SAN DIEGO - Two more starting pitchers found new homes during the day Tuesday, but Jon Lester's indecision until signing a late-night agreement with the Chicago Cubs stalled much of the action at baseball's winter meetings.
The Phillies, of course, have a vested interest in where the lefthander signs; a possible consolation prize for a jilted team is Cole Hamels.
So Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. continued conversations on other manners. He met with Baltimore officials to discuss a potential Marlon Byrd trade, according to a Foxsports.com report. He has pushed Antonio Bastardo at these meetings, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
"I still think we can do some things," Amaro said. "I don't know we're going to do them before we leave here on Thursday, but, as I said, I think the interest in some of our players has picked up. It's evident in some of the dialogue we've had and some of the meetings we've had with other clubs."
Two developments Tuesday that did not involve the Phillies could benefit them. The White Sox, a surprise entrant into the contenders pool, traded for Oakland's Jeff Samardzija. Francisco Liriano re-signed with Pittsburgh for three years and $39 million. They were two of the better available starters. That could create an even stronger market for Hamels.
Amaro said he has not talked to the Phillies ace "for a while." Manager Ryne Sandberg relayed a conversation Amaro had with Hamels earlier in the offseason.
"For the most part, he was on board with the scenario and the situation that he's in," Sandberg said. "Sounded like he was game to be a Philadelphia Phillie, and if something came about that was for the betterment of the organization, then he was in favor of that also."
Cody Asche is a consideration for first base if Ryan Howard departs, Sandberg said. Asche will "possibly" try different positions in spring training. Team officials, Sandberg said, have discussed such a move. Left field is another option, too.
"That's where some versatility with Cody could really help him," Sandberg said. ... The Phillies expect to make a selection (or two) Thursday in the Rule 5 draft.