The club lists pitching as their top priority, but management has been openly dissatisfied with the options available through free agency. As baseball’s GMs get together in Nashville, the Phillies try to make a move.
December is the month when Beerleaguer’s traffic counter registers a pulse again. Since the Rockies swept the Phillies from the Division Series back in October, there have been a few flutters, including the Brad Lidge trade and Jimmy Rollins winning the National League MVP. Otherwise the site has been quiet. Until now. The Winter Meetings are the fuel that makes the hot stove glow red hot. News of the Randy Wolf signing kept conversation abuzz all weekend over what the Phillies will do next, with some rather silly proposals chilling the comments' thread like an arctic blast.
Most experts anticipate higher than usual activity on the trade front. National sites, like Yahoo! and FoxSports, are weighing in with some scenarios, with the newest rumor involving the Red Sox getting hot and heavy over Johan Santana. Only a pitcher of Santana’s magnitude can top the Miguel Cabrera talk; the Angels are still considered the front-runner there.
On the Phillies’ front, Aaron Rowand was offered salary arbitration over the weekend, securing two draft picks should he sign elsewhere. They have an offer on the table to Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who's been heavily pursued by the Seattle Mariners, among others. The Phillies have been rejected at least three times already. Curt Schilling returned to the Red Sox quickly. Third baseman Mike Lowell turned down a reported four-year, $50 million deal. Wolf signed a one-year deal to stay on the West Coast.
Although they’ve reiterated that pitching remains their top priority, they’ve been equally committed to filling holes in their offense. Four years to Lowell would have been an awfully big commitment, and even four years to Rowand (he reportedly wants at least five) would be a major allocation of resources.
As a result, there’s been limitless speculation. They could go any direction. They’re looking into the Orioles’ Eric Bedard, says Jayson Stark. Two weeks ago, it was Miguel Tejada. Some writers suggest Scott Rolen would be a good fit. Others reiterate his mid-west preference and think Milwaukee would be a better fit (where?). Should Rowand walk away, securing outfield depth figures to be the easiest challenge since they can have their pick from a massive list. Help could come from free agents like Geoff Jenkins, Shawn Green, Luis Gonzalez, or even Brad Wilkerson, who was not offered arbitration this weekend.
There’s literally no telling which direction the Phillies will go.