Hot Stove: Braves, Bucs still talking
Yankees no longer part of three-way rumor involving closer
The on-again, off-again trade talks between the Pirates and the Braves may be on again, although the Yankees are no longer involved. It has been reported that Pittsburgh has interest in Atlanta first baseman Adam LaRoche and that the Braves have interest in Pirates reliever Mike Gonzalez, but not as a straight-up deal.
That's where the Yankees came in, but the New York Post reported that they will not give up both left fielder Melky Cabrera and reliever Scott Proctor for Gonzalez. The Braves' concern over Gonzalez's health (he did not pitch in September because of an ailing left elbow) makes them uneasy in giving up LaRoche without getting another player in the deal.
The Beaver County Times reported that the Pirates were unwilling to include left-handed starter Paul Maholm in the swap but could satisfy Atlanta if they were to include either second baseman Jose Castillo or center fielder Chris Duffy. The Times also said that the Pirates rejected a Red Sox offer for Gonzalez of center fielder Coco Crisp and infielder Eric Hinske.
The Pirates had also set their sights on free-agent pitcher Jeff Suppan and could not have been tickled over news that the Brewers and the Mets both recently met with the post-season hero. Citing a source familiar with the negotiations, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and general manager Doug Melvin met in Los Angeles on Tuesday with Scott Leventhal, the agent for Suppan.
ESPN.com reported that Suppan has two four-year offers on the table, including one from Milwaukee, and also that Mets officials met in southern California with Leventhal after an earlier meeting with Barry Zito's agent, Scott Boras. The Brewers are pursuing Suppan to fill out a starting rotation that already consists of Ben Sheets, Chris Capuano, Dave Bush and Claudio Vargas.
The Mets' interest in Suppan is likely a fall-back move if they can't land Zito. It also lets Boras know they are serious about not going more than five years or $75 million for Zito. Suppan's 44-26 record (.629) over the past three seasons is superior to that of Zito's 41-34 (.547).
Boras was busy telling The Associated Press that another of his clients, outfielder J.D. Drew, has no ailment that would keep the Red Sox from finalizing the five-year, $70 million contract. The Boston Herald and The Boston Globe have reported that the Red Sox had concerns following Drew's physical two weeks ago. The Red Sox have declined comment as the sides maintain they are working through language issues in the deal.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Twins continue to negotiate with right-hander Sidney Ponson.
The Nationals signed catcher Robert Fick to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. If he makes the Opening Day roster, Fick will make $850,000, matching his salary in '06. Manager Manny Acta plans to use Fick in the outfield and at first base as well as behind the plate.
The Miami Herald reported that the Marlins signed infielder Joe Dillon and right-hander reliever Rich Dorman to Minor League contracts with invitations to big-league camp. The Herald also said that veteran reliever Antonio Alfonseca would have interest in pitching for the Marlins.
The Tigers were rumored interested in Luke Scott, but the Astros are not trading any more outfielders after yielding Willy Taveras in the Jason Jennings trade with the Rockies. Contrary to rumors, Houston's interest in infielder Mark Loretta is, according to a team source, only marginal.
Jack O'Connell is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.