Corey Kluber reportedly still in play for Phillies

Adding Kluber would give the Phillies three ace-caliber starting pitchers. (Photo: Erik Drost)

Phillies Nation was rocked by a report on Boxing Day that the two high-profile free agents who the club has publicly pursued with big contract offers this off-season, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, may hold a negative opinion of the city, the Phillies organization, or both.

MLB insider Joel Sherman made the statement, writing the following in the New York Post: “Word is neither player particularly likes Philadelphia…

That statement must be taken with a bit of a grain of salt for a number of reasons. The biggest, of course, is financial. The odds are that if either superstar turns down the Phillies, they would almost certainly be leaving tens of millions of dollars and multiple years of security on the table.

Then you have the source itself. Sherman is a New York guy. Of course, he would prefer to have Machado or Harper playing in his town, where he could enjoy watching them play and reporting on their exploits.

Finally, you have the statement itself. “Word is?” Where does this “word” come from exactly? And neither guy “particularly likes Philadelphia?” What does that even mean? Do they both hate Philly? Do they hold such a negative opinion that they would never play here? Do they even have a negative opinion at all, or are they simply ambivalent about our town?

Set aside the extremely questionable nature of the report, and let’s assume that it is completely accurate on its face. Neither Harper or Machado wants to play in Philly. Both go to a place they really do want, neither deciding to take the “stupid money” that John Middleton is offering. What next for the Phillies?

As Sherman’s report came out on the day after Christmas, at the same time another report was being released by Jon Paul Morosi at that again linked starting pitcher Corey Kluber to the Phillies. The Cleveland Indians have been dangling their ace, hoping to land a package of younger players and prospects in return.

While Morosi’s sources have the San Diego Padres as the current front-runners and the Dodgers perhaps a close second in a possible Kluber deal, the Phillies are indeed again lurking and involved.

Tribe GM Mike Chernoff is reportedly looking for a package led by a young, MLB-ready player with upside potential and a couple of solid prospects. Nick Cafardo at The Boston Globe stated the following on the Kluber situation last week:

“…from what we’re hearing, the Indians won’t deal him unless they get value-plus. There would have to be an overpayment of prospects and young players to get a deal done.”

While Rhys Hoskins and Scott Kingery would certainly be off the table, a Phillies package could lead with any or a combination from among Maikel Franco, Nick Williams, Odubel Herrera, and Roman Quinn.

Any starting pitcher not named Aaron Nola or Jake Arrieta could go. From the prospect ranks, anyone below top prospect Sixto Sanchez should be in play.

All this highlights is the continuing fact that Middleton has made an open checkbook available to general manager Matt Klentak in order to help improve the team. It is now up to Klentak and president Andy MacPhail to entice impact players, difference-makers on the field who will also draw fans, to accept that money.

My take is that, despite New York media wishes, the Phillies are still very much in on Machado and Harper. But the team is also talking other deals, with a potential trade for Kluber just part of that overall strategy to improve the roster for 2019 as best they can.

There are plenty of options still available beyond those mentioned. At third base there is Mike Moustakas. Or you could wait a year and go after Nolan Arenado. At shortstop you could likely roll the dice on a one-year deal with an option on Troy Tulowitzki.

In the outfield, perhaps a short-term deal with A.J. Pollock or Carlos Gonzalez, one that bridges you the two years until Mike Trout becomes a free agent and we are all thrown into an apoplectic frenzy that will make all of this Harper-Machado nonsense look like child’s play.








  1. Chris. I

    December 27, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    First of all..I’ve got 4 words for Machado and Harper (assuming that the source is true). “The hell with them”. This could be a blessing in disguise for the organization and its fans. I’d love to have either player, but I’m not okay with spending “stupid money” on 2 guys who don’t want to be here. None the less IS NOT WORTH the tenure of the deal OR the money. Let them walk, move on and get Trout (someone who actually LOVES the city and it’s fans). Who of course would be worth “stupid money”.

    About Kluber..If it involves Sanchez DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT do it, please!! Take Franco, Herrera, Hernandez, any of our OF but do not trade Sanchez for a rental for Kluber. Even with Kluber, and a backend reliever like Kimbrell, we are still Another year or two out of contention. C’mon Klentek don’t be delusional

    • Matthew Veasey

      December 27, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      As I said in the piece, Sanchez would certainly not be involved from the Phillies end.

    • Bestpaboxer

      December 27, 2018 at 3:48 pm

      Agree 100%

  2. PricklyPete

    December 27, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Trout Trout Trout

  3. Craig Glessner

    December 27, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    I wouldn’t give away too much unless he signs at least a 3 year extension. I watched him in the playoffs last year and you can tell he wasn’t the same animal he was when they were in the world series just 2 years earlier. Still big upgrade over what we have plus good experience maybe will rub off on younger pitchers. My offer would be 1(any 1outfielder)2 (Velasquez, Eflin, or Pivetta) 3 (Medina, Cole Irvin, or de los Santos) and any 2 players from (Cozens, Altheer, Knapp, Eshelman, Ranger Suarez, Jahlin Ortiz, Connor Seabold, or Cornelius Randolph). If they don’t like that offer well good luck to them because after next season that division will belong to the White Sox regardless of having Kluber or not.

  4. DBags

    December 27, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    Go after Arenado next year and use Kingery at 2nd. Then if possible go afyer Trout the year after

  5. Jeff

    December 27, 2018 at 10:39 pm

    Any player would be nuts to go to NY, LA, or CHI based on the tax liability alone. I don’t put a lot of stock in the report solely because it’s coming out of NY.

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