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Tigers, Marlins talking trade

The Marlins are talking with the Tigers about a trade that would send third baseman Miguel Cabrera or left-handed starter Dontrelle Willis, or perhaps both, to Detroit for a package of players that would likely include left-hander Andrew Miller and other young players.

Miggy275The Marlins have been talking with the Angels and Dodgers about Cabrera but have been unable to reach an agreement with either team.

The Chicago White Sox are also interested in Cabrera, but Detroit, which has a deeper farm system, may be able to put together a more attractive package for Florida.

Cabrera would play third on a Detroit infield that would also include Carlos Guillen, Placido Polanco and Edgar Renteria, though it is uncertain where incumbent third baseman Brandon Inge fits in the scenario.

Willis would slide into a rotation with Jeremy Bonderman, Kenny Rogers and Justin Verlander.

Pettitte wants to pitch 10 more years

If the Yankees are indeed out of the running for Johan Santana — a big if — there’s another veteran left-hander who might be interested in signing a long-term deal with New York.

Andy Pettitte, 35, reportedly said that he could pitch another 10 years.

Pettitte, 15-9 with a 4.05 ERA in 2007, announced on Monday that he intends to pitch another season with the Yankees rather than begin retirement. Pettitte led the National League in starts with Houston in 2006 and the American League in starts for the Yankees this year. He has worked 200 or more innings each of the last three seasons.

On Tuesday, Pettitte told KRIV-TV that he could pitch another 10 years if he wanted to and, at the very minimum, would like to help the Yankees open their new stadium in 2009.

"I really believe now, especially after playing with the Astros and pitching with my elbow the way it was when I needed the surgery, I realize now I could go out and probably pitch until I’m 45 years old, because I was throwing 82, 83 miles an hour and still being able to compete, maybe because I’m left-handed or whatever," Pettitte said. "For me, the thing of me not being able to go out there and get any guys out, I think that’s so far down the road, probably, that’s never going to play into my decision.

Everybody wanted me to come back. My wife realized that if she would have said, ‘Let’s shut it down,’ I would have definitely done that. She was like, ‘Let’s see how it goes one more year.’  So with that support and all of my teammates’ support, no matter what, wanting me to come back and do this again, that’s probably the big thing."

The Yankees will open a new stadium in 2009, and that may give Pettitte the motivation to play beyond this coming season

"One of the main [reasons] this was such a tough decision for me, one year could lead to another, maybe. For the main reason, if I’m healthy and if my family wanted to support it again, we would consider it, but also the Yankees are going to have a new stadium. I know down the road, when we get through this season, that will be in the back of my head also. That would be awfully nice, to play in that new stadium.

"I’d be lying if I didn’t say that was some of the stuff that you think about. I realize there are some things that could be enticing that tie me into playing even another year."

Braves, Cubs close in on deal

The Braves and Cubs wasted little time getting things started on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, as the two teams are closing in on a trade on Tuesday morning that would send left-handed reliever Will Ohman and shortstop Omar Infante to Atlanta, with the Cubs getting right-hander Jose Ascanio.

The deal would enable the Braves to fill two needs (lefty reliever and backup shortstop), whereas the Cubs would lessen the logjam at shortstop and shed an arbitration eligible player in Infante. Ohman is signed through 2008, for $1.6 million.

the center of attention

All eyes have been on the Johan Santana negotiations. The Twins met with both the Red Sox and Yankees on Monday night, as well as at least five teams interested in the left-hander’s services. But Minnesota has also been getting calls regarding All-Star closer Joe Nathan.

According to multiple sources, the Twins are having conversations with a number of teams regarding Nathan, a free agent after the 2008 season, but nothing was imminent on that front.

"It’s more or less exchanging information of what it might take [to pry Nathan away from Minnesota]," a source said.

The price for the 33-year-old Nathan, a two-time All-Star who has saved 35 or more games each of the last four years, will be expensive. Milwaukee, seeking a replacement for Francisco Cordero, is a possible fit. Houston is also interested in Nathan, who was born in Houston but lives in Knoxville.

At this point it is unlikely that either team would be willing to come up with a suitable package for Nathan.

"You don’t want to create holes at other spots," one team official said.

The Astros have second baseman Chris Burke and outfielder Luke Scott available, but they would rather not part with pitching prospects Troy Patton, Paul Estrada and Felipe Paulino. The Twins are also looking for a third baseman, and the Astros, with Ty Wigginton and Geoff Blum at that position, aren’t a match.

"I don’t think I’ll be traded before the season starts," Nathan said on Monday. "I know there is going to be talk, but I think on Day 1, I will be pitching in Minnesota, trying to help the ’08 Twins win as many as they can. From there, well, it’s out of my hands."

Guillen to KC?

According to and, the Royals have reached an agreement with outfielder Jose Guillen on a three-year, $36 million deal.

Royals GM Dayton Moore was not available for comment.

Yankees, Nationals trade prospects

Washington has acquired right-hander Tyler Clippard from the Yankees for right-handed reliever Jonathan Albaladejo, according to a baseball source. The trade was first reported by The Washington Post.

Clippard, 22, made his Major League debut in 2007 and went 3-1 with a 6.33 ERA in six starts. Albaladejo also made his Major League debut this past season, giving up three runs in 14 1/3 innings out of the bullpen.

Quick hits

• The Indians inquired about Toronto outfielder Alex Rios.

• The Padres are interested in Blue Jays right-hander Josh Towers.

• The Rockies are eyeing free-agent second baseman Marcus Giles.

• The Rockies also have discussed re-signing left-hander Mark Redman or pursuing righty free agents Steve Trachsel and Brett Tomko.

• San Francisco has reportedly shown interest in Toronto third baseman Troy Glaus.

• The Rangers are getting plenty of inquires regarding pitcher Eric Hurley.

• The Nationals are shopping outfielder Austin Kearns and infielder Felipe Lopez for starting pitching. The Nationals have an interest in Mets right-hander Mike Pelfrey and Twins right-hander Kevin Slowey.

• Washington also has an interest in right-hander Livan Hernandez and is willing to give him a two-year deal, according to a source.

Waiting for the dominoes to fall

The general managers, as they did at their meetings last month inOrlando, were set to meet Monday evening to go over what they were
still seeking, position-wise, now that arbitration decisions have been
made and various free agents have signed.

Now it’s just a question of waiting to see which domino falls first.

"I think things will move more quickly once we see where [Miguel]
Cabrera and [Johan] Santana land," one GM said. "Because once those two
go, it will cause teams to look at other options."

A trade involving either one is expected to send ripples in various directions.

For example, if Minnesota deals Santana to the Yankees for pitcher
Phil Hughes, outfielder Melky Cabrera and a prospect, the Yankees would
then be in the market for an outfielder and might decide to make a
pitch for free agent Andruw Jones.

Since the Yankees gave Minnesota a Monday deadline — though it
seemed clear the Twins weren’t losing any sleep over that line in the
sand — teams interested in Jones could be swayed to up their offer for
the center fielder to snag him before the Yankees could get involved.

Where Aaron Rowand winds up will impact the number of suitors for
Jones, and vice versa. And where Cabrera lands could juggle the third
base picture considerably.

As officials broke for dinner Monday evening, here’s a few of the
latest whispers heard at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center

Orioles gauging market for Bedard, Tejada

Several teams have contacted the Orioles to inquire about the
availability of starting pitcher Erik Bedard and shortstop Miguel

Andy MacPhail, Baltimore’s president of baseball operations, said
that he’d be disappointed if the Orioles left Nashville without making
a major trade. But he also said he wouldn’t be hemmed in by any
artificial deadline.

"I don’t think you’re disadvantaged by waiting — even if you came
out of these meetings and you wanted to do something but you didn’t,"
he said Monday night. "You haven’t diminished the value of your player.
It’s rare when there’s just [three] people that want something, two
guys sign and the third guy’s out of luck. Generally, it doesn’t work
that way."

Baltimore is apparently seeking three or four prospects that either
have big league experience or are close to being ready for Bedard.

The Mets, Phillies, Dodgers, Angels and Cardinals are among the teams interested in Bedard.

The Giants inquired about Tejada and the Orioles also talked to Houston about the shortstop, but those talks did not progress.

Tigers looking at Dotel, Hawkins

Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Monday evening
that he’d be "content" if his team left Nashville with the same
pitching staff it has now, but that doesn’t seem to stop Detroit from
looking for relief help.

Octavio Dotel’s agent, Dan Horwits, was set to meet with the Tigers
later Monday night, and LaTroy Hawkins’ agent, Larry Reynolds, was
expected to meet with the club at some point during these meetings. In
addition, Dombrowski said they’ve had more initial trade discussions
than usual after sending out their scouts and other officials to gather
what other teams needed and had available to give.

Brewers, Cardinals talk trade

GM Doug Melvin and assistant GM Gord Ash met Monday with Cardinals GM
John Mozeliak and discussed St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen. The
move would allow the Brewers to shift NL Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun
to left field, but there are roadblocks.

Rolen is due $36 million over the next three years, and the
Cardinals reportedly are unwilling to include cash in a deal. A left
shoulder injury has bothered Rolen since 2005, and the Brewers are wary
of trading for an injury risk. Rolen also has a no-trade clause, and
Melvin is also wary of trading within the division.

The Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants are also believed to have
interest in Rolen. As an alternative, the Brewers could revisit the
White Sox’s Joe Crede, but Crede has similar health issues and would be
a free agent following the 2008 season. The Brewers and White Sox
briefly discussed Crede at the general manager’s meetings.

Melvin shot down a rumor that had the Red Sox inquiring about
Brewers right-hander Ben Sheets, but did say that one team not on the
East Coast had called regarding Milwaukee’s ace. The Brewers are not
motivated to move Sheets even though he is entering the final year of
his contract.

Indians could stand pat

Pirates left fielder Jason Bay is drawing interest from the
Cleveland Indians, but nothing is apparently imminent on that front and
Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro isn’t wowed by the free agent market.

"There will be a time we’ll pick back up with free agency when the
bulk of them are gone and we might find some bargains," Shapiro said.
"But right now we?re not in any free-agent pursuits."

Nor are the Indians close to making a trade. Shapiro met with fellow
GMs from a handful of clubs Monday, but he said none of those talks are
in the "advanced stages."

Lincecum sizzle turns to fizzle

Word had circulated around the hotel that the Reds spoke with
the Giants about starting pitcher Tim Lincecum, with the names of top
Cincinnati prospect Jay Bruce and third baseman Edwin Encarnacion
floated as part the potential deal. Before the end of the day, it had
proven to be untrue.

Bruce is considered the best
prospect in baseball, and the outfielder was Baseball America’s
Minor League Player of the Year this past season. Conventional wisdom
is he’d be off the table for any deal. When asked if he had any players
he deemed "untouchable," Cincinnati GM Wayne Krivsky declined to name

Quick hits…

— The Rangers are interested in Bay and are also considering
free agents Eric Gagne, Hawkins, Kosuke Fukudome, Bartolo Colon,
Freddy Garcia and Jason Jennings.

— The Braves are
probably priced out of the market for lefty reliever Ron Mahay, who is
expected to land a three-year deal worth more money than Atlanta was
willing to spend.

— Houston GM Ed Wade got a call from
agent Scott Boras about Gagne last week to let the GM know
that three of his clients were available — Gagne, Jeff Weaver and
Rodrigo Lopez.

"It was just him making me aware of
their availability," Wade said. "I wouldn’t characterize it as any more
than that. It doesn’t mean we might not pursue something but right now
it’s not on the front burner for us."

— Free agent
right-hander Brett Tomko, most recently with San Diego, is interested
in rejoining Cincinnati, a team he last pitched for in 1997. Tomko is
also feeling out interest with the Rockies, Pirates, Marlins, Rangers
and Padres.

— Toronto doesn’t figure to be a player in
any blockbuster trades, but the team isn’t unwilling to approach other
clubs about possible swaps. "Like I’ve said, I like the makeup of our
club," Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said. "I think for us to really do
something along those lines, it’s got to be us initiating something
that’s going to lead to us to being as good, if not better, with maybe
even some down-the-road incentive."

— Colorado lefty
Brian Fuentes is heading into his final year of arbitration. Even
though he lost the closer job to Manny Corpas in the middle of the 2007
season, his figure will be a raise from his $3.5 million salary for the
year. But the Rockies have budgeted to pay it and deal with having two
closer-level pitchers and aren’t motivated to move him though they are
getting calls about Fuentes.

"I think clubs know that
there’s no reason to move him unless we can make ourselves a better
baseball club," Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said. "There are
only certain clubs that would fit. And some of these clubs, quite
honestly, don?t have a whole lot to trade."

— Arizona
is interested in trading for Oakland right-hander Dan Haren, but might
not be willing to give up the kind of package Oakland GM Billy Beane
would require.

— Kansas City’s interest in free agent outfielder Jose Guillen appears to be waning.

"Every day that goes by, the more intrigued I get by other opportunities," Royals GM Dayton Moore said Monday.

— The Rangers had talks with Arizona about Carlos Gonzalez, the New
York Mets about Carlos Gomez and the Chicago Cubs about Felix Pie. But
the Diamondbacks wanted top pitching prospect Eric Hurley, the Mets
were interested in trading for catcher Gerald Laird and the Cubs have
decided that Pie will be their center fielder.

Cabrera field widens

    Add the Chicago White Sox to the list of teams talking to the Marlins about third baseman Miguel Cabrera.

    The Angels and Dodgers have already had discussions with Florida about Cabrera, and now sources say the White Sox and two other unidentified teams have entered the picture.

Washington eyeing Jennings

    The Nationals have targeted free agent right-hander Jason Jennings as a possible fit for their 2008 rotation.

    Jennings, 29, went 2-9 with a 6.45 ERA in 19 games for Houston in 2007 before his season ended in August due to a tear in the flexor tendon of his right elbow.

He had surgery in late August and is expected to return to the mound in 2008, and officials with several teams have indicated Jennings, if healthy, could help.

    Jennings’ elbow condition is comparable to what Andy Pettitte went through in 2004 and Billy Wagner endured in 2000. Those two lefties underwent surgery to repair flexor tendons and made full recoveries.

    Jennings made $5.5 million last season but might agree to a one-year deal to demonstrate he is healthy in 2008, which would then enable him to enter free agency again coming off a better season next winter.

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.

Rumblings from Nashville

    Andy Pettitte’s decision to put off retirement for another year and rejoin the New York Yankees in 2008 didn’t end New York’s pursuit of Johan Santana, but the Yankees are apparently adamant about getting an answer from Minnesota no later than Monday regarding the club’s trade offer for the two-time Cy Young Award winner.
PettitteThe Yankees and Twins have been talking about a trade that would send the left-handed Santana to New York for a package that is believed to include pitcher Phil Hughes, outfielder Melky Cabrera and a mid-level Minor League prospect that Minnesota would select from a group.

    Meanwhile, Boston is also in on Santana and are believed to have made offers involving either outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury or left-hander Jon Lester in various combinations. Boston has tried to interest the Twins in outfielder Coco Crisp to no avail.

Plenty of smoke, but no Cabrera fire yet

    Miguel Cabrera continues to be a hot topic at the Winter Meetings but nothing was imminent Monday morning as Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest wasn’t due to arrive at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center until Monday afternoon.

    The Marlins are expected to resume talks with both the Angels and Dodgers regarding Cabrera.

Tony Gwynn Jr. to San Diego?

    The Brewers are pondering whether to move third baseman Ryan Braun to left field, and that prospect has other teams waiting to try to work out a trade with Milwaukee for one of the club’s outfielders if Braun indeed does make the move.

    The Padres would be a natural fit for Tony Gwynn Jr., and if the Brewers make Bill Hall available, he would draw considerable interest.

Washington wants Miller

    The Nationals have free-agent catcher Damian Miller in their sights. In 58 games, Miller, 38, hit .237 with four home runs and 24 RBIs for the Brewers in 2007. The Nationals are looking for catching help after dealing Brian Schneider to the Mets. The team is also interested in Gerald Laird of Texas should the Rangers decide to deal him.

    Miller said he has interest in playing with the Nationals.   

"It depends on the situation — what’s good for me and my family," Miller said. "They have a new stadium next year. That will certainly help. They have an up-and-coming team and they have a bunch of good guys. Let’s see what happens."

Burke on the block

    Now that Kazuo Matsui is an Astro, Houston is exploring trade possibilities for second baseman Chris Burke. Burke, for one, won’t be surprised if he is dealt during the weeks ahead.

    "For me, the overwhelming feeling is disappointment," Burke said. "I’d always hoped to be the everyday second baseman for the Astros. I always believed that would happen one day. The fact that it’s not going to is disappointing. But I believe things happen for a reason, and hopefully there’s a better opportunity for me out there somewhere else."

    Astros general manager Ed Wade said he would attempt to trade Burke, who ideally would fetch pitching if packaged in a deal with outfielder Luke Scott. It’s likely Wade will pursue a deal along those lines during the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., this week. How much value those two players can have remains to be seen.

"Obviously, I don’t know exactly what Ed’s thinking, but he made it clear to my agent [Barry Meister] that they’re going to try to trade me," Burke said. "There’s hope that someone will give me a chance to play second base."

    Colorado is interested in Burke, and the Astros are seeking a closer and a lefty reliever, and the Rockies have both in veteran Brian Fuentes.

    Oakland and the Chicago White Sox are among the teams that have expressed interest in Burke in the past.

Dodgers eye Andruw Jones

    The Dodgers are among the teams considering free-agent center fielder Andruw Jones, a 10-time Gold Glove and five-time All-Star. Jones is believed to be seeking a contract in excess of the five-year, $90 million deal Torii Hunter signed with the Angels. The Dodgers apparently are not interested in a contract guaranteed longer than two years, but that would allow Jones the opportunity to revisit free agency with greater leverage after a more productive season.

    Jones’ acquisition would create a surplus of outfielders and probably force the relocation of Juan Pierre’s vulnerable throwing arm to left field.

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.

Cabrera by Christmas?

    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.