–The Cubs seem ready to finish a trade for Padres ace Jake Peavy with either the Orioles or Phillies serving as the third team. If the deal goes down with the Orioles involved, the Cubs would send center fielder Felix Pie to Baltimore, the Orioles would ship pitcher Garrett Olson to Chicago, and the Padres would likely wind up with pitchers Sean Marshall and Kevin Hart, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, and third-base prospect Josh Vitters from the Cubs. The Phillies have also got involved in the talks and could make it a four-team deal because they would like to land Mark DeRosa from the Cubs to fill in for second baseman Chase Utley early in the season while he recovers from hip surgery, then shift the former Penn quarterback to left field to take the place of free agent Pat Burrell. The Padres also like Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ and catching prospect Lou Marson. The Phillies’ backup plan for left field would be to try to sign free agent Raul Ibanez.
–Free-agent closer Francisco Rodriguez happened to be on the same elevator as I came down to the press room from my room this morning at the Bellagio but I couldn’t get him to spill the beans on his plans. However, reports are circulating that he has agreed in principle to a three-year, $37 million contract with the Mets. We shall see if something is announced today.
–While the Indians quickly bowed out of the Rodriguez’s sweepstakes, they are continuing to search for a closer and now have their sights set on free agent Kerry Wood. The Tigers also have targeted Wood if they are unable to trade for Mariners closer J.J. Putz.
–If the Braves are unsuccessful in their pursuit of free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett, they are considering trading for the Royals’ Zack Greinke, with outfielder Jeff Francouer being the primary bait. The Braves also have interest in Pirates left-hander Paul Maholm.
–Jason Giambi appears headed back to the Athletics as a free agent, and an announcement could come at the meetings as the first baseman/designated hitter lives in Las Vegas.
–Free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal may regret turning down a four-year, $35 million offer from the Athletics last week, as it seems no other team is willing to go that high on him. If Furcal’s price drops, the Dodgers could re-enter the picture and re-sign him, although the Blue Jays and Indians have also expressed interest in recent days.
–The Cardinals are pursuing free-agent left-hander Randy Wolf.
–The Rays have at least some interest in signing free agent Garret Anderson to be their designated hitter.
-The Red Sox have joined the Blue Jays in the pursuit of free-agent pitcher Carl Pavano.
6:10 p.m. PDT Monday
–Add the Astros’ Miguel Tejada to the list of shortstops the Twins have an interest in acquiring.
–Carl Pavano, after being a bust with the Yankees, is nevertheless drawing interest, and the Blue Jays are one of the clubs in pursuit. He would be reunited in Toronto with Brad Arnsberg, his pitching coach with the Marlins.
–Add Ben Sheets to the list of free agents who have shown up at the Bellagio to meet with various clubs. The Rangers are interested, and the Astros would like to sign him if they can clear Tejada’s salary.
–The Dodgers appear close to re-signing free-agent third baseman Casey Blake.
–The Royals are talking to free-agent relievers Brandon Lyon and Kyle Farnsworth in an effort to restock their bullpen after trading Leo Nunez to the Marlins for Mike Jacobs and Ramon Ramirez to the Red Sox for Coco Crisp.
3:28 p.m., PDT Monday
–A number of players have decided to make an appearance at the Winter Meetings. Among those spotted in the lobby of the Bellagio here in Las Vegas on Monday were a pair of free agents, infielder Nick Punto and outfielder Milton Bradley, as well as Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson. Bradley had lunch with members of Rays management; the defending American League champions are looking for a right fielder and a designated hitter.
–The Astros claimed reliever Jeff Fulchino off of waivers from the Royals.
–I neglected to mention this earlier today, but Greg Maddux made an interesting comment when he officially announced his retirment earlier today. When asked what he was going to miss, the first word out of his mouth was “fun,” which almost gets forgotten anymore in all sports.
Maddux also said that if he was granted the power to change the game, he would not change anything. “It’s pretty much the perfect game already,” he said.
I’ll have more on Maddux tomorrow in On The Beat.
2:53 p.m. PDT Monday
–A baseball person very familiar with free-agent CC Sabathia’s thinking believes the left-hander does not want to sign with the Yankees or Red Sox and instead prefers to either remain with the Brewers or return to his native California and sign with either the Dodgers or Giants so he can stay in the National League.
–The Tribune Company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday but Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said he has been told that will have no bearing on how he can conduct business. The Cubs continue to pursue Padres ace Jake Peavy and look for a left-handed hitter to play right field.
–The Twins are said to be willing to deal left fielder Delmon Young for a shortstop and two potential trade targets are Phillies prospect Jason Donald and Pirates veteran Jack Wilson.
–Now that the Rangers have traded catcher Gerald Laird, the greatly hyped Jarrod Saltalamacchia will get his chance to be the everyday guy behind the plate next season.
1:06 p.m. PDT Monday
–Left-hander CC Sabathia is here at the Bellagio meeting with various teams pursuing the prize of this year’s free-agent crop. Sabathia could be seen walking through the lobby with three friends that he dwarfed. It would seem he should be their bodyguards instead of vice versa.
I can’t help but wonder what will wind up being more expensive, Sabathia or tickets to ”O”, the Cirque de Soleil show here at the Bellagio. In an effort to keep Mrs. P happy while I do this baseball thing the next four days, we dropped $320 on a pair of tickts on Sunday night.
–The first trade of the winter meetings came as the Tigers acquried catcher Gerald Laird from the Rangers for two pitching prospects, including one on the 40-man roster, right-hander Guillermo Moscoso.
–Joe Gordon was the only player elected to the Hall of Fame by the two Veterans Committees on Monday. The second baseman played in nine All-Star Games and five World Series during his career with the Yankees and Indians from 1938-43 and 1946-50. He received 83.3 percent of the vote and 75 percent was required for election.
8:17 p.m. Pacific Time Sunday
–Las Vegas isn’t just a mecca for gamblers (my Florida minus-2 gambit against Florida State failed in college hoops tonight) but closers, too. Free-agent closers Francisco Rodriguez, Brian Fuentes, and Trevor Hoffman are all in town to meet face-to-face with clubs, and there is talk Kerry Wood might make an appearance as well between the time the meetings officially open Monday and end Thursday. Look for Mets GM Omar Minaya to run up quite the entertainment bill for the Wilpons, as he plans on taking both Rodriguez and Fuentes to dinner.
–A wild rumor making the rounds is that the Rays might replace the Orioles as the third team to facilitate a trade that would send ace starter Jake Peavy from the Padres to the Cubs. Reportedly, the Rays would acquire veteran Brian Giles from the Padres to play right field. However, that seems doubtful, as Giles is a native San Diegan and has no desire to waive his no-trade clause. Regardless of how it shakes out, Padres GM Kevin Towers is determined to get five players back in any deal, and the Orioles want both center fielder Felix Pie and shortstop Ronny Cedeno from the Cubs in any deal.
–The Tigers have cooled off from their pursuit of Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson, and would now prefer to instead use four-corners player Jeff Larish as one of the chips to try to acquire Mariners closer J.J. Putz in a trade. The Tigers feel shortstop Adam Everett is the equivalent of Wilson and they can acquire him more cheaply as a free agent without giving up any players in return.