Free Agent Roundup

With the hot stove just getting under way, the rumors continue to fly.

Anaheim Angels:
Exercised $3 million option on C Bengie Molina
Acquired Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis from Washington for Jose Guillen

Rumors continue to swirl that the Angels are interested in every free agent from Jason Varitek to Nomar Garciaparra and even Carlos Beltran. They will likely make a serious run at each them with Garciaparra the most likely one to end up in Anaheim. They are also one of the primary candidates to land Randy Johnson.

Boston Red Sox:
Exercised option on Bill Mueller

The Red Sox are contenders for many free agents this winter but first they must decide what to do with their own. They have had face-to-face discussions with Pedro Martinez, as well as Carl Pavano. They have seemed to turn away from Jason Varitek when the catcher asked for five years. Derek Lowe appears to be as good as gone and Orlando Cabrera may follow him out of town.

Chicago White Sox:
Exercised option on Carl Everett
Re-signed Jon Garland, one-year, $3.4 million

The White Sox were considered the favorite to land Omar Vizquel but he designed to head to the Giants. They have appeared to cut ties with Magglio Ordonez and have turned all of their attention to acquiring Randy Johnson. They are considered the underdog but have a good crop of prospects that they can offer. If Johnson is willing to go to Chicago, they may be the surprise winner of the sweepstakes.

Cleveland Indians:
The Indians do not have a great deal of money to spend but they don't have many moves they need to make either. The young team is not far from contending and just need a solid arm to be the top team in the AL Central. Rumors persist that they will make a run at signing Brad Radke.

Detroit Tigers:
Exercised option on Ugueth Urbina
Signed Troy Percival, 2 years, $12 million

The Tigers are looking to make another big splash just as they did last winter. Signing Troy Percival was a good first step. They have the flexibility to trade Urbina or keep him as a set-up man. They are also contenders for Derek Lowe and could end up signing either Corey Koskie or Troy Glaus for third base.

Kansas City Royals:
Signed Chris Truby to a one-year deal
Acquired Terrence Long and Dennis Tankersley from Padres for Darrell May and Ryan Bukvich

The Royals do not have much to spend this winter so most of their moves will have to come through trades. Their first trade could work out as Long can be a good option as a fourth outfielder and Tanksersley has nice upside and Truby could fill a void without spending much of their money. They are interested in acquiring Austin Kearns from the Reds should he be available.

Minnesota Twins:
The Twins lost shortstop Christian Guzman to free agency and are interested in bringing in Jose Valentin to replace him. They have made an offer to Corey Koskie but it is believed to be well below market value. They have also made an opening offer to Brad Radke but he has been looking elsewhere.

New York Yankees:
The Bombers declined the option on Jon Lieber but he still could end up in pinstripes in 2005. As usual, they are in the center of every major free agent conversation. They are contenders for Carlos Beltran, Pedro Martinez, Carl Pavano, and Carlos Delgado. They are looking to land Randy Johnson in a trade and send off Kevin Brown and potentially Jason Giambi.

Oakland Athletics:
Rumors continue to circulate that the A's are looking to deal one of the Big Three but GM Billy Beane has denied them each time they have been brought up. If one is to be dealt, Barry Zito is the most likely. Atlanta, New York, and Boston have been mentioned as possible suitors. The A's have also had conversations with the Cubs, presumably about Sammy Sosa, but a trade appears unlikely.

Seattle Mariners:
Player option exercised by Eddie Guardado

The Mariners are expected to be one of the big spenders this winter. They are potential suitors for Carlos Delgado, Richie Sexson, Adrian Beltre, Corey Koskie, Matt Clement, and even Carl Pavano. They are expected to take care of Dan Wilson and possibly Ron Villone soon and then turn their attention to potential trades and the rest of the free agent market.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays:
Some rumors are beginning to circulate that the Devil Rays are shopping Aubrey Huff. With Huff beginning to cost the team more money, there may be some truth to the rumors. They will likely have a list of suitors lining up for Huff's services. They have had discussions with the Rockies about Charles Johnson and Shawn Chacon.

Texas Rangers:
Re-signed Doug Brocail, one year, $1 million

The Rangers may be looking to acquire Mike Maroth from Detroit. Maroth is eligible for arbitration and Detroit is looking to avoid having to pay him. Javier Vazquez may be a target and Alfonso Soriano is the bait. They have also brought up Jorge Posada in talks with the Yankees. Soriano has also been rumored in a trade to the Mets for Jose Reyes but with Soriano unwilling to move to the outfield, a deal is unlikely.

Toronto Blue Jays:
With the attention Carlos Delgado is getting, the Jays are now all but out of the running for him. They have turned their attention to Corey Koskie and may look to move Eric Hinske to make room. They are also looking to add pitching help and Matt Clement has been mentioned as a possible target.

Arizona Diamondbacks:
The big story coming out of Arizona is the almost certain departure of the Big Unit, Randy Johnson. The D-Backs have been in contact with many teams and the leaders in the running to land Johnson are the Yankees, Angels, Cardinals, and White Sox. On the free agent front, the D-Backs have had discussions with Richie Sexson and would like to bring back the first baseman.

Atlanta Braves:
The Braves have a plethora of quality players testing the market including J.D. Drew, Russ Ortiz, and Jaret Wright. They don't have the money to bring them all back so they will likely press to bring Drew back but allow the others to walk. If they find the cash to spare, they will attempt to bring back Wright or go after Kevin Millwood.

Chicaco Cubs:
Re-signed Neifi Perez to a one-year deal

The Cubs have reportedly made an opening offer to Carlos Beltran and remain one of the favorites to land him. Trade talks involving Sammy Sosa are ongoing and many teams have expressed interest. They will likely target Edgar Renteria and Orlando Cabrera to fill the void at shortstop.

Cincinnati Reds:
Re-sign Jason LaRue, one-year, $3.5 million

Reports indicate that the Reds have considered trading Austin Kearns. The experiment at third base has not gone as hoped and the outfield is full. Kearns has a great deal of upside and should draw a lot of interest. They are read to cut ties with free agent short stop Barry Larkin.

Colorado Rockies:

The Rockies are actively shopping Charles Johnson and Preston Wilson. Johnson is drawing interest from a few teams including the A's but Wilson, due to his large contract, is not as appealing. Shawn Chacon is also on the trading block and should be in another uniform come next season.

Florida Marlins:
Extended contract of Mike Lowell

Free agent Carl Pavano is going to be too pricey to allow the Marlins a chance at re-signing him. Their primary goal this winter appears to be signing Paul Lo Duca to a long-term deal. Closer Armando Benitez is a free agent and they will likely use Guillermo Mota in that role next year instead of acquiring a closer this winter.

Houston Astros:
Exercised option on Craig Biggio

Even with Chris Burke seemingly ready to take over, the Astros have tried to re-sign Jeff Kent. Lance Berkman tore his ACL and will miss at least the first month of the season. Carlos Beltran has not ruled out returning to Houston and the Astros will do whatever they can to try to bring him back. They have also expressed interest in Troy Glaus.

Los Angeles Dodgers:

The Dodgers have reportedly been in contact with Adrian Beltre and have discussed the parameters of a deal. They are also known to have interest in Troy Glaus, Richie Sexson, and Brad Radke. If Nomar Garciaparra doesn't get many offers, he may also end up on their target list.

Milwaukee Brewers:
Troy Glaus is the top target for GM Doug Melvin. If Glaus can't be landed, they will turn their attention to Corey Koskie, Jermaine Dye, and Richard Hidalgo. They have been mentioned as a possible suitor for Jason Varitek. Reports have indicated that they are willing to listen to offers for Scott Podsednik.

New York Mets:
The Mets are close to agreeing to terms with both Kris Benson and Al Leiter. Benson would get $23 million over three years and Leiter $4-5 million over just one season. They are the most likely team to land Sammy Sosa, if he is indeed moved. If they don't acquire Sosa they will make a strong push for Magglio Ordonez and possibly J.D. Drew.

Philadelphia Phillies:
Exercised option on Billy Wagner
Re-signed Corey Lidle, two-years, $6.3 million

The Phillies have expressed interest in trading for Kevin Brown and Kenny Lofton of the Yankees. They have reportedly made offers to top free agents including Carlos Beltran and Carl Pavano. David Wells is a potential target along with Brad Radke. They have apparently cut ties with free agents Kevin Millwood, Eric Milton, and Placido Polanco.

Pittsburgh Pirates:
Re-signed Jose Mesa, one-year, $2.5 million
Re-signed Salomon Torres, two-years, $2.6 million

The Jose Mesa contract also includes and option for 2006. The two names that have come up in trade talks with the Pirates are Craig Wilson and Daryle Ward. Both had solid seasons and the Pirates may be looking to move them before they get too expensive and while their values are highest.

St. Louis Cardinals:
Exercised option on Chris Carpenter

The Cardinals have identified Randy Johnson as their top priority this winter and have reportedly offered Rick Ankiel, Dan Haren, and Kiko Calero or a prospect. If they fail to land Johnson they may turn to Pedro Martinez. They are the favorites to re-sign Edgar Renteria but could go after Orlando Cabrera if Renteria balks.

San Diego Padres:
Acquired Darrell May and Ryan Bukvich from Royals for Terrence Long and Dennis Tankersley

Darrell May will enter spring training as a favorite to see time in the rotation and Ryan Bukvich will likely earn a spot in the pen. Their top free agent priority is re-signing David Wells. They have had numerous trade discussions involving Ryan Klesko and one report had him going to Seattle with Sean Burroughs for Gil Meche and Randy Winn. That trade won't happen but the Padres may find a suitor for Klesko soon.

San Francisco Giants:
Re-signed Deivi Cruz, one-year, $800,000
Exercised $2.5 million option on Marquis Grissom
Exercised $2 million option on J.T. Snow
Exercised $2.5 million option on Brett Tomko
Signed Omar Vizquel, three-years, $12.25 million

The Giants have been one of the busiest teams so far, taking care of their own and signing Omar Vizquel. They have expressed interest in Steve Finley and to a lesser extent, Jay Payton. Magglio Ordonez remains another potential target but center field is more of a priority. They may enter the Adrian Beltre sweepstakes.

Washington Nationals:
Signed Vinny Castilla, two-years, $6.3 million
Signed Christian Guzman, four-years, $16.8 million
Acquired Jose Guillen from the Angels for Juan Rivera and Maicer Izturis

Strangely, no team has been busier thus far than the team formerly known as the Expos. New GM Jim Bowden is trying to create a buzz around the team. He has considered dealing Nick Johnson and many teams would be interested if so. The Red Sox have inquired about Brian Schneider but he appears to be off limits. Endy Chavez could be available in a trade as well.

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