The Red Sox may have made headlines, but don't get carried away
anticipating more deals on the order of the Curt Schilling trade.
Rumors about such stars as Alex Rodriguez, Mike Piazza or Manny
Ramirez being dealt this winter are overblown. Unless the Rangers
decide they'd rather have Ramirez and the $95 million obligation
that's due the petulant slugger over the next five years, A-Rod
isn't going anywhere. And reports of Piazza's discontent in New
York appear to be greatly exaggerated. Still, with numerous teams
looking to lower their payrolls and an unprecedented 210 free
agents available, an unusually large number of elite players are
going to be relocating in the coming weeks--at considerable cost,
of course. That group won't include Andy Pettitte (Yankees) or
Ivan Rodriguez (Marlins), but it will include these players,
whose new homes can be found on our free-agent wheel of fortune.
Baltimore is ready to spend serious cash this winter, and team
vice president Jim Beattie knows the Expos' prize rightfielder
well from his days as G.M. in Montreal.
The Padres want a veteran to mentor their young starters. Who
better to play Obi-Wan than the Braves' 37-year-old righthander,
who already has a home in the San Diego area?
Baltimore would love to have the Marlins' Ivan Rodriguez, but the
33-year-old Lopez, who's coming off a superb season (.328, 43 home
runs, 109 RBIs), is a more cost-effective option.
The 30-year-old righthander wants at least a four-year deal, an
affordable commitment for New York, which is also pursuing a trade
for Expos ace Javier Vazquez (3.24 ERA last year).
The A's can't afford the 2002 AL MVP shortstop, who slumped to a
.278 average last year, and hitting-starved Seattle's first
priority is to upgrade the left side of its infield.
The Braves' star wants to wear pinstripes, according to his uncle
(and Yankees minor league pitching coach) Doc Gooden, and
rightfield in the Bronx has been a black hole for years.
The Phillies are shy about giving the righthander the five-year
deal he wants, while Atlanta will have spending money and a hole
in its rotation if it loses Maddux and Sheffield.
A perfect match: Los Angeles needs to fill a hole at short-stop
and offers a nice cultural fit for Japan's 28-year-old star, who
has hit better than .300 for seven straight years.