UPDATE: 8:46 p.m.
One of the reasons why a Durbin/Phillies reunion seemed unlikely (other than the fact that the Phillies said it was unlikely) is that the Phillies payroll had swelled to more than $165 million with the signing of Cliff Lee. There was some thought that they would trade Joe Blanton and free up some money that could have been used for a right-handed bat or a bullpen piece, but the Phillies seem content to go into the season with their current starting five.
Durbin could, however, end up signing a minor league deal with a decent salary should he make the major league club.
One thing to keep in mind: righthander Kyle Kendrick's $2.45 million contract for 2011 is not guaranteed. If the Phillies release him before March 16, they would owe him 30 days severance pay, or around $427,000. If they release him after, they owe him 45 days, or around $641,000. Once the season starts, the contract is guaranteed.
Right now, Kendrick is expected to fill the void left by Durbin. So, theoretically, even if the Phillies ended up signing Durbin to a minor league deal that called for a big league salary of the $2.135 million he earned last season, the Phillies would have some ability to free up a chunk of that money.
I'm not saying that is a likely possibility. Kendrick provides the Phillies with valuable depth should they suffer an injury in the rotation, and the Phillies could end up having to replace Roy Oswalt in the rotation for next season. But if Vance Worley has a big spring training, and Durbin ends up signing and landing a spot on the club, who knows.
Could Chad Durbin be back with the Phillies after all?
A source close to the veteran righthander says yes. Durbin and the Phillies were thought to have gone their separate ways after they failed to reach a contract agreement in December. In fact, the Phillies had pretty much ruled out the possibility of Durbin returning.
But Durbin has never hidden the fact that he would like to return to Philadelphia. And while he reportedly has other offers on the table -- including one as a starter with the Red Sox -- the Phillies are still in the running.
Sources say Durbin's decision is expected to come before this weekend.
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