Hot Stove Truth & Rumors: Dec. 27, 2004
Posted: Monday December 27, 2004 10:21AM; Updated: Monday December 27, 2004 3:52PM
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. check out the other sports, click here.
Carlos Beltran came away from Tuesday's meeting with Yankees brass impressed with owner George Steinbrenner, and plans to meet the Mets shortly. The race to sign Beltran is heating up, since the Astros must either sign him by Jan. 8 or lose negotiating rights with Beltran until May. Beltran acknowledged interest from the Astros, Yankees, Mets and Cubs, but said offers have not yet been exchanged during meetings with teams. Last week, Houston brass denied reports it had made a six-year, $96 million offer. The Mets began their pursuit late, "but they entered and they are being aggressive," Beltran said. "To this point, they have not made an offer. I believe that we will have a meeting very soon."
The Mets will have their day with Beltran, but are more likely to land Carlos Delgado. Baltimore is in on Delgado, and Boston will be if it trades Doug Mientkiewicz (Mets?) and Kevin Millar (Orioles?).
The participants in the Randy Johnson-to-the-Yanks deal, including Johnson, want a resolution before the New Year, so the parties may have just this week to deal. One person who has been involved in the ongoing talks put the likelihood at 60 percent, as the Yankees again have threatened to leave Arizona without a trade partner to push the D'backs off of a few financial demands.
Now that the Dodgers are out of the Johnson deal, the D'backs are looking for a new trading partner. One team the D'backs are eyeing as a third party is the Pirates. The Diamondbacks have interest in right-hander Kip Wells and first baseman Craig Wilson.
Red Sox GM Theo Epstein wants to get out from under Manny Ramirez's contract and have greater roster flexibility. And while the issue appears dead -- J.D. Drew signed with the Dodgers and the Mets appear to have shifted their focus to Beltran -- there's no reason to doubt that Epstein won't seek other situations in which he could unload Ramirez. That could include revisiting the Mets, if they don't get Beltran and resist the urge to settle for a sliding Sammy Sosa.
Still available on the market, and in the eye of the Cardinals, are veterans Roberto Alomar and Rey Sanchez. The Cardinals have expressed interest in Cubs second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, who reportedly also has been wooed by Tampa Bay.
It's no coincidence Barry Zito is the only holdover of the Big Three, given how he's the youngest and most durable. Tim Hudson dealt with a side ailment for the third straight season, missing six weeks in 2004, and Mark Mulder was on the disabled list in 2002 and 2003 and mysteriously nose-dived the final two months of last season because of fatigue or something unknown. A team with limited fiscal resources can't afford many injuries, and Zito has had the most starts in the majors over the past four years (139). "He's been healthy the whole time," said owner Steve Schott.
One interpretation of Billy Beane's decision to trade not one, but two of his Big Three pitchers? Don't be surprised if Schott is getting ready to sell that team.
Schott did confirm that Louis Wolff has a new option to purchase the team outright. Wolff, a big-time developer who once owned part of the Warriors and is an old fraternity brother of commissioner Bud Selig, publicly has complimented Schott, the managing general partner, for how the A's are run.
Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd spoke with Dustin Mohr's agent Friday, increasing the Rockies' offer, making it competitive with proposals from other finalists Tampa Bay and Houston. Manager Clint Hurdle previously made his pitch to Mohr, promising a large role by rotating him through all three outfield positions. Mohr is expected to make a decision by Tuesday.
For more Truth & Rumors, click here.