Rumors From The MLB Fly On The Wall

Officially, teams can't talk money with other teams free agents - wink, wink - but there is plenty of talking going around. Who might go where and who is looking for what? Our MLB Fly On The Wall buzzes around the major league cities and the agents offices for a look at what might happen once the talk does officially turn to money.

Glenn Hoffman is considered one of the front runners for the Red Sox job. If he is hired, the question around baseball is:

Will Trevor Hoffman follow his brother to Boston? Kevin Towers is not willing to let that happen as he looks to wrap up negotiations with Hoffman before the $2 million buyout even plays into the equation on November 8th.

Rick Reed and Kenny Rogers will not be returning to the Twins this season. The Twins, in need of pitching, are looking at several options on the trade front that would bring in young, cheap alternatives. Adding to that list, LaTroy Hawkins and Juan Rincon are also not expected back. That will leave the Twins in need of pitching.

That said -- there is speculation the team will trade AJ Pierzynski for the right combination of pitching prospects and cheap Major League talent. Joey Mauer, the catcher of the future, is slated for Triple A right now, but he is close to being Major League ready and is getting a tune-up with Team USA in Panama. Matthew LeCroy is in line for the DH spot and could easily take over the catching position.

Dodger relief pitcher Paul Quantrill exercised his option to void the remaining guaranteed season of his three-year contract and filed for free agency. Quantrill led the major leagues with 89 appearances last season and had a 1.75 earned-run average. The Phillies are rumored to be one of the early teams to place a call to Quantrill.

The Pirates are attempting to bring back Jeff Suppan. Suppan was stellar in his stint with the Bucs, 10-7 with a 3.57 ERA, before being traded to the Boston Red Sox July 31 in a deal that landed the Pirates infielder Freddy Sanchez. In Boston, Suppan struggled and his ERA ballooned.

The Matsui Race:

The Mets, Dodgers, Orioles, Yankees and Mariners have all expressed interest in Kazuo Matsui. Matsui will likely hire agent Arn Tellem to represent him in negotiations with U.S. major-league teams. The Yankees already have a strong relationship with Tellem, who represents Hideki Matsui as well as Jason Giambi and Mike Mussina.

The Yankees have added Luis Sojo to Joe Torre's coaching staff. Sojo will become the first base coach with Lee Mazzilli – who is still in the running for the manager's job in Baltimore – moving to third base. That pushes Willie Randolph to the dugout as Torre's bench coach, replacing Don Zimmer.

The White Sox now appear to be out of the Bartolo Colon sweeps. General Manager Ken Williams offered Colon the richest contract for a Sox pitcher believed to be worth $12 million a year for three seasons and reported to be as high as $40 million for three seasons. "Hey, we gave it a shot with the guy,'' Williams said of Colon. The Phillies have some interest in Colon, but word is that Colon is looking to stay in the American League.

The Red Sox are planning on being serious bidders for Colon this offseason as they look to pair him with Martinez. Their contingency plan is Kevin Millwood, but there are concerns on how he will handle the American League. Millwood will almost certainly not be back in Philly next season and could end up in – surprise – Atlanta. Then there is the Red Sox problem of money. They are trying to free some up to ensure they can go after the top talent. Don't forget too, that Millwood's agent, Scott Boras, has a great relationship with the Cardinals, who will be in the market for some pitching.

Speaking of the Red Sox, Nomar Garciaparra, who was born in Whittier, CA and graduated from St. John Bosco High in Bellflower, has told friends he wants to relocate in Southern California after marrying Mia Hamm next month and would like to play for the Angels or Dodgers.

Mike Cameron is being looked at by the New York Mets as a potential free agency pickup. The Mets are attempting to be fiscally responsible this offseason and feel Cameron can be had at a good price.

Besides Matsui, the Mets are looking into Japanese second baseman Tadahito Iguchi. They have some concerns about Luis Castillo's ability to handle New York, and the market beyond Castillo is limited. A career .259 hitter, the right-handed Iguchi had a breakout season in 2003, hitting .340 with 27 homers and 109 RBI for the Pacific League champion Daiei Hawks. He finished fourth in MVP voting and led the league with 42 steals and 112 runs. They were spurned last year by a Japanese third baseman, Norihiro Nakamura and settled on Ty Wiggington who performed well in his rookie campaign.

What is it about Rick Peterson that has the Mets excited about him? Peterson implemented a pitching program throughout the A's organization based on his studies of pitching mechanics, and no A's pitcher has sustained a serious arm injury since his arrival in 1998. With concerns over Scott Kazmir holding up over the long haul, the Mets are hoping Peterson's magic will continue.

In Atlanta, the team is not expected to bring back Robert Fick and are considering handing over the first base reigns to Adam LaRoche, a left-handed hitter who batted .295 with 29 extra-base hits (eight homers) in 264 at-bats after a promotion to Class AAA Richmond.

J.P. Ricciardi has made pitching his priority in Toronto. He is looking to resign Kelvim Escobar, but may face competition if the stakes get too high. "I talked to Kelvim and told him we want to bring him back," said Ricciardi. A strict budget in Toronto could prevent that from happening and the Yankees are said to be interested.

Terry Mulholland has an expressed an interest in going to Arizona. Mulholland makes his home in Arizona.

Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune speculates that one or more of the following Chicago White Sox must be traded if the team is to have any flexibility at all next year: Billy Koch, Magglio Ordonez, Paul Konerko, Thomas, Carlos Lee, Esteban Loaiza and Mark Buehrle.

General Manager Mark Shapiro said the Indians are looking for an "offensive upgrade" at second base. Brandon Phillips is the current second baseman and he is potentially being looked at shortstop in the future. Phillips was once the number one rated prospect in the country – a telling tale of his woes last season.

Philadelphia's Placido Polanco is one trade possibility for the Indians. Polanco, who moved from second to third this year when David Bell injured his back, hit .289 with 14 homers and 63 RBI.

Arizona has yet to make an offer to Miguel Batista. November 10th is a date to circle as he may be looked at by a number of teams as a cheaper option that can eat up innings.

As reported here first:

The Diamondbacks are still trying to find creative ways to get Richie Sexson. They need to clear some cash to make such a deal and the belief is Milwaukee wants pitching in return. Joe Garagiola Jr admitted a big bat "is one of the areas" his team needs help with.

Several other teams have strong interest in Sexson, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta and Baltimore. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin has talked with Sexson's agent, Casey Close, but a contract extension is highly unlikely.

"We both know what the scenario is," said Melvin.

Looking for a first baseman?

Travis Lee has parted ways with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Lee is looking on making it back to the West coast with LA and the Giants as possibilities.

Tino Martinez is also rumored to be available through the trade front. Manager Lou Piniella said he spoke with Martinez - with the Cardinals' permission - at a charity breakfast Thursday to gauge his interest in coming home to finish his career.

"I asked him how he felt, that it's not the easiest thing in the world coming home, and I think he felt it would be workable," Piniella said. "I told him we've got time, that nothing's imminent."

The Devil Rays may be one of the surprise free agent spenders this offseason. The potential is there for even a Gary Sheffield type player to join the D-Rays. Sheffield might have an interest, since he hails from Tampa.

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