Phillies Free Agent Shopping May Not Be Done

The Phillies haven't made a huge splash in free agency this winter and they're not likely to make one now. Still, there are a couple of decent moves that could be made before the market closes.

The Phillies main focus these days centers on arbitration. They've been able to knock two hearings off their list by signing both Greg Dobbs and Cole Hamels to extensions, leaving six more players to deal with. Arbitration figures will be released Tuesday, giving a glimpse into just how close or far apart the Phillies are with their arbitration eligible players.

One of the remaining six initially turned down the Phillies overtures for an extension; Ryan Madson - through his agent Scott Boras - rejected a three year, $12 million deal to remain with the Phillies.

Meanwhile, there are still a few names that interest the Phillies sitting on the free agent market shelves.

Nomar Garciaparra was a key target for the Phillies when he was much closer to being in his prime. Now, nearing the end of his career, Garciaparra is attractive because he would give the Phillies a decent right-handed bat to bring off the bench and a quality, veteran presence in the clubhouse. Plus, he's likely to come pretty cheap.

An intriguing name that keeps coming up is Eric Milton. The left-hander missed all of last season with an elbow injury and hasn't pitched in the majors since May of 2007. Milton has always been a starting pitcher throughout his career, but could interest the Phillies in much the same way that Kris Benson did last season. The Phillies could stow Milton away at Triple-A Lehigh Valley and hope that he can turn his career around and provide some insurance and/or a late-season addition to the rotation that could help the club. Perhaps he would also be interested in pitching out of the bullpen, which could give the Phillies another left-handed option.

The Phillies also were in attendance to watch Chad Cordero, former closer for the Washington Nationals, when he did some long-tossing for various teams who are interested in his services. The Phillies are one of the teams said to be courting Cordero and if he's healthy, he could slide into the bullpen mix once he's healthy, which initially was thought to be June, but he appears ahead of schedule and could potentially be back in the first couple months of the season.

There is word out of Atlanta that one reason the Braves acted quickly and decisively to sign Derek Lowe last week was because the Phillies were sniffing around him a little too much. Not only did the Braves not want to lose out on getting Lowe, but they certainly didn't want him winding up in Philadelphia.

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