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12/10/09 12:33 AM EST

Phils wary of cost to deal for Doc

Philadelphia among front-runners for ace, despite concerns

INDIANAPOLIS -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. plans to be on an early afternoon flight to Philadelphia on Thursday.

He has no more reasons to be at the Winter Meetings.

The Phillies agreed late Tuesday night to a two-year contract with outfielder/first baseman Ross Gload, who should be the team's final bench piece, provided he passes his physical. Philadelphia previously had signed third baseman Placido Polanco, catcher Brian Schneider and infielder Juan Castro. That leaves the bullpen and rotation depth, and Amaro said Wednesday the club was unlikely to finalize anything before the Winter Meetings end with the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning.

After that, what else is there?

Oh, yeah, Roy Halladay.

Amaro would not address Halladay specifically Wednesday, but asked about the Phillies' chances to land a big-time starting pitcher in a trade, Amaro said, "Is there any way possible? I guess there is. Is there a likelihood of us getting involved in something that's that big? Probably not."

But there is a sentiment among baseball personnel at the Winter Meetings that the Phillies are one of the favorites, if not the favorite, to land Halladay.

So why can't the Phils get involved?

"Probably more than one or two reasons," Amaro said. "I'm not going to get into the reasons, but probably more than one or two."

The first reason is prospects. The Phillies are reluctant to part with a package of top prospects for Halladay, who can become a free agent after the season. The second reason is money. Philadelphia is approaching a $140 million payroll, which appears to be its limit. Halladay is set to make $15.75 million next season. Adding the former American League Cy Young Award winner would put the Phils well over their budget, unless they move payroll or ownership makes an exception for a special talent like Halladay.

But if Toronto's asking price drops, it is believed Philadelphia will be in the Halladay sweepstakes.

Amaro has said throughout the Meetings that the club is looking for rotation depth, a young pitcher with options or a veteran looking to play for a winner. Halladay certainly is not that. Neither is Jason Marquis, but there are reports the Phillies are interested in him.

A source said Wednesday the Phils met this week with Cliff Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, about a possible contract extension, although nothing is imminent.

Philadelphia has been talking with the agents for several other pitchers this week. Chan Ho Park, Brandon Lyon and John Smoltz are just a few. But Lyon agreed to terms late Wednesday night with the Houston Astros, which takes one of the Phillies' top targets off the market.

"We hope we're making some headway," Amaro said of finding bullpen help.

With Park and Eyre or other free agents?

"Likely to be outside guys," Amaro said.

Amaro said Park and Eyre remain in play, although he also said he cannot wait forever for them to agree to terms.

"There's a possibility we'll move past them at some point if something doesn't get done, yeah," the Phils' GM said.

But Park and Eyre likely cannot wait forever, either. Eyre, who has decided he wants to play next season, has received interest from at least three other teams, including the Yankees and Astros. While Eyre's preference is to play in Philadelphia, he is willing to play elsewhere if contract discussions with the Phillies stall.

Park also has no shortage of suitors.

"He loved his time in Philly," said Park's agent, Jeff Borris. "He had a tremendous amount of fun playing in the World Series. He would love to come back to Philadelphia, but he's happy as long as he's got a Major League uniform on. I wouldn't characterize our discussions one way or another. I haven't put any deadlines or restrictions on Ruben. He hasn't done the same to us. I would say that both parties are working in good faith, but Chan Ho has other options that he has to explore."

Amaro downplayed the club's interest in Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who seems to be out of the Phillies' price range. That said, Amaro said they might send a scout to watch Chapman work out next week in Houston. He said that would be more for informational purposes, but perhaps things change if they like what they see.

The Phils have a couple things imminent: Gload taking his physical and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning. The Phillies have the 26th pick, and they have a few players they like. The Rule 5 Draft is more miss than hit, but the club selected All-Star center fielder Shane Victorino in the 2004 Rule 5 Draft.

Amaro would not specifically talk about Gload's signing because it isn't official. But he talked in generalities about why he would be interested in him.

"He's got some versatility, because he can play the corner outfield positions and first base," Amaro said. "He's a very good first baseman. He's a very good left-handed bat. We got to see that firsthand. He whacked us around pretty good. Our guys have liked him for a while."

Gload hit .261 with six home runs and 30 RBIs in 230 at-bats last season with the Marlins. He hit .318 (21-for-66) as a pinch-hitter.

But at-bats might be more difficult to find with the Phillies, which might make it more difficult for Gload to stay sharp. Manager Charlie Manuel likes to stick with his everyday players, and understandably so. But perhaps one of the reasons Matt Stairs hit just .194 last season is that he had just 103 at-bats as the fifth outfielder. Greg Dobbs hit .247 in 154 at-bats after hitting .301 in 226 at-bats in 2008. Michael Bourn had 119 at-bats as the fifth outfielder in '07.

"I will say this, part of the reason why [Manuel] did not utilize a lot of those other guys is because he felt there was a significant drop-off in talent," Amaro said. "Hopefully we're providing him with a better pool of talent."

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