The newspaper said the Phillies were working on a complex trade that would import DeRosa, who would provide insurance for Utley at second base and fill, at least partially, the club's vacancy in left field.
DeRosa, the one-time quarterback for Penn, would move from the Cubs to the Phillies, who would send pitcher J.A. Happ to the Cubs, possibly with another prospect. The Cubs would then move Happ, the second prospect and more to the Padres in a package for pitcher Peavy, the 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner.
The Inquirer reported that the Orioles might be involved in the multiclub deal. "Three teams, possible," the paper quoted a Phillies source as having said Monday night. "Four, doubtful."
Ruben Amaro Jr., the Phils' new general manager, declined to comment about the possibility of being involved in a Peavy trade, although a source said there have been talks. Pat Gillick, the outgoing GM who is now a consultant with the club, said on Tuesday morning that he has no detailed knowledge of the talks.
Utley, the All-Star second baseman, underwent surgery on his hip and is expected to miss at least two months of the season. The void in left field is the result of Pat Burrell filing for free agency. Burrell is not expected to re-sign with the Phillies.
DeRosa, 34 in February, appears to be an ideal fit for the Phillies. He batted .285 with 21 home runs and 87 RBIs in 149 games for the Cubs last season, playing six positions including second base (96 games) and left field (27). He is signed for the 2009 season for $5.5 million.
Amaro said on Monday that there was a lot of general interest in infielder Jason Donald, who played for bronze medal-winning Team USA during the Summer Olympics in Beijing and was recently named to the Arizona Fall League's All-Prospect teamThe Padres have been attempting to move Peavy, their ace, who is owed $63 million over the next four seasons. The Cubs have been the main target since a deal with the Braves collapsed last month, but a match between the Padres and Cubs hasn't been found, so San Diego GM Kevin Towers has said a third or fourth team might be needed to get a deal done. Towers said Monday that a deal with the Cubs will most likely need to take place this week at the Winter Meetings or he expects to halt the process of trying to move Peavy, the 27-year-old who won the National League Cy Young Award and that league's pitching Triple Crown just one year ago. Towers wouldn't comment on the Phillies being a possible go-between to get Peavy to the Cubs, saying only on Monday that "there's a package there that would please us." Meanwhile, Amaro said he continues to talk with myriad clubs and agents about filling his club's holes, which also includes one that could be created by the possible departure of veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer via free agency. According to an SI.com report, the Phillies are believed to have offered Moyer a two-year deal for about $14 million. Moyer is said to be looking for $18 million over two years. At the same time, the Phillies are said to be one of several teams to make an offer to free-agent right-hander Derek Lowe. Amaro declined to talk about players on other teams he might be talking with, but said that obtaining a starting pitcher would not necessarily preclude the re-signing of Moyer. "You can never have enough pitching," Amaro said. "We've spent the day trying to crystallize some of the things we want to do," Amaro said. "We've had some sort of discussions with each of the 29 other clubs. Our desire is trying to improve this team." As far as Burrell goes, Amaro said he's had no substantive talks about bringing back the right-handed slugger, who had three homers and eight RBIs in 14 postseason games.
The Inquirer also reported that the Phillies retain interest in left-handed-hitting, free-agent outfielder Raul Ibanez to play left. However, Ibanez would make the Phillies' batting order unbalanced once Utley returns. Utley and Ryan Howard also bat left-handed, and without Burrell, the club would lack a right-handed power presence in a ballpark tailored for right-handed hitters.
Ibanez, 36, batted .305 in 187 at-bats against left-handed pitching with the Mariners last season. He batted .293 with 23 homers and 110 RBIs overall, playing in all 162 games.
But opponents would be more likely to throw left-handed pitching at the Phillies whenever possible, and that seemingly would serve to defuse Howard's potent home run bat.
Ibanez is considered a favorite of Gillick, a one-time Mariners GM, the paper said. Gillick, is in Las Vegas for the Winter Meetings.
If the Phils don't get DeRosa or Ibanez, they may pursue free agent Juan Rivera, a right-handed hitter who played for the Angels in 2008. He could become part of a left-field platoon with left-handed-hitting Greg Dobbs.
The Phillies also have spoken with the Twins regarding outfielder Delmon Young.