Dodgers likely parting ways with Gagne
Agent Boras also expects Maddux to head for new location
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Going ... going ...
Eric Gagne isn't completely gone yet and neither is Greg Maddux, but agent Scott Boras has them on the verge of becoming ex-Dodgers.
One day after general manager Ned Colletti indicated the Dodgers wouldn't guarantee significant dollars to Gagne without assurances that he's healthy, agent Scott Boras virtually cut ties on his client's behalf, saying it was "very likely" that Gagne would be signed during the Winter Meetings, which close on Thursday.
"It's been a very aggressive market for Eric," said Boras, who was believed to be seeking around $6 million guaranteed for one year for the former Dodgers closer, who is coming off elbow and back operations. "I've had a number of offers the last couple of days. In this atmosphere, it's very likely during the Winter Meetings he'll be signed."
The Dodgers are believed to offer no more than $1 million guaranteed for Gagne, who began tossing only last week and is still weeks away from throwing off a mound. Gagne is coming off a contract that paid him $19 million over the past two seasons, most of which he spent on the disabled list. One possible destination for Gagne is the Arizona Diamondbacks. He makes his winter home outside Phoenix and the Diamondbacks' president is former Dodgers official Derrick Hall.
Boras said rumors that Maddux had agreed to a contract with the San Diego Padres weren't true, saying only "we're moving positively in a couple directions." Maddux wants to remain in Southern California. The Padres are believed to be ready to guarantee a second year, while the Dodgers are not.
Boras, having just negotiated a five-year, $70 million deal for former Dodger J.D. Drew with the Boston Red Sox, hammered another nail into the coffin of any Manny Ramirez trade, to the Dodgers or anywhere else.
"Logistically, there are so many hurdles, I doubt it would ever happen," said Boras. "In modern times, you rarely see a great player traded, because you'd have to give up a lot of players and because of the rights he has, he has a bigger price tag on his head because he can redo his contract."
Boras also said Atlanta outfielder Andruw Jones, a player the Dodgers have discussed internally for a possible trade, told him he wants to play the 2007 season in Atlanta. Jones, in the final year of his contract, can veto any trade.
Agent Randy Hendricks said on Tuesday there's no timetable for client Jason Schmidt to pick a club, as if the impatient Colletti couldn't already tell.
Colletti wants Schmidt to be his ace, but he wants it yesterday. Their familiarity from years together in San Francisco -- as well as the hiring of Stan Conte, Schmidt's trainer in San Francisco -- hasn't made it happen yet. The hometown Seattle Mariners are also on Schmidt and the Cardinals are as well.
The assumption is that Schmidt, who turns 34 in January, is waiting to slot in behind Barry Zito (another Boras client) on the salary scale, with no telling when Zito will sign. Hendricks said Schmidt has a preference to play for a West Coast team, but wouldn't exclude a decision in favor of one located elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Colletti seems to be accepting that he can't acquire a power bat without emptying the farm system, and he's not willing to do that. What he is willing to do, he won't exactly say.
He said he has interest in free-agent outfielder Luis Gonzalez, but denied claims by Gonzalez's agent, Gregg Clifton, that he had made an offer. Gonzalez is also being pursued by Baltimore and St. Louis, according to Clifton.
"Any of the three, I think he's happy with," Clifton said. "Obviously, Baltimore's very attractive, and Brian Roberts has been his recruiter there. He's spoken to Lou a couple times about what a great city it is, and obviously about some of the moves the Orioles have made. [They've] attracted Lou's interest as a team that wants to improve and is getting better. And from an opportunity standpoint, for him, it looks like it would be a good situation for him to go there.
"I think [staying on the West Coast is] overstated. I think, initially, he did have a desire to stay in the National League West and play against the Diamondbacks multiple times each year. I think, as time goes on, he's realized that that would be nice if it could happen, but it's certainly not the No. 1 priority anymore."
Although Gonzalez slugged 57 home runs in 2001, he plunged to only 15 in 2006, but he also had 52 doubles and scored 93 runs. In keeping with most of Colletti's additions, Gonzalez is considered a model citizen and clubhouse leader.
The Dodgers also are believed to have made a run at Milwaukee outfielder Kevin Mench, as they did at last year's Winter Meetings, when he was coming off a 25-homer season in Texas. He was traded to Milwaukee during the 2006 season, in which he hit only 13 homers. The Brewers are looking for starting pitching, so Mark Hendrickson could be a trade candidate.
The Rangers have asked the Dodgers about outfielder Jason Repko, whose fast start last year was derailed by a badly sprained ankle. The teams could be a trade match, as the Rangers have a surplus of middle relievers.
Mike Lieberthal underwent a physical exam on Tuesday, but the Dodgers are holding off on announcing his signing as the backup catcher while they continue attempts to trade Toby Hall.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.