What We're Hearing...

With a bunch of pretty good free agents still sitting on the outside looking in, there are still moves to be made that could impact the Phillies and their division rivals.

Everything appears quiet around the Philadelphia Phillies, but don't be surprised to start hearing more chatter coming from the direction of Citizens Bank Park. With the holidays over, teams, agents and players get back to work on the wheeling and dealing and the Phillies could be involved.

The biggest note comes from the new MLB Network and former Phillie Mitch Williams. The Wild Thing said on Hot Stove Live that he had spoken with Pat Burrell and that he would still have an interest in returning to the Phillies. While Burrell's left field spot has been filled by Raul Ibanez, there is one potential scenario that could bring Burrell back to the City of Brotherly Love.

If he were to accept a one year deal, possibly with an option, and a fair base salary with some incentives built into the deal, there is one scenario where Burrell could return to Philly. The Phillies have a heavily left-handed lineup and also need a big right-handed bat to bring off the bench. What if Burrell came back to town as a guy who would fill in for Ibanez once or twice a week and maybe even play now and then at first base for Ryan Howard (remember, Burrell played first base early in his career) and spend the rest of the time serving as that big right-handed bat off the bench?

At the right price, that would be an intriguing situation for the Phillies, but does Burrell want to come back to Philly at such a discounted price? He might if the other offers out there aren't from contending teams and if he truly does want to return to Philly.

Most of the teams pursuing Burrell - the A's and Rays are the leading contenders - see him as a fit for an American League team since they believe he is only suited to DH, which is interesting considering his horrid numbers when he served as a DH in inter-league games while with the Phillies.

Derek Lowe insists on $16 million per year and right now, it looks like his main suitors are all in the NL East. The Mets made a low-ball offer that was quickly rejected and word is that the Braves and Phillies still have an interest. The Red Sox, Brewers and Angels also have an interest and with that many teams involved, don't count out the possibility of Scott Boras - Lowe's agent - being able to push the demand up towards that $16 million mark. At that price, the Phillies wouldn't seem to be overly interested and may instead pass. Of course, they could always play the game for a while and at least push the price up for the Mets and Braves. The Phillies don't have any interest in Boras' other client, Oliver Perez. Being a left-hander, Perez would give the Phillies three lefties in their rotation and he's likely to command something relatively close to Lowe.

If the Phillies do move on another starter, look for names like Tim Redding or Braden Looper to surface. They'll both be more affordable and would fit well in the back of the Phillies rotation. Remember too, that Looper's uncle is now in the Phillies front office, which might make things interesting.

The Phillies are going to take a big salary hit with Cole Hamels headed to arbitration. They'll take another hit from Ryan Howard's second trip in front of the arbitration panel. And then, there's the likes of Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth. That makes spending a lot of money on another free agent unlikely.

On the trade front, things are still relatively quiet around Philly. The Red Sox will now be hanging onto Mike Lowell since they lost out on Mark Teixeira, so that's out of the question, at least for now. The Orioles are interested in Chris Coste, but obviously, that wouldn't be any sort of major deal. Baltimore also asked about Jason Donald, who could possibly take over if Brian Roberts was traded, but the Phillies remain very uninterested in dealing Donald.

And finally, there are still no takers on Adam Eaton. The Phillies have told teams that they will pay all but $1 million of his salary and aren't looking for much in a trade, but they still can't find anyone to take him off their hands. The prevailing approach is that the Phillies may wind up just releasing Eaton and teams won't have to pony up a player or two for him and can pay him even less than the $1 million the Phillies were asking teams to take. Of course, the optimists among us can see Eaton having a decent spring and either becoming the fifth starter or being jettisoned late in spring training and possibly not having to collect as much salary from the Phillies as they would be willing to eat. A healthy, successful Eaton may be palatable to another club at something higher than a million for the final guaranteed year of his contract.



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