© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

12/15/08 6:24 PM EST

Phillies ink Moyer to two-year pact

Veteran lefty to return for his 23rd Major League season

PHILADELPHIA -- For those on his list, who have managed to stay in touch through the years, Jamie Moyer recently had a curious batch of Christmas cards to deliver. Forgoing the conventions of the holiday season, Moyer graced this year's cards with a photo of Citizens Bank Park's pitching rubber -- dug out of the dirt just after the World Series, and displayed on his bedroom shelf ever since.

Those who have unsealed the envelope in recent days have already seen it -- glossy proof of all that Moyer and his teammates accomplished this season.

Certainly the cards are evidence that a bit of Moyer is still living in October, even while the rest of him seems fixed on the future. Monday provided the proof, when the Phillies officially signed the 46-year-old starter to a two-year guaranteed contract, ensuring that Moyer's World Series encore will come in Philadelphia.

"I felt no reason why I couldn't pitch next year," Moyer said, "and having that security of the second year, it pushes me and it drives me, and we'll see where it goes. I'm excited for this up-and-coming season. That's where I'm going to put my attention to, and we'll deal with the following year when it comes."

In his second full season with the Phillies, Moyer finished 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA, making 33 starts for the third consecutive year. His durability has only increased with age -- Moyer has made at least 32 starts in each of the past eight seasons -- and that same sort of consistency has recently come to mark his performance.

After enduring one of the worst seasons of his career in 2007, Moyer rebounded with one of his best, producing an 8-1 record after the All-Star break.

A relatively rocky postseason did not deter Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. from pursuing Moyer, nor did Moyer's age deter the Phillies from offering a two-year contract. It's a gamble -- even Amaro admitted that -- but one the Phillies felt confident making.

"Jamie's going to do what he can to play out this contract and be an effective pitcher for us," Amaro said. "And if you ask Jamie, I would imagine he thinks he's going to play out many more contracts beyond it."

Consider it confidence through conditioning. Known in baseball circles for his grueling workouts, Moyer has managed to succeed at an age when nearly all ballplayers have long since retired. He will be on the verge of his 48th birthday when this new contract ends, though he deflected talk of such uncharted territory on Monday.

"I try not to look that far down the road," Moyer said. "I do know I'm 46 now, and I'm trying to appreciate where I am and the opportunities that I had. This year was an exciting year for myself, and my family, and the city and the organization."

Hot Stove

It was also a not-so-contentious year for negotiations. Though he and his agent spent time this offseason conversing with other teams, Moyer said he was sure from the start that he wanted to return to Philadelphia. As long as the numbers were right, he said, he planned to return.

"Did I ever think I wouldn't be a Phillie?" Moyer said. "No, but I've been through this process long enough that you never know how the market's going to go. You never know what's going to happen through the process."

With his return, the Phillies have four certainties in the starting rotation -- Moyer, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers and Joe Blanton. A crew of others, including J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick, Carlos Carrasco and new acquisition Chan Ho Park -- with whom the Phillies agreed to a deal on Monday -- will battle for the fifth spot.

The Phillies also signed free-agent left fielder Raul Ibanez earlier this month, meaning Moyer's contract filled the last of their most pressing needs.

"He meant, and will continue to mean, a lot more than just his presence on the field," Amaro said, referring to Moyer's leadership in the clubhouse. "He's an invaluable piece of the puzzle for us, and obviously gives us some more starting pitching depth."

Unlike Greg Maddux, 42, and Mike Mussina, 40, two of the league's oldest starters who announced their retirements earlier this offseason, Moyer did not seriously consider ending his career. Rather than feel complete after winning his first World Series title, Moyer instead felt compelled to keep pitching.

His 246 victories rank 47th all-time, and third among active players. Only Tom Glavine (305 wins) and Randy Johnson (295) have more, so it's only natural that Moyer would be wooed by such success.

"It plays a big part, and obviously playing on a world championship team, that plays a big part, too," Moyer said. "To me, it was a win-win situation, and I look forward to the opportunity of coming back and pitching this year."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.