It has been a relatively quiet month as the Phillies try to tweak their World Series championship roster.
Things could pick up soon.
The Phillies have until tomorrow to offer salary arbitration to their four free agents: lefthander Jamie Moyer, leftfielder Pat Burrell, and righthanders Tom Gordon and Rudy Seanez.
The Phils are likely to offer Moyer arbitration. They have had serious discussions with him about a contract extension, but have been unable to reach an agreement. Because they want Moyer back, there seems to be no risk in offering him arbitration. If Moyer, 46, accepted arbitration by next Sunday's deadline, he would be a signed player for 2009 - and the Phillies would seem to be OK with his essentially signing a one-year contract. 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 will offer Burrell arbitration, especially if they are confident they can find a better player in left field (they already have expressed interest in free agents Raul Ibanez and Rocco Baldelli). The risk in offering arbitration to Burrell, who also is a Type A free agent, 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. If the Phillies don't offer Burrell arbitration, it doesn't mean they can't talk with him and still re-sign him.
The Phillies won't offer arbitration to Gordon or Seanez.
They remain optimistic that Moyer will be back, but they have talked with the agents for free-agent righthanders Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett. Both would like to pitch on the East Coast. Also, 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 contact 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.
Tomorrow's deadline is an important one. Once teams know whether players - specifically, Type A free agents - have been offered arbitration, they might be more inclined to pursue those players because they will know whether they must forfeit a top draft pick to sign them.
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 Phillies have 10 players eligible for salary arbitration: Joe Blanton, Eric Bruntlett, Clay Condrey, Greg Dobbs, Durbin, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Ryan Madson, Shane Victorino and Werth. Although there is interest in the contract status of Howard and Hamels, the Phils could be more interested in extending contracts for Madson and Werth, who will be free agents after the 2009 season.
That is because Howard can't become a free agent until after 2011 and Hamels can't become one until after 2012.
There is no immediate pressure to make things happen with Howard and Hamels. The Phillies likely will be more focused on tomorrow's arbitration deadline, next Sunday's deadline for players to accept arbitration, the Dec. 8-11 winter meetings in Las Vegas, and the Dec. 12 deadline to tender contracts to players.
The only noteworthy moves the Phillies have made to their 40-man roster in November are re-signing Scott Eyre and trading Greg Golson to the Texas Rangers for John Mayberry.
But things typically pick up in December, and this year, it should be no different for the Phillies.