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December 3, 2007 at 9:58 PM

“Unproductive” day rolls into night

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UPDATE (10:55 p.m.): Jose Guillen just agreed to a three-year, $36-million deal with the Kansas City Royals, according to this report. He has to pass a physical exam on Tuesday. Got to hand it to Guillen. He told me all along he’d trump the three years, $30 million given to Eric Byrnes by the Diamondbacks and he apparently has.
9:58 p.m. — Things have gotten considerably more quiet here at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center. I’m sure plenty of baseball folks are drinking up a storm in some of the many bars and pubs to be found if you’re willing to walk through all the lobbies to get there. But others are still working in their hotel suites, winding up after what Mariners GM Bill Bavasi termed an “unproductive” day.
We were inside the team’s suite with Bavasi a little while ago and questioned him for 20 minutes on what had taken place. Bavasi says he came here hoping to get in on the Johan Santana trade talks, but quickly found that his team was not a high priority for the Minnesota Twins.
Remember what we wrote last week about our source telling us the Mariners were a “second tier” competitor for Santana? Well, that’s kind of how Bavasi feels right now. The meetings have been hijacked by the Santana talks, but all the real talking is being done by the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Both those clubs have the potential to put three top prospects on the table, which the M’s can’t. At least, not prospects the Twins need. They don’t need Jeff Clement. And Brandon Morrow has yet to prove he can start in the majors and be effective. Both the Yankees and Red Sox can trump that.
In other words, the M’s didn’t “get out” of the Santana derby because of the high cost. More like they’ve been put on a back-burner by the Twins for now.
“I wouldn’t say that we’re completely out of it,” Bavasi said. “But they may have some deals they have to contemplate before ours.”
I’d say. In other words, if the Yanks, or Bosox, pull out of talks (as the Yankees threatened to do barring a Monday deal) then the M’s could jump back in if the offers started to get lower. Otherwise, they’ve got “Plan B” which is Erik Bedard. Bavasi wouldn’t say it flat out, but he’s obviously interested in the O’s lefty and made it pretty clear his team would be looking at him further.
As we wrote earlier, the cost could be astronomical — at least three, possibly four top prospects.
Then again, if the “loser” in the Boston-New York Santana bidding opts to go for Dan Haren of the Oakland A’s instead of Bedard (who pitches in the AL East and is unlikely to be dealt within the division) then the O’s asking price could drop.
Bavasi’s staffers and scouts spoke to two teams today, one of them the Milwaukee Brewers. As we mentioned, the Brew Crew needs a young catcher and some relief help. The M’s need a starter and Ben Sheets is a good place to start talking.
The M’s spent much of the day scheduling meetings to talk tomorrow. They have meetings with 11 other clubs. Bavasi wouldn’t say whether the O’s are among them but I wouldn’t read a lot into that right now. As I said, everything is in a holding pattern until Santana gets done.
Same thing for free agents. Bavasi and Co. are waiting on Hiroki Kuroda’s decision about which team he’ll come over from Japan to join. But Kuroda, wisely, is apparently going to wait for some type of market to be set here before jumping into the fray. That means, Santana and some other pending deals have to get done first.
“There are probably some potential trades out there that are holding up the market,” Bavasi said.
A report that the M’s will go as high as four years, $44 million for Kuroda was met with skepticism and incredulity in the hallways here. Someone I talked to, who makes his living evaluating and projecting talent for major league teams and the media, said flat-out that Kuroda is a very risky proposition for an AL club and that four years is too much. Can’t say whether he’s right or wrong. Though plenty of folks I talk to have the same concerns that Kuroda coming here could be akin to a mid-range NL pitcher jumping to the AL. We all know how that often turns out.
I’m told the Diamondbacks are unlikely to go any higher than three years on Kuroda, so a four-year offer could very well get the deal done. I just can’t confirm that the M’s have made one. It sounds a bit high.
Yes, I asked Bavasi about not offering arbitration to Jose Guillen.
“We didn’t like the exposure,” he said.
By “exposure” he means strictly money. Not the steroid stuff that came out last month. Strictly the money. The M’s just didn’t want to have to pay Guillen the money he could get in an arbitration case in the unlikely event he opted to take a one-year deal with Seattle. So for that, they give up a Type “B” compensatory pick they would have received had he left.
For what it’s worth, I highly doubt Guillen would come back for one year. He’s a proud guy, has talked too long about wanting a multi-year deal and apparently has a job with the Royals if he wants one (NOTE — read update at top of post about Guillen’s new three-year, $36 million deal with Kansas City). But it’s not my money being risked. Just an opinion.
For David in the comments thread of the previous post, yes, anyone can come here, wander the halls and walk right by folks like Dusty Baker, Felipe Alou and Lou Piniella. The real wheeling and dealing takes place behind closed doors, though. Plenty of folks around here trying to introduce themselves and pawn off resumes. They had a “job fair” earlier today and lots of people were doing it. The trick is to not be really annoying.
Anyway, that was the day for the Mariners. Lots of talk. We’ve discussed all the rumors already so I won’t go into them more. But oh, wait, I did have a conversation pertaining to that potential Edwin Jackson-Ben Broussard deal between the M’s and Rays. The Rays were apparently not all that hot on the idea of Broussard alone, for the reasons I’ve mentioned. Jackson is slotted for the Tampa rotation, while Broussard could be non-tendered. Might take more than that, but it’s still early. Just a rumor and no longer a very good one at that. Everything is still in the preliminary stage, more rumor than fact, while the baseball world waits to hear where Santana is going.

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