LAS VEGAS - Phillies officials were working on a complex trade tonight that could bring them a player who would provide insurance for second baseman Chase Utley and a righthanded bat in left field.
The player is Mark DeRosa and if his name sounds familiar, it should. He once quarterbacked the football team at Penn.
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 San Diego in a package for pitcher Jake Peavy. 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.
"Three teams, possible," a Phillies source said tonight. "Four, doubtful."
DeRosa, who turns 34 in February, 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 left field. 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 as the winter meetings opened yesterday.
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 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."
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. Phils officials say Young is far down their list of possibilities.
"We're trying to be aggressive in improving our club so we can compete for a World Series title again," Amaro said.
In addition to adding a leftfielder, the Phils would like to add a starting pitcher, a need that could be filled by re-signing Jamie Moyer. They would also like to add a relief pitcher and possibly a utility infielder to provide some depth while Utley recovers from hip surgery. That depth could be provided by DeRosa if the three-way trade goes down.
As for Moyer, Amaro said: "There is nothing new. We are in a holding pattern."
The Phils had thought that signing the 46-year-old lefty would be easy, but negotiations have slowed in recent weeks. It appears that Moyer would like a second year guaranteed, while the Phillies favor a one-year contract with an option.
Amaro said the length of the Moyer negotiations has led the Phils to pursue other pitchers. They've spoken with Derek Lowe's representatives, and Amaro would not rule out bringing back free-agent lefthander Randy Wolf.
"We want Jamie back," Amaro said. "But if we have a deal in place to bring in a pitcher, we won't delay because Jamie has not signed a deal."
The Phils are discussing a contract extension for 2011 with manager Charlie Manuel. Amaro would not discuss specifics, but he said: "We want Charlie to be our manager for years to come."
Amaro echoed comments he made last week, saying the team has not had any substantive negotiations with Burrell, who made $14 million last season and is seeking a multiyear deal. The market for Burrell appears to be very weak right now, and it probably won't pick up until top free-agent sluggers Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez find landing spots.
An American League official, speaking anonymously, predicted said that Burrell is one of several second-tier free agents who could be adversely affected by the poor economy.