Finally we have some action
Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
I was starting to think that Major League Baseball was in some sort of hibernation. There has been nothing going on since free agency began over two weeks ago. I know business usually picks up once the Winter Meetings start, but usually one or two of the big dominos fall, or come close to falling, before they start.
This year it looks like teams are heading into the meetings with all the big ticket items still in play.
Teams, though, did get a little active this week after seeing who was and was not offered arbitration. In a sign of the times, I guess, only 24 players were offered arbitration. Teams would rather receive no compensation than be stuck with a player for one year at a big price (See: Andy Pettitte, Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell).
A few minor chips fell this past week, as reliever Bob Howry and shortstop Edgar Renteria went to San Francisco, while Mike Hampton returned to Houston and Trever Miller bolted Tampa Bay for St. Louis.
Apart from those moves, let's check out a few rumors as we head into the Winter Meetings, which get underway on Monday in Las Vegas.
- A.J. Burnett could sign with the Atlanta Braves this weekend. Depending on who you believe, the Braves have guaranteed him four years with a fifth year option. The New York Yankees are expected to meet with Burnett this weekend as well, but they are not inclined to go five years on the injury-prone right- hander.
- Speaking of the Yankees, they are going to meet with lefty CC Sabathia over the weekend with the hopes of locking him up before the meetings start. Let's be honest here. If Sabathia wanted to play for the Yankees, this would have been done by now. He wants to pitch on the west coast and is waiting for the Los Angeles teams to decide which direction they are going. The Angels' top priority remains signing Mark Teixeira, while the Dodgers still want to lock up Manny Ramirez.
I think both Sabathia and Teixeira are waiting for the other to make a decision.
Boston seems to be flying under the radar with regards to Teixeira. I can't gauge if they are all-in on him or just casually interested in the event that he should fall into their laps. If the Red Sox want him, though, they are going to have to move Mike Lowell, which is going to be impossible. Both Baltimore and Washington are expected to continue dialogue with Scott Boras this week. Even with his hometown connection to both of those teams, I still think it is a long shot he winds up with either.
- Derek Lowe supposedly has a few offers on the table, but will probably wait until after Sabathia and Burnett sign before he makes a decision. He could become a rich man if the Yankees miss out on both of the other two starters. Philadelphia has been after him the hardest, but he will likely get more than the three-year deal the Phils are offering.
- Amazingly there is nothing going on with Manny Ramirez. Boras may be inclined to accept arbitration from the Dodgers for a monster one-year payday, then go through all this again next year. It's not unprecedented for Boras, who did it with Greg Maddux back in 2003, especially since there seems to be nobody else interested in ManRam at the moment.
- Everything is quiet on the Jake Peavy trade front. The Chicago Cubs remain the front-runners in any deal, and will probably meet with San Diego at some point over the next week. However, the Padres may not be as desperate to move their ace right-hander as they once were, since they sent Khalil Greene to St. Louis on Thursday.
- There are a ton of closers still available. I still think when it is all said and done that Francisco Rodriguez ends up in Milwaukee, although the Mets remain the favorite to land him at the moment. Seattle will dangle J.J. Putz this week, which may end all the K-Rod-to-Flushing talk. The Mets need a closer desperately, but would rather get one in a trade rather than have to spend big money considering they already have an injured Billy Wagner on their payroll at $13 million.
There was talk earlier this week of a blockbuster that would have sent Jermaine Dye and Bobby Jenks from Chicago to the Mets for a package highlighted by prized prospect Fernando Martinez, but both teams quickly refuted that deal.
- Get used to hearing the names of Raul Ibanez, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell over the next week. I suspect business will pick up on all three this week.
- Every year there is one guy that becomes available that you never would have guessed in a million years. This week, don't be surprised to hear Ichiro Suzuki's name come up in trade discussions. Suzuki has worn out his welcome with teammates in Seattle, which needs to go in a new direction anyway. With a new general manager at the helm, it is not crazy to think he may move Suzuki.
Would the Mets bite? They need a closer and an OF. Maybe they could land Putz and Suzuki in a blockbuster.
Even if the above scenario does not play out, it is going to be a crazy week.