With Rounding The Bases, we take a look throughout Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, with an emphasis on issues that affect – or could affect – the Phillies and their minor league teams and players. We’ll also check in with what some former Phillies are doing and anything else of note that we happen to find while we’re Rounding The Bases.
Strasburg Opts Out
Reports out of our nation’s capital – notes not of the political variety, but of the baseball variety; the more important kind – say that Stephen Strasburg will opt out of his contract with the Nats, leaving $100-million guaranteed dollars over the next four seasons sitting on the table. Strasburg will join fellow World Series combatant Gerritt Cole as the top available starting pitchers in free agency. It’s worth noting that both are represented by Scott Boras, who also represents Bryce Harper and another Nationals free agent, Anthony Rendon. You have to figure that at some point, Boras and the Phillies are going to have some nice, long talks about the players he represents and how they might fit into the plan in Philadelphia.
So, what’s the ballpark figure on someone like Cole or Strasburg? You have to figure that the bidding starts somewhere north of seven years and $217-million, the deal that David Price got prior to the 2016 season. You also have to figure that both will look to beat Justin Verlander‘s $31.33 average annual salary that he got with Houston prior to the 2019 season. Figure on Cole getting slightly more, primarily because of Strasburg’s injury history.
As for Rendon, would Boras look to top fellow client Bryce Harper’s deal with the Phillies? Possible. Will he get it? Not overly likely, but possible.
Mallee gainfully employed; Kapler next?
Former Phillies hitting coach John Mallee was hired by Joe Maddon to serve as the hitting coach for the Los Angeles Angels. Mallee was fired in August and replaced on an interim basis by former Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. Maddon also pulled former Mets manager Mickey Callaway off the ranks of the unemployed, hiring him to serve as the Angels pitching coach.
Meanwhile, Gabe Kapler could wind up back in Cali, too. The Giants are seeking to replace Bruce Bochy, who retired following the 2019 season and Kapler has interviewed for the job. In fact, this past week, he had his second interview with the Giants. Astros bench coach Joe Espada also had a second interview with San Francisco and the job seems to come down to between Kapler and Espada.
How did Kapler come to be interviewed by the Giants? It goes back to his days as the player development director with the Dodgers. Kapler reported to GM Farhan Zaidi, who is now the Giants vice president of baseball operations. The two are said to be close, which got Kapler’s foot in the door and may land him a new gig with San Francisco.
Girardi isn’t looking back
When Joe Girardi was named manager of the Phillies, all eyes turned to Larry Rothschild to be his pitching coach. Problem was that Rothschild was still employed by the Yankees as their pitching coach. Just prior to Girardi being officially introduced in Philadelphia, the Yankees fired Rothschild. At that point, it figured it was just a matter of time until Rothschild and Girardi were reunited in Philadelphia. Not so. Girardi, like Maddon in L.A., went for a former manager to be the next pitching coach and hired Bryan Price for the job. Girardi also passed up on old friend Dave Eiland, who got blown out of his job with the Mets when they emptied the dugout after the season.
As for hitting coach, it’s possible that Girardi could use a former Yankees coach to find the new guy in Philly. The Nationals aren’t likely to let Kevin Long, who was Girardi’s hitting coach with the Yankees go, especially after the job he did with the Nats hitters in leading them to the World Series. However, Long’s assistant, Joe Dillon is in play and it’s likely Girardi has spoken with Long about Dillon. Another former Phillies hitting coach, Matt Stairs, is also a possibility.
Major changes in the minors
There could be some pretty hefty changes coming to Minor League Baseball. There are all sorts of proposals floating around with talk about teams and even whole leagues being eliminated and others being reclassified and realigned. We’ll have more on the situation this week and how it could affect the Phillies and their minor league affiliates.