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Amaro downplays Halladay rumors

Phils GM downplays Halladay rumors

INDIANAPOLIS -- It would make no sense for Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to talk publicly about his interest in Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay.

In fact, it would make more sense to say he has little chance of acquiring any big-name pitcher, which is exactly what he said Thursday morning during the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings. The Phillies wrapped up the Winter Meetings having agreed to terms with outfielder/first baseman Ross Gload, but are still looking for bullpen help and rotation depth.

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Which brings us back to Halladay.

"I don't think there's any likeliness," Amaro said, asked to speak in general terms about acquiring a star starter.

So nothing has changed in the likeliness scale from Wednesday, when Amaro said they probably would not get involved in something that big?

"There's nothing likely. How about that?" Amaro said.

Nothing likely, but that doesn't mean it cannot happen. And it doesn't mean the Phillies aren't talking with the Blue Jays about it. Baseball personnel have told MLB.com this week that the Phils are one of the favorites for Halladay, if not the favorite. FOXSports.com reported Thursday morning that the Phillies and Angels are front-runners, with Philadelphia offering left-hander J.A. Happ and outfielder Domonic Brown or outfielder Michael Taylor.

The Phillies would have to shed some payroll to make room for Halladay's $15.75 million salary. Joe Blanton could be a casualty there. He made $5.75 million last season and will receive a raise. But FOXSports.com said the Phils would have to shed more payroll than that.

That could explain why Philadelphia has't made much progress in negotiations with Chan Ho Park and Scott Eyre. The club might need to get them under market value to afford Halladay. But the risk there is that Park and Eyre, who have received interest from other teams, sign elsewhere in the meantime and the Phillies don't get the bullpen pieces they want. The Phils have been linked to Fernando Rodney, but his price tag might be too high.

Amaro said they were in pretty deep with talks for right-hander Brandon Lyon, but he signed a three-year, $15 million deal with the Astros.

If Philadelphia has to give up Happ and Blanton in separate moves to get Halladay, it could go into the season with Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick in the rotation. The club also could pick up another starter.

A free agent like John Smoltz is a possibility. The Phillies also reportedly are interested in Jason Marquis.

But would they want to give up the prospects required to make such a big trade in the first place? The Phils didn't surrender their top prospects in July, when they acquired Lee, so they have depth.

"Our upper levels clearly have been hit when we moved for Lee," Amaro said. "As far as our upper-level depth is concerned, we moved four of those guys. We have some depth, but that doesn't mean anything is going to get done."

Deals done: The Phillies agreed to a two-year contract with Gload, who would be the final piece to their bench. Gload, who hits left-handed, hit .261 with six home runs and 30 RBIs in 230 at-bats last season with the Marlins. He hit .318 (21-for-66) as a pinch-hitter. Gload joins a bench that includes outfielder Ben Francisco, catcher Brian Schneider and infielders Greg Dobbs and Juan Castro. The Phils signed third baseman Placido Polanco, Schneider and Castro before the Winter Meetings.

Rule 5 activity: Philadelphia selected right-hander David Herndon with the 17th pick. Herndon, 24, went 5-6 with a 3.03 ERA and 11 saves in 50 appearances last season with Double-A Arkansas, an Angels affiliate. It will be difficult for Herndon to make the 25-man roster if the Phillies accomplish what they hope to accomplish in free agency, but he at least provides the club inventory in Spring Training. The Phils also selected right-hander Angelo Sanchez in the Triple-A portion of the Draft.

Goals accomplished: Philadelphia finalized its bench, and Amaro said the club made progress on moves it hopes to make in the near future. Halladay maybe?

Unfinished business: The Phillies still have not added anybody to the bullpen. They continue to have discussions with the agents for Park and Eyre, but they are moving very slowly -- if at all. There is a chance the Phils might look elsewhere if Park and Eyre don't reduce their asking prices, but Park and Eyre also could go elsewhere. They have received interest from other teams and cannot wait forever to sign. Amaro said the club is focusing on the free-agent market for bullpen help. "Trades are hard to get done," he said.

GM's bottom line: "You have to try to be creative if you can. While we're comfortable with most of the areas on the club, the bullpen is something I'd like to address." -- Amaro, on what he still needs to accomplish this offseason

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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