Starting to Get Busier
Teams must decide whether or not to offer salary arbitration to their remaining free agents. The Phillies have four free agents - Jamie Moyer, Pat Burrell, Tom Gordon and Rudy Seanez -- but two are worth watching.
The Phillies are likely to offer Moyer arbitration. They have had serious discussions with him about a contract extension, and because they want Moyer back, there is little to no risk in offering him arbitration. If Moyer accepted arbitration by next Sunday's deadline, he would be a signed player for 2009. The Phillies would be fine if Moyer accepted because it would mean he has accepted a one-year contract, and I'm pretty sure the Phillies would be fine if Moyer, 46, took a one-year deal. Plus, if negotiations broke down and he signed elsewhere, the Phils would receive two draft picks as compensation because Moyer is a Type A free agent.
It is less likely that the Phillies offer Burrell arbitration, especially if they are confident they can find a better alternative in left field (they already have expressed interest in free agents Raul Ibanez and Rocco Baldelli), but it could happen. The risk in offering arbitration to Burrell is that if he accepted, he would be signed for 2009 and likely would receive a raise from the $14 million he made this year. The Phils might not want to commit that much to Burrell, even for one season, because it could prevent them from pursuing other free agents. By not offering Burrell arbitration, the Phillies can continue to talk to Ibanez, Baldelli, and other teams about potential trades without the risk of him accepting. And it's important to note that even if the Phillies don't offer Burrell arbitration it doesn't mean they can't continue to talk with him and eventually re-sign him. They can.
You might start seeing a little more movement on the free agent market after tomorrow because teams like to see what other teams do with their Type A free agents. If teams sign a Type A free agent before Dec. 1, they automatically forfeit a top draft pick. But by waiting to see what happens at the Dec. 1 deadline, teams can sign a Type A free agent knowing whether or not they have been offered arbitration. It can make a big difference in a team's interest in a player. For example, the Phillies are unlikely to pursue relief pitcher Doug Brocail if he is offered arbitration because they aren't going to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign a middle reliever.
In other news:
The Phillies remain hopeful that Moyer will be back, but they have talked with the agents for free-agent righthanders Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett. Burnett has a good relationship with Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee, who coached him in Florida, and he lives in Monkton, Md. ... The Phils are looking for a utility infielder and have had discussions with Nick Punto, who played for them from 2001 to 2003. They also have some interest in free-agent reliever Juan Cruz and could be interested in David Weathers. ... Another date to remember is Dec. 12. That is the last day for teams to tender contracts to unsigned players. The market could be flooded with interesting names at that point. In recent seasons, the Phils have signed non-tendered players such as Jayson Werth and Chad Durbin. The only significant moves the Phillies have made so far are re-signing Scott Eyre and trading Greg Golson to the Texas Rangers for John Mayberry. But the Dec. 1 and Dec. 12 deadlines typically make things a lot clearer for teams. Things should start picking up soon.