LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Giants general manager Brian Sabean squelched rumors of a trade that would return outfielder Aaron Rowand to his previous club, the Philadelphia Phillies. "There's nothing to that," Sabean said Wednesday at baseball's Winter Meetings. "There's nothing going between the Giants and the Phillies with Rowand." In fact, Sabean added that Rowand will compete with Mark DeRosa, Pat Burrell and rookie Brandon Belt for San Francisco's left-field job. Rowand, Sabean said, "has to be given an opportunity to stay on the board."
Having lost free-agent right fielder Jayson Werth to the Washington Nationals, the Phillies are believed to need outfield depth, though they'd like to see 23-year-old Domonic Brown claim that right-field vacancy. Meanwhile, Rowand was eclipsed as San Francisco's starting center fielder by Andres Torres last season. Also, Rowand enjoyed one of his most productive two-year stretches in 2006-07 with Philadelphia (.290, 36 home runs, 136 RBIs, .353 on-base percentage, .479 slugging percentage). This prompted the belief that Rowand could be headed back to Philadelphia, where he remains popular -- though his contract, which pays him $12 million in each of the next two seasons, would make him difficult to deal anywhere. Speculation persisted that the Giants would have had to assume most or all of Rowand's remaining salary to execute the trade. In one make-believe scenario, the Giants would have received a Minor Leaguer or two for Rowand, who hit a career-low .230 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 105 games last season. It also was suggested that since San Francisco wants a left-handed batter, Rowand could be swapped for Raul Ibanez, who hit .275 with 16 homers and 83 RBIs in 155 games last season for Philadelphia. Ibanez will earn $11.5 million next season in the final year of a three-year contract, which would have matched Rowand's deal more closely. But Ibanez's age, 38, would tend to raise doubts among any club.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.