Centerfielder Aaron Rowand has agreed to a 5-year contract worth $60 million with the San Francisco Giants.
The Phillies had been believed to be willing to overpay for a 3-year deal for Rowand. And there had been some thought that, all things being equal, he'd like to return, but his desire for a 5-year deal had been clear almost from the outset of negotiations.
"Bottom line, I wanted to get in a spot where I would be long term," Rowand told San Francisco reporters on a conference call. "In this day of free agency, that's not commonplace. That's really the thing I was looking forward to most."
Rowand said he weighed four or five similar multiyear offers before selecting the Giants.
Rowand, 30, had a career year last season for the Phillies, hitting .309 with 27 homers and career highs with 89 RBI, 105 runs, 189 hits and 45 doubles in 161 games. He also won his first Gold Glove and made the NL All-Star team.
"We had some interest in re-signing him, but at the same time we were not prepared to do the kind of length that the Giants were prepared to do," Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. told the Daily News. "We wish Aaron the best of luck. He was a great competitor, played extremely well for us and was an integral part of our club, but we feel like we have a fine replacement in Shane Victorino."
Added club president David Montgomery: "We wish him the best. Obviously, we made an effort to see if we could keep him here in Philadelphia. He made a tremendous contribution in the 2 years he was here. At the end of the day, I'm sure the length of the contract is what led him to make his decision."
Rowand was the third of the three prominent free-agent centerfielders available this offseason. Torii Hunter signed with the Angels for 5 years, $90 million and Andruw Jones signed with the Dodgers for 2 years, $36.2 million.
"Aaron is an all-around player who is coming into his prime and helps us check off two boxes - an extremely talented defensive centerfielder and a middle of the order presence," Giants general manager Brian Sabean said in a statement. "His ability in centerfield definitely plays to our ballpark and will help provide more stability to our pitching staff."
Rowand came to the Phillies before the 2006 season from the Chicago White Sox in the trade involving Jim Thome and endeared himself to the fans with his all-out style and facefirst plunge into the centerfield wall at Citizens Bank Park.
"It's one thing if you say, 'Hey, that guy's a great hitter,' or, 'Hey, that guy's a great outfielder,'" Rowand said. "It's another thing when a guy shows up to play every day and that guy plays hard every day and will do whatever it takes to win every day.
"Hopefully when I'm done playing this game, that's what I'll be remembered for. If that's the only thing I got remembered for, I'd be content with that for the rest of my days."
Phillies general manager Pat Gillick acknowledged last week at the winter meetings that any hopes of retaining Rowand were a "long shot." Rowand clearly conceded the same thing when he recently put his Delaware County home up for sale.
Rowand's departure leaves the Phillies with a starting outfield of Pat Burrell in left, Victorino in center and Jayson Werth in right.
"We're looking to see if there's any way we can add to it," Montgomery said.
The Phillies will receive two compensatory draft picks.