While BP’s not at the GM meetings, our sources are, so here’s some notes from today’s calls:
* Alex Rodriguez isn’t headed anywhere yet, but he can cross Miami off his list. He’s not one to give a hometown discount and Jeffrey Loria’s not raising payroll. That means that one of the team’s big two is gone and everyone’s expecting it to be Miguel Cabrera. “He’s at the end of his time at 3B,” the baseball source told me, “but he’s still good enough to play 1B. They won’t get quite as much as [Jon Daniels] did for Mark Teixeira, but they’re looking for a different payoff.” The rumored asking price is three players - one pitcher and position player that are under three years of service time and “solid ink-’em-in guys.” The other would be a “plus prospect, not the best guy on the team, but useful. The Marlins will probably look for a slugger.”
* As for Rodriguez, it’s hard to believe anything between the hype and the anti-hype. Once he signs the expected deal, he may take over the most hated player role worn so well by Barry Bonds for a decade. As with most discussions like this, teams are trying hard not to bite, but owners … well, there’s a couple out there that would love to make a splash.
* Instant replay for “boundary plays” - fair or foul, HR or not - was given the thumbs up by GMs. The recommendation will be taken up by owners, though there’s been little discussion of implementation or timeframes. Expect proposals to center on a fifth umpire in the booth who can review calls when asked by umps on the field for help rather than an NFL-style challenge. One source said the biggest problem is play continuation. “If there’s a close play - a ball near the line - how do we handle that? Do we play it out? Do umps err on the side of ‘fair’ because now they can take it back? Time is also a big, big concern.”
* Not many baseball fans know who Jimmie Lee Solomon is, but they will. Solomon is sometimes mentioned as a possible successor to Bud Selig, but several sources mention that Solomon is much more likely to follow the Sandy Alderson path, moving to a team executive role a la Frank Coonelly.
* Several sources indicate that a couple possible free agents, including Curt Schilling and Mariano Rivera, are likely to sign with their teams before the exclusive bargaining window is closed. Rivera’s name was a bit of a surprise but one source told me that “once [Joe] Torre went to LA where they didn’t need a closer, Rivera got to be Andy Pettitte real quick. Both of those guys are Yankees or retire. Rivera saw what they did to Bernie Williams. He won’t wait.”
* There seems to be more sellers than buyers right now on the trade market. That’s a big shift from deadlines and off-seasons past and could hold prices down. A media member told me, “one AGM told me that they were bargaining for a top Rule 5 slot. When have you ever heard that before … the day before the draft?” I’m sure everyone’s looking for the next Josh Hamilton or Dan Uggla.
* Never thought you’d see Don Mattingly in anything other than pinstripes? I guess that’s like seeing Mike Scioscia in Angels red instead of Dodger blue, huh? Yes, Mattingly is now once again Torre’s heir apparent.