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Phillies continue to mine mid-level pitching market

Amaro questioned whether the Phillies should invest in multiple starters rather than one costly pitcher.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Ruben Amaro Jr. was late for another meeting Wednesday afternoon, so he dashed from the Phillies suite at the Walt Disney Dolphin Hotel. The Phillies general manager is pessimistic about leaving Florida with a new player. Nonetheless, he will continue his search for starting pitching.

The Phillies have not been connected to any of the top available pitchers like Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez or Matt Garza. Bronson Arroyo, one of the better secondary options, is in attendance at the winter meetings but Amaro said they did not talk.

Amaro questioned whether the Phillies should invest in multiple starters rather than one costly pitcher.

"It may be best to give us some depth on the pitching side, rather than going for a home run," Amaro said. "I like going for the home run a lot. It may be best for us to try to maintain some flexibility and add depth. There is a fine line. Should we try to hit a home run or hit a couple of doubles?"

Amaro was asked if he has spoken to any of the big-name pitchers. "We've talked about them internally," he said.

A rival executive believes the pitching market is stagnant right now because of Scott Feldman's three-year, $30 million contract signed with Houston last week. Feldman, a nine-year veteran with a 4.62 ERA, was offered a two-year deal by the Phillies for approximately $16 million, according to a source. Many executives saw the Astros' deal as a huge overpay.

Edinson Volquez, a 30-year-old pitcher who was released last August by San Diego signed with Pittsburgh for a reported $5 million Wednesday. He has a career 4.75 ERA.

Beyond Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, the Phillies' rotation is Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Pettibone and Miguel Gonzalez. Amaro said Kendrick's price through arbitration would not be affected by recent contracts signed by players prior to free agency. Kendrick is likely to earn around $7 million next season.

Amaro said he has not engaged Kendrick's party in talks for a multi-year extension.

"It's amazing," Amaro said. "We talked about it this morning. He has 64 wins. Do you know how many wins Garza has? Sixty-seven."

Amaro added: "He's benefited from some run support and defense. But wins are wins."

One possible target for the Phillies is A.J. Burnett, but the baseball world does not know whether he will pitch again in 2014. Burnett, who turns 37 in January, has previously said his preference was to play for the Pirates or retire.

Burnett's neighbor in Maryland is Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock. The two are family friends.

"We have left no stone unturned," Amaro said. "I don't have any idea what he's going to do. His neighbor is pretty close with him, but apparently not close enough."

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He's benefitted from some run support and defense. But wins are wins.