Inside Pitch: Hot Stove Rumors

Did Damian Miller play his way out of Oakland? Will Jermaine Dye return to the A's on a one-year deal? Find out in this edition of <i>Inside Pitch</i>...

A few rumblings in the off-season rumor mill...

The real reason the A's may be letting starting catcher Damian Miller leave via free agency may have more to do with his play then his salary requests. Since the season ended, there have been rumblings from inside the A's organization that Miller was not a good game-caller and that he regularly strayed from the pre-set game plan. C Adam Melhuse, a backup much of the season, was the backup last year but had starters requesting him by the final month of the year because of his ability to call a consistent game behind the plate. Miller has been offered a two-year contract by the Boston Red Sox and is expected to entertain offers from the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers, as well.

. SS Omar Quintanilla might be playing himself out of the A's plans and into another team's plans with a dominating display in the Arizona Fall League. Quintanilla, a first-round pick in 2003, is among the league leaders in hitting in the AFL. Unless Quintanilla moves to another position, his road to the majors is blocked by AL Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby. If the A's do keep Quintanilla, they will likely move him to second next season with the idea of having him debut in the big leagues in 2006.

The biggest decision for the A's is whether to keep their Big Three together or trade one. And if they do trade one, which one goes? To date, general manager Billy Beane keeps insisting that he's not going to trade Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder or Barry Zito. But that hasn't stopped the rumors and hasn't stopped other teams from calling to find out if one is available. Thus far, players such as Marcus Giles of Atlanta, Trot Nixon of Boston, Austin Kearns of Cincinnati and Milton Bradley of Los Angeles have been mentioned.

Free agent RF Jermaine Dye wants to stay in the Bay Area after playing the past three years for Oakland, and one option is signing with the Giants. He wants a multiyear contract and, if healthy, could bat behind Barry Bonds and give him more protection. The problem is, Dye has been injury-prone over the life of the contract, and the Giants already have a player (Ray Durham) with suspect legs. In addition, the Giants are targeting centerfielder Steve Finley as a free agent acquisition, which would end their need for Dye. If the Giants are not interested in Dye, he may decide to come back to Oakland on a one-year contract and try his luck on the market again next season.

RHP Chad Bradford, who is salary arbitration eligible, could be trade bait to shed some salary. The most likely team would be the New York Mets since their pitching coach Rick Peterson got the best out of Bradford while in Oakland. Bradford has already been linked in a possible trade to the Mets for catcher/1B Jason Phillips.

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