–Free agent Jason Giambi met with the Rays on Tuesday and is a candidate to fill their DH slot.
–The Brewers are expected to move to the head of the class in the Brian Fuentes sweepstakes now that free-agent closer Francisco Rodriguez has agreed to terms on a three-year, $37 million contract with the Mets. Fuentes, a free agent, would fill the closer’s role with the Brewers, but the Angels are also expected to pursue him now that they have lost Rodriguez.
–The Rockies are making a strong pitch to sign left-handed reliever Alan Embree as a free agent and are also in the bidding for free-agent lefty reliever Joe Beimel, along with the Reds, Tigers, Mets, and Cardinals.
–The Marlins are trying to trade for Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and sign right-hander Paul Byrd as a free agent. The Rangers, though, don’t seem inclined to deal Salty after trading catcher Gerald Laird to the Tigers on Monday and definitely will not meet the asking price of pitcher Chris Volstad.
–The Dodgers are considering not tendering a contract to closer Takashi Saito by Friday’s deadline, which would make him a free agent.
–The Diamondbacks are getting plenty of offers for catcher Miguel Montero, with the Red Sox showing serious interest; they are also trying to re-sign reserve first baseman Tony Clark.
2:58 p.m. PDT Tuesday
–The Indians have signed off on Kerry Wood’s medical report and will likely announce the signing of the free-agent right-hander either today or Wednesday.
–If the surprising event the Cubs try to trade ace Carlos Zambrano, they will need his permission as he has a full no-trade clause in his contract through 2012.
2:44 p.m. PDT Tuesday
–There is a growing sense around the Bellagio that the Red Sox will land the top hitter on the free-agent market, first baseman Mark Teixeira. It’s unclear if they will agree to terms befor the winter meetings end Thursday.
–The Athletics and free agent first baseman/designated hitter Jason Giambi aren’t as close on a contract as originally reported.
–Davey Johnson is expected to be announced on Wednesday as Team USA manager for next March’s World Baseball Classic. The former Mets, Reds, Orioles and Dodgers manager also guided the United States in the Olympics last summer. Former Astros and Angels manager Terry Collins is expected to manage China in the WBC.
11:20 a.m. PDT Tuesday
–A crazy rumor making the rounds at the Bellagio in Las Vegas is that the Cubs would entertain the idea of possibly trading right-hander Carlos Zambrano in a blockbuster if, as expected, they acquire Padres ace Jake Peavy.
–The trade in which the Orioles will send catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Reds for utility man Ryan Freel is expected to be announced today.
–The Braves have talked to the White Sox about right fielder Jermaine Dye, which would make it easier for them to trade outfielder Jeff Francouer to the Royals.
–The Rockies have interest in Mets set-up reliever Aaron Heilman but will not include reliever Huston Street in a deal.
9:51 a.m. PDT Tuesday
–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.