In addressing the media today at Citizens Bank Park following the Brian Schneider signing, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. made clear that he is rummaging through the bargain bin to upgrade his team.
The Phils are actively looking for inexpensive additions to the pitching staff, both for the bullpen and back end of the starting rotation. “We could try to shoot for a low-risk/high reward type of guy,” Amaro said.
One such player is veteran free agent John Smoltz, who could start or relieve. “I guess he would fit the bill,” Amaro said of Smoltz. “We have talked to a number of agents about a bunch of different guys. We don’t talk about specific guys unless we’re signing them, but he would fit the bill, certainly.”
Amaro said he had made “significant contact” with the agents for a number of pitchers who “might not be the sexy names that people are talking about.”
The Phils’ bullpen moves will also be determined by whether they decide to retain Scott Eyre and Chan Ho Park. Amaro said this afternoon that the team was unlikely to offer either player arbitration before tonight's 11:59pm deadline, but could still resign Eyre and/or Park.
The GM reiterated that he expected the front end of the 2010 rotation to be Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ. Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer are the current candidates to become the fifth starter. But Moyer, who is home from the hospital after minor surgery last week, will undergo an arthroscopic knee procedure in January that could delay that start of his spring training.
“We would like to add some more depth if we could, but pitchers aren’t falling off trees, and I don’t have an unlimited budget,” Amaro said.
The Phils also need to sign a third baseman, and can intensify their pursuit after tonight's deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to their free agents. Various reports indicated that Detroit did not offer Placido Polanco arbitration, and Houston did the same with Miguel Tejada. Because of that, the Phils could sign either without sacrificing a top draft pick.
“It obviously has an impact, because our goal is to try to develop young players,” Amaro said. “And losing draft picks doesn't help..I'm optimistic that we can get something done. How quickly kind of depends on the pace of the agent."