The Phillies are actively exploring options at third base other than Pedro Feliz, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said today.
The team has until Monday to exercise a $5.5 million dollar contract option on Feliz for the 2010 season.
“More than anything else, we want to see what options may be out there for us and decide whether picking his option up is best suited for this club to try to move forward,” Amaro said. “He had a solid year for us. I like the man personally. He’s a great person and a great teammate, but I also believe in trying to improve and sometimes change can be for the better. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to, but it’s just something that we’re thinking about.”
Feliz, 34, is a top defensive player, but subpar offensively. In 2009, he batted .266, with a.308 on-base percentage and .386 slugging percentage.
Amaro could pursue a trade to upgrade the position. The general manager meetings begin on Monday in Chicago, so Amaro will gather with executives from other team’s before he needs to make a decision on Feliz’s option.
The GM could also replace Feliz with a free agent—though teams have a 15-day window to negotiate exclusively with free agents. Of the potential third basemen on the market, three stick out as potential fits for the Phils: Seattle’s Adrian Beltre, Anaheim’s Chone Figgins, St. Louis’ Mark DeRosa.
Because the Angels figure to aggressively pursue Figgins, and DeRosa is also 34 years old, Beltre, 30, stands out. A strong defender with a power bat, Beltre is coming off a five-year, $64 million contract. Injuries limited Beltre in 2009 to 111 games and eight home runs—but that performance might have made him affordable to the Phils. Amaro was vague yesterday when discussing payroll flexibility, but the team is unlikely to add significant money to a payroll that exceeded $130 million last season.
Closer Brad Lidge is scheduled to have his right elbow examined today, said Amaro. Lidge might have “loose bodies” in the elbow, the same issue that sidelined lefthander Scott Eyre in September.