Rodriguez trade talks continue

Posted: Wednesday, December 17, 2003

The Alex Rodriguez trade talks reached a ''sensitive'' stage while a possible deal to send Omar Vizquel back to Seattle hit a major snag Tuesday on a yet another busy day of baseball maneuvering.

A day after the winter meetings wrapped up, it was hard to tell the session ever ended. Mark Redman, Reggie Sanders, Jose Guillen and Michael Barrett were on the move and New York made plans to introduce Gary Sheffield at Yankee Stadium.

But the biggest deal of all remained the potential blockbuster between Texas and Boston Rodriguez for Manny Ramirez. With so much money involved, all sides are getting involved.

Rodriguez, the AL MVP, and Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein got together with Gene Orza, the No. 2 official at the players' union.

''I did meet with A-Rod and Theo today,'' Orza said. ''But I'm not going to discuss the substance of the discussions.''

Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks is trying to work out the trade directly with Red Sox owner John Henry.

''At this time negotiations are at a sensitive point,'' Hicks said in a statement. ''Due to this fact, we will have no further comment on this situation today.''

Said Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras: ''They're moving and plodding along.''

If the Red Sox get Rodriguez, there's been speculation they would then trade Nomar Garciaparra. Early whispers had him going to either the Dodgers or Angels, although there were indications those teams may not actively seek him.

Instead, there was talk the Red Sox might package Garciaparra with pitchers Scott Williamson and Byung-Hyun Kim and send him to the Chicago White Sox for star outfielder Magglio Ordonez.

Earlier in the day, Cleveland and Seattle agreed on deal that would send Vizquel to the Mariners for Carlos Guillen in a swap of shortstops, a baseball source told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

But for the trade to become final, Vizquel had to pass a physical. And after going through tests Tuesday at Safeco Field, he was told he'd failed. He had two surgeries on his right knee last season.

''They called me about an hour ago, and told me that I didn't pass the test on my knee,'' Vizquel told ''It was kind of a shock. I was really looking forward to coming back and playing for the Mariners.''

Vizquel, 36, spent five seasons in Seattle and was among the team's most popular players. The defensive whiz is a nine-time Gold Glove winner and still lives in the Seattle area despite being traded to the Indians 10 years ago.

Florida traded Redman to Oakland for reliever Mike Neu in yet another offseason move by the World Series champions. The Marlins will also receive another player or cash to complete the deal.

Redman was 14-9 with a 3.59 ERA last season for the Marlins. Since winning the championship, they have traded first baseman Derrek Lee and outfielder Juan Encarnacion and parted ways with catcher Ivan Rodriguez and closer Ugueth Urbina.

Oakland also traded Barrett to the Cubs just a day after acquiring him from Montreal. The A's will receive a player to be named from Chicago.

Barrett, 27, batted .208 with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs during a season full of injuries.

''When healthy, I feel like I can be as good as any catcher out there,'' he said. ''The good thing is I'm relatively young and I still feel like I have room to grow.''

St. Louis announced its signings of Sanders and pitcher Jeff Suppan.

Sanders joined his seventh team in seven seasons, agreeing to a $6 million, two-year contract. The Cardinals needed an outfielder after trading J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero to Atlanta.

Sanders, 36, hit 31 home runs last season for Pittsburgh.

''My kids are like, 'Dad, what team are you going to play for next year?''' Sanders said. ''They're used to it.''

Suppan also got a $6 million, two-year deal. He was 13-11 with a 4.19 ERA last year for Pittsburgh and Boston and has pitched at least 200 innings for five straight years.

''He is a guy that will definitely add some quality innings to our rotation,'' GM Walt Jocketty said. ''It's likely that you are not going to sign a more consistent performer.''

Guillen said he had signed with the Anaheim Angels. The free agent outfielder split last season with Oakland and Cincinnati, and he hit .455 in the AL playoffs despite playing with a broken left hand.

Guillen's deal is for two years and worth about $6 million.

''I wanted a contract guaranteeing several years with one team, and that's the most important thing. I'm thrilled to be part of the Angels, a team that won the World Series just a year ago,'' he said in the Dominican Republic.

Boston did made one deal for an infielder, getting Mark Bellhorn from the Colorado Rockies for a player to be named.

Bellhorn, 29, is a career .230 hitter with 36 homers and 106 RBIs in 371 games with Oakland, the Cubs and Colorado.

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