Rumor mill

Trade talk and free agent scuttlebutt continue in the wake of baseball's winter meetings. Here is the latest on some of the possible transactions as of Wednesday, Dec. 14.

Listed after each player in parentheses are the interested teams.

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Nomar Garciaparra, SS (Yankees, Astros, Indians) – Where will Nomar play? How you answer that question depends on how you interpret it. Before we look at the baseball diamond, let's look at a map. According to the New York Post, the Indians, Astros and Yankees have emerged as finalists. Garciaparra hit .283 with nine homers and 30 RBIs in a 2005 season cut short by a severe groin injury.

Where Nomar will play will depend on where he plays, if that makes any sense. According to the Post, the Yankees would play Garciaparra at first base. Houston would pencil him in at left field and the Indians would prefer he set up shop in right field. He is reportedly seeking a one-year deal worth roughly $8 million, but the Yankees' latest offer is said to be about half that.

Johnny Damon, CF (Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers) – Joe Torre doesn't work the phones like a guy with unlimited minutes. New York's manager reserves phone calls for only high-priority free agent targets. Johnny Damon apparently qualifies. According to Newsday, Torre and Damon spoke Tuesday. The high-level coaxing may be necessary to bridge the contract duration gap – Damon and his agent want five years, the Yankees have reportedly offered four.

The Dodgers remain interested, but according to the Boston Herald, they consider themselves long shots to acquire the services of the 32-year-old center fielder. The reason? Los Angeles feels Damon will most likely return to the Red Sox.

Frank Thomas, DH/1B (Athletics, Twins, Orioles, Blue Jays) – The addition of Milton Bradley does not necessarily signal the end of Oakland's interest in Frank Thomas, the Contra Costa Times reported Wednesday. The A's are expected to make a formal contract offer this week.

Thomas has 448 homers in 16 big league seasons, all with the White Sox.

Jacque Jones, CF (Royals, Orioles, Pirates, Cubs) – The Royals have offered Jones a three-year deal worth about $15 million, the Tacoma News-Tribune reported Wednesday. Jones and his agent are weighing the offer, but the outfielder reportedly wants to play for a contender. The Royals lost 106 games in 2005.

Jones hit a career-worst .249 for the Twins last season, though his production in other categories (23 homers, 73 RBIs, four errors) was on par with his career averages.

Jarrod Washburn, SP (Mariners, Nationals) – The Mariners have their eyes on Washburn as a fall-back option if Kevin Millwood signs elsewhere. Washburn was 8-8 with the Angels last season, his eighth in Southern California. Seattle also has tepid interest in free-agent righty Scott Elarton, the Tacoma News-Tribune reports.

Brett Tomko, SP (Nationals) – Having lost Esteban Loaiza to free agency, the Nationals are hoping to add a top-of-the-rotation quality starter. Easier said than done. According to the Washington Post, the Nats are long shots to land Kevin Millwood or Jarrod Washburn, two pitchers they covet.

Plan B, the Post reports, includes names like Brett Tomko and Shawn Estes. Tomko was a 15-game loser for the Giants in 2005 and Estes was 7-8 in his first season with the Diamondbacks.

Julian Tavares, RP (Mets)Billy Wagner will close for the Mets. Who will set him up? The club parted ways with Braden Looper and Roberto Hernandez, two pitchers who combined for 127 appearances in 2005. Aaron Heilman is a candidate to step up his late-inning profile, but New York may find its primary set-up guy elsewhere.

According to the New York Daily News, the Mets are interested in Julian Tavares and may be prepared to offer the 32-year-old a four-year deal. Tavares was 2-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 2005.

Mark Grudzielanek, 2B (Royals, Mets, Rangers) – The Royals have stepped up efforts to sign free agent second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, the Kansas City Star reports. Grudzielanek hit .294 with eight homers and 59 RBIs in 2005, his first season with the Cardinals.

Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B (Royals) – The promise of a full-time role may lure Mientkiewicz to Kansas City, the Newark Star-Ledger reported Wednesday. Mientkiewicz played in 87 games for the Mets in 2005, hitting .240 with 11 homers and 29 RBIs. Kansas City is expected to use Mike Sweeney as a designated hitter more often next season.


Miguel Tejada, SS (Cubs, Mets, Red Sox) – Whether or not he ever asked to be traded is up for debate. There is no doubt, however, that several teams would love to acquire the all-star shortstop. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Cubs officials contacted the Orioles Saturday to check on Tejada's availability. The 29-year-old former MVP hit .298 with 26 homers and 98 RBIs in 2005, but is reportedly fed up that Baltimore has not upgraded its roster while other teams, like the Blue Jays, have made headline-grabbing moves.

According to the Sun-Times, Boston has offered Manny Ramirez in exchange for Tejada, and the Mets are rumored to be exploring the possibility of a three-team deal that could bring Tejada to New York.

Matt Clement, SP (Phillies, Brewers, Mariners) – Clement, who was just 3-4 in 14 post-All-Star starts in 2005, could be Boston's ticket to acquire a new center fielder if Johnny Damon accepts an offer elsewhere. According to the Boston Globe the Red Sox have discussed a possible Clement for Jeremy Reed deal with Seattle.

Reed, originally a hot prospect in the White Sox organization, hit .254 in his first full season in the majors last season. Clement would give Seattle a veteran arm to pair with Felix Hernandez in the starting rotation.

Kevin Mench, OF (Pirates, Dodgers) – According to a report in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Pirates remain in the market for a right fielder. Mench, who has averaged 25 homers and 72 RBIs the past two seasons in Texas, is a target. The Rangers would reportedly accept a pitching prospect. Talks have also included Laynce Nix, the Tribune-Review reports.

-Yahoo! Sports Report

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