This week’s edition of Philadelphia Phillies ICYMI Monday features another bullpen vet, MILB and MLB player and coaches WBC news, and more, so let’s get started.
More Bullpen Experience:
On Tuesday The Phillies added their second veteran BP guy (after acquiring RHP Pat Neshek earlier) when they finalized a one-year, $7.5M deal with the 39-year-old RHP Joaquin Benoit. He started the 2016 season with the Seattle Mariners posting a 5.18 ERA in 26 games, but after moving to the Toronto Blue Jays, he improved to a 0.38 ERA in 25 games, for a combined 3-1 with a 2.81 ERA in 51 appearances. They DFA’d RHP Michael Mariot to make room on the 40-man roster.
“He really was two different guys,” Phillies GM Matt Klentak said of Benoit. “But as we drilled down into the data, there are some underlying things that he’s always done in his career … we think there’s a pretty good chance that he’ll maintain his level of performance that he’s demonstrated over the last handful of years. This guy has been really consistent for the better part of a decade. And especially in bullpens, which tend to be fairly volatile as a group, this guy has been the model of consistency.”
Klentak also noted his versatility “One of the things that is appealing to us about Joaquin is he has pitched the sixth, he’s pitched the seventh, he’s pitched the eighth, he’s pitched the ninth, and he’s been good in all of those roles at various times throughout his career,” It appears likely that Benoit will be the leading candidate for the 8th inning set-up role going into spring training.
Phillies MILB HR King reaps a reward
On Monday Dylan Cozens 40 HR season which lead all of MILB, paid him to the tune of $8,000. He received that when presented with the Joe Baumann Award during Monday’s awards luncheon at the Winter Meetings. Cozens joked that he was receiving more money than he’d made in all of 2016, which was not far from actuality as he earned approximately $9,000 last season as a AA player.
“Not to be taken too seriously,” Cozens said. “But yeah, $8,000 will make shopping this holiday season a lot easier.”
Cozens is due to make more next season after being added to the 40-man roster. He will earn at least $41,000 for his first year on the roster.
“When you’re on the 40-man roster, it’s pretty much whenever you’re ready to go up they’re not going to hold you back, they’ll let you go,” Cozens said.
Cozens while having a sub-par off season in the DR was also involved in an altercation with teammate and Mariners prospect Boog Powell (no relation to the former Oriole).
“Just a little boys being boys type thing,” Cozens said of the incident. “I feel like it was blown out of proportion like almost everything is these days. But, after it happened we became good friends. It was more the level of respect there and I’d say we’re still friends, so it’s good.”
Klentak described Cozens, who also had some discipline problems in high school, as an “intense kid who plays the game really hard,” which Klentak considers to be a good thing. Klentak doesn’t have any concerns that the incident in the Dominican is part of a bigger issue.
“If you’ve watched him, you can see that in his at-bats and when he runs the bases and is running around in the outfield,” Klentak said. “That’s just his style of play. That aggressive nature at times can boil over. You hope that it doesn’t boil over in altercations with teammates. But we have no long-term concerns with that at all.”
Minors Comings and Goings:
The Phillies lost only one player in Friday’s Rule 5 Draft when the Cleveland Indians took LHP Hoby Milner at #15. Milner, 25, split his time between AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley putting up a a 2.49 ERA in 49 appearances. Since their 40 man roster was full, as expected, the Phillies did not select anyone.
They did get and lose one player in the minor league phase of the draft. Added was SS Jorge Flores from Toronto. Flores has a career .673 OPS in five Minor League seasons, but he can also play 2B and 3B. The player lost was RHP Jairo Munoz to the Tampa Bay Rays. Munoz, 25, had a 3.26 ERA in 62 appearances, with a 1.13 ERA in six appearances last season with Clearwater.
Also on Friday the Phillies announced that they would bring LHP Sean Burnett and OF Daniel Nava to Phillies camp on minor league contracts as non-roster invitees.
Phillies Coaches, Players and the WBC:
Phillies BP coach John McLaren will head Team China in the World Baseball Classic this February. McLaren who has been involved with Team China since 2011 also managed China during the 2013 WBC and was part of the Team USA coaching staff as the third base coach during the inaugural WBC in 2006.
“I like spreading the word,” McLaren said Monday. “I think baseball brings people together. I’ve always been an international fanatic. I was in Venezuela five or six years. I did Colombia two years. I’ve always liked international baseball.” Former Phillie right-hander Vance Worley, ex-Phillies and a plethora of other teams, MLB pitcher Bruce Chen, could play for McLaren on Team China.
Other Phillies coaches who will be away from the team early in spring training include roaming instructor and catching coordinator Ernie Whitt who will manage Team Canada as well as possibly 3B coach Juan Samuel, who had previously been part of the Dominican Republic’s coaching staff, but has not been finalized yet for that team.
Klentak said he does not know at this time which Phillies players could be part of the WBC. Catching prospect Jorge Alfaro could play for Team Colombia while Freddy Galvis, Jeanmar Gomez, Edubray Ramos and Odubel Herrera were among the initial 50 players listed for Team Venezuela.
“We are in full support of the WBC; think it’s a great event,” Klentak said. “We are mindful that we have a young roster and we are mindful that we have a lot of young players battling for a roster spot or at-bats and it may not be in their best interest to leave camp.
“Any player that wants to leave camp to compete in the tournament, they will have our full support and we hope their team will do well,” he continued. “We’ll just have to see how it works out.”
Whitt said Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta (No. 17 in the Phillies’ Top 30) could be Team Canada’s No. 2 starter.
MLB goes into a quiet period now until mid January when arbitration figures are swapped. The date is TBD right now as the new CBA gets the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed. In the next few weeks I will look at some of the prospects the Phillies worked hard to keep from other teams during the Winter meetings and the Rule 5 Draft.