Evidence is mounting that the Phillies are concerned about their setup relief situation.
A baseball source on Sunday night confirmed an ESPN.com report that said the Phillies have had discussions with the representative for free-agent Kerry Wood. The source indicated that the Phillies were one of a number of teams that have reached out to Wood. Detroit, Anaheim and Cincinnati are other clubs that have expressed an interest in the 34-year-old reliever.
How realistic is it that Wood could end up with the Phillies? Well, Wood is said to be looking for a one-year salary worth in the neighborhood of 4 million. As modest as that number might sound, it might be too rich for the Phillies. Last week, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. indicated that he was running out of payroll space.
Our payroll is well past where we want to be after signing Jimmy Rollins -- thats a fact, Amaro said last week. Its going to be right around or about where we finished last year. Were in a dangerous area.
The Phils payroll was 177 million last season, according to Major League Baseball tabulations.
The Phillies are always willing to stretch their payroll for the right opportunity. Bringing back long-time Phillie Ryan Madson on a one-year deal might be the right opportunity for the Phillies, but as of this point in the winter Madson has shown no desire to return to Philadelphia at all never mind as a setup man. Jonathan Papelbon is the Phillies new closer. The Phillies plan to look at Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes and Jose Contreras as setup men, but all had issues in 2011. Bastardo and Stutes struggled late in the season and Contreras missed most of the season with an elbow injury that required surgery. He was cleared to start a throwing program last week.
Amaro has indicated that hed like to tinker with his bullpen, but its not clear if Wood, at least salary-wise, fits the description as the low-hanging fruit that he says he has been looking for. Wood was 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 55 games for the Chicago Cubs last season. He had been talking to the Cubs about a return, but the discussions broke down and Wood, according to a source, would like to pitch for a contending club.