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June 02, 2019

MLB rumors: Phillies acquire Jay Bruce; Dallas Keuchel or Craig Kimbrel next?

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030619_Dallas-Keuchel_usat Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

Free agent starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel.

If you are a hardcore Phillies fan with no life outside of following the team, perhaps you know everything we are about to detail.

But for the more casual fan, or for anyone who was unable to stay awake to watch the Phillies falter in a weird, "opener" bullpen-pitched game, 4-3, that concluded with a Will Smith walk-off, a lot has been happening behind the scenes this weekend.

Bruuuuuce

According to reports, the Phillies have acquired Jay Bruce for a minor league player to be named sometime soon.

The need for Bruce is three-fold, as the 300-homer club member has 14 this season already. The Phillies have not been the home run happy team many expected as they have hit just 67 home runs this season, near the bottom of all 30 teams. 

Their bench has been beyond putrid. The team has averaged .151 as a pinch hitter with just one HR and seven RBI through 39 games. Adding Bruce will either move Scott Kingery to the bench, or to other positions around the field where the utility man is most useful.

It's worth noting that Bruce, 32, is comfortable coming off the bench. He is a career .283 pinch hitter in 56 tries (though he only has one career PH home run). He also has a little versatility, with career starts at first base and at every outfield position — though the majority of his starts have been in right field.

And finally, the Phillies have one, and only one left-handed hitter (Bryce Harper) on their entire 25-man roster with Odubel Herrera likely facing the end of his Phillies career. 

But what about their pitching staff?

Dallas Keuchel

Despite the fact that the Phillies literally did not start a starting pitcher on Saturday, the team is reportedly not one of the front-runners for former Cy Young award winner Dallas Keuchel, who is expected to sign with a team after Monday's MLB Draft.

According to Phillies' insider Jim Salisbury, Keuchel threw a "simulated game for interested teams several days ago and the Phils did not attend."

The Twins, Braves, Rays and Yankees seem to be the clubs involved, as of right now. It will be interesting to see what kind of deal is struck — and if it winds up being just one (pro-rated) year or multiple seasons.

Starters the Phillies are rumored to actually be interested in on the trade market include Mike Minor, Madison Bumgarner and Zack Greinke.

Craig Kimbrel

After a bevy of devastating injuries to the Phillies bullpen, Kimbrel on paper is a bigger need, and in reality it appears to be as well. Here's what Salisbury wrote this weekend about Philadelphia and the free agent closer.

As for Kimbrel, the Phils have had interest dating to last season, but not for the big-dollar, multi-year deal he has sought. If Kimbrel would take a one-year deal, the Phils might be ready to tango. But it appears he could get a better deal elsewhere, maybe from division rival Atlanta. The Braves are also in on Keuchel.

... David Robertson, Pat Neshek and Adam Morgan are all due back in the coming weeks. 

Even with these potential in-house additions, the Phils are still likely to seek outside bullpen help, maybe not with the signing of Kimbrel, but possibly via a trade for someone like Toronto’s Ken Giles or the White Sox’s Alex Colome. [NBC Sports Philadelphia]

It sounds like, should by some twist Kimbrel is unable to get a multi-year deal, Philly would be a perfect fit. But if he is able to get a lengthier pact from a team like the Braves, the Phillies will likely explore the trade market for some sort of rental arm (like Giles or Colome).

All of this comes as the Phillies complete a lengthy stretch against the contenders in the NL. Following the conclusion of their three-game set in L.A. against the conference leading Dodgers, the Phils will get a bit of a respite, facing the Padres, Reds and Diamondbacks next — all teams out of the current playoff picture. The trade deadline is still almost two entire months away, but it doesn't appear Philly is interested in waiting much longer.


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