The Phillies are working on a complex trade that could fill two needs: insurance at second base for Chase Utley, who had hip surgery last month, and a righthanded bat in left field.
That player is Mark DeRosa.
Salisbury reports that in a proposed multi-team trade, DeRosa would go from the Chicago Cubs to the Phillies. The Phillies would send the Cubs a prospect or two, which in turn could be sent to the San Diego Padres in a package for pitcher Jake Peavy. Lefthanded pitcher J.A. Happ is one of the prospects the Phils could part with. There were rumblings that the proposed deal could include a fourth team, most likely the Baltimore Orioles.
DeRosa hit .285 with 21 homers and 87 RBIs in 149 games for the Cubs last season. He played six positions during the season, including 95 games at second base and 27 in leftfield. DeRosa is signed for 2009 at a reasonable $5.5 million.
In addition to DeRosa, the Phils still had free-agent leftfielder Raul Ibanez in their sights. The Phils need to add a leftfielder to take the place of free agent Pat Burrell, who is unlikely to be re-signed. In a perfect world, the Phils would add a righthanded-hitting outfielder because the middle of their order already features two lefthanded bats in Utley and Ryan Howard. However, a person with knowledge of the Phillies' thinking said the team is open to adding a lefthanded hitter such as Ibanez.
Ibanez hit .305 (60 for 197) against lefthanded pitching while playing for the Seattle Mariners last season. Overall, he hit .293 with 23 homers and 110 RBIs while playing in all 162 games. Ibanez, 36, has spent 10 of his 13 major-league seasons with the Mariners, and is a favorite of former Mariners and Phillies general manager Pat Gillick. Gillick stepped down as Phillies GM after the World Series but remains a consultant with the team and is present at these winter meetings.
New Phils GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would not talk about specific targets, but Ibanez's agent, Seth Levinson, confirmed that the Phils are involved with his client. Ibanez, who has averaged 112 RBIs over the last three seasons, is likely to be seeking a multiyear deal worth $10 million to $12 million per season. The Cubs and New York Mets are interested in Ibanez, but the Mets have moved him to the back burner as they pursue, as one team official said, "Pitching, pitching, pitching." Ibanez lives in Miami and would like to play on the East Coast, which could help the Phillies' chances if they don't get DeRosa.
If the Phils don't get DeRosa or Ibanez, they may go after free agent Juan Rivera, a righthanded hitter who played for the Angels in 2008, and use him as part of a platoon with Greg Dobbs. The Minnesota Twins could trade outfielder Delmon Young and the Phillies have checked him out, as they would any available player. Phils officials say Young is far down their list of possibilities.