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Phils have history of big splashes at Meetings

PHILADELPHIA — In a couple of days, members of the Phillies’ front office will hop on flights to Dallas, where they will spend most of next week at the Winter Meetings. In seasons past, this is where the Phils set in motion blockbuster deals to acquire Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. If Philadelphia is primed to make another blockbuster move, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. certainly isn’t going to say. In fact, earlier this week he said a couple of times he is happy with his roster — once he settles the shortstop situation. Amaro is clear to call it the “shortstop situation” and not the “Jimmy Rollins situation,” because one way or another, he knows he needs somebody to play shortstop next year. But it sounds as if Amaro brings back Rollins, that might be the last major move the Phillies make this winter, meaning no combination of Rollins and Michael Cuddyer. Of course, if Rollins signs elsewhere, then the Phils could upgrade in left field while finding a cheaper alternative at shortstop like Freddy Galvis, Alex Gonzalez or some of the other free-agent shortstops on the market. Of course, the Phillies said last year at this time they hoped to maybe sign a veteran reliever or two — specifically Chad Durbin and Dennys Reyes — before shocking the baseball word and signing Cliff Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract. In short, anything can happen. Here’s a primer heading into the Winter Meetings: Club needs Shortstop: The Phillies want to bring back Rollins, but he has said publicly that he wants a five-year contract. Will the Phils give it to him? It seems unlikely, but nothing can be ruled out. Would Rollins accept less to stay in Philadelphia, if the Phillies offered him a three-year contract and a lesser team offered him a four-year deal? Rollins is a tough read, although the guess here is the Phils will ultimately do what is needed to bring him back, because it is difficult to see them opening the season with Galvis or an aging veteran shortstop manning the position. Outfield: The Phillies have Shane Victorino in center field and Hunter Pence in right field. For the moment, they have John Mayberry Jr. and Ben Francisco patrolling left field. The Phils need at least another outfielder. They have courted Cuddyer. They could re-sign Raul Ibanez, who would platoon in left field with Mayberry. Or, if they are comfortable starting the season with Mayberry in left field, they could look for a fourth outfielder. Philadelphia tried to reacquire Aaron Rowand last winter, but fell short. Rowand is a free agent and could be had for the big league minimum, if the club wants to bring him back. Veteran reliever: The Phillies said earlier this week that they are comfortable with their bullpen, which, for the moment, has only two veterans in the back end: new closer Jonathan Papelbon and possible setup man Jose Contreras, who is recovering from elbow surgery. Other than that, the bullpen includes Mike Stutes, Antonio Bastardo, Kyle Kendrick, David Herndon and other less-proven pitchers. One more veteran arm couldn’t hurt. Who they can or need to trade Nobody. The Phillies aren’t looking to trade any of their top talents, unless they get a boatload in return. Top prospects Right-handers Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone, Phillipe Aumont, Justin De Fratus and Brody Colvin; left-hander Jesse Biddle; catcher Sebastian Valle; shortstop Freddy Galvis; outfielders Jiwan James and Aaron Altherr. It is difficult to see the Phillies trading any of their top prospects right now. A more likely scenario would be midseason, when the Phils have a better idea of what their needs are — much like they have done the previous four Julys, acquiring Joe Blanton, Lee, Roy Oswalt and Pence. Big contracts they might unload None. Arbitration-eligible Cole Hamels, Pence, Francisco, Kendrick and Wilson Valdez are all eligible for salary arbitration. Non-tender candidates It is difficult to say right now. Everybody knows Hamels and Pence will be back. Amaro has said he expects Francisco, Kendrick and Valdez back, too. That makes sense. But things can change with one phone call. If the Phillies find a comparable alternative in the outfield at a cheaper price, they could non-tender Francisco. The same could be said for Valdez. Payroll summation The Phillies have $122.8 million committed to 13 players next season, not including any of their salary arbitration players: Hamels ($9.5 million last season), Pence ($6.9 million), Kendrick ($2.45 million), Francisco ($1.175 million) and Valdez ($560,000). Hamels and Pence are going to get sizable raises. It is unclear how much more the Phils are willing to spend, but their payroll should be around $170 million by Opening Day.

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