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Waiting for Alex

Phillips says big names might not sign right away

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Posted: Saturday November 11, 2000 1:22 PM

  Steve Phillips Mets GM Steve Phillips wants to sign Alex Rodriguez, but also has Mike Hampton and four relief pitchers to resign. Elsa Hasch/Allsport

NEW YORK (AP) -- Steve Phillips is ready to go shopping.

Seattle shortstop Alex Rodriguez appears to be the No. 1 target of the New York Mets general manager, although Phillips still wants to re-sign Mike Hampton and several other players who became free agents following the World Series.

"I don't think there's going to be a resolution before Thanksgiving," Phillips said of the top free agents, a group that also includes outfielder Manny Ramirez and pitcher Mike Mussina.

Phillips already has spoken with Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, about generalities of a contract.

"There's far more to consider in that situation than dollars," Phillips said Friday. "There's a lot of concepts and structures to deals, as far as other superficial issues."

Current Mets shortstop Rey Ordonez, who missed most of the season with a broken arm, has three years left on his contract. The Mets aren't worried they'll anger him by pursuing Rodriguez, considered by many the game's top player.

"I think Rey and [agent] Adam Katz have known this is part of what was going to be going on," Phillips said. "There's so much time between now and the spring that if something needs to be massaged or controlled, we'll have time to do that."

Phillips still hasn't finalized how much the NL champions have to spend for next year.

"I haven't any idea," he said. "They're still crunching some numbers. I think next week I'll have a very good sense of where I'm going."

Much of the market will wait for Rodriguez, who is expected to get a record contract. Ramirez already has asked Cleveland for $200 million over 10 years.

"Who knows what Scott's going to ask for?" Phillips said Friday.

In some ways, Rodriguez will create a bottleneck for many players and teams. Phillips wants to re-sign pitchers such as Bobby J. Jones, Rick Reed, John Franco and Turk Wendell in addition to Hampton, but nothing has come together yet.

"I think it's clear trade discussions are going to be slower this year," Phillips said. "It certainly was that way at the general managers' meetings. Most trade discussions were to set up fallback positions rather than something to do right now.

"Once the front end of the free-agent class starts to sign, you'll start to see a flurry of other moves, whether it's trades or signing for that next level of players."

Related information
Red Sox exercise options on Everett, Beck
Yankees, O'Neill reach tentative agreement
Ramirez rejects Indians' deal, heads to market
Free agents set for talks as market officially opens
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