Archive for Saturday, December 13, 2003

Brown gives tentative OK on trade to Yanks

Pitcher Batista signs with Blue Jays; Rangers, Red Sox continue talks

December 13, 2003

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— Far from Bourbon Street, the New York Yankees still managed to join the party at the baseball winter meetings Friday, trying to complete the trade for Kevin Brown and zeroing in on Kenny Lofton.

Toronto made the first move of the annual swap session, agreeing with free-agent pitcher Miguel Batista on a $13.1 million, three-year contract. Yet that deal was overshadowed by the possibility of bigger things and bigger names.

Texas and the Red Sox kept talking about their potential blockbuster -- Alex Rodriguez for Manny Ramirez -- and free agent closer Keith Foulke was trying to decide between re-signing with Oakland or going to Boston.

Greg Maddux might have a new home, too, by the time the meetings wrap up Monday. The four-time Cy Young winner was let loose last week by Atlanta, and the Chicago Cubs and San Diego were among the teams said to be interested.

Free agent outfielder Mike Cameron was in town, with the New York Mets, Oakland and San Diego in pursuit.

"In the next couple of days, he should be making a decision," Mets general manager Jim Duquette said.

And there was speculation -- still at a low level, for now -- that Roger Clemens would unretire and join former Yankees teammate and good friend Andy Pettitte to pitch in his hometown of Houston.

"Roger always said he was 99 percent retired," said one of his agents, Randy Hendricks, who also represents Pettitte. "I still think he is. But the 1 percent would be the Houston Astros."

The opening day of the meetings typically produces more talk than trades, and there was plenty of it as the likes of Jack McKeon, Bobby Cox and Tony Pena roamed the hotel lobby, a few blocks from the city's most lurid street. But those discussions often lead to deals, and a few seemed to be on deck.

Free-agent pitcher Jeff Suppan and St. Louis were hoping to reach an agreement, as were Todd Zeile and Los Angeles.

Also available is slugger Juan Gonzalez. He turned down a trade from Texas to Montreal late last season, and his agent, Alan Nero, said 10 teams had inquired about the oft-injured, two-time AL MVP.

None of the Yankees' top executives were expected in New Orleans for the four-day gathering. But a day after being stung by Andy Pettitte's departure, the team's top decision-makers were busy on the phones trying to finish deals.

Brown gave his tentative approval to the proposed trade that would send him from Los Angeles to the Yankees for Jeff Weaver.

"We've pretty much completed everything we needed to complete with the Dodgers," said the pitcher's agent, Scott Boras. "Now, we're dealing with the Yankees."

The main issue from Brown's standpoint involves airplanes. As part of his Dodgers' contract, the team pays for 12 private jet trips for his family from its home in Macon, Ga., to his in-season home or to selected games and for ground transportation.

"We're just trying to put together a plan for the jet service in his contract with his family," Boras said. "If we get everything worked out, he's consented to go."

Lofton's move to New York also appeared closer as the sides discussed a two-year deal from between $6 million and $6.5 million.

The Blue Jays have been revamping their rotation since the season ended, signing Batista and Pat Hentgen and trading for Ted Lilly.

Batista was 10-9 with a 3.54 ERA for Arizona last season. The Diamondbacks cut him loose earlier this month.

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