DANA POINT, Calif. — Baseball general managers began an offseason of economic uncertainty when they gathered Monday for their annual meeting — at the same posh resort where AIG executives convened following the company’s government bailout in September, drawing criticism from Rep. Henry Waxman.

Walking past a circular lobby area with sculpted plants, intricate stone floors and glass artwork at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, the GMs prepared for feeling each other out about potential trades and meeting with agents touting their free-agent clients. While baseball is coming off a season of record $6.5 billion revenue, some teams are worried the go-go years might be over and still have not set final payroll budgets for next season.

“I know we’re sensitive to the softness of the economy and frankly are taking it into account as we do our planning for next season,” Arizona Diamondbacks chief executive officer Jeff Moorad said. “We’re bullish about next season on the one hand, but we recognize that especially on the corporate partnership side, that there could be some direct impact.”

GMs can’t start talking money with free agents from other teams until Nov. 14, and the offseason maneuvering is unlikely to pick up speed until the winter meetings are held in Las Vegas from Dec. 8-11.

CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Francisco Rodriguez highlight the potential free-agent pitchers, and Manny Ramirez and Mark Teixeira top the available hitters.

The Milwaukee Brewers have opened up the bidding for Sabathia.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said Monday that the team made a contract proposal to Sabathia over the weekend, but wasn’t willing to discuss terms of the offer or assess the team’s chances of keeping its prize pitcher.

“It’s in their hands,” Melvin said. “He hasn’t really had a chance to talk with other teams.”

Sabathia, who went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA for Milwaukee after he was traded from Cleveland on July 7, filed for free agency over the weekend and is expected to draw interest from big-market teams who could outbid the Brewers. His new deal could top Johan Santana’s $137.5 million, six-year contract with the New York Mets.


BLUE JAYS: Toronto made a pair of waiver pickups, claiming right-hander Kelvin Jimenez from the St. Louis Cardinals and shortstop Angel Sanchez from the Kansas City Royals.

RANGERS: Mike Maddux was hired as Texas pitching coach after spending six seasons in the same role for Milwaukee and turning down an offer to stay with the Brewers. Maddux will oversee a Texas pitching staff that had a 5.37 ERA this season, worst in the major leagues. The Brewers, who won the NL wild card, had a 3.85 mark that was second-best in the National League and their lowest since 1992.

RAYS: The AL champion Tampa Bay Rays on Monday declined contract options for next season on designated hitter Cliff Floyd and relief pitcher Trever Miller. The Rays also announced backup catcher Michel Hernandez cleared waivers and was sent outright to Class AAA Durham.

ROYALS: Miguel Olivo and Kansas City exercised mutual contract options keeping the catcher with Kansas City. Olivo batted .255 with 12 homers, 22 doubles and 41 RBIs in 84 games this season. The Royals picked up his $2.7 million option for next year rather than pay him a $100,000 buyout.

NATIONALS: Washington and the Chicago Cubs traded minor league pitchers Monday, with Washington getting right-hander Matt Avery and Chicago acquiring lefty Ryan Buchter. Avery, a 25-year-old reliever, spent time at Class A Daytona (1-1, 1.17 ERA in five appearances) and Class AA Tennessee (4-2, 4.46 ERA in 32 appearances) in 2008. Buchter was 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in four games in rookie ball, and 2-2 with a 3.26 ERA in 13 relief appearances at Class A Hagerstown.

MARLINS: Left-hander Dan Meyer was claimed off waivers by Florida after going 0-4 with an ERA of 7.48 in 11 games this year with the Oakland Athletics.

PADRES: Jim Lefebvre and Ted Simmons were added to the San Diego Padres’ coaching staff. Lefebvre was promoted to hitting coach from minor league hitting consultant, a job he had held since April 2006. Simmons, an eight-time All-Star catcher, was hired as bench coach on manager Bud Black’s staff.

PHILLIES: Ruben Amaro Jr. signed a three-year contract to become general manager of Philadelphia a quarter-century after he was handing lumber to Hall of Famers Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton as a starry-eyed bat boy. Amaro just completed his 10th season as assistant Phillies GM and replaces the retiring Pat Gillick, who will remain with the team as an adviser. The team announced the move five days after beating the Tampa Bay Rays its second title in franchise history.

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