Welcome to Nashville
Rain wasn’t the only thing pelting Nashville as media, agents and baseball officials began arriving at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center on Sunday for the Winter Meetings.
The rumors were flying too, though many general managers weren’t scheduled to arrive until Monday morning.
The Red Sox are believed to have upped the ante for Minnesota ace Johan Santana while another Cy Young Award winner, Jake Peavy, was nearing an extension with the San Diego Padres.
There was news as well, as a report claimed the Padres agreed to terms with left-hander Randy Wolf and while the Astros announced that they had secured Kazuo Matsui’s services with a three-year, $16.5 million contract.
One school of thought has the Marlins holding on to Miguel Cabrera and trying to deal him in July, because it would give Florida a chance to see how the season progresses and because contending teams fighting for a postseason berth might be more inclined to part with the type of package the Marlins are seeking for the 24-year-old slugger.
While waiting to July might make sense in some ways, the feeling among many baseball people who were gathering for the Winter Meetings is Cabrera will be dealt sooner rather than later. The vibes other teams are getting from the Marlins is that Florida is inclined to deal Cabrera before the season, though perhaps not before the end of the Winter Meetings.
The favorite to land Cabrera at the moment appears to be the Angels, with the Dodgers believed to be a close second.
Bargain hunting for arms
The dearth of high-ceiling pitchers on the free-agent market has teams taking a hard look at several veterans coming off injuries such as Matt Clement, Bartolo Colon, Kris Benson, Jason Jennings and Jon Lieber.
Benson’s agent Gregg Clifton confirmed that no fewer than nine teams had inquired about his client, who is tentatively scheduled to throw in front of scouts on Dec. 18.
The Astros — having gone 0-for-3 on free-agent starting pitching targets thus far after Curt Schilling (Boston), Tom Glavine (Atlanta) and Randy Wolf (Padres) — are considering Lieber, who is well known to GM Ed Wade from when both were with the Phillies.
Jennings could wind up back in Colorado after his injury-shortened season in Houston, but San Diego and Washington are also a possibilities for the right-hander.
Front and center
Look for activity to pick up regarding the marquee free-agent center fielders still on the market — Andruw Jones and Aaron Rowand — as teams that had been focusing on Torii Hunter will focus on one or the other.
Kansas City and the Los Angeles Dodgers are among the teams considering Jones while Rowand, who was offered arbitration by Philadelphia, is being eyed by no fewer than six teams, including the Dodgers.