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Free agents can start talking money

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Posted: Monday November 19, 2001 9:55 PM
  Jason Giambi is arguably the most attractive offensive player on the free-agent market. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Baseball's free agent market opens for business Tuesday, with teams expected to take a slow approach to stars such as Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Chan Ho Park.

Since the World Series, teams and agents could only discuss generalities. Starting Tuesday, the 155 free agents can talk money with all bidders.

"I don't anticipate a slew of offers being thrown out as tomorrow opens up," New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips said. "Especially with Thanksgiving coming in two days after things start to open up ... I'm not sure you're going to see much action."

The market is expected to peak at the winter meetings, scheduled for Dec. 9-13 in Boston. The New York Yankees are expected to be the most aggressive team in pursuit of Giambi, and the Texas Rangers are thought to be in the hunt for Park to cure their major league-worst pitching staff, which had a 5.71 ERA.

It's unclear what the market holds for Bonds. On Monday, he became the first player to win four Most Valuable Player Awards. But his agent, Scott Boras, is seeking a deal of up to five years for the 37-year-old outfielder, and the San Francisco Giants are expected to offer a contract that is smaller and shorter than the one Bonds is seeking.

"The most important thing for me is winning," Bonds said. "I really want to have an opportunity to win. I've played a long time."

Boras quickly modified his client's remarks.

"Is this about money? Of course it is. This is a business," Boras said.

Four players filed for free agency on Monday, the final day of the filing period.

The others were Pittsburgh pitcher Ramon J. Martinez, who came off the voluntary retired list last weekend; and Arizona's Mike Morgan, who has pitched for a record 12 teams.

Catcher Charles Johnson and the Florida Marlins agreed Monday to extend the deadline until Dec. 3 for him to opt out of his contract. Johnson and the Marlins agreed last winter to a $35 million, five-year deal, but Johnson can escape because the team doesn't have plans in place for a new ballpark.

Only one player eligible for free agency failed to file: St. Louis first baseman Mark McGwire, who announced his retirement last week.

Among those who did file were Baltimore third baseman Cal Ripken and Yankees outfielder Paul O'Neill, both of whom retired. If they change their minds and decide to play again, they would be able to sign with any team.

San Francisco outfielder Shawon Dunston, who had been eligible, exercised his $1.15 million option Monday.


 
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