Latest on Washburn, Halladay, Lee and others (cont.)
Dodgers looking at Lee instead
The Dodgers are more focused on Lee than Halladay, as they probably sense their chances are close to zero for Halladay. Lee provides a cheaper alternative in terms of both prospects and money. The Dodgers and Indians made a big deal last year when L.A. sent top catching prospect Carlos Santana to the Indians for third baseman Casey Blake, so they have it in them.
Los Angeles has youth and magic going for it but could use a top-of-the-rotation starter such as Lee.
Pitching prospects James McDonald, Scott Elbert and Chris Withrow would have to be in play. The Dodgers don't want to trade off their major league roster (can't blame 'em for that), but are their prospects enough?
Red Sox aiming high, as usual; Henry stews
Like their rival Yankees, the Red Sox also are believed to have talked to the Blue Jays in recent days about Halladay. Boston's surprising recent struggles are said to have club owner John Henry wanting to do something big, however.
But Boston is seen by competitors as being very reluctant to give up its top prospects.
Top pitching prospect Clay Buchholz is the Jays' first target, but that would just be the start. One source suggested their asking price would also include closing prospect Daniel Bard and shortstop Jed Lowrie.
In any case, since Toronto has made clear that the Red Sox have to have to pay a premium (like the Yankees), the chances do not look great here.
Boston looking at Martinez, Gonzalez to cure offensive woes
Victor Martinez remains the best hope for the Red Sox to significantly improve their offense (one executive said he believes Cleveland's more likely to trade V-Mart than Lee, and that the Indians and Red Sox talk "all the time"). Still, they are keeping an eye on Padres superstar Adrian Gonzalez.
It's time for the Padres to start a real sale, and it doesn't hurt that the GMs of these teams, Boston's Theo Epstein and San Diego's Kevin Towers, are long-time friends. As has been advocated here before, San Diego should shop Gonzalez, as he'd enable the franchise to jumpstart its rebuilding progress.
The Padres have been reluctant to go into sell mode, but perhaps the wall they've hit will convince them this is the proper course. For now though, Padres ownership has, in fact, been telling people that they don't believe they can trade their biggest star who happens to be a local kid of Mexican descent, a trifecta of riches for them. (That still doesn't explain why the Padres aren't shopping closer Heath Bell. That one makes no sense. He isn't a draw like Gonzalez. They need to sell high on Bell.)
Naturally, Boston has what it takes to make it tempting on Gonzalez, starting with Buchholz. Like I mentioned before, though, Boston's gun shy when it comes to its top prospects (Michael Bowden has slipped and could be had), particularly the pitchers.
"You can't blame them. They can't be sure about [John] Smoltz or [Brad] Penny," one competing executive pointed out.
Selig allowing Texas to play trading game
One piece of good news for Texas: Commissioner Bud Selig has no plans to step in to prevent any big-money deal they may make, no matter what owner Tom Hicks' personal financial situation is.
Selig said in a phone interview that teams are free to do what they see fit. That includes Texas, which was bailed out in two straight pay periods by the commissioner's office, according to sources.
There's been incredible excitement around the young Rangers in the Arlington area, but frankly, it would seem odd to commit $23 million to a pitcher (Halladay) when you're having difficulty meeting current payroll demands.
"[Hicks] can't be involved in this. He just has too much pride to tell his front office," said an executive with another team interested in Halladay.
But somehow, he is. The Rangers have inquired about both Halladay and Lee -- though their chances do not look very good on either. Texas does not want to part with top prospects for Lee and it's thus deemed the price tag far too high on Halladay.
The Rangers are as well-stocked with prospects as anyone, but someone familiar with their thinking said, "They aren't going to give up their players for Lee."
Kazmir: from great trade to tough sell
Reports surfaced about the Angels' supposed interest in Scott Kazmir. But so far, no one with the Angels has copped to this.
The Rays probably would love the idea of trading Kazmir and the $22 million remaining on his contract to free up some cash and make a real play for catcher Victor Martinez, or perhaps even Lee or Halladay. But Kazmir has seen his velocity dip from 96 mph to about 91 mph as questions arise about his work ethic.
He's a very pleasant kid, and the Mets have rued the day they traded him, but his contract does not look particularly pretty at the moment.
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