Phillies make big offers to free agents

Nov. 13, 2002 at 9:13 AM
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TUCSON, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- The Philadelphia Phillies, in a sign that they will be serious shoppers at the free agent market this offseason, have made quick, lucrative contract pitches to three of the game's marquee names., baseball's official website, reports that Philadelphia General Manager Ed Wade was busy at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, the official start time of the free agent negotiating period, sending proposals to the agents of Jim Thome, Tom Glavine, and David Bell.

"(The offers were) very sufficient, I hope," Wade told from Tucson, Ariz., where he is attending the annual general managers' meetings this week. "I don't want to characterize our proposal other than to say I would hope it's viewed as significant, sincere and sufficient."

There have been reports that Philadelphia was ready to offer Thome as much as $90 million over six years. He would be a potent addition to an order that already includes Pat Burrell, Mike Lieberthal, and Bobby Abreu.

Thome, 32, has hit 334 home runs in his 12 seasons in Cleveland, including 49 in 2001 and 52 in 2002. The 6-4, 240-pounder has expressed a specific desire to stay in Cleveland.

Bell, who is representing himself, is said to be looking for three years at about $4-$5 million annually. He hit .261 with 20 homers and 73 RBI in helping the Giants reach the World Series this past season.

He would be an everyday answer at third base to slugger Scott Rolen, who was traded to St. Louis.

Getting Glavine, 36, likely would be a very costly proposition. Reports indicate that, even at his age, he might be able to get $50 million in a long-term contract.

His biggest advantage is that he is a left-handed starting pitcher who wins, a valued, coveted commodity in the majors.

In 2002, he was 18-11 with a 2.96 ERA for the Atlanta Braves, the only team he has played for in the major. He is 242-143 with a 3.37 ERA in 16 seasons in Atlanta.

Wade said the Phillies are looking at a number of options designed to make them a better team.

"At this point, we'd like to exhaust these free agent avenues, but there are other possibilities we will look into if we have to," Wade told "There are other things that we would like to do, so not everything hinges on what takes place in the free agent market. It behooves us to go ahead and have those conversations on a number of fronts because some fairly significant people are made available."

In 2002, the Phillies were never a threat in the NL East, finishing in third place at 80-81, 21 1/2 games back of division-winning Atlanta.

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