The Phillies made two moves on Tuesday that may indicate a few deals are in the works at the Winter Meetings. Pitchers Jesus Sanchez and Yohan Flande were released from the 40-man roster, likely to make room for a few additions. One of those additions is rumored to be ex-Phillie Aaron Rowand.
Rowand has two more years and $24 million left on his contract with the SF Giants. After a down year in 2010 and losing his starting spot, the Giants have implied that Rowand is no longer in their plans going forward. If the Giants are willing to eat most of his salary, Rowand could possibly return to Philly.
Best known for smashing his face against the centerfield wall at Citizens Bank Park to make a game-saving catch in 2006, Rowand was also the leader in the clubhouse and well loved by players and coaches alike. He was never afraid to call out a teammate who was slacking. This kind of fire is what Charlie Manuel loves about Rowand. It may also be motivation to bring him back.
In 2007, Rowand had a career year with the Phillies, batting .309 with 27 homers and 89 RBI. He also made the All-Star team that year. Since departing for San Francisco, Rowand's numbers have steadily declined. At the time, critics said the move to a larger ballpark might affect his production and that appears to be the case. On the flip side, a return to the smaller confines of Citizens Bank Park may give new life to Rowand's bat.
In addition, Rowand will have something to prove wherever he lands. This is a guy who plays the game hard and takes pride in his performance. Losing his starting job may have been the kick in the backside he needed.
Another upside is that Rowand can play either center or right field, just as Jayson Werth was able to. Neither Domonic Brown or Ben Francisco would likely be effective in center in the event that Shane Victorino is hurt or needs a break. And right now, Victorino is the only true centerfielder on the roster. Even if it is just coming off the bench, Rowand could fill that role while Brown and Francisco patrol right field.
Whether or not the Phillies decide to work out a deal with the Giants for Rowand is still unknown. But if the price is right, Rowand could be a real asset and maybe inject new life into this Phillies team.