PinstripesPlus Rumor Mill - 11/3

The free agent pool is starting to take shape and the Yankees are involved in numerous rumors surround numerous players. The Insiders take a look at who could be coming to the Bronx and who might be on their way out.

Rumors Swirling Around The Bronx

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. Kazuo is a shortstop that could theoretically play third base for the Yankees, facilitating Aaron Boone's move to second base and Alfonso Soriano's move to the outfield. Matsui, however, has expressed interest in joining a West Coast team.

The Yankees are looking to add Luis Sojo to Torre's coaching staff, and they plan to try to talk former catcher Joe Girardi into joining the organization in some role, possibly as a big-league coach. The Yankees have holes to fill in their coaching staff after the resignation of Don Zimmer and firing of Rick Down. Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre hasn't guaranteed his return yet either.

A report out of New York said Zimmer would be joining the Rays' coaching staff, but there were two problems: (1) the Rays haven't talked to Zimmer, and (2) they don't have any openings. "Don Zimmer is a credit to the game of baseball, and his positive impact on the game is immeasurable," Rays GM Chuck LaMar said in a statement. "However, we have not had any contact whatsoever with him concerning employment with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays."

Rumors The Yankees Have Interest In:

The Yankees are expected to pursue either or both Eddie Guardado and LaTroy Hawkins. The Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs and Mets also are in need of late-inning help, and all are said to have at least Hawkins on their short list of desired relievers.

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.

Maels Rodriguez, a 24-year-old right-hander, is said to have defected from Cuba and is considered one of their top pitchers. So much so, they shrouded him from playing in the Pan American Games and Olympic qualifying teams and publicly stating he has lost 15 miles per hour off his fastball, which is reportedly able to top 100 mph consistently.

"I'm going to demonstrate that I can still throw 100," Rodriguez said Thursday on Miami Spanish-language radio station WQBA-AM. "These are things that they invent to cut a little off the careers of some athletes."

There should be a plethora of offers for the Cuban if he is declared a free agent.

Around The Division:

The Red Sox are planning on being serious bidders for Colon this offseason as they look to pair him with Pedro 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.

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.

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."

Outfielder Frank Catalanotto and the Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a $2.3 million, one-year contract, a $100,000 raise.

Stay tuned for more rumors next week.

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