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Baseball
Tom Verducci
November 23, 1998
Mating DanceElite free agents and rich teams approach each other warily
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November 23, 1998

Baseball

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Boone rebounded in '98 with an All-Star season in which he hit .266, drove in 95 runs and won a Gold Glove for fourth-place Cincinnati. "Once in a while during the season I'd get a call and come in to work with him," says Bob, a Reds scout. Bret improved his value so dramatically that Atlanta was willing to send a 16-game winner, lefthander Denny Neagle, to Cincinnati in order to get him. The Reds also included lefthander Mike Remlinger in the deal and received outfielder Michael Tucker.

Within an hour after getting Neagle, Cincinnati G.M. Jim Bowden received trade inquiries from 11 teams about him. Bowden told all suitors he wasn't available—yet. Meister, Neagle's agent, told the Reds he will exercise his right to demand a trade after next season. Bowden is likely to trade Neagle near the July 31 deadline. In the meantime Bowden hopes a rotation that includes Neagle, Pete Harnisch and Brett Tomko will give his team some credibility with the Cincinnati fans.

After getting Boone, the Braves presented a four-year offer to free-agent outfielder Brian Jordan. The Mets, Orioles, Red Sox and Yankees are also courting Jordan, though he has told friends he prefers to play rightfield, where the Braves would play him, rather than center, where the Yankees would use him. "Bret is a great start," Braves G.M. John Schuerholz says. "If we have to, we won't hesitate to call his dad in."

"I work for Jim Bowden now," Bob said with a laugh. "John's going to have to go through proper channels."

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