TSN.ca with CP files
12/6/2005 2:22:07 AM
DALLAS - A.J. Burnett's agent was talking early into Tuesday morning with the Toronto Blue Jays.
ESPN is reporting that the two sides are wrapping up final details on a five-year, $55 million contract. The sides anticipate the deal being finalized later Tuesday.
Sources said that St. Louis Cardinals who were the other team still in the running for Burnett had faded from contention, as they were unwilling to add a fifth year.
Trevor Hoffman's representatives were speaking with Cleveland as baseball's winter meetings began Monday in a town where teams spent freely five years ago.
Boston talked about trading Manny Ramirez, and the Red Sox said they were reluctant to pay some of the $57 million the outfielder is owed in the final three seasons of his contract.
"You're going to pay another team to have that player beat you?" Red Sox senior adviser Bill Lajoie said. "That doesn't make sense, does it?"
Still, Lajoie wouldn't rule out having Boston pay some of the money as part of a deal.
"You're not going to get value in any way, shape or form," Lajoie said. "This is an A-1 hitter and you're not going to get an A-1 player that somebody is going to give you.
"So if you trade him, you're not going to get the same value, man for man, and sometimes four players don't even add up to one."
Hoffman, San Diego's longtime closer, was negotiating with the Indians, who might have set a deadline as they look for a closer to replace Bob Wickman, who became a free agent.
Lo Duca followed Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Carlos Delgado and Luis Castillo out of Florida, which is purging payroll. The catcher joins former Blue Jay Delgado and reliever Billy Wagner with the Mets, who might be the division favourite heading into spring training.
"I think it would be a disappointment if we didn't win the NL East," Lo Duca said.
When baseball last gathered in Dallas after the 2000 season, Ramirez got a $160-million, eight-year contract from Boston and Alex Rodriguez agreed to his record $252-million, 10-year deal with Texas.
A-Rod, now with the New York Yankees, is among the stars who have committed to play in next year's inaugural World Baseball Classic. But while the two-time MVP was among the 177 major leaguers announced Monday by the commissioner's office and the players' association, he hasn't decided which country to represent - the United States or Dominican Republic.
Roger Clemens, Derek Jeter and Barry Bonds plan to play for the U.S. team in the 16-country tournament, scheduled for March 3-20.
Jason Bay of Trail, B.C., and Eric Gagne of Montreal, Mike Piazza (Italy), Andruw Jones (the Netherlands) and Pedro Martinez (Dominican Republic) also have agreed to participate.
"This is going to be the most important international baseball event ever staged," commissioner Bud Selig said.
While players will be subject to Olympic drug-testing rules, in which more substances are banned than in baseball, a player testing positive during the tournament for a substance banned under the new major league baseball drug agreement would not be disciplined by the commissioner's office, which starting next year will have a 50-game penalty for a first offence.
Gene Orza, the union's chief operating officer, said a positive test could not lead to a player being tested more frequently for "cause" under the drug plan. But major league baseball executive vice-president Rob Manfred declined comment.
Clemens wants to pitch for the United States, but he hasn't decided whether to return for a third season with the Astros. If Houston doesn't offer salary arbitration by 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the 43-year-old ace can't re-sign with the Astros until May 1.
"It's the same situation we were in last year where we were uncertain as to when we would get an answer," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said. "It puts us at somewhat of a disadvantage to build our club."
Clemens retired after pitching for the New York Yankees in the 2003 World Series, then came back to pitch for his home-town Astros after close friend Andy Pettitte signed with Houston. The Rocket won his seventh Cy Young award in 2004, then led the majors with a 1.87 earned-run average this year.
"Today, he would retire if he had to make the decision," said Clemens' agent, Randy Hendricks, adding that a return would not surprise him either.
The Yankees also face Wednesday's deadline with Bernie Williams. New York's longtime centre fielder could return in a reserve role, but the Yankees won't offer arbitration unless Williams's agent, Scott Boras, agrees to reject it. Players offered arbitration can re-sign with their former teams through Jan. 8.
New York general manager Brian Cashman planned to speak with Boras and said he also might talk to Williams, who is scheduled to be at the meetings.
St. Louis, meanwhile, agreed to $800,000, one-year contacts with infielder Deivi Cruz and catcher Gary Bennett, Pittsburgh agreed to a minor-league deal with reliever C.J. Nitkowski, and Arizona was talking with catcher Brad Ausmus.