A-Rod bidding still in limbo

  • Saturday, November 18, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

Herald news services

The fallout is still falling from the Mets’ decision to abandon their pursuit of shortstop Alex Rodriguez.

Scott Boras, the agent for Rodriguez, denied, denied and denied again that he had told Mets general manager Steve Phillips that Rodriguez would have to get some novel perks, like a team-supplied marketing staff and more New York City billboard space than Derek Jeter, along with the most money any baseball player has ever been paid.

But another agent, who praised Boras’ efforts for his clients, said, “Other teams have given me the impression Scott has said those things to them.”

The image of the image-conscious Rodriguez took a severe beating in the explanation Phillips gave for withdrawing from the chase. For the first time in his career, Rodriguez looked selfish and greedy, traits no one ever associated with him in Seattle.

A request to Boras for an interview with Rodriguez was denied. “I’ve had 150 requests for interviews,” the agent said.

An associate of Rodriguez’s said he had heard from people in baseball that the Mets had other reasons for taking the step they did: negotiations for the star free agent would take too long for them to be able to achieve their other off-season goals, and once they got into the Rodriguez pursuit their fans would not allow them to drop out and they would be forced to do whatever it took to sign him. No truth to that explanation, the Mets said.

Asked if he was disappointed that the Mets were out of the negotiations, Boras said, “I didn’t know what the Mets’ plan was.”

Meanwhile, he said, he continues the meeting and negotiating process. Rodriguez has met with the owners of some clubs, Boras said, and they have been impressed with him.

“The Mets ownership didn’t even have that meeting,” he added. “They didn’t cross that bridge before they acted.”

With the Mets out, the Atlanta Braves would seem to be the most likely club to sign Rodriguez, though they might balk at paying $20 million to $25 million a year.

  • Deal for Taubensee may set off chain reaction: It was the tiny ripple that might produce a tidal wave. Everyone had been waiting for the first piece of the free agent puzzle to fall into place, but who would have thought it would be Eddie Taubensee – who is not even a free agent at all. Despite Taubensee’s modest credentials, the ripple effect from that trade could be huge.

    When the Cleveland Indians acquired Taubensee from the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday for two pitchers, it all but signaled the end of Sandy Alomar Jr.’s career in Cleveland. Alomar, 34, has rejected the Indians’ most recent offer for $6.5 million over three years, and the Indians are not going to go higher, preferring to let the younger Einar Diaz start, with Taubensee backing him up.

    But the larger issue for Cleveland is whether the move has upset Roberto Alomar, Sandy’s brother, enough to force a trade. The Indians already are known to have discussed a deal that would send Alomar and Dave Burba to the Toronto Blue Jays for lefty David Wells and Raul Mondesi.

    Such a move would almost certainly take the Indians out of the running for both Manny Ramirez and Mike Mussina, two of the most sought-after players on the market. In turn, this would free them to choose from among the best offers from a select handful of teams, including the New York Yankees, New York Mets and Boston Red Sox.

    With Mussina signed – and many in the industry believe he will be among the first to do so – lefty Mike Hampton could then sign with the Atlanta Braves or the St. Louis Cardinals. With Ramirez signed, consolation prizes such as Ellis Burks and Jeffrey Hammonds can choose from among the runners-up.

  • Ramirez judges the market: Manny Ramirez wanted to remain with the Cleveland Indians but not badly enough to give them a discount. That is why he turned down their offer of $119 million for seven years. The offer included a significant amount of deferred money that reduced its present-day value to $14 million to $15 million a year from $17 million.

    Jeff Moorad, the outfielder’s agent, declined to discuss the offer but said, “Manny and I have made a judgment that his market is stronger and more significant than the Indians organization believes.”

  • Trade talk: Newspaper reports said the Toronto Blue Jays would be trading David Wells and Raul Mondesi to Cleveland for Roberto Alomar and Dave Burba.

    “One of the distasteful parts of this business,” said Gord Ash, the Blue Jays’ general manager, said, “is players’ names being bandied around in public with no substance to it. It’s disruptive to the club and to the player and his family.”

    Ash said he and John Hart, his Cleveland counterpart, had a “very casual conversation” at the general managers meetings but added, “No proposals were made and no conversation was held along that direction.”

    Ash was riled even further by the reports. “It was written here as a salary dump,” he said. “I can tell you categorically, we are not in a salary dump mode. If we trade a high-priced player, it will be a baseball move, not anything to do with salary consideration.”

  • Th e other free agent shortstop named Alex: Shortstop Alex Gonzalez, whom several teams have targeted as a fallback in case they don’t get Alex Rodriguez, is seeking $7 million annually for at least four years. He made $3.025 million in 2000.

  • Closer available: Dan Horwits, the agent for left-handed reliever John Franco, said he has received four offers for the former Mets closer. Although a set-up man for Armando Benitez this season, Franco wants to close again. “If he leaves the Mets,” Horwits said, “it will be as a closer.”

    Horwits said the Orioles were not one of the teams who have made an offer, but he has spoken with them extensively about Kevin Appier, one of as many as a half-dozen starting pitchers whom the Orioles have discussed.

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