SI Vault
Stephen Cannella
December 24, 2001
Cold ShoulderThe reluctance of teams to bid has cast a big chill on the market for free agents
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December 24, 2001


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Another potential suitor dropped out when the Mariners acquired Jeff Cirillo from the Rockies last Saturday. It now appears Rolen will remain in Philadelphia, "which definitely isn't the worst thing in the world," says Wade.

The Phillies can look at the As, who held on to Jason Giambi last winter and rode him to a playoff spot, to see the wisdom in not making a move. However, Oakland received no compensation other than a draft pick when Giambi walked last week. Wade will spend the rest of the offseason weighing the value of one potential postseason appearance against the talent Rolen could bring in a trade.

Mets' Multiple Moves
Keeping Up with The Yankees

The Mets, as usual, were overshadowed by their rivals in the Bronx, but general manager Steve Phillips pulled off a series of moves that made his team the most improved club in the National League. The key stroke was the eight-player swap that delivered Roberto Alomar from the Indians for outfielder Matt Law-ton, righthanded reliever Jerrod Riggan and outfield prospect Alex Escobar. It was the steal of the winter meetings.

New York, which maintains that it can't afford to chase top-tier free agents, acquired a second baseman who is on track for the Hall of Fame without adding significantly to their salary burden, mandated by ownership at around $95 million. (Alomar will make $8 million next year, but Law-ton signed a new deal on Monday that will pay him $6.75 million a year for four years.) As Phillips said, "To juggle the payroll and get a number 3 hitter who plays Gold Glove defense and slugs like Robbie Alomar, I wouldn't have thought ii was possible."

The Mets, who scored the fewest runs in the majors last season, bolstered their lineup further by signing outfielder Roger Cede�o last Thursday. Cede�o, who will hit leadoff, batted .293 and stole 55 bases (one fewer than major league leader Ichiro Suzuki) for the Tigers. He adds speed at the top of the lineup that New York has lacked since it traded him to Houston after the 1999 season. The Mets also signed pitcher David Weathers (three years, $9.4 million) to strengthen their bullpen.

Phillips also executed two other important deals. On Sunday he traded outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo and infielder Desi Relaford to the Giants for lefthanded starter Shawn Estes. Two days earlier he sent David Justice and his $7 million salary, acquired from the Yankees for Robin Ventura a week earlier, to the As for reliever Mark Guthrie. Shedding Justice freed payroll space for another trade or a run at a free-agent such as Juan Gonzalez, a close friend of Alomar's who has expressed interest in the Mets. Gonzalez had been seeking a deal worth $18 million a year. If he lowers his price, New York could be in a position to improve even further.

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