Thursday, July 10, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Pujols to Angels; Phils go home without signing Rollins

DALLAS -- The Phillies left the Hilton Anatole Thursday without accomplishing their primary goal of signing shortstop Jimmy Rollins, but the pursuit will continue.

Pujols to Angels; Phils go home without signing Rollins

The Phillies left the winter meetings without signing Jimmy Rollins. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
The Phillies left the winter meetings without signing Jimmy Rollins. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

DALLAS -- The Phillies left the Hilton Anatole Thursday without accomplishing their primary goal of signing shortstop Jimmy Rollins, but the pursuit will continue.

"Nothing is scheduled (with Rollins' agent Dan Lozano), but I'm sure we'll be in touch with each other sometime soon," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said after the Rule 5 draft brought an official close to the winter meetings. "I'm concerned about filling that spot, but overall I'm not concerned."

The Phillies' only move here was the signing of free-agent utility man Laynce Nix, which is expected to become official after he passes a physical Thursday. That's not the kind of move that will get the folks back in Philadelphia too excited, but at least the Miami Marlins' initial assault of the free-agent market fizzled and gave way to a late surge by the Los Angeles Angels.

As teams checked out of this sprawling hotel, the news that the Angels had signed Albert Pujols and pitcher C.J. Wilson was exploding on Twitter.

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This was good news for the Phillies.

"If that's the case, I'm glad he's out of our league," Amaro said when told of Pujols' agreement with the Angels.

The Marlins had been in pursuit of Pujols and Wilson and if they had landed them, the balance of power may have shifted in the National League East. The free-agent additions of shortstop Jose Reyes, lefthander Mark Buerhle and closer Heath Bell will certainly make the Marlins better as they move into their new ballpark, but the Phillies remain the team to beat.

"Our division is going to be one of the best in the game," Amaro said. "The Marlins have been extremely aggressive and they already had a pretty good, young team. To add what they've done, they'll be a siginficant challenge for us, no question about it."

With Pujols and Wilson, however, they would have become the team to beat. Now, the Phillies don't have to worry about seeing Pujols for the next decade except in a three-game interleague series or the World Series. That's a relief for every National League team except the St. Louis Cardinals, who were understandably distraught after losing their best player.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak left Dallas without comment.

Reports on the Pujols' deal said the Angels will pay him between $250 and $260 million over the next 10 seasons. That's roughly twice as much as the deal Ryan Howard signed with the Phillies in 2010.

One possible impact the Pujols' deal could have on the Phillies is that the Cardinals now have more money to go after someone like Rollins. They need a shortstop and the assumption has been that they would re-sign veteran Rafael Furcal after bringing back Pujols. Now, they may want an offensive upgrade at shortstop and Rollins would give them one.

It seems more likely, however, that the Cardinals would get involved in the bidding for Prince Fielder, who is now the best remaining hitter on the free-agent market.

Amaro said the Phillies could still add a veteran lefthander to their bullpen and will still be in search of some bench help, but re-signing Rollins remains the top focus.

"I don't think we have a lot of needs to be frank," Amaro said. "I'm pretty happy with our club as it stands, but that doesn't mean we're not going to try to get better."

Phils lose Castillo

The Chicago Cubs selected righthander Lendy Castillo from the Phillies' triple-A roster in the major-league portion of the Rule 5 draft Thursday.

Castillo must remain with the Cubs for the entire 2012 season or be offered back to the Phillies. The teams can also work out a trade, but Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said the Phillies would want Castillo back.

The 22-year-old Castillo is a converted infielder who went 4-2 with a 2.54 ERA in 21 games at single-A Lakewood last season.

For the first time since 2005, the Phillies did not make a selection in the major-league portion of the Rule 5 draft.

 



Bob Brookover Inquirer Columnist
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