Philadelphia Phillies' Offseason Update

C KSenior Analyst IDecember 31, 2008

It's Jan. 1, so let me start off by wishing everyone a Happy New Year!

On to baseball...

It's the beginning of month three in the baseball offseason, and it's been a quiet, yet intriguing, one for the Phillies.

After signing Raul Ibanez to a three-year, $30 million contract, it's almost a lock that Pat Burrell will not be returning to the Phillies in 2009. Their second big move was the re-signing of Jamie Moyer to a two-year, $13 million deal.

Both moves were signings that needed to happen. I'm glad to see they were able to do them. Yet, beyond those moves, not much has been worth noting. Sure, they traded for Ronny Paulino, but that's no big deal. They also signed Chan Ho Park. Meh, no biggie.

But really, that's all that's going to happen in the free-agent market, and that's all I expected to happen.

All that's left this offseason is the loads of contract negotiations the Phils are headed for. Most of the big name's in the open market are off the table, and those who are left are not likely to sign with the Phillies. There's nothing left, besides trades, and I see no big deals in the Phillies' foreseeable future.

So onward we go into the exciting adventure that is negotiations.

The Phillies still need to worry about the contracts of Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Joe Blanton, Greg Dobbs, and Shane Victorino, among others.

The two big (BIG) deals that will be made on that list are Hamels and Howard. It's still unclear of whether the club wants to lock up either of the two, or would rather head into the unknown charters of arbitration.

Either way, the World Champions likely cannot afford to lock up both, so the club will need to make their choice.

Howard would likely get around $16-$19 million if he goes to arbitration, while Hamels could come at a much cheaper price, anywhere from $5-$8 million.

The Phillies will be in no rush to sign either, though, since Howard cannot become a free agent until after the 2010 season and Hamels cannot file until after the 2011 season. (If you did not know, that is because a player must have six years of MLB experience to file for free agency unless he has executed a contract already.)

It sure will be a fun and interesting ride over the next few months, all leading up to Spring Training. Yet, both contracts could, in fact, stretch all the way into camp, just like last year; but we know both sides would much rather get them done earlier. Although with arbitration, it's always a possibility.

But before tuning in to see what goes on with Hamels and Howard, watch out to see what happens with Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Joe Blanton, Greg Dobbs, and others.

They will all likely sign before Hamels and Howard, yet the amount they sign for could be very telling to how much will be left for the two stars.