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Nothing major in works for Phillies but minor deal on horizon

Last week it was unclear whether the MLB Winter Meetings would take place.

But this week, with a new collective bargaining agreement in place, the meetings were fully underway Monday morning in one of the Washington, D.C., suburbs.

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With some teams in a holding pattern until terms of the new CBA were reached, it could be an active few days for some. The Phillies should create some news but it doesn't sound like they'll make any major headlines.

One year ago at the Winter Meetings in Nashville the Phillies laid the groundwork for a trade that included sending their closer, Ken Giles, to the Astros. The deal was finalized two days after the meetings ended.

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Don't look for anything similar this time.

"I would say there's nothing nearly as active on that front today as there was a year ago at this time with Giles," Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak said.

That doesn't mean there isn't interest in any Philadelphia players though. Klentak said there definitely is, especially their pitchers. He explained that when everybody's in the same place like the Winter Meetings, they explore those inquiries and see if anything happens.

Something can come together quickly, it just doesn't look like anything's close right now.

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Late Sunday night CSNPhilly.com reported that sources said Philadelphia was expected to sign veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit before things wrap up Thursday.

The move would support Klentak's offseason intentions of strengthening the bullpen, which he stressed once again Monday.

"We continue to work toward to adding to our bullpen," Klentak said. "That's something that [manager] Pete [Mackanin] and I have talked about all offseason, just trying to make sure we're as competitive as we can be. Not only in save situations, but trying to keep games close, even when we have a deficit. Anything that we can do to try to augment the bullpen we're going to do."

Benoit, who split last year between Toronto and Seattle, has 15 seasons in the majors, also spending time in Texas, Tampa Bay, Detroit and San Diego. The 39-year-old has a career 3.79 ERA.

Benoit figures to join Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez at the back end of the Phillies bullpen.

Not only would Benoit give the Phillies another option for their setup man, he could also give them a piece to potentially flip at the deadline if he picks up where he left off with the Blue Jays. After being acquired by Toronto at the end of July, the right-hander compiled a 0.38 ERA in 25 appearances.

If and when Benoit is officially signed, the Phillies would have to make a corresponding move to clear a roster spot for him.

While infielder/outfield Howie Kendrick has been their biggest acquisition so far this offseason, the Phillies have also made additions to their relief corps.

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They acquired right-handed reliever Pat Neshek from the Astros to open November and last week claimed lefty reliever David Rollins.

Rollins is someone Klentak hopes will compete for a major league job, especially since he adds depth where the Phillies don't have a lot — left-handers in the bullpen.

As far as any other free-agent signings, the Phillies could make some minor deals adding a veteran or two. The key for the Phillies is balancing playing time for younger players on the roster with the number of veterans they would bring in. They certainly don't want to block players they're still trying to learn about.

One area Klentak said he'd like more depth is in the middle infield. He left open the possibility of it coming through a major league acquisition or even a non-roster invitee to spring training.

A name that makes sense there is Andres Blanco, who spent the last three seasons with the Phillies before becoming a free agent.

Klentak wouldn't discuss specific free agents but acknowledged the possibility exists to bring Blanco back, even though nothing is "imminent." Hes spoke highly of his leadership and versatility.

Another name that has been linked to the Phillies as far as free agents returning is A.J. Ellis. Klentak also spoke highly of the catcher that the Phillies acquired for Carlos Ruiz at the end of August.

Despite that being a possibility, Klentak said signing a veteran catcher is not a necessity as the team could go with Andrew Knapp to back up Cameron Rupp.

Twitter @SteveGrossMCall

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