On Friday, the Mariners had a face-to-face meeting with first baseman Carlos Delgado, who stopped by on his way to a prize fight in Las Vegas. Yesterday, they met with Richie Sexson...
ANAHEIM, Calif. On Friday, the Mariners had a face-to-face meeting with first baseman Carlos Delgado, who stopped by on his way to a prize fight in Las Vegas.
Yesterday, they met with Richie Sexson, the towering first baseman who arrived at the winter meetings from the Portland/Vancouver, Wash., area with his agent, Casey Close, largely to reassure prospective teams about the status of his left shoulder.
And the Mariners had talks yesterday with the agent for Corey Koskie, the former Twins third baseman.
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Whether any of those sessions will culminate in a Seattle contract remains to be seen, as negotiations on multiple fronts continued into the late evening.
There was speculation that Koskie was approaching a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, who are reportedly willing to go up to $20 million for three years. Such a signing could throw the Mariners more seriously into dealing with third baseman Adrian Beltre, whose agent, Scott Boras, is reportedly seeking a seven-year contract.
By all accounts, the Mariners are ready to make a deal, and are growing increasingly frustrated with being put off.
The Mariners lost out on one free-agent target when pitcher Carl Pavano picked the Yankees, despite a Seattle offer believed to be equal to or slightly greater than New York’s. Pavano instructed his agent, Scott Shapiro, to finalize a contract with Yankees GM Brian Cashman. The two sides were closing in on a four-year, $39 million contract, and the Mariners were proceeding as if Pavano is now off the table.
“We felt there was one (pitcher) we had to make a good run on,” said Mariners GM Bill Bavasi. “He would have been a good fit, and we worked hard on that.”
The possibility was raised yesterday that another pitcher in whom the Mariners had interest, Jaret Wright, might return to the market. There was rampant speculation that Wright, who has undergone two shoulder operations, had failed a physical examination conducted by the New York Yankees. Last week, Wright reached agreement with the Yankees on a three-year, $21 million contract.
If Wright returned to the market, the Mariners would almost certainly be inclined to at least investigate with their own medical staff. But there was late word yesterday that the Yankees had resolved their concerns over Wright with a second physical and would proceed with the deal.
The Mariners contacted Craig Landis, Wright’s agent, yesterday for an update, but Bavasi wouldn’t comment on the situation.
“I haven’t seen anything official, so I don’t want to mess around with that,” he said. “He’s still a Yankees’ reserved player.”
As the Mariners had suspected all along, geography was a major factor in Pavano’s decision, said Shapiro. Pavano grew up in Connecticut and has homes in Florida and Montreal. “Seattle had everything going for it,” Shapiro said. “The only reason Carl isn’t going to Seattle is the fact it isn’t near his hometown, and it isn’t on the East Coast. They bent over backwards. The Mariners are one of the best organizations in baseball, and they’re definitely making moves to become more competitive.”
Just if and when those moves will come to fruition is an open question. According to sources, the Baltimore Orioles were confident that they will be able to complete a deal with Sexson. But a Mariners official said they felt good about their chances, too. Close was meeting with five teams yesterday, and said he had no timetable for a decision.
The Mariners’ parallel pursuit of Delgado could be an issue with Sexson, considered an outstanding defensive first baseman. Close said Sexson would be willing to move to left field “only if the person playing there (first base) was a proven major-league All-Star, such as someone like Carlos. I don’t think it’s necessarily a first option.”
Later, Close said that Sexson preferred to sign with a team where he would play first base, rather than the outfield. Close said that Sexson is “100 percent” healthy after shoulder surgery last June, but said that he is not willing to include contractual safeguards to assuage concerns of a relapse. “I don’t think that’s necessary,” Close said. “I think he’ll be able to clearly demonstrate his health.”
As for Delgado, the Mariners are likely to have another meeting today with his agent, David Sloane, who declined comment.
According to one report, the Mariners had put forward an offer of four years, $44 million for Delgado. A surprise team, Boston, is believed to have expressed interest in Delgado, which could greatly alter his asking price.
One report had the Mariners interested in Atlanta center fielder Andruw Jones, who is still owed $39.5 million over the next three years by the Braves. “That’s not going to happen,” said a Mariners executive.
The Mariners will be temporarily operating today without Bavasi, who will leave in the late afternoon to attend his father’s 90th birthday celebration in La Jolla, near San Diego. Emil “Buzzie” Bavasi was a longtime executive with the Dodgers, Angels and Padres.
Boston’s David Ortiz was honored as the American League’s top DH, now officially known as The Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.