Phils Land Another Reliever As Winter Meetings End

Sometimes, it takes years to complete a transaction. For the Phillies, they got a guy that they had been interested in for years when Roberto Hernandez signed a free agent contract with the Phillies. The move helps bolster the Phillies bullpen which is being rebuilt almost from scratch. The Phillies also didn't lose too much talent in the annual Rule 5 Draft, which marked the end of the Winter Meetings in New Orleans.

The Phillies tried to get Roberto Hernandez a few years ago when he was a member of the White Sox and one of the hotter commodities in baseball. It never worked out and Hernandez started to slide down the ladder a little professionally, winding up as a setup man for Atlanta last season. Finally, Hernandez is coming to Philadelphia.

The Phillies signed Hernandez to a one-year contract worth $750,000 plus incentive bonuses. The 39 year old Hernandez will serve as a middle innings reliever for the Phillies. In 2003, he was with the Atlanta Braves and went 5-3, 4.35 in 66 games. One down side is Hernandez' control; He walked 43 and struck out 45 in his 60 innings of work for Atlanta. Odds are he will be one of the main projects for pitching coach Joe Kerrigan in spring training.

General manager Ed Wade seems to have completed most of his work on revamping the bullpen, but may still talk with free agents Kent Mercker and Al Levine. Wade is also interested in adding another bat to come off the bench, but is in no hurry to make any further moves. "It's the same drill," Wade said. "It could be soon, or it could be something that goes all the way into Spring Training. We don't see that as a pressing need at this point."

The Phillies were holding their breath through the final day of the Winter Meetings, featuring the Rule 5 Draft. The Phillies feared the worst, but most teams were ravaging the Pirates system – five of the first six picks were Pirates – and no Phillies prospects were chosen in the major league phase of the draft. Likewise, the Phillies didn't select any players in the major league phase of the draft either.

In the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, the Phillies lost shortstop Danny Sandoval to Colorado and catcher/outfielder Mark McRoberts to San Diego. The Phillies had signed the switch-hitting Sandoval as a six year minor league free agent from the White Sox organization after the season. Because he wasn't added to the 40 man roster, he was not protected in the draft. McRoberts hit just .177 at Lakewood, but did hit 17 homeruns. The Padres selected him in the AA phase of the draft and will have to keep him no lower than AA for the entire season.

The Phillies selected Kurt Keene from Toronto in the AAA portion of the draft and outfielder Miguel Quintana from Cleveland in the AA portion. Keene split his 2003 season almost evenly between A, AA and AAA for Toronto. He hit a combined .285 and can play second, short, third and some outfield. Quintana hit .283 at class A Kinston in the Indians organization.

The Phillies are still waiting word on their arbitration offer to Kevin Millwood. No new meetings took place with Millwood's agent, Scott Boras. There wasn't really anything new for the Phillies on their interest in Nomar Garciaparra either. The Red Sox and Rangers were still working on their end of a deal to swap shortstop Alex Rodriguez to Boston and Manny Ramirez to Texas.

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