Philadelphia Phillies Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

Philadelphia Phillies Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

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    The Philadelphia Phillies had a disappointing 2013 season, but they have a chance to get back to winning next year if they make some moves in the winter. 

    After many wondered what would happen with second baseman Chase Utley, the Phillies gave him an extension during the season. That means the team is set at first base, second base and shortstop for the next couple of years.

    Philadelphia's bullpen ranked 27th in baseball this year. Jonathan Papelbon's future is unclear, but the team needs to look for help for the bullpen regardless of what it does with its closer.

    It doesn't matter what position it's at, the Phillies need to find a right-handed bat with some pop.

    Stay tuned throughout the offseason to see what kind of moves the Phillies make.

Philadelphia's Own Free Agents and Done Deals

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    Done Deals

    Nov. 12: Signed OF Marlon Byrd to two-year, $16 million contract, via's Adam Rubin

    Nov. 18: Re-signed C Carlos Ruiz to three-year, $26 million contract, via FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal

    Dec. 3: Signed C Wil Nieves, via CBS Sports' Jon Heyman

    Dec. 3: Acquired RHP Brad Lincoln from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for C Erik Kratz and LHP Rob Rasmussen, via FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal

    Dec. 12: Signed RHP Roberto Hernandez, according to Jim Salisbury of

    Dec. 12: Selected RHP Kevin Munson from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 draft 


    Philadelphia's Free Agents

    RHP Roy Halladay 

    Dec. 9: Signed a one-day contract with the Toronto Blue Jays and retired

Arbitration Eligible Players

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    LHP Antonio Bastardo

    INF Kevin Frandsen (Dec. 2: Signed a one-year, $900,000 contract)

    RHP Kyle Kendrick

    OF John Mayberry Jr.

    OF Ben Revere


    *via's Todd Zolecki

Ryan Madson: Is a Reunion with Free Agent Reliever in the Works?

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    There is mutual interest between the Phillies and Ryan Madson in reuniting for the 2014 season, sources tell CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury.

    The 33-year-old Madson has missed each of the past two seasons with elbow problems, missing the 2012 campaign with the Reds due to Tommy John surgery and 2013 with the Angels due to setbacks in his rehab.

    Returning to Philadelphia, where he spent the first nine years of his career, could be just what he needs to get his career back on track. From 2007 to 2011, Madson posted a 2.89 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 329 2/3 innings for the Phillies, converting 32-of-34 saves in 2011, his only season as the team's primary closer.

    Given his recent injury history, Madson isn't likely to command anything more than a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. If he's healthy, however, Madson could be a big addition to a Phillies bullpen that struggled mightily in 2013, pitching to a 4.19 ERA (4.29 xFIP) and 1.47 WHIP.


Is Jonathan Papelbon on the Trading Block?

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    Once again there are rumors involving Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, and FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the right-hander is on the trading block.


    *Update: Saturday, Dec. 20 at 10:20 p.m. ET

    MASN Sports' Roch Kubatko reported that the Phillies and the Baltimore Orioles have discussed a trade involving Papelbon. Baltimore traded closer Jim Johnson earlier this offseason. The Orioles reached an agreement with Grant Balfour, but there were issues with the physical, so the deal was never completed.

    ---End of update---


    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 10:18 a.m. ET

    Peter Gammons reported that the Phillies could be involved in a major deal if they find a taker on Papelbon. If someone takes Papelbon's contract, the Phillies would throw in Domonic Brown in the trade, according to one club. The Phillies would then use that money on a starting pitcher.

    ---End of update---


    Papelbon is owed $13 million in each of the next two seasons and has a $13 million vesting option for 2016. The closer does have a limited no-trade clause.

    The 33-year-old went 5-1 and had 29 saves with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.135 WHIP. He threw 61.2 innings in 61 appearances.

    Since joining the Phillies, he has 67 saves with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.094 WHIP in two seasons. His seven blown saves this past season was tied for the second-most in the National League. His numbers have slightly declined since leaving the Boston Red Sox, but he has made a smooth transition to the NL.

    Philadelphia could find a closer for cheaper, so trading Papelbon is something that it is trying to do. His contract will be tough to move, but there are plenty of teams who could use his services.

Phillies Are Open to Dealing Jimmy Rollins

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    The Phillies have reportedly made it clear to other teams that they are "very willing" to deal Jimmy Rollins, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

    The 35-year-old will make $11 million in 2014 and also has an $11 million vesting option for 2015. The shortstop also has a no-trade clause.

    Rollins is a three-time All-Star, a four-time Gold Glove winner and has a Silver Slugger. He also won the 2007 NL MVP award and helped the team win the World Series in 2008.

    After many strong seasons, the 2013 season was arguably the worst offensive season of his career. He hit .252/.318/.348 with six home runs, 36 doubles, two triples, 39 RBI and 22 stolen bases.

    Those numbers were the lowest of his career—not including the 14 games he played in 2000—since:

    • Home runs-Lowest
    • Triples-2011
    • RBI-Lowest
    • Stolen bases-2010

    He has spent his entire 14-year career in Philadelphia.

Dec. 12: Signed RHP Roberto Hernandez

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    The Phillies have signed right-handed pitcher Roberto Hernandez, according to Jim Salisbury of Hernandez will reportedly get $4.5 million guaranteed with $1.5 million in incentives, according to Tim Dierkes of

    Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, went 6-13 with a 4.89 ERA and a 1.338 WHIP in 32 appearances, including 24 starts, for the Tampa Bay Rays.

    The right-hander spent the first seven years of his career with the Cleveland Indians. He spent some time as a reliever and as a starter in Cleveland. He won 19 games in 2007, which was one of two seasons that his earned run average was below 4.85.

    Hernandez is expected to join the rotation, which could be a strong move for the Phillies. The 33-year-old has tossed more than 200 innings twice in his career. Having someone who can eat innings at the back of the rotation can be valuable.

    Although the past few seasons have been rough, Hernandez has shown potential in his career. If Philadelphia gets him back on track, this would end up being a steal.

Dec. 12: Selected RHP Kevin Munson from Arizona in the Rule 5 Draft

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    The Phillies selected right-handed pitcher Kevin Munson from the Arizona Diamondbacks organization in the Rule 5 draft, according to

    Munson has worked his way through the system quickly. He has only been in the minors for four seasons, but he has already made it up to Triple-A. He spent part of the 2013 season in Double-A and part in Triple-A.

    The 24-year-old went 2-4 with a 4.12 ERA and a 1.171 WHIP between the two levels in 2013.He also struck out 66 batters and walked only 22 in 53 appearances. He posted a 5.09 ERA and a 1.391 WHIP at Triple-A. 

    Philadelphia will pay Munson $50,000 if he makes the 25-man roster. If he does not, the Phillies must offer the right-hander back to the Diamondbacks for $25,000.

Will the Phillies Sell High on Domonic Brown?

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    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 2:40 p.m. ET

    ESPN's Jayson Stark reported that a team that asked about Domonic Brown said that the Phillies "didn't seem enthused" about dealing the outfielder. The Phillies reportedly want two or three young players in return.

    ---End of update---


    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 10:18 a.m. ET

    Peter Gammons reported that the Phillies could be involved in a major deal if they find a taker on Papelbon. If someone takes Papelbon's contract, the Phillies could throw in Domonic Brown in the trade, according to one club. The Phillies would then use that money on a starting pitcher.

    ---End of update---


    *Update: Monday, Dec. 9 at 12:57 p.m. ET

    Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweeted that the Phillies are looking to sell high on Domonic Brown. They are looking to bring back "controllable starting pitching." 

    After the season Brown had, there should be quite a few suitors for the outfielder.

    ---End of update---

 's Jerry Crasnick reported that the Phillies will listen to offers for outfielder Domonic Brown, but a rumored deal involving Brown and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista won't happen.

    After a few disappointing seasons, Brown had a breakout season in 2013. He hit .272/.324/.494 with 27 home runs, 21 doubles, four triples and 83 RBI. His big season led to him being named to the NL All-Star team.

    It's not clear how willing the Phillies are to moving him, but there will be a lot of interest if the decide to trade him.


Is Cliff Lee on the Trading Block?

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    The Phillies are reportedly willing to listen to offers for southpaws Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.

    As CBS Sports' Jon Heyman followed up with, the Phillies won't eat any money. Lee still has $62.5 millions over two years left, via Heyman. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted that Lee has a no-trade clause that allows him to block a trade to 21 teams.


    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 11:07 a.m. ET

    ESPN's Jayson Stark tweeted that the Phillies would only trade Lee if it was a "win-win" situation. That means that the team would not eat any of the money, and they would have to get a huge return. That is probably unlikely to occur.

    ---End of update---


    Neither pitcher would come cheap.

    Lee went 14-8 with a 2.87 ERA and a 1.010 WHIP in 2013. He struck out 222 and walked only 32 in 222.2 innings. The southpaw finished in the top 10 of Cy Young award voting for the fifth time, including winning one award, and and made the All-Star team for a fourth time.

    The 35-year-old has gone 44-29 with a 2.86 ERA and 1.058 WHIP in four seasons, over two stints, in Philadelphia. He has 11 complete games and eight shutouts during that span.

    Lee is still the dominant pitcher that he was when he signed with the Phillies.

    It's not clear how interested the Phillies are in trading him, but he should have some teams interested in him. His big contract may limit the market, but with only two years left, that may be enough to keep some teams in the running.

Would the Phillies Deal Cole Hamels?

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    The Phillies are reportedly willing to listen to offers for southpaws Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.

    The Phillies wouldn't eat any of the $118.5 million Hamels is owed over the five remaining years on his contract, via CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. Hamels has a no-trade clause that allows him to block a trade to 21 teams, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

    *Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 11:07 a.m. ET

    ESPN's Jayson Stark tweeted that the Phillies would only trade Hamel if it was a "win-win" situation. That means that the team would not eat any of the money, and they would have to get a huge return. That is probably unlikely to occur.

    ---End of update---


    Throw out the record when looking at Hamels. The 29-year-old went 8-14 this past season, which is the first time he finished with a losing record. However, he finished with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.159 WHIP. His ERA has gone up in each of the past two seasons, but he still has strong numbers.

    Hamels threw more than 200 innings for the fourth straight season, and fifth overall. He has proven to be a workhorse.

    He is 99-74 in his eight seasons with Philadelphia. He won the 2008 NLCS Most Valuable Player award and the 2008 World Series MVP. The three-time All-Star would immediately help any rotation in baseball.

    The 29-year-old's contract may be tough to move if the Phillies really want to. Hamels is owed a lot of money still, but his age helps even out the money.

Dec. 9: Roy Halladay Retires

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    Roy Halladay announced that he will retire and signed a one-day contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, via CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.

    The 36-year-old has made eight All-Star teams and thrown a perfect game and a no-hitter in his career. He won two AL Cy Young awards and finished in the top five of voting five other times.

    He has thrown at least 200 innings in a season eight times, and he threw a total of 2,749.1 innings in his 16-year career.

    Injuries made it tough for Halladay to continue to pitch like an ace. He made only 28 total starts over the last two seasons due to back and shoulder injuries. He underwent shoulder surgery earlier this year.

    Halladay was as dominant as we have seen when he was on top of his game. Unfortunately injuries derailed his career, and he has now announced his retirement.

Carlos Ruiz: Re-Signed with Philadelphia

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    Carlos Ruiz has spent eight years with the Philadelphia Phillies, and it would be surprising if he didn't re-sign with the team. He wants to spend the rest of his career in Philadelphia, according to Ryan Lawrence of

    *Update: Monday, Nov. 18 at 1:59 p.m. ET

    ESPN's Jayson Stark reported that Ruiz will make $8.5 million in each of the next three seasons. There is also an $4.5 million option, or a $500,000 buyout, for a fourth year. 

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Monday, Nov. 18 at 11:37 a.m. ET

    FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that Carlos Ruiz is re-signing with the Phillies. Rosenthal also reported that Ruiz signed a three-year, $26 million deal.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Friday, Nov. 15 at 1:47 a.m. ET's Todd Zolecki says that it is likely that Ruiz is back with the Phillies next season.

    Ruiz is a right-handed bat, and he works well with the pitching staff. The catcher has a few offers on the table, but Zolecki believes something will get worked out between Ruiz and the organization. 

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 7:54 p.m. ET

    Troy Renck reported the Rockies offered Ruiz a two-year deal, worth roughly $15 million. However, the Rockies were told that Ruiz has a two-year, $20 million deal on the table from an unspecified team. ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that the mystery team is not the Boston Red Sox.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 3:22 p.m. ET

    The Denver Post's Troy Renck reported that the Rockies have made an offer to Ruiz, but the terms of the offer are unknown. Renck believes the Rockies would have to overpay in years and/or money in order to land Ruiz and other key free agents.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Nov. 11 at 10:42 p.m. ET

    Sportsnet's Shi Davidi wrote that the Toronto Blue Jays have inquired about Ruiz. 

    As noted earlier, the Phillies won't wait for Ruiz to make a decision. They want him back, but they can't wait for him in the event that he spurns them.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Nov. 9 at 3:30 p.m. ET

    Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Boston Red Sox are exploring all options as they look to add a catcher. They have been linked to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Brian McCann and Ryan Hanigan, but Rosenthal believes that Carlos Ruiz could be an option.

    Ruiz would be a defensive upgrade over McCann and a cheaper alternative to McCann. David Ross is already on the roster, so the Red Sox may not be looking to splurge on a catcher.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Nov. 7 at 10:10 p.m. ET

    The Phillies aren't willing to wait on Ruiz to make a decision, according to Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News.

    General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. compared Ruiz's situation to that of shortstop Jimmy Rollins back in 2011. 

    “I can assure you if it takes similar as long (to get something done), there will be very little chance of bringing Chooch back,” Amaro said. “We can’t afford to miss out on other opportunities.”

    With several teams interested in Ruiz, it may take a while for a decision to be made. If that happens, catchers like Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia could already be signed. That would leave the Phillies in a tough spot if Ruiz ended up signing elsewhere.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Nov. 6 at 1:53 p.m. ET

    According to's Jim Salisbury wrote that the Boston Red Sox are doing their "due diligence" on Ruiz. 

    They have also been linked to their own free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia and former Braves catcher Brian McCann.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Nov. 4 at 1:25 p.m. ET

    The Denver Post's Troy E. Renck reported that the Colorado Rockies are pursuing Carlos Ruiz.

    ---End of update---

    The man they call "Chooch" had to deal with a suspension and a leg injury this year, which led to him playing in only 92 games.

    Ruiz hit .268 with five home runs last year, but he is capable of much more. Two seasons ago he hit .325 with 16 homers, and he also hit above .300 in 2010.

    The catcher knows this pitching staff. He has worked well with the pitchers, and he is a big part of the team's success. 

    Not only is he productive on the field, but the fans love him. Losing him would be tough for Phillies fans to handle. Unless something crazy happens, Ruiz will probably be back in Philadelphia next season. 

Marlon Byrd: Signed to a Two-Year Deal

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    Well the Philadelphia Phillies have made their first big move of the offseason by signing outfielder Marlon Byrd to a two-year, $16 million contract, via's Adam Rubin.

    The outfielder hit .291/.336/.511 with 24 home runs, 35 doubles and five triples with the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013. He also drove in 88 runs between the two clubs.

    Byrd made it to the postseason for the first time in his career and launched a home run in his first at-bat. The 36-year-old hit .364/.391/.591 with a home run, two doubles and five RBI as the Pirates nearly knocked off the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

    It was the type of splash that the Phillies were hoping for. It gives the team a right-handed bat for the outfield without breaking the bank. With Ryan Howard and Chase Utley from the left side, Byrd gives the Phillies power from the other side.

    It's a big signing for a guy who signed a minor-league deal last offseason, but Byrd showed that he still has something left in the bat.

Will the Team Spend a Lot of Money This Offseason?

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    *Update: Nov. 11 at 10:03 p.m. ET's Jim Salisbury reported that the Phillies won't be players for big-name free agents like Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo.

    Here's what the team would like to do this offseason:

    • Get a right-handed bat for their outfield
    • Improve outfield defense
    • Improve starting pitching depth with mid-rotation arm
    • Add a reliever for the seventh or eighth inning
    • Find a starting catcher

    They have a lot of "wants," but it doesn't appear that they are going to be breaking the bank for the top free agents.

    Salisbury said the Phillies have discussed starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo, reliever Joe Smith, reliever Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Marlon Byrd and outfielder Franklin Gutierrez.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Nov. 6 at 1:56 p.m. ET's Todd Zolecki reported that Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has been active since free agency began on Tuesday.

    "We've already made offers on several players," Amaro said.

    While there have not been any names revealed, Zolecki metioned Cruz, Morse and Carlos Beltran as possible targets. The Phillies need right-handed bats, so it's possible that they were aggressive in their pursuit of one.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Nov. 4 at 11 p.m. ET's Jim Salisbury throws out some names that the Phillies could pursue. Outfielders Nelson Cruz and Michael Morse are among the players he mentioned.

    ---End of update---

    *Update: Nov. 2 at 5:15 p.m. EDT

    Dan Szymborski of ESPN Insider (membership required) suggests that the Phillies could be a team to watch this offseason.

    He lists several free agents that the team should chase. Catcher Brian McCann, outfielder Carlos Beltran, right-handed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and right-hander Matt Garza were the players listed in the article.

    Szymborski also suggests that Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price should be a trade target. 

    In the article, Szymborski makes a good point that the team is in win-now mode. By re-signing Chase Utley and keeping Cliff Lee, they have a veteran team that is running out of time. This team has several stars, but injuries are catching up to them and age will become an issue in the next few years.  

    With Roy Halladay's contract coming off the books, the Phillies could be big players this winter.



Bronson Arroyo: Free Agent Target

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    The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo wrote that the Phillies have contacted pitcher Bronson Arroyo, but no offer has been made yet. The San Francisco Giants and the Minnesota Twins have also contacted Arroyo's agent.

    The 36-year-old has never missed a start. Ever. Arroyo is the most durable pitcher in the league, and he takes the mound even when he isn't feeling 100 percent. Taking the ball and going deep into games can't be overlooked.

    Arroyo went 105-94 with a 4.05 ERA in 265 starts over eight seasons with the Reds.

    Cincinnati did not make a qualifying offer to the right-hander, so teams don't have to give up a draft pick in order to sign the veteran.


Matt Garza: Possible Free Agent Target

16 of 18's Corey Seidman mentioned right-handed pitcher Matt Garza as a possible target. The 29-year-old is one of the top starting pitchers on the market, so there will be a lot of competition for him.

    Since breaking into the majors in 2006, Garza has turned into a pretty consistent pitcher. He finished with an ERA between 3.69 and 3.95 in six of the past seven seasons—and a 3.32 ERA in 2011. He has made only 42 starts in the last two seasons, so he has had some issues staying healthy.

    Garza is 67-67 with a 3.84 ERA in his eight-year career. He has already played for four teams, and he has never spent more than three years with one major league team.

    If Philadelphia decides to not pursue Roy Halladay, Garza could be a good fit in the rotation behind Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.


Ervin Santana: Possible Free Agent Target

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    Corey Seidman of also mentioned Ervin Santana as a possible target. There is a lot of upside with Santana, but there is also a lot of risk.

    *Update: Nov. 7 at 7:57 p.m. ET

    FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that major league sources say that Santana is seeking a five-year deal worth more than $100 million. That's a huge price tag, and if that's what he's looking for, it will certainly limit the number of teams that pursue him.

    ---End of update---

    Santana has made an All-Star team and thrown a no-hitter already in his career. The 30-year-old has shown a lot of promise, but he hasn't been consistent.

    The right-hander has had five different seasons in his nine-year career with an earned run average above 4.28, including two seasons above 5.00. Going back to the 2008 season, he has pretty much alternated good and bad seasons. He has kept his earned run average below 4.00 in back-to-back seasons only once during that span.

    After getting traded from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to the Kansas City Royals before this past season, Santana posted a career-best 3.24 ERA.

    Santana is 105-90 with a 4.19 ERA in his career. He has proven to be a workhorse, as he has tossed at least 200 innings in a season five times, including in three of the past four seasons.

    The Phillies may look to add a high-profile starter to their rotation, and Santana could be one of the targets.

David Price: Possible Trade Target

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    A lot speculation surrounds David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays. It appears that the ace may be on the move given that he will be paid a lot of money in the coming seasons, and the Philadelphia Phillies are one team that have been linked to the pitcher, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

    Price won the 2012 American League Cy Young award, and he has made three All-Star teams. Despite going only 10-8 in 27 starts, he tied for the AL lead in complete games with four.

    The price for Price will likely be steep given that he is under club control for two more years.

    Rosenthal believes that top pitching prospect Jesse Biddle would have to be a part of any deal for Price, and the Phillies may have to throw in outfielder Domonic Brown as well.

    If the Phillies could find a way to acquire Price, their rotation would once again be stacked.