As I mentioned last Friday, resolution of the Hideki Matsui situation in New York was one gate to pass before Giles' decision would be reached. Before Matsui signed, the Yankees opened talks with Joe Bick, Giles' agent. Originally, I thought it might be an attempt to get a little leverage with Matsui, who basically held all the cards. He would have been a free agent if had a new deal not been done by the 15th.
Still, Matsui's signing for $52 million over four years was good news for Giles and Bick for two reasons.
First, there is the size of the deal itself. "If Matsui can bring $13 million, why can't I get $10?", Giles must have asked himself. Sure, Matsui is younger, but Giles is not that far behind in terms of value.
Second, the New Yorkers are now talking about a possible platoon situation in Yankee Stadium's spacious centerfield between Matsui and Giles. That's right; the Yanks apparently said this with a straight face, knowing they can afford both players and likely more.
Another factor is Johnny Damon, who is actually a regular centerfielder, unlike Giles and Matsui. For most of the 2005 season, rumors had the Yankees going all out to lure Damon away from the Red Sox. That may have changed. Wednesday's rumor of Damon's and agent Scott Boras' demand for a seven-year, $84 million contract has reportedly aimed the Yanks back in Giles' direction.
The Yankees aren't the only ones after Giles. In fact, my sources tell me that as of Wednesday, they hadn't even yet put an offer on the table, but talks are clearly heating up. Newsday believes the Yankees will go three years, $33 million, but there is a big "if".
The paper quotes a Yankees source as saying that team executives are trying to assess if Giles really wants to play in New York. That seems very plausible. In fact, they report that Giles had specified the Yankees as a team to which he would not approve a trade in a previous contract.
Of course, Bick is not a credible source of news. He says whatever he needs to say. One day, New York is near the top of Giles' list and another day, Giles has no preference where he plays in the field, according to Bick. Let's face it. That rhetoric is part of his job. I still believe Giles wants to become a Cardinal.
But, will it happen? At this point, I'd have to admit that the odds are decreasing each day. Still, one team was eliminated when the Padres conditionally swapped Xavier Nady for Mike Cameron and his $6 million contract for 2006 on Wednesday. Even if offered right of refusal, it is very unlikely the Padres could afford both Cameron and Giles.
However, I have been told that at least three other teams in addition to the Cardinals have made firm offers to Giles. They include Seattle, Cleveland and the Cubs. The Red Sox might also step in later, but they have unsettled situations with Manny Ramirez and Damon. Plus, they don't have a general manager currently. The Dodgers could decide to join in the fun now that they named their new GM Tuesday.
Yet, I don't think any of those teams are winning competitors right now, despite the three having made offers in the same range as the Cardinals' three-year, $27.5 million bid.
It may come down to the Yankees. Are they using Giles to bring down Damon's price or do they really want to sign him? If they really want him and Giles is willing to go, it is over.
But, would Giles actually do it or is he using the Yankees to drive up the Cardinals' offer? Will he go to the highest bidder? Just how badly does he really want to come to St. Louis? How close is close enough? And how long will he string out the process?
For the Cards, will they jack their offer up to $10 million per season or even $11 million if needed to win? What if they have to add a vesting-based option for a fourth year to compete? Would they do it? At what point do they just walk away from the table and move on?
The answer so far is "Not yet." But, stay tuned…
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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