The Mariners lost one of their potential offensive targets yesterday when free-agent infielder Troy Glaus signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but general manager Bill Bavasi...
ANAHEIM, Calif. The Mariners lost one of their potential offensive targets yesterday when free-agent infielder Troy Glaus signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but general manager Bill Bavasi was hardly dismayed.
Asked if the M’s would now move harder down other paths, he replied, “We were anyway.”
There was confirmation yesterday from a baseball source that the club has made an offer, reportedly significant, to third baseman Adrian Beltre, one of the jewels of the free-agent marketplace.
In concert with their serious play for first baseman Carlos Delgado, the M’s insist they aren’t just paying lip service to improving the team’s offense.
“If they’re one of the better players, we’ll be in on them,” Bavasi said. “There’s probably not a lot of guys you can’t mention.”
That includes pitcher Carl Pavano, whose agent, Scott Shapiro, yesterday rated the M’s as “legitimate contenders, without question” to land the 18-game winner.
Bavasi, before arriving at the Marriott Hotel here for the start of baseball’s winter meetings, yesterday had a long business breakfast with Shapiro, during which the two discussed proposals, according to the GM.
“They’ve expressed significant interest in Carl,” Shapiro said. “I had a great meeting with Bill.”
Pavano spent two days in Seattle earlier this week, then canceled his Angels visit in Anaheim to fly to Montreal to continue his workout regimen. Shapiro said Pavano’s Seattle trip made an extremely favorable impression on his client, and that Pavano was scheduled to talk by phone with Bavasi yesterday.
Shapiro said that Pavano’s decision would be made soon, but added, “He’s under no timetable. He’ll make the decision when he’s 100 percent comfortable with it.”
The Mariners’ ongoing pursuit of Pavano might reflect the winnowing of the pitching market after several starters in whom they were said to have interest, including Jaret Wright and Jon Lieber, signed with other clubs.
The Mariners are finding, like the rest of baseball, that whatever salary lag they might have been hoping for this winter doesn’t seem to be taking place. Glaus’ Arizona contract, for $45 million over four years, was termed “outrageous” by one baseball executive.
Bavasi, meanwhile, confirmed the Mariners’ interest in Glaus, but they may have had a red flag raised when he didn’t start his throwing regimen until recently later than originally planned.
Glaus is coming off shoulder surgery last year, and despite assurances from his camp that he is sound, many teams were leery of committing a third-base job without contractual safeguards or at least seeing that he can throw.
Glaus could conceivably play first base, but Bavasi said, “Our designs were on him and a first baseman, so that made first base not an option.”
Delgado remains the Mariners’ priority at first base, with Baltimore and possibly Texas as their prime competition.
Despite speculation that the Yankees could get involved in light of Jason Giambi’s likely departure, it appears that even the mighty George Steinbrenner isn’t willing to invest in Delgado on top of the $82 million the Yankees still owe Giambi, pending efforts to void his contract.
On top of that, the Yankees still are expected to make a huge play for free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran. Yankees insiders believe Tino Martinez is a much likelier candidate to return to New York to play first base for the Yankees.
Richie Sexson, the other big-ticket first baseman on the Mariners’ horizon, is said to have become a prime target of the New York Mets.
As for Beltre, he is represented by the dreaded Scott Boras as is Beltran and is likely to be commanding upwards of $10 million a year after last year’s breakout season. He hit .334 for the Dodgers with 48 homers (tops in the National League) and 121 runs batted in.
The M’s could be trying to come in under the radar on Beltre, who is said to want to remain on the West Coast, preferably in Southern California.
While the Dodgers remain in strong contention for Beltre, industry sources cautioned that the upstart Detroit Tigers, suddenly in a spendy mood, shouldn’t be ruled out.
Besides Glaus’ signing with the Diamondbacks, who said they gave him a thorough physical exam before culminating the deal, the other significant move yesterday involved former Astros second baseman Jeff Kent.
Kent signed a two-year, $17 million deal with the Dodgers. His signing could free the Dodgers to trade their incumbent second baseman, Alex Cora. There was speculation Los Angeles could be part of a multiteam deal for Oakland ace Tim Hudson.
The budget-conscious A’s seem likely to trade Hudson, who is a year away from free agency. The Cardinals, Reds, Braves, Phillies and Orioles all are said to be interested, as well as whichever out of the group of Mets, Red Sox and Yankees doesn’t get Randy Johnson or Pedro Martinez.
The word yesterday was that the Angels were on the verge of signing outfielder Steve Finley to a two-year, $20 million deal, beating out the Giants for the 39-year-old outfielder.
That could impact the Beltran sweepstakes, because the Angels were expected to be a major player, along with the Yankees, Astros and possibly the Cubs.
Boras won’t do anything with Beltran until the Yankees make their play, and right now they are working solely on pitching. Having already signed Wright, they have also talked to Eric Milton and Martinez, along with Pavano. The Yankees may also get back in the Johnson trade talks.
Also yesterday, former Oakland outfielder Jermaine Dye signed a two-year, $10.15 million contract with the White Sox. San Diego agreed to a $1 million, one-year deal with outfielder Eric Young, and 46-year-old first baseman Julio Franco stayed with Atlanta for a $1 million, one-year agreement.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or email@example.com. Times staff reporter Bob Finnigan contributed to this report.