Hot Stove Truth & Rumors: Oct. 28, 2004
Posted: Tuesday December 28, 2004 11:30AM; Updated: Tuesday December 28, 2004 3:44PM
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Mets GM Omar Minaya is about to make his move on Carlos Beltran. The Mets are in the process of setting up a meeting with Beltran and his agent, Scott Boras, for early next week. The Cubs and Tigers also remain in the hunt for Beltran, who is no longer listening to teams not willing to offer at least a seven-year deal.
The Mets are furthest along with Carlos Delgado, though the gulf between their offer (about $33 million for three years) and what the first baseman is seeking (four years at $45 million-plus) is wide. The Mets likely want to know for sure if they are in the Beltran derby before they commit even more dollars to Delgado.
The signing of Delgado by any team is on hold because the Yankees have told his agent that they want to wait to see whether they get Beltran. If they don't get Beltran, the Yankees plan to pursue Delgado to play first base, leaving Bernie Williams in center field and Jason Giambi at DH if he comes back at all. The Yankees plan to sign former Yankee Tino Martinez as a backup first baseman if they get Beltran.
The Wilpons, who own the Mets, are worried Boras is using the Mets to spur George Steinbrenner to bid more zealously, and that the Mets risk humiliation with its fan base and the media if it loses a one-on-one financial battle against The Boss. An executive from a team not interested in Beltran said it was his perception that, all things being equal, Beltran would prefer to remain with the Astros.
The Astros are starting to get nervous about the possibility of being left without Beltran. Since failing to re-sign slugging Jeff Kent, the Astros essentially have focused on Beltran. "We told him we certainly needed an answer by the latter part of this week," owner Drayton McLane said. "We don't want to be left out in the cold if we can't get Beltran. Moises Alou has moved on. Steve Finley has moved on."
GM Brian Sabean called Alou the Giants' final big acquisition, saying his "heavy lifting" is done for the winter. Alou arrives with a big question mark: his ability to join fellow oldster Marquis Grissom in covering the vast right-center field in San Francisco. The Giants originally hoped to sign center fielder Steve Finley and shift Grissom to right. Now, barring any further moves, Grissom will return to center while Alou moves to right, where he has not played regularly since 2001.
While GM Jim Hendry continues to explore Sammy Sosa trades at a deliberate pace with the Mets, Braves, Royals and Nationals, the Cubs know Beltran has to decide before Jan. 8 whether to remain in Houston or jump. The Cubs are no longer viable contenders to sign Beltran because a Sosa deal apparently will take much longer to develop, if it ever does.
The Cubs recently contacted the Dodgers to inquire if they have any interest in Sosa. Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta yanked outfielder Shawn Green out of the three-team Randy Johnson trade last week, and the Cubs would be willing to discuss a Sosa-for-Green deal. The Dodgers, however, haven't promptly returned that phone call and might not have altered their thinking from the winter meetings in early December, when they had no interest in Sosa talks.
The Yankees and Diamondbacks renewed negotiations last night on a deal that would put Randy Johnson in pinstripes. It is believed the talks are back to a 1-on-1 between the Yankees and Arizona.
Eric Milton could have received the $25.5 million the Reds are going to pay him over the next three years from at least a half-dozen teams. What the Reds needed to do to have a chance at Milton was to show a commitment to winning. They did that by adding five players since the end of the winter meetings. The Reds traded for starter Ramon Ortiz on Dec. 14, signed right-handed relievers Ben Weber and David Weathers the next day, signed left-handed reliever Kent Mercker on Dec. 20 and third baseman Joe Randa on Dec. 21.
The Yankees, who were Milton's preferred team, would not offer more than $21 million for three years, terms Jaret Wright accepted. Once the Yankees resumed their pursuit of Johnson and wrapped up a four-year, $39.95 million deal with Carl Pavano, there was nothing left to talk about with Milton.
Odalis Perez said he was going to meet either today or tomorrow in Santo Domingo with the Mets GM Omar Minaya. However, Minaya planned to work out of his New Jersey home through the New Year. In order to actually have an opening for Perez, the Mets would have to trade a starter. Minaya would listen to offers for Victor Zambrano. He also has been actively trying to trade Steve Trachsel throughout the offseason, without success.
There has been some speculation that the Dodgers could have some interest in Trachsel as a potential replacement for Perez.
Perez and Derek Lowe are the last front-of-the-rotation starters available among free agents. The Nationals, Orioles, Mariners, Tigers, Marlins, Dodgers and Rangers all remain hungry for a starting pitcher. It is possible the Yankees could still try to redirect Javier Vazquez to one of those teams, reviving a three-team scenario to obtain Randy Johnson.
Todd Hollandsworth's return to the Cubs on Monday gave Hendry a safety net as he seeks a new home for Sosa. After signing a one-year, $900,000 deal, Hollandsworth could be the low-priced alternative to Alou in left field next season. But if the Cubs manage to trade Sosa and sign a higher-priced outfielder, Hollandsworth could return to the backup role in which he excelled in 2004 before breaking a bone in his right leg and missing the last three months.
Outfielder Dustan Mohr agreed to terms with Colorado on Monday, contingent on passing a physical. And infielder Desi Relaford, who agreed to terms last week, was at Denver and passed his physical, finalizing a one-year deal.
While Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd still would like to find some veteran help for late-inning bullpen work, his attention now turns to finalizing details on a two-year deal with Jason Jennings and one-year contracts with Joe Kennedy and Shawn Chacon, the Rockies' three arbitration-eligible pitchers. Agreements with Jennings and Kennedy are close. Chacon also is expected to agree to a contract and avoid arbitration.
The A's are looking to add one more starting pitcher before they report to spring training in mid-February. Among the list of free-agent starters in the A's price range: knuckleballer Steve Sparks (who pitched for the A's in 2003), Scott Schoeneweis, Ismael Valdez, Pedro Astacio, Darren Oliver and Shawn Estes.
It will come down to money and risk for Kevin Millwood and the Indians. How much money will it take to sign the free-agent starting pitcher and how much risk are the Indians willing to take that he's healthy?
The Red Sox plan to acquire some additional pitching depth, but the combined salaries are not expected to exceed the money they save by trading one of their first basemen, Doug Mientkiewicz or Kevin Millar (Mientkiewicz is due $3.75 million next season, Millar $3.5 million).
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