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Reyes deal is off; team renews hunt

The Phils had hoped Dennys Reyes would be their veteran lefty out of the bullpen.

The Phillies could count on Antonio Bastardo, who was 2-0 with a 4.34 ERA in last season. (Elizabeth Robertson/Staff Photographer)
The Phillies could count on Antonio Bastardo, who was 2-0 with a 4.34 ERA in last season. (Elizabeth Robertson/Staff Photographer)Read more

When asked about a contract agreement with lefthanded reliever Dennys Reyes on the final day of the winter meetings last week, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. would not comment.

The Phillies' policy is that no deal is done until the player has signed on the dotted line.

In Reyes' case, the team's caution proved prudent, because the deal did not get done.

"We were not able to finish it off," Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said Friday.

The Phillies and Reyes had agreed at the winter meetings to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million, with a second-year option, that sent the veteran to the bullpen as a replacement for J.C. Romero.

"We just hit a snag and it didn't work out," said the pitcher's agent, Oscar Suarez. "He's going to be disappointed, but I really haven't had a chance to talk to him. He's on his way back to Mexico."

Reyes, 33, underwent a physical exam with the Phillies on Thursday. Proefrock was asked whether the pitcher failed the physical.

"We were not able to finish it off, and that's all I'm going to say," Proefrock said.

Before signing lefthander Cliff Lee, the Phillies' focus this off-season had been strengthening the bullpen, but so far the team's only move has been to re-sign veteran righthander Jose Contreras to a two-year deal.

The market for lefthanded relievers has shrunk since the Phils' agreement with Reyes, and the team's payroll has become far more restricted because of the Lee signing. Former New York Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano signed with the New York Yankees on Friday, and former Los Angeles Dodgers lefty George Sherrill signed with the Atlanta Braves during the winter meetings.

Joe Beimel, Arthur Rhodes, Ron Mahay, and Hideki Okajima are among the lefthanded relievers still available, but it's clear that the Phillies won't pay too high a price for anyone.

The Phils also could count on lefty Antonio Bastardo, who was 2-0 with a 4.34 ERA in 25 bullpen appearances for them last season. Bastardo, 25, was impressive at triple-A Lehigh Valley, going 1-1 with three saves and a 2.08 ERA while striking out 27 batters in 171/3 innings. Mike Zagurski and Sergio Escalona are two other lefthanded relievers with limited big-league experience on the Phillies' 40-man roster.