Phillies close to signing free agent Feliz
Two-year deal would give club new everyday third baseman
PHILADELPHIA -- The pursuit of Pedro Feliz has intensified, and the Phillies are close to signing the free-agent third baseman to a two-year deal.An agreement is believed to be pending a physical, which could happen sometime this week, though the Phillies would only confirm that the sides are in discussions. The deal is reportedly for $8.5 million over two years with a team option for 2010 that could approach $15 million, according to an Associated Press report. "We haven't finalized anything, but we have been talking to his representatives," Phillies assistant general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said late Monday afternoon. "Our offseason quest is still to improve our club in any way we can." Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, speaking at the Philadelphia Sports Writers Awards Banquet, sounded more convinced. "We got better," Manuel said. "He's a good defensive player. He's got power. He'll hit probably sixth, seventh, somewhere in there. He'll continue to hit 20 homers. I think putting him down in our lineup will help him. He was called on to hit in the middle of the lineup in San Francisco. A couple years ago, he might've been pressing to do too much because they had Barry Bonds there." Feliz, who will turn 33 in late April, adds another right-handed bat to the Phillies' lineup. He batted .253 with 20 homers and 72 RBIs with the Giants in 2007. He has a reputation for being a fine defensive player, and would likely start at third, squashing the expected platoon of Greg Dobbs and Wes Helms. Dobbs would see his playing time sliced, and he would shift to a utility player and be the main left-handed pinch-hitter, a role he excelled in last season. He hit .292 (14-for-48) with two homers in that capacity last season. Helms could be moved to clear space on the 40-man roster. He had been speculated to be heading to Florida to replace departed third baseman Miguel Cabrera, though the Marlins have since acquired former Rays second baseman Jorge Cantu to play third. Feliz would be the fourth free-agent acquistion for the National League East champions, joining Geoff Jenkins, So Taguchi and Chad Durbin. Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett also arrived via a trade with Houston.
"Our focus has been pitching, pitching and pitching," Amaro said. "But we continue to try and improve our club in any way we can."
Feliz has averaged 21 homers during the past four years for the Giants, though the number could rise playing half his games at Citizens Bark Park. The Phillies had kept an eye on him since the offseason began, but didn't want to sign him for the three years and $21 million he was reportedly seeking.
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.