The Phillies have said for almost a month their No. 1 priority is signing Jamie Moyer to a contract extension.
They still hope to get that done.
But it looks like the Phillies don't want to get caught flat footed if talks with Moyer drag on and they suddenly realize they can't come to an agreement. A source said yesterday that the Phillies recently have contacted Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett about contracts.
Lowe, 35, went 14-11 with a 3.24 ERA last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Reports are that Lowe is seeking a five-year contract worth around $15 million per season. Burnett, 31, who went 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA with the Toronto Blue Jays, also is believed to be seeking at least a five-year contract.
The Phillies don't like to give five- or six-year contracts to pitchers because of the health risk involved. They're not alone, either. The Yankees, for example, reportedly have balked at talking seriously with Burnett while he asks for a five-year contract. But the Phillies will have to do something if Moyer doesn't sign, and if they think they can get Lowe or Burnett they have to at least try. And in case you're wondering, there's almost no chance the Phillies would sign both Moyer and Burnett or Lowe. I think it's one or the other (Moyer or Lowe/Burnett), and I still think they prefer to sign Moyer. The Phillies have said in the past if they sign Moyer, they will have Kyle Kendrick, J.A. Happ, Carlos Carrasco and Drew Carpenter (throw Adam Eaton's name in there, too) compete for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Ruben Amaro Jr. said Chase Utley's surgery went very well: "I'm pleased there were no surprises. We're optimistic that he'll be back and shouldn't miss a significant portion of the season. I would be surprised if he did not return until June. That would be very surprising, although a lot will depend on how he reacts to the surgery and how the overall rehab goes."
Amaro also said he expects Pedro Feliz back by spring training. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but I asked him if this is going to be a David Bell-type thing, where Feliz constantly will have lower back issues. Amaro said, "We don't see any degenerative issues with his back." That's good news for the Phillies.