DALLAS - The Phillies contingent left these frenetic winter meetings with Laynce Nix and a cash prize of $86,000 for losing four players in the Rule 5 draft.
As general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. described his methodical pursuit of Jimmy Rollins outside a ballroom Thursday at the Hilton Anatole, news broke that Albert Pujols had agreed to a megadeal with the Los Angeles Angels.
Amaro's task was not nearly as groundbreaking. But with Pujols landed, it could accelerate the Phillies' negotiations with their longtime shortstop, who just so happens to be represented by the same agent as Pujols.
Or, perhaps, it could only complicate matters.
Until Thursday, the market for Rollins was limited to the Phillies and, well, the Phillies, since Milwaukee also signed Alex Gonzalez on Thursday.
With St. Louis having lost its cornerstone in Pujols, they could emerge as a player for Rollins. The Cardinals have a hole at shortstop, vacated by Rafael Furcal, but it's unclear whether they would be willing to present an offer that tops the appeal of Philadelphia. If anything, St. Louis could be used by agent Dan Lozano to drive Rollins' price toward his demand of five years.
The Phillies remain unwilling to approach that figure. They are believed to have offered a three-year deal, possibly with a fourth-year option, with an average annual value far better than a slim market for his services would usually dictate.
"I'm concerned about filling that spot," Amaro said, "but overall I'm not concerned."
Amaro did not make formal contact with Lozano on Wednesday as the agent worked long into the morning hours to finalize the Pujols contract. Upon leaving the meetings Thursday morning, Amaro said he had yet to hear from Lozano, but that it could happen at any time.
"I'm sure we'll be in touch," Amaro said.
The four days were not wholly an exercise in patience. The Phillies, Amaro said, engaged a handful of other teams in trade talks "that would be interesting" during the meetings, even though their primary focus was to secure Rollins. They explored backup plans such as signing Aramis Ramirez for third base and trading Placido Polanco, but those were only alternatives.
Amaro spoke Thursday of adding another lefthanded reliever to the bullpen mix. (George Sherrill is a player who interests the Phillies.) He said if Rollins is re-signed as expected, his fortifications for the offense are probably done.
"I don't think we have a lot of needs, to be frank," Amaro said. "I'm pretty happy with our club as it stands, but that doesn't mean we're not going to try and get better."
The next step is signing Rollins, and the chances of that remain quite good even after four days of little movement.
Rule 5 happenings. The Phillies, masters of the Rule 5 draft, decided to pass when their name was called Thursday morning.
For the first time since 2005, they did not select a player. But they did lose one in the major-league phase: righthander Lendy Castillo, to the Chicago Cubs with the sixth pick.
Castillo, 22, pitched at single-A Lakewood in 2011. Chicago must keep him on its active roster for the entire season to retain his rights. If not, he must be offered back to the Phillies, who will gladly take him.
"It's hard, but it's happened," Phillies assistant general manager Benny Looper said. "If he can throw the ball over the plate, he can stick. He's going to show them his stuff."
Castillo, a converted shortstop, struck out 46 batters in 46 innings at Lakewood with a 2.54 ERA. Looper said he throws in the mid 90s and has a promising curveball.
"He has some potential," Looper said. "We like Lendy. We hate to lose him. But good for Lendy."
The Phillies had also feared they would lose outfielder Jiwan James in the draft, but he went unselected. Same with righthander B.J. Rosenberg, another unprotected prospect.
Shane Victorino, David Herndon, and Michael Martinez were products of the Rule 5 draft, but director of scouting Mike Ondo said there was no fit this season with depth on the bench and bullpen already.
In the minor-league phase, the Phillies lost infielder Travis Mattair (Cincinnati), catcher Francisco Diaz (Pittsburgh), and lefthander Andy Loomis (Baltimore).
Extra bases. The Phillies officially announced Nix's signing Thursday afternoon. The outfielder will make $2.5 million over two seasons and provide manager Charlie Manuel with a power lefthanded bat he can platoon in left field or use to solidify the bench. Manuel said he enjoyed a four-hour dinner with Nix, a Dallas native, on Tuesday night.