Hot Hot Stove Rumors - November 11

Brian Walton checks in with one potential signing and at least one new and interesting name that could come into play.

While Friday is technically the first day that teams can speak with free agents about money, it is customary for both sides to hold informal discussions ahead of time. When talking about the parameters of a deal, it is easy to slip in an exchange about cash, too.

In fact, the agents really like this, as it provides them an early gauge of market interest. This can even be the case before those players with whom teams have exclusive negotiating rights formally declare.

New corner man may be close
I have word that stealth mode expert Walt Jocketty is at it again. Don't be surprised to see the Cards quickly (read within the next week) come to terms with former Pittsburgh and San Diego outfielder Brian Giles on a three-year deal.

While some of the numbers may still need to be worked out, the basic construct of a deal could already be in place for Giles to play in St. Louis from 2006 through 2008. He will be 35 in January.

Most think that it will take in the vicinity of $30 million for Giles to commit. If it is somewhere he wants to play, he could take less. The Cardinals have made it a regular practice of back-loading contracts, or putting more money in out years of a deal. And, in some cases, they have also deferred money.

If they want Giles, which they certainly seem to do, they have the resources to get him and may be poised to make the pre-emptive strike before the price of poker goes up.

Rowand has come up before
Reporting from the General Managers Meetings, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tabs White Sox outfielder Aaron Rowand as potentially available via trade. While others point to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with their glut of flycatchers as a good trade source, the Sox also have some good young prospects coming up through their system.

Rowand, 28, is signed for 2006 at a decent price, $3.25 million, with a mutual option for 2007. He has a career on base percentage of .337 and is very good defensively – good enough to take over in center for Jim Edmonds some day.

While I don't know for sure if the Cardinals have inquired about Rowand yet, I am positive his name has come up in past discussions internally. So, it wouldn't be a stretch at all to see them take a run at him. It would be a good step in making the outfield younger, something that a Giles signing alone would not do appreciably.

How far east is St. Louis, anyway?
Here is a new name to think about - Javier Vazquez. I have learned from a very good source that the former Montreal Expo and New York Yankees hurler has formally requested a trade east from Arizona as his contract allows him to do. Vazquez joined the Diamondbacks a year ago in the Randy Johnson trade with New York.

The right-hander is 29 years old, moving into his peak years, and is signed through 2007. Vazquez is to make $24 million the next two seasons, making him less palatable to the Cards than other options such as Matt Morris. Then again, Vazquez, who can push the mid-90's on the radar gun, is a better pitcher than Morris at this stage of their respective careers.

I am not sure if St. Louis is far enough in that eastwardly direction to satisfy Vazquez, but it is hopefully a name that Walt would look into.

Then again, if Giles is landed, getting a player as expensive as Vazquez would be highly unlikely unless another expensive starter or two are traded away. Instead, look for Vazquez to land elsewhere.

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.


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