View Full Version : Hot Stove Rumblings 11/2

11-02-2006, 10:32 PM
A whole bunch of things to consider but I bolded a few things which might be of some interest to us! Possible MI guys, etc.

Rumors swirl concerning free agents
Piazza, Lofton are the latest to file as Hot Stove talk percolates
By Jim Street / MLB.com

While a team of Major League All-Stars continues its tour in Japan, the news back home in the Hot Stove League is just beginning to heat up.
The free-agent pool increased by 13 on Thursday when a group led by catcher Mike Piazza, outfielders Kenny Lofton and Steve Finley and pitcher Mark Mulder, filed for free agency. That brings to 161 the total number of players that have filed prior to the Nov. 11 deadline, leaving about 30 remaining.

Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds also filed, pending resolution of an option provision in his contract.

Here's a roundup of the Hot Stove League for Thursday:

National League

Giants: San Francisco has expressed interest in Texas Rangers free-agent center fielder Gary Matthews Jr., who hit a career high .313 with 19 homers and 44 doubles last season. His father was the National League Rookie of the Year for the Giants in 1973.

A MediaNews report said that Giants officials have twice contacted the younger Matthews' agent. The 32-year-old outfielder is an eight-year veteran and would likely replace Moises Alou in the outfield.

San Francisco is also interested in San Diego backup center fielder Dave Roberts, who has said that he would like to rejoin manager Bruce Bochy, the Giants' new skipper.

First baseman Shea Hillenbrand is expected to return next season, but the club has contacted Nomar Garciaparra's agent, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which also reported that another possible target could be Geoff Blum, an ex-Cal player and backup infielder for the Padres the past two seasons.

Cubs: Club officials are talking to the agent representing third baseman Aramis Ramirez, hoping to get the potential free agent to sign a new contract before other teams get a chance to bid on his services. Ramirez exercised the opt-out clause of his contract, but the Cubs have exclusive negotiating rights with him until Nov. 11.

The Cubs are expected to submit a bid for Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was "posted" by the Seibu Lions on Thursday. Teams have until Wednesday to submit a bid, and if the highest offer is accepted by Seibu, a contract agreement with Matsuzaka, who will be represented by agent Scott Boras, must be reached within 30 days.

Astros: The Astros continue to negotiate with Craig Biggio, and although the two sides disagree on the second baseman's value, they are confident that something will be worked out before the end of the free-agent filing period on Nov. 11. The Astros are committed to giving Biggio a raise, but how big that raise will be is a sticking point. Biggio, who will attempt to reach 3,000 hits in 2007, made $4 million last season.

Houston is hoping pitchers Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens will decide to pitch for the Astros again in '07. But most of all, management is hoping for a relatively prompt decision, especially from Pettitte, who is considering retirement. They'll need to factor Pettitte into the payroll, whereas Clemens, who may want to re-sign during the season as he did in '06, will just be a supplemental salary to be added to whatever payroll the Astros set this winter. The payroll, without Clemens, is expected to be around $85-90 million.

Phillies: Alfonso Soriano remains Philadelphia's top target, according to several published reports and baseball sources. Though the Phillies can't talk dollars until Nov. 12, general manager Pat Gillick told the Philadelphia Daily News on Thursday that the Phillies have contacted "a dozen or so" free agents. In addition to Soriano, the Phillies are thinking about Carlos Lee and Ramirez. On the pitching side, relievers Joe Borowski and Danys Baez are among those who have drawn interest.

In lieu of Soriano, the Phillies' top fallback plan is to trade for Gary Sheffield. New York is expected to pick up Sheffield's $13 million option -- $4.5 million of which is deferred -- and then deal him. Though Sheffield has no leverage, he said he'd like a contract extension, and the Phillies might be willing to add another season.

The Phillies could dangle Gavin Floyd or Jon Lieber in a potential deal for Sheffield, the Daily News reported.

Also, published reports indicate that the Phillies have varying interest in Japanese third baseman Akinori Iwamura. The 27-year-old left-handed hitter spent the past three years with the Yakult Swallows.

Brewers: Assistant general manager Gord Ash said the team would work to bring back infielders Jeff Cirillo and Tony Graffanino. Cirillo would be considered for a bench role, but Graffanino's situation is a bit more complicated.

He was a better-than-expected offensive player after being acquired from Kansas City last July to fill in for injured second baseman Rickie Weeks, and he may have played himself into consideration for an everyday role with another team, something the Brewers likely cannot offer.

Other free agents -- David Bell, Dan Kolb, Rick Helling and Tomo Ohka -- are not expected back.

Mets: The agent for left-handed pitcher Tom Glavine, Gregg Clifton, maintains that no discussions have started between the Mets and his client. Glavine has a $7.5 million buyout option with a Nov. 10 expiration date, and the Mets could exercise a $14 million club option -- though an extension is possible.

A two-year deal between Glavine and the Mets was mentioned in a New York Daily News report on Wednesday, although Clifton said such negotiations have not begun.

Rockies: Right-handed starter Byung-Hyun Kim on Thursday had his contract picked up for the 2007 season for $2.5 million. Kim, 27, was 8-12 with a 5.57 ERA, 61 walks and 129 strikeouts in 27 starts for Colorado in 2006. He established career highs in starts, innings pitched and strikeouts. Kim joined the rotation in late April and was the Rockies' fifth starter for the remainder of the season -- the first time in his career that he was used exclusively as a starter.

The Denver Post pegs Darin Erstad, Matthews Jr. and Roberts as possible free-agent targets for the team's center-field opening, while the Rocky Mountain News reported that right-hander Josh Fogg, who is eligible for arbitration, will have surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow.

Pirates: According to various media outlets, the Pirates are close to signing Cuban defector Yuslan Herrera. The 25-year-old right-hander was 18-7 with a 3.72 ERA in Cuba before fleeing in 2005.

Nationals: The Nationals have talked to Trent Jewett about their managerial vacancy, according to the Washington Post. The interview reportedly took place last week. Jewett managed the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate last season.

Dodgers: The Dodgers are considering making a bid on Matsuzaka and have contacted the agent representing Matthews Jr.

American League

Angels: The Angels will pursue Matthews Jr. and left-hander Barry Zito, according to the Los Angeles Times. Signing Matthews would solve a number of issues. He would likely take over the leadoff spot while providing the team with an everyday center fielder. It would also allow the club to shop Chone Figgins.

Zito would add a frontline starting pitcher to a staff that is waiting for Bartolo Colon to recover from a shoulder tear, while also making it easier to part with some of their young pitching talent, such as Ervin Santana or Joe Saunders, as they target further offensive help.

Mariners: Club officials have yet to speak with the Mariners' lone free agent, right-handed starting pitcher Gil Meche. Teams are allowed to negotiate only with their own free agents until Nov. 11, when they can talk specifics about contracts with all free agents.

It's not known how interested, if at all, the Mariners are in bringing back Meche, who won 11 games last season. The Mariners have three openings in their starting rotation to fill and, on Wednesday, confirmed a report that first appeared in the Everett Herald that they would not be a part of the bidding process to obtain Matsuzaka.

Red Sox: As of Thursday, six Red Sox players had filed for free agency. Of particular note are three middle infielders: Alex Gonzalez, Alex Cora and Mark Loretta.

General manager Theo Epstein said earlier this week that new rules in the new collective bargaining agreement concerning clubs negotiating with their own free agents should allow some teams to keep players who would otherwise leave.

This includes backup catcher Doug Mirabelli, whom Epstein said this week would be among several players the Red Sox will pursue and try to keep in Boston. Right fielder Trot Nixon, who filed on Sunday along with outfielder Gabe Kapler, could also fall into that category.

Indians: According to the Philadelphia Daily News, the Indians are one of four teams that have shown interest in signing Iwamura. The Newark Star-Ledger is reporting that the Indians, Giants and Astros are among the teams interested in trading for Sheffield.

Athletics: GM Billy Beane recently spoke with Arn Tellem, the agent for DH Frank Thomas, and remains confident that the A's will be able to resign Thomas to a two-year deal.

11-03-2006, 05:56 AM
I can't see Zito, Schmidt, Mussina, or Pettitte signing with LAA. Zito probably will stay in the West coast and rumors have him going to the Pads. Schmidt is going to and quote me on this the Mariners. Mussina will most likly rework an extention with New York and Pettitte is contimplating retirement.

If they do however obtain a big name starter would they be more leinent to deal say a Santana and SS for Dunn and bullpen arm?

11-07-2006, 12:37 AM
More Hot stove stuff! 11/6/06

Hot Stove Report: Two hard facts
Monster deal for Soriano, Sheffield trade appear likely
By Tom Singer / MLB.com

Rumors keep the Hot Stove boiling. Hearsay, conjecture and suppositions filter out of front offices like smoke out of a chimney. However, you can separate two hard facts from the sizzle of all the gossip about possible deals, and which free agent will get what from whom:

Gary Sheffield will be traded.

Alfonso Soriano will sign MLB's next mega-contract.

Exercising the 2007 option on Sheffield's contract, as expected, was the first necessary step in New York general manager Brian Cashman's plan to turn the surplus outfielder into pitching help.

The Yankees picked up a $13 million tab, not because they need Sheffield -- Bobby Abreu came on board last summer while Sheff was on the shelf, and his first-base experiment was a disaster -- but to retain control over him.

It's a risky venture for Cashman, who even at that price, anticipates a lively market for the 38-year-old outfielder.

Having been unsuccessful, as Newsday noted, to intimidate the Yankees into declining the option and allowing him to explore free agency, the Sheffield camp has tried to retain some say-so by submitting a list of teams to which he would prefer a deal. Sheffield's contract doesn't include any formal no-trade language.

According to the Chicago Tribune, both Windy City clubs are on that list. So are the Tigers (Sheffield enjoyed playing for Jim Leyland with the 1997 Marlins) and San Diego (where he won a 1992 NL batting title).

Soriano is seeking to drop serious anchor after having played for three different teams in four years. It will be a long process, and the stakes will be raised by several teams on the cusp and confident that the 30-year-old is a difference maker.

The tone of this potential financial donnybrook is suggested by the Phillies' apparent "don't take no for an answer" approach. According to various published reports, GM Pat Gillick will start talking at five years for $75 million, and keep an open mind about sweetening the deal to break other pursuers.

Other teams and names to rub your hands over:

Mark Loretta: The Mets fared wonderfully last season with Jose Valentin once they showed Kaz Matsui the door, but now are seeking a fresh solution at second. Agent Bob Garber tells the NY Post that the Mets have been the 35-year-old's most ardent suitors.

Julio Lugo: He is also on the Mets' radar, and is targeted by the Red Sox, as well. Rather than consider him a possible replacement for Loretta, however, the Red Sox are reportedly interested in making him their sixth starting shortstop in five years (following Nomar Garciaparra, Pokey Reese, Orlando Cabrera, Edgar Renteria and Alex Gonzalez).

Mark Mulder: Left-handed starting pitchers are always intriguing -- even those coming off rotator-cuff surgery. Hence, agent Gregg Clifton reports having been ringed by eight clubs the day after Mulder formally declared for free agency.

Sammy Sosa: His weekend "Hey, remember me?" Associated Press interview revealed Sosa's interest in resuming his career and chase of 600 home runs. And, wouldn't you know it, the Cubs are actively seeking outfield help. But it won't come through a Sammy reunion; Dusty Baker may be gone, but Sosa had a similar falling out with GM Jim Hendry at the conclusion of the 2004 season.

Padres: They are prioritizing Japan as a source to fill holes. This means not only possibly participating in the ongoing Daisuke Matsuzaka auction, but as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, also showing interest in third baseman Akinori Iwamura and another right-hander, Hiroki Kuroda, who had a 1.85 ERA for Hiroshima.

Astros: Even if Andy Pettitte commits to returning, they still have a spot to fill in their rotation with Brandon Backe recovering from rotator-cuff surgery in September. They have already expressed their interest to Jeff Suppan's agent. On the other end of the staff, assistant GM Ricky Bennett is targeting lefty reliever Jamie Walker, who posted a 2.81 ERA in 56 appearances for the Tigers.

Athletics: After applauding Ron Washington's hiring by the Rangers, the A's resumed their own expanding managerial search. Angels pitching coach Bud Black had his interview Monday, and Rockies bench coach Jamie Quirk (Tuesday), Orel Hershiser (Wednesday) and Mets third-base coach Manny Acta (Sunday) are on deck.

11-07-2006, 05:54 AM
Santana and Figgins for Dunn and ??? :)

11-08-2006, 09:05 PM
More from 11/8:

11/08/2006 6:05 PM ET
Hot Stove Report: Talking 'bout Willis
Familiar Dontrelle-to-Mets talk begins anew
By Tom Singer / MLB.com

The Mets are again eyeing Marlins ace Dontrelle Willis to bolster a shaky rotation.

Approaching last July's non-waiver trading deadline with a gaping NL East lead and an aching starting rotation, the New York Mets enthusiastically inquired into the availability of Dontrelle Willis.
At that time, general manager Omar Minaya was turned off by what the Marlins sought in return for the mercurial left-hander. Now that another trading season is upon us, there is speculation that the D-Train-to-7-Train talks may be warming up again.

Why? What have the Mets learned since July 31?

a. That they still have the same needs. Then, Pedro Martinez was hobbled with hip and calf woes. Now, Pedro is recovering from rotator cuff surgery.

b. That they have other high-profile chase options, such as free agent Barry Zito or Daisuke Matsuzaka, whose rights-winning club will be identified next Tuesday.

c. That Willis, at 24 four years and 613 innings younger than Zito, may be worth another pursuit.

d. Most significantly, that some of the names raised 3 1/2 months ago by Florida may not be so untouchable after all. Like Lastings Milledge, who had a checkered big-league baptismal, or right-hander Brian Bannister, who had such a severe strain to his right hamstring that he didn't pitch after April.

That the Mets need starting pitching to feel comfortable about defending their division title is obvious. Getting it out of Florida will not be easy. The Marlins hold all the cards in this deal, since Willis is still two-plus years removed from free agency.

The selection is considerably better at another spot where the Mets need help, second base. The latest to draw their interest is Adam Kennedy, who has long known that he would not be receiving an offer from the Angels.

Kennedy, who does not turn 31 for a couple of months, actually is one of the youngest position players on the free agent market.

Elsewhere among the Hot Stove embers ...

Phillies: They've been very upright about their interest in free agent outfielder Alfonso Soriano -- and are being equally frank about something they'd consider a deal-breaker. And money has nothing to do with that. Rather, it would be the Soriano camp's request for no-trade contract language. On whether such a clause is a potential roadblock, GM Pat Gillick said, "It is for me."

Red Sox: The club has declined Keith Foulke's option, and GM Theo Epstein is already prioritizing the acquisition of a new closer (Jonathan Papelbon, if recovered from the weak shoulder that shut him down in September, is targeted for the rotation). But Foulke may not be Boston history; he has till Friday to accept his own player option at $3.75 million -- half of the salary rejected by the club.

Blue Jays: The Jays are assumed willing to trade Vernon Wells, under contract only through the 2007 season, if they are unable to sign the center fielder to an extension over the winter. But those assumptions could be wrong. GM J.P. Ricciardi has been going out of his way to cite how well the A's made out under similar circumstances by holding onto imminent free agents such as Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada.

Rockies: GM Dan O'Dowd reports that talks "are progressing" to re-sign infielder Kaz Matsui, who reinvented himself following 2 1/2 miserable years in New York to bat .345 in 32 games with the Rockies.

Orioles: Looks like you can cross a No. 2 starter off the Birds' potential to-do list. Kris Benson, who would be within his rights to demand a trade since the Mets dealt him to Baltimore with a multiyear contract, apparently is leaning toward staying put. At least, so indicates agent Gregg Clifton, while noting that the right-hander has been wrestling with the decision.

Astros: Perhaps thinking that a homecoming is what his beat-up psyche needs, the Astros have expressed interest in right-hander Kip Wells, a Houston native. Wells, who will turn 30 during the season's first month, won two games during a troublesome 2006 season split between the Pirates and Rangers. He missed the first half following surgery for a blood clot under his right clavicle, then sat out the last six weeks with a left-foot sprain.

Brewers: Tony Graffanino, who stepped up as Milwaukee's primary second baseman after Rickie Weeks' season-ending wrist surgery in early August, can't have his job back. But the Brewers would love to have him back as "an everyday player without an everyday position," to paraphrase GM Doug Melvin. The club may wait for Graffanino's move before turning to another free agent infielder it would like to keep, Jeff Cirillo.

11-08-2006, 10:35 PM
Back in Beantown?
Nov 8 - Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said his assistant, Jed Hoyer, spoke with the agent for free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez on Nov. 7, but it appears a quick re-signing is not in the cards, the Boston Herald reports. The defensive whiz is looking for a multi-year deal.
Said Epstein: "We certainly have interest in bringing Alex back at the right price" and that the team "will keep the dialogue open."

Although he is little help (he does have some pop) to the offense his defense is very, very good. He made just under 2.7 million last year. How about 2 yrs 4.5 million would you offer him that contract with the following offensive line.

AVG .255 | HR 9 | RBI 50 | OBP .299 | SLG .397 in 388 ab's?

His defense looks like this in '06.

.985 Fldg% l 4.36 RF l .863 ZR l 7 Errors In 475 TC

He's usually right on about 16 errors over a full season.

11-08-2006, 11:27 PM
Santana and Figgins for Dunn and ??? :)

We would lose a lot of 2-1 games with atleast one of the runs being unearned.

11-09-2006, 08:51 AM
Is Jose Valentin worth a shot? His 2006 numbers were good (batting at least).

Johnny Footstool
11-09-2006, 09:28 AM
I think it's pretty telling that the pitching-starved Mariners haven't even contacted Gil Meche about a deal.

He's someone to avoid.

11-13-2006, 09:23 PM
Some interesting tidbits here!

11/13/2006 7:09 PM ET
Hot Stove: GMs all set to go batty
Soriano leads field as run producers prove valuable
By Jim Street / MLB.com

There's more than one burner heating up on the Hot Stove circuit.
With the Daisuke Matsuzaka sweepstakes entering the final hours, it's time to put a little more focus on some of the hitters that could change addresses between now and the start of Spring Training.

The old adage "pitching and defense wins championships" still has merit, but the pitching-rich Detroit Tigers still fell three wins short of a World Series championship, largely because their hitters had a collective collapse in the Fall Classic.

So the importance of having run-producers in the lineup becomes even more magnified as Major League organizations adjust their rosters during the offseason.

Every general manager in the business would like to find the "steal deal" of the year comparable to the one Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane pulled out of the hat last year when he signed free agent Frank Thomas to a one-year contract that had a $500,000 base salary.

The Big Hurt damaged opposing pitchers with 39 home runs and 114 RBIs and added $2.6 million in incentive bonuses while helping the A's capture the AL West title and advance to the AL Championship Series.

Beane was hoping to re-sign Thomas before the free-agent signing period began on Sunday, reportedly offering him a two-year contract, but Thomas is back on the market -- and with plenty of company.

A list of available free agent hitters that already featured Alfonso Soriano, the first 40-40-40 player in Major League history -- 46 home runs, 41 doubles and 41 stolen bases for the Washington Nationals -- now includes J.D. Drew. The outfielder last week opted out of the final three years of the five-year, $55 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Soriano, meanwhile, is looking to cash in on a career season and reportedly is seeking a five-year deal worth at least $80 million.

Complete coverage >
The Philadelphia Phillies appear to be the most aggressive organization pursuing Soriano. The Philadelphia Daily News reported on Monday that an offer, believed to be for five years and $73 million, has been made.

As of Monday, the market value for an established hitter remains a bit murky, even after the Chicago Cubs re-signed third baseman Aramis Ramirez on Sunday. Ramirez, who opted out of the final two years of a contract he previously signed with the Cubs, received a five-year, $73 million contract.

The latest deal does not include an opt-out clause and was considered to be a "hometown discount."

Elsewhere on the Hot Stove League hitter's burner:

Luis Gonzalez: A report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the World Series champs are closing in on a one-year contract with the outfielder. That would be somewhat of a surprise as Gonzalez has been saying he would prefer signing with na NL West team so he could stay close to his Arizona-based family, which includes triplets.

J.D. Drew: The veteran outfielder (or his agent) is rolling the dice, banking on another MLB organization ponying up more than the $33 million (guaranteed) Drew left on the table by opting out of his contract with the Dodgers. The Red Sox, Cubs and Padres have been mentioned as potential suitors.

Gary Matthews Jr.: The 32-year-old late bloomer has drawn considerable interest from teams in both leagues. The Rangers want him back, but the Angels and White Sox have him targeted for their outfield, as do the Giants, Dodgers, Cubs and Astros. Matthews Jr. picked a fine time to have a career year -- .313 batting average, 19 home runs and 79 RBIs -- and his first All-Star Game invitation.

Nomar Garciaparra: The Dodgers still appear to have the edge on re-signing the veteran, but the great Northwest could become a factor. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on Monday that Garciaparra might be open to becoming the Mariners' full-time designated hitter, citing the fact his younger brother, Michael, plays in the Seattle farm system.

Trot Nixon: With Drew on the market and the Red Sox reportedly among the teams interested in pursuing the former Dodgers outfielder, Nixon's future in Red Sox Nation could be in even more jeopardy. Injuries limited him to 114 games last season, and if he returned in '07, it would be as a reserve and for less than the $7.5 million he made in '06.

Juan Pierre: As much as the Cubs would like to bring the leadoff batter back to the Windy City, the Brewers are being mentioned as a potential future home for the speedster who would rather reach on a hit than a walk and who posesses a noodle of a throwing arm.

Julio Lugo: The Blue Jays have been doing less shopping than a year ago, but a report in the Toronto Globe and Mail said GM J.P. Ricciardi has some interest in signing Lugo and giving him a shot to play shortstop on a regular basis.

Carlos Lee: After less than half-a-season in the AL with the Rangers, it could be back to the Senior Circuit for the outfielder, who played for the Brewers in 2005 and half of the '06 season. The Astros and Cubs seem to be the most interested, hoping to make room for a player that has averaged 31 home runs and 104 RBIs the past five seasons.

Dave Roberts: At last count, at least 12 organizations have contacted the leadoff hitter's agent. A multi-year contract is definitely in Roberts' future.

Akinori Iwamura: Best known best as a slick fielder, the five-time Gold Glove winner from Japan reportedly has drawn interest from the Padres, Devil Rays, Red Sox and Phillies. The Yakult Swallows have until Thursday to accept or reject the highest bid submitted by MLB organizations. Iwamura, 27, batted .311 with 32 home runs and 77 RBIs this past season.

11-13-2006, 09:57 PM
Yet more news from the GM's meetings, no real big news but alot of interesting information nonetheless. A solid read here, :thumbup: !

11/13/2006 8:58 PM ET
GMs attempt to bowl over free agents
No significant deals take place on first day of meetings
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com

NAPLES, Fla. -- On the first day of their annual meetings, the general managers went bowling. That's right. You heard right.
The winner was Kevin Towers of the Padres, who bowled in the mid-160s. That, of course, is out of 300.

While no one was setting any records, the afternoon excursion away from the Naples Grand Resort on Monday was meant to engender camaraderie and goodwill. When the group returned, player agents were waiting as the second day of the free-agent season was about to end with no significant names changing teams.

"It was a lot of fun," said Towers, who returned from the excursion wearing a blue floral shirt, his sunglasses dangling from his neck. "Now it's back to work."

When their first real session opens early on Tuesday morning, the GMs will study rule changes, including again the limited use of instant replay to help umpires on home run calls, and the possibility of installing Colorado-type humidors to store baseballs in each of the Major League's 30 ballparks.

Currently only the Rockies employ the practice at Coors Field.

"From a layman's non-scientific viewpoint, I think there were significant differences [in the way the ball carried at Coors Field before the humidor]," Houston general manager Tim Purpura said. "I'm all for leveling the playing field whenever we can."

Others were trying desperately to sway the playing field.

The fact that the Cubs spent $73 million over five years to retain Aramis Ramirez sent ripples through the baseball cognoscenti, who now wonder what a player like Alfonso Soriano is worth on the open market. Two years ago, Carlos Beltran was signed by the Mets for $119 million over seven seasons, and with a new labor deal signed through 2011 and television contracts generating $7 billion a year through 2013, Soriano could easily receive that kind of money.

Complete coverage >
"I have to keep up with the Cardinals," Cubs GM Jim Hendry said about the defending World Series champs and chief rivals in the National League Central. "At least as far as spending money."

It also became clear on Monday that Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka could become a very rich man.

Wide-ranging media reports substantiated by baseball officials indicated that the Red Sox had won the rights to negotiate with the right-hander and winner of the Most Valuable Player Award during Japan's victory in the first World Baseball Classic staged this past March.

The announcement that the Seibu Lions, Matsuzaka's Japanese team, had accepted the bid was scheduled to be made jointly by the commissioner's offices of Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET (10 a.m. Wednesday in Tokyo).

The Red Sox would then have 30 days to negotiate a deal with Matsuzaka's agent, Scott Boras, or the pitcher would have to return to Japan for the 2007 season. In that event, the Red Sox won't have to pay the winning bid price to the Lions, and the Lions wouldn't be able to post Matsuzaka again until next year.

The buzz in the hotel lobby was that the Red Sox weren't as serious about signing Matsuzaka as they were about keeping him away from the arch-rival Yankees. The Red Sox lost the bidding war back in 2003, the last time the two teams tried to woo an international pitcher -- Cuban expatriate Jose Contreras, who signed with the Yankees.

Also on Monday night, The Sporting News announced its Executive of the Year at a dinner honoring the award winner.

This season, the award went to longtime Twins general manager Terry Ryan, a man who has kept his team in contention almost every season despite a restricted player personnel budget and protracted fight over the funding of a new ballpark. The Twins won the American League Central during a season in which the future of the franchise in Minnesota was settled with the announcement that a yard will be built in downtown Minneapolis.

Other top candidates were Dave Dombrowski of the American League champion Tigers, Walt Jocketty of the Cardinals, Omar Minaya of the NL East-winning Mets and Billy Beane, whose A's were swept in the AL Championship Series by the Tigers.

The vote is taken at the end of the regular season and didn't take into account playoff success. Last year's decision was controversial -- Cleveland's Mark Shapiro won over the White Sox Kenny Williams, even though Chicago captured its first World Series in 88 years.

During the meetings, BaseballChannel.TV will broadcast live from Naples from 9 a.m. ET to noon, and will provide breaking news, live reports and exclusive interviews throughout the day.

11-14-2006, 10:44 AM
"I have to keep up with the Cardinals," Cubs GM Jim Hendry said about the defending World Series champs and chief rivals in the National League Central. "At least as far as spending money."

That sums up the Cubs pretty nicely.


11-14-2006, 11:04 AM
Trot Nixon, if healthy, is an interesting choice for the Reds. Particularly at a discount rate. Good with the glove, can take a walk and I think his power would increase in GABP.

Add Nixon along with Craig Wilson and you have solid LH and RH bats that replace some of the offense we lost with "the trade."