Hot Stove Truth & Rumors: Dec. 15, 2004
Posted: Wednesday December 15, 2004 11:14AM; Updated: Wednesday December 15, 2004 4:56PM
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Pedro Martinez admitted to a Dominican TV station that his deal with the Mets remains contingent upon him passing a physical. A Mets official insisted the exam will include "a thorough battery of tests," including an MRI exam on his right shoulder. Pedro missed a chunk of the 2001 season with a small tear in his rotator cuff. And he reportedly pitched much of last season with a partially torn labrum. One broadcast report also indicated that Martinez was reluctant to take an MRI.
The Mets also need a first baseman and are continuing negotiations with the representative for Carlos Delgado, the free-agent slugger from the Blue Jays.
Now Mets GM Omar Minaya has to fortify the team's other problem areas even as he looks to somehow dump the bloated salaries of Mike Piazza and/or Cliff Floyd. Free-agent first basemen Richie Sexson and Delgado are still on the market, but barely. Sexson is said to be set to join the Mariners, and the Mariners have made noise about signing Delgado as well and playing Sexson in left field.
With neither Adrian Beltre nor Delgado likely to sign with Seattle, Mariners officials have turned to shortstops. The Mariners met and had productive talks with agent for Orlando Cabrera recently at the winter meetings in Anaheim. There was no news from the Mariners on results from the physical exam that Sexson is believed to have taken Monday. The physical seemed to focus on the condition of the left shoulder that was surgically repaired last July. A baseball official indicated that additional medical tests would be performed on Sexson before a deal with Seattle would be finalized.
The Sox remained focused on trying to sign free agent right-hander Matt Clement, free agent left-hander Odalis Perez, or trade for Florida's A.J. Burnett among other options in the wake of Martinez's departure.
The Sox are making inroads with Clement, but it doesn't appear that anything is close to being agreed upon, as several competing clubs privately fear. Red Sox president Larry Lucchino remains confident the club will re-sign Jason Varitek but he cautioned it's unlikely an agreement will be reached anytime soon.
Lucchino said the Red Sox will "re-deploy" the money they would have spent on Martinez on more pitching. He said in no way was David Wells, introduced yesterday, deemed to be a replacement for Martinez. Having second thoughts about Derek Lowe now that the Sox need a proven innings-eater and big-game pitcher in Martinez's absence? Forget about it. The Sox continue to have no interest in re-signing him.
The Diamondbacks contacted the Yankees for the first time since Dec. 1, when the Yankees broke off trade talks for Randy Johnson because they believed Arizona's demands were ludicrous. Arizona wanted to see if Martinez in blue and orange would make the Yankees talk about something they wouldn't two weeks ago. The answer was no. When the Diamondbacks didn't lower their lofty demands the conversation went nowhere. When they converse again is anybody's guess. Still, the Diamondbacks figure to trade Johnson, who wants out, to the Yankees for Javier Vazquez, prospects and millions of dollars.
A person who was in the room when the Yankees discussed a potential Vazquez-Burnett trade with the Marlins said the deal was the Yankees' idea, and that it wasn't dead yet.
While Johnson remains a high Yankee priority, they are preparing for intense negotiations with Scott Boras, the agent for Carlos Beltran.
Roger Clemens' decision on pitching or retiring, which has been delayed until mid-January because he accepted the club's offer of salary arbitration, very well could come down to whether the Astros hang onto Beltran, who is expected to receive large bids from the Cubs, Yankees, Orioles and maybe others. Astros GM Tim Purpura says Clemens talks a lot about "not wasting my time," which is an abbreviated way of saying he does not want to kill himself getting back in shape to win 20 games for a team that cannot win. Clemens, according to Purpura, is very fond of Beltran's talent and approach.
The question isn't if the Cubs will trade Sammy Sosa, but when. The Mets seem to be dropping out of the running, but five other teams have inquired. Most have the same message as the Nationals: We'll take him off your hands if you pay his entire salary. Don't look for the Cubs to do that, but they will have to pay more than the original $5 million or so they thought it would take. In the process, the Cubs will have to take someone else's unwanted baggage and shell out about $10 million. The Cubs are making their biggest push yet to deal Sosa, and they hope to complete a trade in a week to 10 days.
The Braves continued their pursuit of Athletics ace Tim Hudson. At least five other teams are considered serious suitors, led by the Cardinals and Orioles. The Yankees and Red Sox also are in the hunt for Hudson.
The Orioles appear to be turning more of their attention toward Burnett. How about trading three promising, young pitchers to Oakland for Hudson?
The Tigers have also shown interest in trading for Burnett.
As other free agents steadily sign, Boras' big free agents remain unsigned. As other clubs sign free agents, the Tigers continue to miss on free agents. At some point, if Boras and the Tigers begin to run out of options, they might be drawn to each other. The Tigers continue to look for help in the starting rotation and at one of two positions, third base or centerfield. Boras represents a free agent at each of those positions: right-hander Lowe, third baseman Beltre and outfielder J.D. Drew.
Still no interest from other teams in Ugueth Urbina? "I would not be surprised," Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said, "if we get to spring training and he's still with us. Quite a few clubs have explored a deal, they've kicked the tires, but no one has stepped forward with anything close to the value we need in return."
The Angels, despite the addition of Paul Byrd, are still in the hunt for Clement, the Chicago Cubs right-hander who is being seriously pursued by at least seven teams. If the Angels don't land Clement, it's possible they would re-enter the bidding for Randy Johnson, offering a package led by Jarrod Washburn and perhaps first-base prospect Casey Kotchman.
The Angels expected to aggressively shop left-hander Washburn before Monday's deadline, enabling it to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players.
Clement has risen prominently as an arm the White Sox would love to add to the rotation, but other names might be a better fit. Odalis Perez, whom the Sox eyed last season, would give them a second left-hander with Mark Buehrle and likely come at a better price.
Scott Shapiro, the agent for Florida free-agent hurler Carl Pavano, has continued to negotiate toward hammering out a deal with the Yankees that is expected to result in a four-year contract with an option for 2009 worth around $39 million.
The Jason Kendall trade might go down as one of Pirates GM Littlefield's best, although there's still work to be done with it. For example, Littlefield might trade Matt Lawton -- or, more likely Mark Redman -- before August, and that will mean more return from the original Kendall trade.
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