THE SHORTSTOP is signed, and so is the closer. Those were the two priorities Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. established entering the offseason.
Now that Jimmy Rollins and Jonathan Papelbon are members of the Phillies, don't expect any major moves before the team's operations shift to spring training.
"We're keeping our mind and eyes open, but I'm very comfortable with the club going into spring training," Amaro said. "I like our club a lot. I think we're one of the best clubs in the National League and I know that we'll be contending again this year. And that's our job - to be contenders every year. With the club we have on the field right now, barring injury - we'll be right there."
The next priority would seem to be lefthanded pitcher Cole Hamels, who turns 28 next week and becomes a free agent in 2012. That means he's still under the Phillies' control for one more season, although the price will only increase if Hamels continues among the game's finest starters. Hamels is a two-time All-Star who finished fifth in the Cy Young voting last season.
The Phillies and Hamels must deal with arbitration. At some point, Amaro said, the Phillies will begin discussing the situation with John Boggs, Hamels' agent. If negotiations ensue, Amaro said they will be kept quiet, but they will not begin until after Jan. 1.
"I have got no indication that Cole wants to go anywhere and I think Cole knows we want to keep him," Amaro said. "I think if you read the quotes I made about Jimmy, they're going to be the same."
First baseman Ryan Howard continues to rehab his ruptured Achilles' tendon in Atlanta, and Amaro does not anticipate much of an update until after January.
"He seems to be doing well," Amaro said. "He'll probably shoot down to Florida at some point at the beginning of the year to continue his rehab."
Amaro said he did not think re-signing Jimmy Rollins will affect shortstop prospect Freddy Galvis' standing in the organization. Galvis, 22, has a strong glove and a developing bat. Amaro said in "a perfect world," Galvis will have a full season in Triple A to improve his hitting. Galvis batted .278 between Double A and Triple A last season.
"If something were to happen to Jimmy, he'd be available for us," Amaro said. "We still think he's a very, very good quality prospect and we like having him. At some point he may be playing with the Philadelphia Phillies. We just don't know when."
Righthanded reliever Jose Contreras (elbow) is scheduled to meet with team physician Michael Ciccotti in the first week of the new year, at which point the team hopes Contreras can begin throwing . . . The Phillies signed outfielders Mike Spidale and Rich Thompson to minor league contracts. Spidale, 29, spent last season with Double A Reading. Thompson, 32, spent last season with Triple A Lehigh Valley.