NY Mets won’t bid on A-Rod

  • LARRY LaRUE / The News Tribune
  • Friday, December 8, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

By LARRY LaRUE

The News Tribune

DALLAS – Minutes after agent Scott Boras insisted on Friday that there were eight teams pushing hard to land free agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez, New York Mets general manager Steve Phillips said his team wasn’t one of them – and wouldn’t be.

Asked whether the Mets were among A-Rod’s suitors, Boras told an impromptu news conference that he’d “hold the door open” for their re-entry into the bidding.

Phillips’ response was terse: “We’re out and we won’t be back in.”

Not even if Boras called to say Rodriguez, the top player on the free agent market, wanted to be a Met?

“We’re out of it, period,” Phillips said. “We’re going after pitching.”

Whatever Boras’ list of eight teams consists of, apparently the Mets, Rockies and Dodgers aren’t on it.

Prior to the start of baseball’s winter meetings on Friday, Rodriguez had met with Seattle, Texas, Colorado and Atlanta. Los Angeles and the Chicago White Sox are also believed to be interested.

One Los Angeles executive said at the winter meetings Friday that the team wouldn’t bid for the shortstop, and a Rockies official said Colorado never got the feeling A-Rod was seriously interested in them.

“When he visited Denver it was like he couldn’t have cared less,” the Rockies official said. “Everybody noticed. We’re not in this thing.”

The Seattle Mariners, however, are, and GM Pat Gillick said he and Boras would meet again this weekend. Late Friday evening Boras met again with Texas Rangers GM Doug Melvin.

“No progress,” Melvin said, “but we’ll meet again. We’re still in the equation.”

To listen to Boras, it sounds as if A-Rod is no closer to a decision today than he was the day he walked out of the Mariners clubhouse in October.

“We haven’t eliminated anyone, we haven’t begun the decision process,” Boras said. “We’ve been gathering information. Now we’re going to begin the second round of meetings, then the third.

“I don’t build clubs, I can’t tell them what to do. I can tell the direction they have to go if they want Alex, and then they make the decision. That’s how the process works. It’s too early in the process to project a front-runner.”

Still, Boras said, Rodriguez could sign with someone before the winter meetings end.

“Monday is a possibility. We’ve had quite a few offers, now we’re going to begin negotiating,” Boras said.

“You can’t compare Alex to anyone else. Our game has not seen a player like this as a free agent. He hits like a slugger – a great slugger – and is athletic enough to play a difficult position superbly.”

Rodriguez hit .316 with 41 homers and 132 RBI last season for Seattle. He also committed only 10 errors in 148 games at shortstop.

“There aren’t comparable players,” Boras said. “You want to compare Alex, you have to go back in baseball history.”

And Rodriguez expects to be paid like nobody else, Boras has often said. Paid higher than free agent pitcher Mike Hampton? The left-handed former Mariner bolted from the Mets to Colorado Friday for the largest contract in major league history, an eight-year deal worth $121 million if he passes a physical.

That figure may pale in comparison to what Rodriguez will get.

“Hampton has set the ceiling for starting pitchers,” Boras said. “But Hampton’s signing doesn’t impact Alex Rodriguez at all. That ceiling hasn’t been set yet.”

Rodriguez could wind up with a deal worth $200 million or more for 10 years – further driving up baseball’s salary structure.

  • Trade winds? Seattle has five veteran outfielders on its roster: Ichiro Suzuki, Mike Cameron, Al Martin, Jay Buhner and Stan Javier. Manager Lou Piniella said it won’t be easy getting all of them at-bats and playing time. GM Pat Gillick might have an answer to that: All five may not be with the team by the time spring training begins. Could something along those lines happen here in Dallas? “It could happen,” Gillick said. If the Mariners move an outfielder, it figures to be Martin or Javier.
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