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12/02/07 10:34 AM ET

Phillies offer Rowand arbitration

Free-agent center fielder thought to be seeking five-year deal

PHILADELPHIA -- Aaron Rowand was offered salary arbitration prior to Saturday's 11:59 p.m. ET deadline, securing the Phillies two 2008 Draft picks should he sign elsewhere.

The procedural move guarantees Philadelphia the first-round Draft pick of the team that signs him, plus a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds. If Rowand signs with a team that finished with one of the 15 worst records last season, the Phillies will receive that team's sandwich pick.

If Rowand accepts arbitration by Dec. 7, his 2008 salary would be determined by an arbitrator. He and the Phillies could still work out a multiyear deal by the hearing date -- which would occur in early February -- but his return to Philadelphia would be assured. The team wouldn't mind if Rowand accepted, though that is unlikely given the five-year, $90 million deal Torii Hunter signed and the high demand for Rowand.

Rowand is the only Phillies player classified as a Type A free agent. Freddy Garcia, a Type B, would've netted only a supplemental pick. The Phillies forfeited that by not offering him arbitration; the risk was too great that he might accept it and return for more than the $10 million he earned last season. None of the team's other free agents was believed to have been offered arbitration, but the Phillies wouldn't have been entitled compensation from them, anyway.

In past years, a free agent not offered arbitration or a player who didn't accept couldn't re-sign with his former club until May 1. That changed with the latest collective bargaining agreement, ratified last offseason. Teams no longer lose the right to negotiate with players with whom they don't offer arbitration; it simply means they forfeit the potential Draft-pick compensation if the player signs with another team, such as the Phillies did with Garcia.

Rowand and the Phillies can still negotiate as they are now. He is believed to be seeking a five-year deal, and the Rangers and Dodgers are believed to be interested, as are the Yankees if they deal Melky Cabrera in a trade for Johan Santana.

Philadelphia general manger Pat Gillick said last week that the Phillies haven't ruled out bringing Rowand back, but thinks the club's offense will be fine, regardless.

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.