December 2005 - Baseball Wiretap
A New Year's Four-Way Deal?
The Mets have been engaged in ongoing talks with the Devil Rays about reliever Danys Baez, but, according to multiple baseball sources, those discussions could bloom into a blockbuster four-team trade scenario in which Manny Ramirez winds up at Shea and similarly disgruntled slugger Miguel Tejada lands in Boston. According to sources, both the Red Sox and Orioles have resigned themselves to accommodating the trade requests of Ramirez and Tejada, who want off of their respective teams. But since the Orioles have signed Jeromy Burnitz to complete their outfield, they may not have a match with the Red Sox in a straight-up Tejada-for-Ramirez deal, so several baseball executives said they'd have to get other teams involved. That's where the Mets and Devil Rays come in. The basics of the four-team deal that had the baseball executives buzzing yesterday and would appear to satisfy the needs of all four clubs would have Tejada and Tampa Bay's Joey Gathright going to the Red Sox to fill Boston's holes at shortstop and center field. Ramirez and Baez would go to the Mets, giving them one of the game's best sluggers and a setup man. The Orioles would satisfy their need at shortstop by getting Julio Lugo from Tampa Bay and add pitching by getting Matt Clement from Boston and possibly Kris Benson from the Mets. The Devil Rays, who have always been difficult to deal with, especially in complicated transactions, are seeking top prospects and young pitching and would be satisfied in that regard by getting third baseman Andy Marte from Boston and Jae Seo and Aaron Heilman from the Mets. In addition, the Mets would send Kaz Matsui to Tampa to give the D-Rays a stopgap shortstop replacement until prospect B.J. Upton is ready. An executive with one of the teams called the four-team scenario far-fetched, but an official with another of the teams said he expected to broach such talks. The Mets and GM Omar Minaya long have coveted Ramirez, a nine-time All-Star. Ramirez has said he wants to leave Boston and the Mets are one of the few clubs in baseball that could take on all or part of his monster salary - Ramirez is due $57 million over the next three seasons. Money, of course, could complicate the deal. In addition to Ramirez's hefty price tag, Tejada is owed $48 million and part of a $12 million signing bonus for the next four years. Independently, the Mets have been talking for weeks with the Devil Rays about Baez, who was 5-4 with a 2.86 ERA and 41 saves as a closer last season. Seo and Heilman have been mentioned as possible matches in a potential one-for-one deal, but two Mets sources said yesterday they would "absolutely" not part with Heilman for Baez. However, if talks expand and include bringing Ramirez to the Mets, Heilman might have to be sacrificed. If the Mets got Baez, he would set up for new closer Billy Wagner. But Baez doesn't seem to want to switch jobs. In an interview yesterday with the St. Petersburg Times, he said, "I don't know if I want to be a setup guy. I want to be a closer. "But if they trade me, I don't have a choice. If they want me to be a setup guy, that's what I'll do."
Marlins Sign Reese And Borowski
Infielder Pokey Reese and right-hander Joe Borowski signed one-year contracts Thursday with the Florida Marlins. Reese, whose deal is worth about $800,000, spent all of last season on the disabled list with the Seattle Mariners following surgery on his right shoulder. He hit .221 in 96 games with Boston in 2004. A two-time Gold Glove winner, Reese has batted .248 with 44 home runs and 271 RBI over eight seasons in the majors. He's a potential successor to Luis Castillo, traded to Minnesota as part of the Marlins' offseason payroll purge. Borowski went 1-5 with a 4.47 ERA in 43 games last season for the Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay. He is 14-23 with 44 saves and a 3.90 ERA in nine seasons in the majors. The Marlins are his sixth team.
Controversial Radio Host Get New Gig
Larry Krueger, the talk show host fired for making racially tinged comments about the San Francisco Giants, has been hired by another radio station. Krueger was hired Thursday by KGO radio to provide commentary during afternoon sports updates for the radio station. Krueger had been a night talk show host on KNBR before complaining on air about too many "brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly" and saying Giants manager Felipe Alou's "mind has turned to Cream of Wheat." Krueger apologized and was suspended for a week without pay. He was later fired before returning to the air. KGO news director Greg Tantum said Krueger's experience and Bay Area roots made him an ideal choice for the new job.
Red Sox Looking To Lock Up Snow
Major League Baseball typically shuts down for the final week of the calendar year, but the Red Sox nonetheless were awaiting word last night regarding their pursuit of first baseman J.T. Snow. According to Dan Horwits, who represents Snow, the player and agent were hoping to decide on a new team before the end of this week. Horwits said earlier in the week that as many as four teams were interested in his client, including the Red Sox. While Horwits would not disclose the identity of those clubs, baseball sources have ruled out the New York Yankees, who will use the right-handed hitting Andy Phillips to back up Jason Giambi. There had been some speculation that the Yankees also were eyeing Snow as a late-inning defensive replacement. The Sox intend to use Snow as a complement to the right-handed hitting Kevin Youkilis at first base. Snow, 37, is a career .268 hitter over parts of 14 major league seasons. He is a six-time winner of the Gold Glove award at first base.
Nationals Will Command A High Price For Soriano
The signings also come against the backdrop of the Nationals' most significant offseason move, the trade with Texas for four-time all-star Alfonso Soriano. Though Soriano could provide an offensive force unlike any the Nationals had last season, he met the news that he would likely have to move from second base to the outfield with outright disdain, and has not retreated from those remarks. Soriano's defiance triggered calls from several interested teams who wondered if the Nationals might be willing to trade Soriano, including Boston, according to a source familiar with the discussions. Nationals front-office executives, however, for now appear unwilling to part with Soriano unless they are bowled over with an offer that includes either a front-line starting pitcher, such as the Red Sox' Josh Beckett, or several younger, front-line pitching prospects. One source familiar with Washington's discussions over the last several weeks said, "There's nothing close enough to take seriously right now," but thought the Nationals would remain open to talks about trades for pitching.
Lugo Talks Depend On Tejada
Whether Julio Lugo remains the Devil Rays shortstop or is traded to the Red Sox appears contingent, to a degree, on whether Boston can work a trade for disgruntled Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada. Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman declined comment on what other teams are doing and how the permutations could affect Tampa Bay. "As we've been saying," he said Thursday, "if a trade presents itself that makes sense for what we're trying to do now, and in the future, that will be something we're prepared to do." So, let's connect some dots. If the Red Sox don't land Tejada for their vacant shortstop position (the Boston Globe reported they offered leftfielder Manny Ramirez and pitcher Matt Clement), they could sign former Marlins shortstop Alex Gonzalez, the best option among remaining free agents. But it is difficult to believe Boston wants Gonzalez more than Lugo, who is a better hitter and bats leadoff. It also is possible, if the Red Sox get desperate enough, they will cough up prized third-base prospect Andy Marte, over whom the Rays are salivating. So, assume Tampa Bay and Boston are talking.
Tejada Now "More Upset" At O's
Disgruntled shortstop Miguel Tejada is "more upset'' with the Baltimore Orioles because they haven't gotten stronger in the offseason than with the team not fulfilling his trade request. "Now, I am more upset than when I requested the trade because it's been a month and they haven't done anything,'' Tejada told The Associated Press on Thursday. Tejada, who is entering the third year of a $72 million, six-year contract, said three weeks ago that he wanted a "change of scenery.'' On Thursday, the disgruntled All-Star said he was upset by the Orioles' failure to make trades that would strengthen the team. "I don't want to say anything bad that can hurt my teammates, but look at Toronto, they have strengthened themselves and we haven't done anything,'' said Tejada, who hit .305 last season with 26 homers and 98 RBI.
Nationals Sign Ortiz And Armas
The Washington Nationals on Thursday signed veteran righthanders Ramon Ortiz and Tony Armas Jr. to one-year contracts. Financial terms were not disclosed. The 32-year-old Ortiz is looking to return to the form that helped him post 44 wins for the Anaheim Angels from 2001-03, including a 15-9 record during their world champion campaign in 2002. During that season, the slender 6-footer went 6-0 in his last nine regular-season starts and was 2-0 in three postseason starts. Ortiz struggled in 2004, going 5-7 with a 4.43 ERA in 34 games, including 14 starts. He was traded to the Reds for righthander Dustin Moseley after the season and was 9-11 with a 5.36 ERA in 2005. He surrendered 206 hits and 34 homers in 171 1/3 innings for Cincinnati.
Randa Close To Deal With Pirates
Joe Randa, the third baseman on the only Pirates team in 13 years to contend for a division title, is returning to Pittsburgh. The Pirates, who lost out on signing free agent Bill Mueller, were close to agreement Thursday on a $4 million, one-year contract with Randa. The team held off announcing the signing until it reviewed results of a physical Randa took Wednesday. Randa was a key member of the 1997 Pirates team that, despite having a $9 million opening-day payroll that was less than what Albert Belle of the Chicago White Sox made by himself, led the NL Central at the All-Star break and contended until the final week of the season. That team, widely predicted to lose 100 games before the season started, finished five games behind division-winning Houston with a 79-83 record. The Pirates then left Randa unprotected in the expansion draft, and he was chosen by Arizona before being dealt to Detroit. Randa, a career .285 hitter, has since played for the Tigers, Royals, Reds and Padres, spending six seasons in Kansas City from 1999 through 2004.
Byrnes Agrees To Deal With D-Backs
The Diamondbacks came closer to filling their center field vacancy as they closed in Wednesday on free agent Eric Byrnes. Byrnes, who agreed to what is believed to be a one-year deal worth about $2.2 million, will undergo a physical examination today in Phoenix. Byrnes, whom the Diamondbacks tried to acquire from Oakland last off-season, gives them a speedy, high-energy player who can man the center field position as prospect Chris Young continues to develop. advertisement The 29-year-old became a free agent last week when Baltimore did not offer him a contract, the end result of a poor second half of the 2005 season.
White Sox Could Deal Contreras
Jose Contreras is the only one of six potential starters who doesn't have a contract with the Sox beyond the 2006 season.
Sox Throw In Clement On Manny For Tejada Talks
The Sox, who initially offered Manny Ram?rez for Tejada straight up, recently offered Ram?rez and righthander Matt Clement, according to the source.
Garland Signs Three-Year Deal With Champs
Jon Garland agreed to a three-year, $29 million contract Wednesday with the 2005 World Series champion Chicago White Sox.
Koskie Or Hillenbrand On The Move?
With Troy Glaus now a member of the Jays, they now have a glut of infielder's and designated hitters, meaning Shea Hillenbrand or Corey Koskie could be on the move.
Glaus To Canada
"With the moves that they made, and things that they've been able to do, this team seems poised to make a run. We're young and very, very talented," said Glaus.
Boston Continue Negotiations With Snow
The Sox continue to negotiate with free agent first baseman J.T. Snow regarding a role as the backup and defensive replacement for Kevin Youkilis.
Glaus Almost A Jay
The Toronto Blue Jays hope to announce this week that they have acquired slugger Troy Glaus from the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Orioles Keep Discussing Tejada Trades
According to two industry sources, there were preliminary discussions between the Orioles, Cubs and Athletics on a three-way deal that included Miguel Tejada.
Holdup, Glaus Trade Is Not A Done Deal
The Blue Jays put trade talks on hold yesterday but GM J.P. Ricciardi said he remains optimistic he'd soon have the bat he was looking for in Arizona third baseman Troy Glaus.