ORLANDO, Fla. -- Most of the speculation surrounding Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who went 24-0 within a 1.24 ERA for the Tohoko Rakuten Golden Eagles last season, has focused on the usual teams -- the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels and D-backs.
But after arriving at the annual General Managers Meetings on Monday, GM Ruben Amaro hinted that the Phillies could also be on that list.
Asked whether he would be willing to make an exception to the informal club guideline against offering long-term contracts to pitchers, as he did for Cole Hamels, Amaro said, "We don't have hard-and-fast rules. The shorter [contract] the better, but that doesn't always work out. We're looking all over the globe."
Asked if that was a reference to Tanaka, he added, "We have to try to be as open-minded as we can. We can't really cut off any markets. I don't know how realistic some of the markets are, but we'll keep our eyes open."
But with Major League Baseball terminating its previous posting-fee agreement with Japan, according to a source, the placement of all young Nippon Professional Baseball players, including Tanaka, is in limbo.
But the Phillies have an obvious need for starting pitching, as there are only question marks in the rotation after Hamels, Cliff Lee and Cuban defector Miguel Gonzalez.
In other news, Amaro said that the team continues to negotiate with free-agent catcher Carlos Ruiz and to try to fill the pitching-coach vacancy created when Rich Dubee's contract wasn't renewed.
Amaro wouldn't say whether offers have been exchanged with Ruiz, and suggested that there might be a buyer's market for catching this offseason.
"As I said before, we'd like to bring Carlos back," he said. "It takes two to tango. We have a time limit. There are other targets. We've made inquiries about a lot of guys. We're kind of on the board in a variety of areas. If Carlos isn't our catcher, somebody else has to catch for us. None of the clubs can let things drag out too much. You kind of have to get your business done.
"There aren't as many seats available as people think," he added. "A lot of people have catchers. There are probably six or seven out there looking to be placed. Obviously, some higher than others. And there are some guys you can acquire through trades, too. I don't know if there are six or seven teams that need a front-line catcher. Maybe."
Amaro conceded that more than one pitching-coach candidate turned down the job, a list that presumably includes Roger McDowell, who elected to return to the Braves, and Bryan Price, who has been hired as the Reds' manager.
"We've made some progress, but we haven't made any decisions," Amaro said. "We're still in the process. We've identified a few guys. But we're still working through it."
Amaro also said that the Phillies haven't made a decision about bringing back Roy Halladay and that he's been in contact with the team's medical staff about the 36-year-old, who underwent shoulder surgery last May.
"We've talked a little bit about it," Amaro said. "We're keeping our eyes open on it. I'm not sure how the market is going to develop for him, but we haven't ruled out bringing him back. He took some time off, which was much needed for him. I'm not worried about his work ethic, so I'm sure he'll start working out here pretty soon."
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less