Winter Meetings: Day 1 (So Far)
A few things from Day 1 of the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.:
- Ruben Amaro Jr. said he does not believe the Phillies must find a right-handed-hitting outfielder to replace Jayson Werth. But outfielders to watch include free agents Scott Hairston and Matt Diaz. Diaz’s agent Larry Reynolds said he is receiving plenty of interest on Diaz, who could sign with a team before the conclusion of the meetings. He declined to say how interested the Phillies might be.
- There has been a buzz at the Winter Meetings the Phillies had focused on free agent outfielder Jeff Francoeur, but sources said the Phillies are not seriously pursuing him.
- Aaron Rowand is available in a trade, but the San Francisco Giants probably would need to pay a substantial portion of his salary to make it happen.
- Interestingly, Amaro spoke of a potential platoon in right field involving Ben Francisco and Ross Gload – not mentioning Domonic Brown, who hit just .069 in nine Dominican Winter Ball games before returning home last week. Asked if he would prefer Brown to play every day than split time in the big leagues, Amaro said, “If we had our druthers we’d rather put Domonic in a position to get the at-bats that he kind of lost last year and prepare himself to improve his outfield play, base running, etc. In a perfect world, we don’t need Domonic to make our club, unless he really pushes us, unless he shows us in Spring Training that he’s ready to take that next step.”
- The Los Angeles Times reported the Phillies could be interested in Angels outfielder Juan Rivera, which would make sense. The Phillies have liked him in the past, although Rivera struggled last season with just a .746 OPS against left-handed pitchers.
- The Phillies still have some interest in right-hander Chad Durbin, although Amaro sounded like the Phillies might be able to acquire just one reliever. If they can acquire just one reliever, he would prefer that pitcher be left-handed. Left-handers like Arthur Rhodes, Pedro Feliciano and Brian Fuentes are free agents. ESPN.com reported Fuentes could be seeking at least $6 million a year, which would seem to knock the Phillies from the running.
- The Phillies declined a club option on J.C. Romero after the season, but Amaro said at the time they would consider bringing him back at the right price. “We haven’t closed any doors on anybody,” he said.
- Amaro also indicated the Phillies do not have much payroll flexibility. The Phillies offered Werth a three-year, $48 million contract, but just because the Phillies were prepared to pay Werth $16 million next season does not mean they have $16 million to spend. They made a special exception for Werth. (They would make a special exception for Cliff Lee too, but the Phillies are not in the hunt for him.)
- The Phillies would like to add some starting pitching depth, if possible. They recently signed Brian Bass to a Minor League contract. He is 9-7 with a 5.16 ERA in 101 appearances (four starts) in his career.
- The Phillies also said they will keep their eye on the Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies currently have 40 players on the 40-man roster, which means they would need to release a player before selecting a player in the draft. “We’ll be bearing down on it,” Amaro said, although he added the players they like likely will be gone by the time they draft.
Keep checking the blog. I’ll try to update as often as possible, but the Phillies aren’t creating much buzz at these Winter Meetings.