Red Sox look like front-runners for Teixeira (cont.)
Furcal's unusual double play
The Braves thought they had a "gentleman's agreement'' on a deal for Rafael Furcal for $30 million and three years and are said to be "frustrated'' that he went to the Dodgers for the same terms after they say his agent agreed with them. The Braves were so certain that they had a deal that they faxed over an offer sheet to Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer.
But Furcal never signed it, and a day later the Dodgers bumped their bid to three years to match the Braves'. And so Furcal, who supposedly was thrilled the day before to be going back to Atlanta, where he has a home, was back with the Dodgers.
Like Furcal, Kinzer lives in the Atlanta area. But Furcal's L.A.-based agent, Arn Tellem, is believed to have finished the new deal with L.A. Is this confusing yet?
The Dodgers supposedly weren't thrilled with the way Furcal approached his rehab last year and wanted him to share in the risk. But in the end, talent won out, and they acceded to the three years, which was still one year less than he could have gotten from Oakland, which obviously wanted him more than anyone.
In any case, his Atlanta neighbors can't be thrilled with this outcome.
Furcal's decision hurts Orlando Cabrera, as he was next on the Dodgers' shortstop shopping list. Remaining teams that need a shortstop include the Royals and Blue Jays.
Around the majors
The Mets and Boras seem far apart to start on free-agent pitcher Oliver Perez, so their chances to retain him appear remote for now. The Brewers, Dodgers, Reds and perhaps Mariners are seen as potential suitors for the talented but inconsistent young left-hander.
The Mets will likely pursue another starter to replace Perez and do love Derek Lowe's consistency and durability. Lowe has talked publicly about wanting to join the Red Sox or Yankees (that doesn't mean he wouldn't want to go to the Mets), and those two teams still look like options for him, as well. The Cubs and perhaps the Braves (who lost out for Burnett with what is believed to be a bid for four years and $60 million, plus a fifth-year option) could be other options, while the Dodgers seem to have conceded that Lowe probably prefers the Midwest or East Coast.
Lowe has always been the Mets' first choice, and Mets COO Jeff Wilpon told reporters at the K-Rod press conference that any financial loss suffered in confessed fraudster Bernie Madoff's giant Ponzi scheme does not affect the team, and if anything only makes them more determined to win.
The Yankees are waiting on Andy Pettitte's response to their longstanding $10 million offer, but some Yankees people actually wouldn't mind if Pettitte turned them down, as they'd then pursue Lowe or Ben Sheets.
They Yankees would consider a two-year offer for Sheets with one or two vesting options and might consider that a bargain. Sheets' career actually compares nicely to $82.5 million man Burnett (Sheets is 86-83 with a 3.72 ERA and seven double-digit win years while Burnett is 87-76 with a 3.81 ERA and six double-digit win years).
Texas remains interested in Sheets, a Louisiana native who may turn out to be the best deal of the winter for someone.
The Red Sox looked into Zack Greinke but found the Royals were asking for too much back.
The Rays are in much better position to attract free agents now after their miracle season and obvious new direction (up). They are intent on adding a DH or perhaps a right fielder and are looking at Milton Bradley and Bobby Abreu, and will consider others such as Pat Burrell, Jason Giambi, Garrett Anderson and Orlando resident Ken Griffey Jr.
The Cubs, Dodgers and Angels are among other teams looking at Abreu, who had been hoping for a three-year deal for about $45 million. He's a much better player than Raul Ibanez, who got $31.5 million over three year from Philly, but he's getting hurt by the outfield glut and an overanalysis of his one flaw (he has a fear of walls, which is actually a positive because it's helped keep him on the field). Abreu has a proven record of hitting -- Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols are the only other players with 100 RBIs in each of the past six seasons -- and he should get $25 million for two years, at a minimum. The White Sox discussed Abreu, but that may only be if they trade Jermaine Dye.
The Reds, Braves and Rays are still showing interest in Dye.
The Braves' chances to get back in the running for Jake Peavy are diminished after failing to land Furcal. Had they gotten Furcal, they could have moved Yunel Escobar to San Diego in a package for Peavy.
The Cardinals, Angels and Brewers are possibilities for closer Brian Fuentes.
The Dodgers, White Sox and Mets could be possibilities for Jon Garland, who's two years younger than Burnett with a better lifetime record (106-89) but not nearly as coveted as a free agent.
Most are still assuming that Jason Varitek will go back to the Red Sox, especially if his good buddy Teixeira is there. While GM Omar Minaya says he's OK with Brian Schneider, they did look at trades for him.
If the Angels don't get Teixeira, it could be a boon for a bunch of players. Their fallback options could include Manny Ramirez, Abreu, Adam Dunn or Burrell, or they could look into a third baseman such as Adrian Beltre, Mike Lowell or Garrett Atkins if they move Chone Figgins to the outfield.
The Nats might have done Tim Redding a favor by nontendering him. He'll go to a better team and could get more than the $3 million he would have gotten in arbitration.
Yankees people liked Mike Cameron better before the Brewers exercised his $10 million option and the Yanks would have liked to acquire him and given him a two-year deal at a lower annual salary. But now that his option calls for $10 million plus another $1 million in makeable incentives, they want the Brewers to pay part of it. The reason Milwaukee didn't do the deal earlier appears to be because they were holding out hope that Cameron's presence might be a lure to bring back Sabathia.
Giants star pitcher Tim Lincecum hasn't yet indicated a desire to play in the World Baseball Classic, but the hope is that with some patriotic pressure he changes his mind and joins Brandon Webb, Cliff Lee, Joe Nathan and Brad Lidge on the pitching staff. Team USA would also like Joba Chamberlain, but not as a starter.
Padres owner John Moores is doing the prudent thing by looking into the sale of the team. He told MLB.com that he has retained Goldman Sachs to help him find a buyer.