The past 4 days spent in Nashville, Tenn., were supposed to bring the Phillies closer to adding more pitching to their rotation, perhaps improving at third base, and possibly closing in on some agreement with free-agent centerfielder Aaron Rowand.

Instead, the Phillies left the Music City empty-handed, except for pitchers Travis Blackley and Lincoln Holdzkom from the Rule 5 draft. And now that the brass has returned to Philadelphia, it doesn't appear that Rowand will be doing the same. The All-Star Gold Glover declined the Phillies' arbitration offer before last night's deadline.

During the winter meetings, the Phillies met with Rowand's agent, Craig Landis, on several occasions but general manager Pat Gillick said Thursday that the possibility of Rowand, who had a career year hitting .309 with 27 homers and 89 RBI, returning were a "longshot."

Rowand, perhaps the most valuable outfielder on the market following Andruw Jones' 2-year, $18 million signing with the Dodgers Thursday, is seeking a multiyear deal for at least 5 years.

Had Rowand accepted arbitration, he would have been considered a signed player with the Phillies for 2008, and an arbitrator would have decided on a 1-year salary for the 30-year-old, who also had 45 doubles and scored 105 runs in 2007.

Instead, the Phillies will now receive a first-round draft pick from the team that signs Rowand, should he join a club that finished with one of the top 15 records last year. The Phillies, whose starting outfield would consist of Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth if Rowand leaves, would receive a second-round pick if he signs with a team outside that range. The team also receives a supplemental pick between the first two rounds.


The Phillies signed 13 minor league free agents yesterday: righthanded pitchers Jason Anderson, Matt Childers, Justin Pope and Kris Wilson and lefty R.J. Swindle; infielders Gookie Dawkins, Joey Hammond and Juan Tejeda; catchers Orlando Guevara and John Suomi; and outfielders Jake Blalock, Branden Florence and Mike Spidale. *