Hot Stove Truth & Rumors: Dec. 22, 2004
Posted: Wednesday December 22, 2004 10:18AM; Updated: Wednesday December 22, 2004 3:47PM
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 and Rumors. To check out the other sports, click here.
There is a chance the Orioles could benefit from yesterday's failed three-way trade between the Yankees, Dodgers and Diamondbacks. With Javier Vazquez making it known he didn't want to pitch in Los Angeles, the Dodgers were rumored to be considering a subsequent deal. Orioles executive vice president Jim Beattie is fond of Vazquez, who pitched for him with the Montreal Expos. Orioles sources said they had not spoken to the Dodgers about Vazquez, but he's still a name worth following.
J.D. Drew, a linchpin in the Dodgers end of the Randy Johnson deal, has agreed to terms on a five-year, $55-million deal with the Dodgers and is expected to play right field. Shawn Green, who would have gone to Arizona in the last year of a contract that pays him $16 million, could play first base as he did much of last season, or could still be traded.
The Yankees' courting of Carlos Beltran began yesterday in Tampa where the jewel of the free-agent class met with George Steinbrenner. Money certainly was discussed, because many believe Beltran will command a seven-year contract worth $105 million, but the sitdown was held so each side could feel out the other. No offer was extended by the Yankees. The Mets and Cubs have been linked to Beltran, but the leading candidates are the Yankees and Astros, with many believing Beltran will have a difficult time deciding where to play.
Beltran and agent Scott Boras will likely meet with Astros owner Drayton McLane today or Thursday, and McLane likes his chances of selling Beltran on the Astros. McLane said, "I think he loved Houston, loved the clubhouse and loved the ballpark. I think if it's anywhere close, we win." Astros GM Tim Purpura and president of baseball operations Tal Smith have already set a foundation in the negotiations with Boras, who also has talked personally and via phone with McLane since October.
The Mets currently are working hard against Baltimore to secure Carlos Delgado and lurking on Beltran trying to surmise if there is an opening to pounce.
The Mets believe the Delgado negotiations have slowed because he is looking for a range similar to the four-year deals signed by sluggers Troy Glaus ($45 million) and Richie Sexson ($50 million). The Mets have made a three-year offer believed to be just north of $30 million, and are hesitant to expand their bid too much for a player they view as mostly one-dimensional.
Mets GM Omar Minaya is one of the few people in his organization who is giddy about the possibility of acquiring the player he discovered in the Dominican many years ago. Nobody in his right mind would want a player who betrayed his teammates, who is selfish, who once corked his bat and who looks as if he has dropped about 30 pounds in the last year or two. But the only thing apparently stopping another team from ridding the Cubs of their problem child Sammy Sosa is his massive, distended contract.
The Yankees will introduce Carl Pavano today at a Yankee Stadium press conference. Pavano signed a four-year contract worth $39.9 million with a $13 million option.
The Rangers would like to bring back their four arbitration-eligible players -- second baseman Alfonso Soriano, catcher Rod Barajas, outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. and right-handed reliever Carlos Almanzar -- without going to an arbitration hearing. Soriano would be all ears if the Rangers approached him about a long-term contract.
Nationals GM Jim Bowden's primary target, left-hander Odalis Perez, remained unsigned yesterday, but could be off the market by the end of the week. The Mariners are also making a push for Perez, and are prepared to pay more than the Nationals have offered.
The Cardinals have their eye on Devil Rays shortstop Julio Lugo as they attempt to rebuild their middle infield.
Among the newly free free agents, the most appealing appears to be DH/first baseman Josh Phelps, who was let go by the Indians despite averaging 17 homers and 62 RBIs over the past three seasons in part-time play with Toronto and Cleveland.
The Mets and Braves already have expressed interest in lefty reliever Matt Perisho, who became a free agent after negotiations when he rejected what he called a "really late offer" from the Marlins believed to be for less than $500,000. His agent, Scott Shapiro, didn't rule out the possibility of Perisho returning to the Marlins.
Unless they pursue a veteran free agent such as Gabe White, John Franco or Buddy Groom, the Marlins could open next season with Chad Bentz and Luke Hagerty as their left-handed relievers.
The Phillies figured that they might be able to upgrade their pitching staff once other teams decided not to tender their own players. That's why they did not tender popular, efficient and fragile Amaury Telemaco and Geoff Geary. "It was kind of slim pickings out there," assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledged, so they re-signed both pitchers. Telemaco gets a $600,000, major league deal; Geary, a split contract that will pay $320,000 if he's in the majors.
Any chance the real reason for the Phillies foolishness of offering arbitration to infielder Placido Polanco is the fear of David Bell breaking down?
The White Sox have interest in a utility infielder, and two non-tendered players from other clubs would fit into their plans. Shortstop David Eckstein was not tendered by the Angels, nor was second baseman Alex Cora of the Dodgers.
Two potential fits for the Cardinals' vacant middle infield hit the open market Tuesday: Eckstein and Cora.
The White Sox are close to signing Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez to complete their starting rotation.
The Rockies entered serious negotiations with free agent outfielder Dustan Mohr less than 12 hours after the Giants non-tendered Mohr.
The Royals tried to engineer a trade for Austin Kearns earlier this off-season, and with a four-player logjam in Cincinnati's outfield -- Kearns, Ken Griffey Jr., Wily Mo Peņa and Adam Dunn -- discussions could start again.
Expect the Diamondbacks to re-energize talks with free-agent pitcher Shawn Estes and free-agent right fielder Jeromy Burnitz, although Burnitz's ego may be a little bruised after Arizona canceled a face-to-face meeting with him last week in Phoenix to pursue Green in the Randy Johnson trade.
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