Monday whispers, Round 2

Dukes to D.C.?

    Rumors were rampant in the lobby of the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center on Monday 200x90_wintermeetings
afternoon that Tampa Bay outfielder Elijah Dukes would soon be heading to the Washington Nationals for a Minor League player to be named.

Cubs, Giants among teams after Fukudome

    Joe Urbon, agent for free-agent outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, was scheduled
to talk with the Chicago Cubs on Monday afternoon and was expected to talk with
the San Francisco Giants.

    Those two teams, along with the White Sox, Padres and Rangers, are interested
in Fukudome, who also has an offer from the Tokyo Giants.

    Fukudome, 30, batted .294 for the Chunichi Dragons in 2007, and has a career on-base percentage of nearly .400 and a career slugging percentage of better than .500. The left-handed hitter was named the Central League’s Most Valuable Player in 2006, when he hit .351 with 31 homers and 104 RBIs. He was limited to 81 games in 2007 before undergoing season-ending surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow.

Seattle out of Santana sweepstakes

    The Mariners, believed to be one of the four teams in the forefront of the chase to land Minnesota left-hander Johan Santana, have dropped out of the discussions.

    A high-ranking American League official confirmed Monday afternoon that the Mariners were no longer discussing a deal for the two-time Cy Young Award winner who becomes eligible for free agency at the end of the 2008 season.

    Seattle, which is trying to bolster its starting rotation, had visions of putting the 29-year-old Santana in the same rotation as 21-year-old Felix Hernandez, giving the Mariners a terrific one-two punch. But the combination of losing some of their top prospects, including projected right fielder Adam Jones, and possibly spending close to $150 million for the left-handed Santana, prompted club officials to back off and pursue starting pitching elsewhere.

    That leaves the Red Sox, Yankees and Angels known to be still in pursuit of Santana, though other teams may be in the picture.

Five teams in on Kuroda

    Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, a 32-year-old free agent, is being pursued by the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Mariners, Phillies and Royals. Seattle is believed to have offered Kuroda a three-year contract for close to $30 million.

    Kuroda isn’t expected to make a decision until after the Winter Meetings, which end Thursday morning at the Operyland Hotel.

Reds interested in Lincecum

    Cincinnati is apparently interested in San Francisco right-hander Tim Lincecum, but if the Giants insist on Reds outfield prospect Jay Bruce as part of any deal, look for the Reds to back off.

    Bruce, 20, hit a combined .319 with 26 homers and 89 RBIs in 133 games at three Minor League stops in 2007. The left-handed hitting Bruce is considered one of the team’s cornerstones of the future.

Quentin to White Sox

    Arizona is finalizing a deal that would send outfielder Carlos Quentin to the White Sox for Minor League first baseman Chris Carter.

    Carter, who will turn 21 later this month, was ranked among the White Sox top 10 prospects by Baseball America. A 15th-round pick by Chicago in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, he has tremendous power and a good idea of the strike zone.

Finley, "Bus" making the rounds

    Among the handful of free agents in Nashville looking for jobs was Steve Finley, who was spotted roaming the lobby at the Opryland Hotel. Finley, 42, played in 43 games for the Rockies in ’07.

    "I wouldn’t play if I thought I was going to embarrass myself," Finley said.

    Also spotted in the lobby was former NFL running back Jerome Bettis.

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