LAS VEGAS - The much-discussed trade that would have brought infielder/outfielder Mark DeRosa to the Phillies fell apart as the winter meetings broke up yesterday.
That left Phillies officials turning their focus to free agent Raul Ibanez as they look for a leftfielder to replace Pat Burrell.
"He's plan B," a person with knowledge of the Phillies' wishes said of Ibanez.
The Phillies had hoped to get DeRosa from the Chicago Cubs in a complex, multi-team deal that would have included the San Diego Padres.
The Cubs tried to obtain 2007 National League Cy Young winner Jake Peavy from San Diego, but Cubs general manager Jim Hendry put the brakes on the deal yesterday morning.
In the proposed trade, the Phillies would have sent two prospects - pitchers J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick, Drew Naylor and Edgar Garcia were mentioned as possibilities - to the Cubs. Those prospects, along with others from the Cubs, then would have been shipped to San Diego in a package for Peavy.
The Phils would have received the versatile DeRosa, who would have fulfilled their wish for a right-handed bat in left field and provided insurance at second base while Chase Utley recovers from hip surgery.
"The more Jim looked at it, he decided he wasn't going to do the deal," San Diego GM Kevin Towers told reporters yesterday morning. "I'm disappointed. A lot of time and energy went into this."
Late yesterday afternoon, a baseball official with direct knowledge of the trade talks said that Hendry actually wanted to do the deal. The official said he believed that Cubs ownership, which is in the process of selling the team, had reservations about taking on the $63 million that Peavy is owed the next four seasons. Those reservations could change if the Cubs can trade pitcher Jason Marquis, who is owed $9.8 million for 2009.
The official said it might be better to use the word "dormant" rather than "dead" in describing the potential trade.
The Phillies cannot afford to wait and see if the deal gets rekindled. With DeRosa out of the picture, temporarily or permanently, the team will turn its attention to Ibanez.
The 36-year-old outfielder is a favorite of adviser Pat Gillick, who remains a significant voice in the organization six weeks after relinquishing his general-manager duties to Ruben Amaro Jr.
The Phils prefer to add a righthanded bat to their left-field mix, but they are not married to the idea and would make an exception for the lefthanded hitting Ibanez, who has averaged 112 RBIs over the last three seasons.
"We need somebody who can hit and put up some numbers for us and hit behind [Ryan] Howard," manager Charlie Manuel said.
The Phillies have already had discussions with Ibanez's representatives, Seth and Sam Levinson. Ibanez is receiving plenty of attention (the Cubs, Mets and Braves like him) and is likely to be seeking a multiyear deal worth upward of $10 million per season. He would also cost the Phils their first-round draft pick, but the World Series champs appear to be ready to pay that price because they remain in a win-now mode.
If the Phils can't get Ibanez, they may take a run at Minnesota's Delmon Young. So far, the Phils' interest in him seems lukewarm.
The Phils are seeking a leftfielder to replace Burrell, a free agent. The Phils have not definitively said they don't want Burrell back, but Amaro has made it no secret he'd prefer to go in a new direction.
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.
As he wrapped up matters at the winter meetings yesterday, Amaro did not seem worried about leaving Las Vegas without a leftfielder.
"Our off-season doesn't end until April 5," he said. "We have a long way to go. Our goal remains to improve our club. We made some quality inroads here. We have a lot of irons in the fire. I think a couple of things we've talked about will get done."