Hot Stove Truth & Rumors: Nov. 29, 2004
Posted: Monday November 29, 2004 11:53AM; Updated: Monday November 29, 2004 1:34PM
Baseball's Hot Stove is heating up with a flurry of rumors and gossip. To keep you up-to-date, we've created a special edition of Hot Stove Truth & Rumors. To check out the other sports, click here.
Since the Astros raised ticket prices and signed a fat new television contract, will the payroll be increased enough to re-sign Carlos Beltran? Although many believe he is a lock to join the Yankees, Beltran enjoyed his stint with the Astros enough to stay. The Cubs, Angels and Mets are showing interest, but nobody appears willing to give Beltran a 10-year, $200 million deal. "I think we have a better opportunity than any other team," Astros owner Drayton McLane said. "I think the key time will be the winter meetings." If a deal cannot be worked out for Beltran, his agent Steve Boras will try to place free-agent outfielder J.D. Drew with the Astros. Steve Finley is another option.
The big decision facing the Cubs: Pay big money for Beltran or save it for a shortstop and a closer. And the Cubs are still listening to trades involving Sammy Sosa. The most logical answer is signing Beltran to play center field and moving Corey Patterson to left. Another possibility would be trading with the Yankees for Dusty Baker favorite Kenny Lofton. A fallback strategy: Re-sign Moises Alou for one year.
Asked whether the Angels are considering signing Beltran, owner Arte Moreno said yes. "We would be doing a disservice to our fans not to look at the opportunity," he said.
Roger Clemens says he is 99.9 percent retired but won't make his final decision until after the holidays. He will either retire or play another season for McLane. Cardinals free-agent right-hander Woody Williams has had his agent approach Astros GM Tim Purpura about pitching in Houston next season.
Jeff Kent wants to remain in Houston but will look elsewhere if he considers the Astros' offer disrespectful. The Tigers, Cubs, Rangers and Red Sox are some of the teams that have expressed interest in signing Kent as a second baseman, first baseman or designated hitter. The Astros haven't spoken about working out multiyear deals for young stars such as Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt but are optimistic about re-signing backups Jose Vizcaino and Orlando Palmeiro soon.
With an offer from the Mets reportedly forthcoming, Pedro Martinez received a glowing endorsement from Willie Randolph. "I think any manager in his right mind would love to have a Pedro Martinez," Randolph said, who added there would be no second set of rules for Martinez if he were to become a Met.
To outbid Boston for Martínez, the Mets will probably have to offer him at least a three-year guaranteed contract worth more than $13 million a season with an equally attainable option year.
The Mets have reportedly offered Richie Sexson a contract for approximately $10 million per year, although the length is unclear.
The chances of free agent shortstop Orlando Cabrera returning to the Red Sox are dwindling to far less than likely. He is seeking a four- to five-year deal.
White Sox GM Ken Williams has had a longtime fascination with Atlanta center fielder Andruw Jones, who is owed $39 million for the next three years and would cost talent in return.
The White Sox are in the Randy Johnson trade sweepstakes, although there are two problems: Johnson wants a second year added to his $18 million contract, and he has to approve any trade. Chances are White Sox GM Ken Williams will be looking to acquire someone like Jaret Wright or Matt Clement.
Cardinals free agent catcher Mike Matheny would be a perfect fit for the ChiSox. But he wants about $5 million for two years, maybe more. The Twins thought Henry Blanco's request for a two-year, $3 million contract was too high and let him go, so he would be a possibility.
Carl Pavano, one of the top free-agent pitchers on the market, will visit Seattle next week as part of a tour of prospective homes for the 18-game winner.
Carlos Delgado has multiyear offers from the Mariners, who are budgeting to win, and the Blue Jays, who have a $50-million budget. While the Orioles have not submitted an offer to Delgado, or any free agent, they have made it known that they plan on making one to the slugging first baseman.
The Brewers were prepared to sign free-agent catcher Damian Miller to a three-year, $8.75 million contract Wednesday before concerns arose following an MRI on his throwing shoulder. Unable to get a second opinion that day, the Brewers tabled the matter until after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Rangers officials met with infielder Todd Walker over the Thanksgiving weekend and are planning to meet with outfielder Jermaine Dye later this week. Both are likely to get two-year deals at a price that would fall within the Rangers' budget and allow them to continue their pursuit of pitcher Jon Lieber.
Shawn Chacon continues to draw interest, but the Rockies haven't found a team willing to give up a near-major-league-ready pitcher, a request that stalled talks with the Rangers. Jason Kendall's trade to Oakland creates a catching vacancy in Pittsburgh. Charles Johnson, who has a 21-team no-trade clause, has interest in the Pirates.
The Rockies have offered outfielder David Dellucci a one-year contract with club options. Silence from the player's agent, however, has left the Rockies uneasy, worried Dellucci's moving in a different direction. The Rangers, for whom Dellucci hit 17 home runs last year, believe the 31-year-old may have a two-year deal on the table from an unidentified team.
The Cardinals' Tony Womack appears to be the favorite as the new Cubs second baseman, but the deal reportedly is being held up over money. They continue to negotiate with Nomar Garciaparra on a one-year deal but must get it done by Dec. 7. Other intriguing possibilities include the Cardinals' Edgar Renteria and Cabrera, but neither will be cheap. A fallback would be Neifi Perez playing shortstop or second base.
The Cubs have inquired about closer Dan Kolb, who could be getting pricey for the Brewers.
The one spot A's GM Billy Beane might look to beef up is second base, because Mark Ellis' status remains uncertain. The A's have been in contact with Barry Larkin's agent, and, according to reports, they have inquired about Atlanta All-Star Marcus Giles.
David Wells remains the team's first option, but the Padres aren't proceeding without some insurance. They've acquired two left-handed pitchers, Darrell May and Dennys Reyes.