01/05/10 4:07 PM EST
Phillies seeking starter, lefty reliever
Eyre unlikely to return in '10; Romero may not be ready
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
But Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park that he still has a couple things on his wish list:
A left-handed reliever.
Amaro said the Phillies "probably have finished the negotiations" with left-hander Scott Eyre, whom they offered a Minor League deal. Eyre was 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA in 61 appearances since he joined the Phils in August 2008, but he also is coming off elbow surgery. Amaro said Philadelphia offered Eyre the Minor League deal for protection from the surgery.
"I don't believe he'll be a Phillie next year," Amaro said.
But Amaro said he will explore opportunities for lefty relievers because there is some question whether left-hander J.C. Romero, who had elbow surgery in October, will be ready to start the season. He could begin throwing in the middle of the month, but Amaro said he is behind closer Brad Lidge, who also had elbow surgery and also might not be ready to start the season.
Free agent left-handers Joe Biemel and Will Ohman are possibilities to take Eyre's place.
"There is not a lot to choose from," Amaro said.
There is not much the Phils can afford, either. Baez, who Philadelphia officially signed Tuesday to a two-year, $5.25 million contract, will make $2.5 million in 2010 and $2.75 million in '11. That pushes their '10 payroll to $118.45 million, and that does not include salaries for Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Carlos Ruiz, Chad Durbin, Ben Francisco, J.A. Happ and others.
Amaro added that left-hander Jamie Moyer, who is slated as the team's fifth starter, also might not be ready to start the season. He is having the meniscus repaired in his right knee Monday. If he is not ready to start the season, Amaro said Kyle Kendrick, Andrew Carpenter and Ryan Vogelsong, who spent last season pitching in Japan, would be candidates for the fifth starter's job.
And because of the uncertainty surrounding Moyer, Amaro would like to add more depth to the rotation. He has talked with the agents for Ben Sheets, Chien-Ming Wang and others, but they seem unlikely to sign unless their asking prices drop significantly. Amaro said he also has spoken to Brett Myers' agent, which is noteworthy only because Amaro said immediately after the season that Myers would not return.
That said, Amaro said he doesn't see much likelihood that Myers will be back.
"If we had our druthers, we'll try to perhaps sign somebody else -- one or two pitchers who could fight for one of those jobs," Amaro said. "[It will] probably a Minor League deal at this point, a player who is anticipating getting a Major League deal, and quite frankly, the market isn't out there for them."
The Phillies have had interest in right-hander Miguel Batista in the past, although it is unclear what the market is for him. Amaro also said he will leave the lines of communication open with Pedro Martinez, although it seems their prices are far apart.
If Amaro can't find a pitcher or two willing to take Minor League deals, Baez would represent the final move of a busy offseason. The Phillies acquired Roy Halladay in a trade, albeit at the expense of Cliff Lee. They signed Placido Polanco to replace Pedro Feliz at third base, and signed Ross Gload, Brian Schneider and Juan Castro to join their bench.
Is Amaro happy with how things went?
"Obviously, I wish our health was a little bit better," he said. "If we knew that J.C. and Brad and Jamie were going to be 100 percent, that would be my druthers right out of the shoot. I think overall, things went OK. We looked to try to improve in a couple different areas. We'll continue to try to improve in some areas. I think we added some depth in our bench. I think we added a quality top-of-the-rotation starter. Overall, I think that our club, if I look at it on paper, I think that our club is as good as it was last year. And hopefully it'll play better."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.