giles.
"Imperative might be a little strong, but we would like to," Klentak said about adding another starting pitcher. "We'd like to augment our pitching and pitching depth, and if we can add another starter, I'd like to do it. I think getting through a 162-game season for any club requires a lot of depth."
Overall depth -- Quite simply, the Phillies need to acquire as much talent as possible wherever they can find it.
"We're still trying to make our core better, and that's been the organization's goal from the beginning of the winter, and it's still our goal," Klentak said. "We want to be opportunistic with whatever presents itself and make our club better in the long and short term."
Who can be traded if necessary?
Giles -- The Phillies are talking to teams about Giles, but they certainly don't have to trade him. They can wait for a team to step up and make them a competitive offer. That's a good thing.
Cody Asche -- Asche is available. If he is not traded, he will get the opportunity to play in left field for the Phillies next season, although he will need to produce to fend off the outfielders moving up through the system.
The Phillies have one of the better farm systems in baseball, thanks to the numerous trades they have made in the past year. But do not expect the Phillies to trade any of those prospects, unless it is in a package that gives them a greater haul of prospects in return. The futures of J.P. Crawford, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams, Jorge Alfaro, Andrew Knapp and others are tied to Philadelphia at the moment.
Rule 5 Draft
Phillies pro scouting director Mike Ondo has been leading the Phillies' Rule 5 Draft efforts since 2004, selecting players like Shane Victorino, Odubel Herrera, Ender Inciarte, David Herndon and Michael Martinez. The Phillies have the No. 1 pick in this year's Rule 5 Draft, and they certainly hope they can land another Victorino or Herrera.
Big contracts they might unload
If they could, they would love to unload Ryan Howard's contract, which is $25 million in salary, plus a $10 million buyout on a 2017 club option. But those efforts have proven futile, even after agreeing to eat most of the contract. The Phillies will continue to try, but Klentak has met with Howard to make sure things are good should Howard be in camp next February.
The Phillies have only five players signed through next season: Howard, Matt Harrison ($13 million), Carlos Ruiz ($8.5 million), Bourjos ($2 million) and Andres Blanco ($1.45 million).
Hellickson, Freddy Galvis and Jeanmar Gomez have been tendered contracts and are eligible for salary arbitration, but they have not yet agreed to terms. The Phillies have room to add payroll, but they are expected to focus their efforts more on short-term deals this offseason as they wait to see how their younger players develop.