Shortly after the stroke of 4 p.m. Friday, once the trade-deadline frenzy passed, Phillies officials began discussing another matter.
Although teams are no longer able to add players through trades, they can still sign free agents. Hamels, the iconic former Phillies ace and 2008 World Series MVP, remains unsigned but intends to pitch this season.
“It’s a topic that we still need to revisit,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “We like Cole. There’s a lot of things we like about him. But now we need to sit down and revisit the conversation and see where it takes us.”
The Phillies attended Hamels’ showcase two weeks ago, but like most teams, they weren’t going to make a decision about whether to sign the 37-year-old lefty until after the trade deadline. Hamels has made one start since the end of the 2019 season and likely would need about a month-long tuneup in the minors before he’s ready to enter a big-league rotation.
Zach Eflin has been sidelined since July 20 with tendinitis in his right knee. The Phillies don’t have a timetable for his return. They acquired right-hander Kyle Gibson on Friday from the Texas Rangers but moved erstwhile top prospect Spencer Howard in the deal. Vince Velasquez (5.54 ERA entering his start Friday night in Pittsburgh) and lefty Matt Moore (6.46) occupy the final two spots in the rotation, with little depth behind them in triple-A.
Avoiding the tax
Dombrowski said ownership was “open” to trades that would have pushed the payroll over the competitive-balance tax threshold. But after receiving cash in the trades with both Texas and Baltimore, the Phillies won’t have to worry about it.
Entering Friday, the Phillies were approximately $4.5 million from the $210 million mark that triggers a 20% surcharge on every additional dollar spent. Like many sellers, the Rangers agreed to pay most of the remaining 2021 salaries for Gibson ($3.6 million) and reliever Ian Kennedy ($800,000) in order to extract a better return (Spencer Howard) from the Phillies.
“I did not have any mandate to stay under the CBT,” Dombrowski said. “Ownership was very open to that regard. However, the reason they call it a tax is it’s punitive, so you try to save yourself some punitive damages by staying below the CBT, as most clubs do. Really it’s a goal to stay below that. But we never were in a position where we said, ‘Well, we’ll give you more if you pick up more salary.’ ”
No hard feelings
The Phillies agreed to a trade Tuesday for lefty starter Tyler Anderson, but it fell through when the Pittsburgh Pirates raised concern about the medical reports on 20-year-old single-A pitcher Cristian Hernandez, one of two minor leaguers they would have received. After the teams attempted to rework the deal, the Pirates sent Anderson to the Seattle Mariners instead.
Dombrowski said he didn’t believe Pirates general manager Ben Cherington acted in bad faith.
“He called me to kind of explain what took place, and I understood it,” Dombrowski said. “They exchanged some names with us that would replace [Hernandez]. We thought they were a little bit high as far as the value, and rather than lose the opportunity to move him somewhere else, they decided to make that move. That was their right to do so.”
The teams completed a minor-league deal Friday. The Phillies acquired hard-throwing lefty Braeden Ogle for single-A catcher Abrahan Gutierrez, the other player in the Anderson deal. Ogle, 24, has a 3.13 ERA in 31 2/3 innings in triple-A. He has struck out 11.9 batters per nine innings but has also walked 6.5 per nine.
Bryce Harper returned to the lineup after leaving Thursday’s game early with back stiffness. Neither Rhys Hoskins (groin) nor Jean Segura (knee) was in the lineup Friday night, but manager Joe Girardi characterized both as “day to day.” ... J.T. Realmuto batted leadoff for the 41st time in his career but the first since 2018 with the Miami Marlins. ... The Phillies designated reliever Brandon Kintzler for assignment and transferred outfielder Matt Joyce (back) to the 60-day injured list, opening 40-man roster spots for Friday’s additions. ... Outfielder Travis Jankowski was reinstated from the COVID-19 restricted list. ... Aaron Nola is scheduled to start Saturday night against Pirates right-hander JT Brubaker.