12/06/07 4:45 PM ET
Phils to continue working on '08 model
Seeking depth, club among suitors for free-agent righty Benson
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
Gillick called Rowand's return a "long shot," but the team is hopeful it can replace Rowand's bat with Tadahito Iguchi, who will likely be offered a multiyear contract. The sides are close, but a snag must be addressed, since Iguchi would need a waiver to re-sign with the Phillies.Because he was released after the season, as per his contract, Iguchi can't sign a Major League deal until May 15. He could sign a Minor League contract and play at Triple-A Lehigh Valley for six weeks, but his agent, Rocky Hall, said that wasn't an option. Another option explored would be another team signing Iguchi, then dealing him to Philadelphia, but that likely died when the sides discovered that a team couldn't trade such a player until June 15 of the next season. Philadelphia could also still upgrade at third, where Wes Helms and Greg Dobbs are expected to share time. The Phillies have been approached by the Marlins about Helms, and a deal could happen if they find a suitable upgrade. The Tigers' Brandon Inge doesn't qualify, largely because he's owed $19.1 million over the next three seasons. Deals done: None during the Winter Meetings. The Phillies acquired righty closer Brad Lidge and utiltyman Eric Bruntlett for outfielder Michael Bourn, righty Geoff Geary and Minor League third baseman Michael Costanzo on Nov. 7. Three days later, the Phils re-signed lefty J.C. Romero to a three-year, $12 million deal with an option for a fourth year. Rule 5 activity: The Phillies selected Blackley from the Giants and right-hander Lincoln Holdzkom from the Red Sox in the Major League phase, and third baseman Patrick Sellers from the Astros and second baseman Luke Appert from the A's in the Minor League phase. Philadelphia lost righty Scott Mitchinson to Oakland and righty Kenny Fernandez to Florida in the Minor League phase. Goals accomplished: It's too early to tell. The Phils didn't accomplish their goal of adding at least one big league pitcher, but they may have laid some groundwork that may pan out in Spring Training or during the season. Unfinished business: The Phillies are seeking pitching depth, either to replace an injured or ineffective starter or provide further help in the bullpen. They're a strong candidate for Benson from among a field that may include as many as eight other teams. They discussed outfielder Nate McLouth and reliever John Grabow with Pittsburgh, and could double back on that front. They're also sniffing around for potential trades, but are reluctant to trade their Minor League talent. Organizational bottom line: "We're very competitive right now, but obviously we want to get more competitive. We're going to continue to see if there are other pieces that we can add. Pitching depth is an area that we want to continue addressing, just from the standpoint of guys that we had to run out last year." -- Arbuckle
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.