LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - They shot for the moon, Ruben Amaro Jr. said, but in four days at the winter meetings, the Phillies will likely come away with just a lefthanded reliever.
Late Wednesday night, the Phillies and Dennys Reyes finalized a one-year deal, pending a physical, with an option for 2012. Reyes, who turns 34 in April, will become the primary lefty in the Phillies' bullpen in the wake of J.C. Romero's departure.
According to a baseball source, Reyes agreed to a one-year contract worth $1.1 million with a mutual option for $1.35 million in 2012. Reyes made $2 million with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2010.
The move won't exactly send shock waves through the Phillies' fan base, but Amaro said his assistants and he were thinking big when they came to Florida. It just didn't work out.
"I'm not as creative this year," Amaro quipped.
Amaro said the Phillies had talked about acquiring what he called "significant players" through trades. But no discussions had Amaro encouraged. He, of course, would not discuss specific names or possibilities, just that he was looking for outfielders and pitchers. One of the bigger names on the trade market is Kansas City ace Zack Greinke, and rumors connecting him to a multitude of teams surfaced all day.
"We've done some things where we tried to shoot for the moon," Amaro said. "We laid some groundwork on some of those. But the possibilities of that happening are remote. We've run under the mantra of, 'If you're not trying, you're not trying.' "
The Phillies have been trying to solidify their bullpen, the task that Amaro called his chief priority at these winter meetings. In Reyes, they added a lefthander who had trouble getting lefty hitters out in 2010 but has had success before.
Reyes had a 3.55 ERA in 59 games (38 innings) for St. Louis in 2010. He had control issues, though, and walked 21 batters while striking out 25. Most important, lefthanded batters hit .307 with a .862 OPS against him.
For his career, lefties have hit .238 with a .669 OPS against him. In 2009, he was especially tough against lefties, holding them to a .207 batting average and .517 OPS. That's the pitcher the Phillies are hoping to add.
The market is loaded with lefthanded relievers, namely Scott Downs, Pedro Feliciano, Brian Fuentes, and Hideki Okajima. But those pitchers will likely cost more than the Phillies wanted to spend, especially given the volatility that comes year-to-year when predicting relievers' performances.
They had also offered a contract to lefthander George Sherrill, a baseball source said, but Sherrill accepted a one-year deal reportedly worth $1.2 million with Atlanta. That is noteworthy enough, as the Phillies' top rival will now have three reliable lefties in its bullpen with Sherrill, Jonny Venters, and Eric O'Flaherty.
Reyes' 2010 season was disturbing because his strikeout rate went down and his walk rate increased. But the Phillies are hoping that is not a trend. Romero, who served as the primary lefty for most of the last four seasons, frustrated the Phillies because of his constant control issues.
The Phillies wanted a veteran lefthander to join Antonio Bastardo in the bullpen. Mike Zagurski and Sergio Escalona are other lefthanded relievers on the 40-man roster.
Meanwhile, Chad Durbin sneaked into the winter meetings and huddled with club officials. Both sides have expressed interest in a return, a source said.
Durbin made $2.125 million in 2010 and likely wants a raise. The sides may not yet agree on how much of a raise, but there is optimism something can be worked out.
Manager Charlie Manuel said Tuesday he wanted to see the Phillies add a reliever who can pitch multiple innings, like Durbin did.
"At this time last year, I was thinking [Danys] Baez could go two innings, but I think this year we found out he's basically a one-inning guy," Manuel said. "We could try to get a good, solid season out of him next year. So at the same time, we might need some length in our bullpen, especially if we lose Durbin."