DALLAS - Ruben Amaro Jr. lounged on the couch Monday evening in the Phillies' sixth-floor suite at the Anatole Hilton that doubles as the team's headquarters in this week of baseball's winter meetings. He already has signed three players and traded for another this offseason. But for a general manager who prefers to work quickly, this is an uncomfortable position.
"Honestly," Amaro said, "I don't think there is any rush to do anything."
Amaro uttered those words on a day the Phillies were forced to consider life without Jimmy Rollins and the agent for third baseman Aramis Ramirez said he sought a meeting with the Phillies after rumors of their interest persisted all day.
A night earlier, Amaro met with Rollins' agent. Phillies officials said those talks were not productive.
Such is the frenetic pace of these winter meetings. Amaro maintains that the team's priority is to re-sign Rollins, and that certainly remains a strong possibility. But a deal will not be consummated without compromise. And each side is digging in for a fight.
Shortly after the season, the 33-year-old Rollins said he wanted a five-year contract. The Phillies, Amaro said, were content to let the market take shape. Though Rollins is the top shortstop remaining on the market after Jose Reyes' six-year, $106 million deal with Miami, his known potential suitors are limited. A five-year deal could be a pipe dream, especially considering Reyes is five years younger than Rollins and signed for six.
But a baseball source who spoke with Rollins said the shortstop is standing firm on his demand. The source said that, if anything, the Reyes deal made the Rollins camp believe his value increased.
"I gave the Phillies a discount the first time," Rollins told the source.
Amaro hinted that Dan Lozano, Rollins' agent, also expressed that sentiment during their meeting Sunday.
"It was the right deal at the right time," Amaro said of the six-year, $46.5 million contract Rollins just completed. "He ended up being the MVP, but his production waned after that. I don't know how you assess it. I think it was a good contract. It was one of those longer-term contracts that worked out for both parties. That doesn't always happen."
The winter meetings give Amaro a forum in which to negotiate with Rollins, but also a chance to explore alternatives. Early Monday morning, rumors of the Phillies' strong interest in Ramirez circled the hotel lobby. Paul Kinzer, the agent for Ramirez, arrived later in the day and confirmed that one of his first tasks was to meet with Amaro.
Ramirez is 33 and coming off a five-year, $73 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. He hit .306 in 2011 and has averaged 28 home runs per season for the last eight years. If the Phillies are to sign Ramirez, they likely would look to move Placido Polanco and his remaining $7.25 million salary in a trade. Then, a combination of 22-year-old Freddy Galvis and a veteran stopgap would man shortstop.
Even if the Phillies are enamored with an alternative solution to Rollins, Amaro said he owes a certain amount of loyalty to the longtime Phillies shortstop before ending the relationship.
"We deserve to give the proper timing to Jimmy's situation," Amaro said. "As I've said, our goal is to bring Jimmy back."
Rollins may not find an option more attractive than the Phillies' offer, which is believed to be no more than three years. Milwaukee is interested in Rollins, but the Brewers' priority is to re-sign Prince Fielder, and Rollins' price tag scares them. Other teams that need shortstops, such as St. Louis, Atlanta, and San Francisco, have expressed a desire to fill the position on the cheap.
Even if it's simply posturing, Amaro is thinking about filling Rollins' offense elsewhere.
"I think we'll be patient to a point," Amaro said. "We're not in any rush."
Inside the sixth-floor suite, the general manager silenced an incoming call on his cell phone and reclined on the couch. For Amaro, only so much waiting is possible.
Staff writer Bob Brookover contributed reporting to this article.