Winter Meetings: Decisions on Durbin, Park loom

The Phillies will have an important sit-down with representatives from the Beverly Hills Sports Council later on today, where they'll discuss two clients whose futures with the club are up in the air. First, the two sides will attempt to make some headway at returning Chan Ho Park to Philadelphia for at least one more season. Park, who earned $2.5 million last season, still maintains some hopes of starting somewhere, but discussions with the Phillies have revolved solely around relief. Park has zero shot at earning a starting job with the Phillies -- the organization likes him in the role he served after losing his starting job last year, as a reliever capable of pitching both multiple innings and in late-and-close situations.

Another interesting discussion will involve veteran righthander Chad Durbin, who is likely in line to earn at least $2 million in arbitration this season. Durbin, who made $1.635 million last year, has been a workhorse in his two seasons with the Phillies, throwing 87.2 innings while posting a 2.87 ERA in 2008 and 69.2 innings while posting a 4.39 ERA last season. Durbin struggled at times this season and spent time on the disabled list with a strained lat. When he didn't walk people (he allowed an average of more than six walks per nine innings), he was excellent: he held righties to a .218 average and lefties to a .223 average while striking out 8.0 batters per nine innings.

Durbin finished August with a 5.17 ERA, but was dominant in September, allowing three earned runs in 15 2/3 innings. He then pitched four scoreless innings in the NLDS and NLCS before allowing four runs in two appearances in the World Series, including three runs in the Phillies' 7-3 loss in Game 6.

So what are the Phillies options with Durbin?

1) They can offer him arbitration (the deadline to do so is Dec. 12), thereby guaranteeing him a contract for 2010. If they are unable to reach an agreement on a contract, Durbin's salary would be decided by a panel of arbitrators in January or February.

2) They can reach an agreement with Durbin on a contract prior to Dec. 12. This is likely what the two sides will be discussing over the next couple of days here in Indy. If the Phillies want Durbin back, but are unwilling to pay him the $2-plus million that is likely due to him thanks to his service time and performance, they could try to convince him to re-sign at the rate at which they view his value.

3) If the two sides are unable to work out a mutually-palatable deal and the Phillies are unwilling to let arbitrators decide his 2010 salary, they can decline to offer him a contract, which would make him a free agent after the Dec. 12 deadline.

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