Possible Finley Deal Opens Door for Yankees

ANAHEIM – Word around the Anaheim Marriott late last night was that Steve Finley was gearing up to sign a two-year pact with the Anaheim Angels, a move that could make the Yankees the front runners in a chase for Carlos Beltran.

For the Angels, the rumored deal with Finley will range between $15 and $20 million and may include a third option year.

That's a budgetable move that gives the defending AL West champions, who had been rumored to be in the running for Beltran, a little more room to maneuver as they attack their starting pitching.

Anaheim has been trying to deal both Ramon Ortiz and Jarrod Washburn this winter, with sights upon Carl Pavano, Matt Clement, Russ Ortiz and others.

A Pavano announcement is likely to come this weekend, although some industry sources suggest that it will, in all likelihood, be between the Yankees and Red Sox to duke it out for the righthander's services.

Meanwhile, it's been no secret that just about every team with a need in center field has its mind set on Beltran, a Scott Boras client.

If they weren't wooed by the 29-year-old's excellent overall play with the Kansas City Royals over the last several years, or his 38 homers and 104 RBI for the Royals and Houston Astros last year, then almost certainly suitors were intrigued by his sizzling postseason for Houston in which he hit .435 with eight homers and 14 RBI in 12 games.

However, the Yankees may be the ones with deep enough pockets to get it done. Bernie Williams is likely out as the everyday center fielder and Kenny Lofton is now a Philadelphia Phillie, so while Beltran may not get the reported ten-year deal Boras is looking for, the Bombers will almost certainly be able to improve upon the six-year, $81 million offer filed by the Astros after the season.

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