You just got one of the best GM''s a new CF you really needed and Bobby A maybe traded and you say nothing? What's up with that? It's not like the Eagles are doing well, the 76ers can't stop anyone on D and I just don't watch hockey. This is hot stove get into it!!
Phils, Cubs talk Abreu-for-Prior swap
By MARCUS HAYES
DALLAS - Pat Gillick and Charlie Manuel want pitching for their team. They're not bashful about asking for it.
According to National League sources at the winter meetings here, the Cubs asked the Phillies yesterday what it would take to pry away two-time All-Star rightfielder, Gold Glove winner and reigning Home Run Derby champion Bobby Abreu.
The answer: Mark Prior.
The Cubs didn't say yes.
But they didn't say no, either; at least, they haven't so far.
The Cubs did say they would not consider dealing Carlos Zambrano, who is taking his turn atop their pecking order of promising young pitchers, following Kerry Wood and Prior, who is 25.
The session with the Cubs was one of several meetings conducted by Gillick, the Phillies' new general manager, and his brain trust, including Manuel. Gillick doesn't comment on specific ongoing negotiations, though he has said he thinks the Phillies need a top-of-the-line starter.
Yesterday, he said he and his entourage picked up with several teams where they left off during the GM meetings a month ago in Palm Springs, Calif.
"We're trying to get a feel for where people are now," Gillick explained on a relatively quiet first day of the meetings. That said, when the Phillies talk to teams now, they're getting down to business.
"We're past the generalities stage," Gillick said.
Making a deal such as Abreu-for-Prior would require more than just buying airplane tickets for the principals.
Abreu, 31, would have to waive his full no-trade clause, and, as of yesterday, the Phillies have not approached Abreu's camp about that, sources said. Of course, that doesn't preclude the Phillies from shopping first and asking later.
Also, the Phillies owe Abreu $31 million for the next two seasons. Prior, who has spent part of each of his three full seasons on the disabled list, has 1 year worth $3.1 million left on his contract, after which he is arbitration-eligible.
Prior, a righthander, is 41-23 with a 3.24 earned run average since hitting the big leagues in 2002. He finished third in Cy Young Award voting in 2003, his first full season. In his last 10 starts last season, Prior was 4-3, 3.73, with 76 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings. Eight of those starts were quality starts, and none was appreciably awful.
If the Prior deal doesn't work out, the Phillies might try one that includes Abreu and Cubs workman starter Jerome Williams - but with serious sweeteners that could include lefty prospect Rich Hill, 25. Hill's status could be shifting from untouchable to movable. He went 11-4 with a 3.31 ERA and 194 strikeouts in 130 2/3 minor league innings last season, though he was 0-2 with a 9.13 ERA in 10 big-league appearances.
If nothing works out with the Cubs, the Phils could look elsewhere to trade for starting pitching, perhaps moving outfielder Jason Michaels to Pittsburgh for Mark Redman. Reportedly, interested parties include the Red Sox, who are willing to part with Matt Clement, and the Astros might deal Brandon Backe and setup man Chad Qualls.
While they're here, the Phillies - eager to include a lefty starter in their rotation - can at least ask the fire-selling Marlins if they will change their mind about trading Dontrelle Willis for prospects; inquire if the Orioles' Erik Bedard is truly unattainable for Abreu; and find out if the Oakland A's Barry Zito is available to them at all.
This rotation improvement is necessary mainly because enigmatic talent Vicente Padilla has not become a top-of-the-rotation starter. After an organizational meeting in October, the Phillies determined they would offer Padilla arbitration by Dec. 20. However, since Gillick came aboard last month, that evaluation has changed.
"It's too early to tell," Gillick said. "We've had a lot of discussions about Padilla."
Padilla, 28, who made $3.2 million last season, would likely command about $4 million in 2006, despite a second consecutive injury-marred campaign in which he was an inconsistent 9-12 with a 4.71 ERA. If the Phils retain him, he could be moved to the bullpen to compete for the setup job.
That job also could fall to Ryan Madson.
Manuel also said Madson would have a chance to join the starting rotation if the Phillies acquire significant bullpen help and don't flesh out their rotation.
For what it's worth, Manuel also said he'd consider Gavin Floyd for the back end of the rotation if Floyd earns it in spring training.
So, after Day 1 of baseball's annual jocular commingling, the Phillies remained aggressive with other teams while avoiding a free-agent talent pool Gillick characterized as tepid.
Tomorrow is the deadline for teams to offer salary arbitration to players who declared for free agency. The Phils won't offer it to reliever Ugueth Urbina, who frequently struggled after the Phillies acquired him from Detroit for Placido Polanco on June 9. Urbina has since been arrested in his native Venezuela on attempted murder charges stemming from his alleged actions at a party in October. The Phillies also don't plan to offer centerfielder Kenny Lofton arbitration.