Rumors & Rumblings for Dec. 12th

After kicking off with a bang on Opening Day of the winter meetings, the Hot Stove continues to burn up as Day 2 brought more big-name transactions from Anaheim, Calif. Pitchers Carl Pavano, David Wells, and Dan Kolb will have to file change of address forms as all three found new homes Saturday.

Another pitcher, Tim Hudson, may be on the move as well after reports circulated around the Bay Area that the Oakland A’s will trade the one of the Big Three to the Los Angeles Dodgers for top prospects Edwin Jackson and Antonio Perez.

“It's still all speculation right now,” Hudson told early Sunday morning. “If a deal was done, I'd know about it, and I haven't heard anything concrete.”

If the deal is completed, the A’s will acquire Jackson, hoping to insert him in place of Hudson in the starting rotation, and Perez, who figures to battle incumbent Mark Ellis for the starting second base job in Oakland.

One trade that did reach fruition Saturday sent closer Dan Kolb from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for top pitching prospect Jose Cappellan and a player to be named later. The infamous PTBNL is believed to be left-hander Dan Meyer, who is also a highly regarded prospect.

Perhaps no one is more elated at the acquisition of Kolb in Atlanta than former Cy Young winning starter-turned-closer John Smoltz. The 37-year-old right-hander has been lobbying for a return to the starting rotation and will finally get his wish when the Braves traded for Kolb to alleviate Smoltz of his ninth inning duties.

The two biggest names in baseball would not be outdone Saturday as both the Red Sox and Yankees inked starters to multi-year contracts. The Evil Empire signed the most sought-after starting pitcher on the market in Carl Pavano, luring him to New York for fours years at $39 million.

The Idiots from Boston added left-hander David Wells to an incentive-laden contract that has a base of $8 million over two years. The 41-year-old can earn up to $18 million in performance bonuses.

Finley was never committed to coming to San Francisco

The Giants, meanwhile, entered the winter meetings with two main objectives: acquire a starting outfielder via trade or free agency and bolster a bullpen that was the team’s Achilles heel in 2004.

“No matter who we get involved with, whether it's a center fielder or a right fielder, he's going to have to be as good defensively as offensively,” said Giants general manager Brian Sabean.

In a span of a few days, San Francisco has lost some steam in nabbing such an outfielder, partly because the Anaheim Angels swooped in on the side-stepping Steve Finley. The Giants tried to acquire the centerfielder three separate times the past few years.

Heading into the meetings, Sabean confirmed that San Francisco was awaiting word on Finley’s decision on whether to accept their three-year, $17 million contract offer. Sabean and Co. were incensed to learn that Finley did a quick one-two step and danced with Anaheim instead.

“When you have as many people go out and tell a player how important he is to the franchise -- the owner, the manager, (the general manager), and myself, and you find out from a reporter that he's going to Anaheim ... Steve Finley has a right to make his own decisions and choose where to play, but this could have been handled in a more professional manner,” Giants assistant GM Ned Colletti said Friday.

Perhaps the lack of professionalism displayed on Finley’s part can also serve as a silver lining to the Orange and Black faithful who are hoping for the Giants to acquire a younger player.

It was never clear whether the 39-year-old Finley truly wanted to leave Southern California and, as reported in this column last week, it was questionable whether the center fielder viewed San Francisco as a contender. This was evidenced last July when he vetoed a trade to come to the Giants.

Will Vernon Wells patrol center field for SF?

“We never put our eggs in one basket, ”Colletti said after missing out on Finley. “We'll keep looking. We've got our whole group here. We've seen everybody in the big leagues."

Since Colletti is alluding to the fact that all of Sabean’s lieutenants are in Anaheim for trade operations, perhaps Vernon Wells of the Toronto Blue Jays is on their radar.

On an internet message board, rumors are percolating about a potential trade that would lure the stud centerfielder out of Toronto in exchange for starting pitcher Jerome Williams and catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

According to the forum, a source close to the Giants initiated the rumor Thursday regarding a deal that involved those parameters, but it is unclear whether talks have stalled since then.

San Francisco did have a dialogue with Milwaukee this weekend over a potential deal to acquire the fleet-footed Scott Podsednik. However, Sabean balked at the deal when the Brewers insisted on Williams as compensation.

The Giants GM is also believed to be in the hunt for another speedy centerfielder, the Red Sox’s Dave Roberts. It was mentioned in this column a few weeks ago that The Sporting News’ Ken Rosenthal suggested a Roberts-to-San Francisco scenario, but that does not seem likely due toBoston’s high demands (starter Noah Lowry, among others).

“We've backed off some stuff, which is always good, push things aside that you don't feel comfortable with,” Sabean said Saturday. “You try to move forward in other areas and concentrate on fewer things.”

Are new battery-mates on the agenda?

One area the Giants are believed to be concentrating on is their developing catcher situation. Pierzynski is widely speculated to be traded or non-tendered in a few weeks, which has prompted San Francisco to be the front-runner in the Mike Matheny negotiations.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Giants are one of four National League clubs to show interest in the Cardinals free agent catcher, who is known for his defensive prowess behind the plate (three Gold Gloves).

The only downside to Matheny is that he will turn 35 next year, but is seeking a multi-year deal, similar to what Damian Miller received from the Brewers (three years, $8.75 million). Matheny’s offense is also less than stellar, which on a Giants ballclub that preaches a “No Holes” approach, his bat would create a black hole, similar to Neifi Perez last season.

Recent reports linking the Giants to Matheny can equate to a suspicion that Pierzynski is indeed on the trade block and a deal may be close to being consummated to land an outfielder, perhaps even as dreamy as a Vernon Wells.

“We're looking to create options,” said Sabean, who confirmed the Matheny rumors.

Another option to the re-shaping of the Giants roster is an attempt to solidify a relief corps that is in dire need of another strong setup man.

‘You can't win in this league, especially in the division we're in, without a strong bullpen,” the Giants GM said. “Our guys did an admirable job and they maybe were stretched beyond their capabilities, role-wise. We will look for a setup man, and left-handers are sparse.”

Two left-handers were mentioned in connection with the Giants in Saturday’s edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. The article cites relievers Kent Mercker and Mike Myers as possible targets.

Although Jason Christensen has drawn interest from other ballclubs, more recently the Florida Marlins, the Giants are not averse to re-signing him along with either Mercker or Myers to team alongside fellow southpaw, Scott Eyre.

“On a 12-man staff, if you have three good lefties, that's a hell of a thing to manage against,” said Sabean, outlining the philosophy to acquire more left-handed relievers.

According to Rich Draper of the Official San Francisco Giants website, the G-Men have about $18 million left in the bank to spend on their offseason needs.

With the winter meetings concluding Monday and the Giants not willing to deal their coveted young pitching prospects, San Francisco may retain the status quo and address their needs later rather than sooner.

“I'm not worried about it," the Giants GM said. “One way or another, we're a lot stronger than we were at the beginning of last year and the end of last year. You have to take into consideration we're not on the clock, and we're a long ways from spring training."

Indeed, but if Sabean understands the stresses of moving and filing those change of address forms with the local Post Office, he is probably keeping Dec. 20 in mind. That would be the last day to tender a contract to players such as A.J. Pierzynski, who would like nothing more than to find a “Home for the Holidays.”

Around the Majors

· Shortstop Edgar Renteria received an offer from the Red Sox believed to be for four years, $38 million. The Cardinals have offered $6 million less, but are contemplating on increasing their offer. The Detroit Tigers are also in the hunt.

· The Blue Jays and third baseman Corey Koskie are close to a deal, reportedly a three-year contract for $17 million. The Dodgers are believed to be interested in Koskie as well.

· The Seattle Mariners have reportedly extended a significant offer to third baseman Adrian Beltre. Figures have not yet been disclosed.

· According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, the New York Mets are working hard to sign left fielder Moises Alou.

· Kerry Wood as closer? Stark mentions that the Chicago Cubs have tossed around the idea if nothing else materializes this offseason.

· Barry Bonds was named BaseballAmerica’s Player of the Year for 2004. The slugger also won the award in 2003.

· The Giants signed four players to minor-league deals Friday. The quarter includes pitchers Armando Almanza, Jeremy Fikac, and Matt Kinney, and catcher Yamid Haad. All three pitchers pitched in the majors last season, while Haad, who can also play first base, was in the San Diego Padres farm system in 2004.

Giants Farm Top Stories