Red Sox, Expos can't agree on ColonPosted: Monday December 16, 2002 7:33 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- It's almost as if a memo went out to the other baseball general managers: If you want to make a deal with Boston's Theo Epstein, just tell him you're talking to the Yankees, too.
"That's the first thing I learned on the job," Epstein said Monday as the winter meetings came to a close. "When it happened three times in a row, I realized it wasn't a coincidence."
The Expos and Red Sox failed to strike a deal for Montreal starter Bartolo Colon before the end of the meetings at the Opryland Hotel. Expos GM Omar Minaya also has been talking to the Yankees, but Epstein said he wouldn't be pressured into making a deal just to keep Colon from Boston's AL East rival.
"I'm not concerned if we don't get something with Montreal," Epstein said. "One of the guys was around in July -- the same guy. We looked at it then and the price was too high, so we didn't do it."
Colon was traded to the Expos from Cleveland last summer when the Indians were rebuilding and Montreal was making a playoff push in what could have been its last season. The Expos escaped contraction when they were taken over by the commissioner's office, but this year they have to unload Colon and other high-priced players to get their payroll down to $40 million.
There aren't too many teams around that can take on Colon's $8.25 million salary, plus the $6.25 million for Fernando Tatis that Montreal wants to unload. Boston and New York are among those that could.
According to a baseball official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Minaya asked the Red Sox for pitcher Casey Fossum, third baseman Shea Hillenbrand and another player. Epstein would not discuss specific players, but did say that if Montreal wanted Boston to take on extra salary, Minaya should expect to get less talent.
"He's hoping one team will step up and overpay. It won't be the Red Sox," Epstein said. "We can't sacrifice our fiscal sanity. We can't sacrifice our entire future, either."
Minaya and Epstein walked out of the morning's GM meeting chatting. They also met in the afternoon, but couldn't even agree on whether they were close to a deal.
"We've exchanged ideas on how to bridge the gap," Minaya said. "I think we're close, but that's just me."
Indeed it is.
"We're not really close," Epstein said. "The deals that make sense for his team do not make sense for us."
Epstein said he never stopped talking to other teams, in case the deal with Montreal didn't work out. He said there were three or four starting pitchers available who would be in the top two in most rotations.
"In this market, there are a lot of those players around," he said, rubbing his fingers together. "All you need is the money."
And perhaps be willing to overpay.