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Dreifort Will Test Market


Dodger right-hander Darren Dreifort plans to file for free agency today, beginning a process that might make him one of baseball's highest-paid pitchers.

Despite a career record of 39-45, Dreifort, 28, is considered the third-best starter available in a pitching-thin market behind only left-hander Mike Hampton of the New York Mets and right-hander Mike Mussina of the Baltimore Orioles.

The Dodgers have had discussions with Dreifort's agent, Scott Boras, hoping to sign the pitcher before the free-agency period began.

Teams are given a 15-day window after the World Series to negotiate with their own free agents; other clubs are permitted to contact only players' representatives to express interest.

Boras declined comment on clubs interested in Dreifort, but sources attending the Subway Series in New York said the Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees and Mets are among at least 10 teams that plan to aggressively pursue Dreifort. "We've exchanged proposals and we're talking about it," Boras said in reference to discussions with Dodger Chairman Bob Daly.

"We certainly want to give the Dodgers every opportunity to try to sign Darren. Darren expressed his intent to do that before he went into free agency, but at this point it's unknown how this will end."

The Dodgers do not comment on negotiations, and Boras would not discuss the proposals exchanged. Dreifort is reportedly seeking a five-year, $50-million contract.

Dreifort made $3.7 million in 2000. He was 12-9 with a 4.16 earned-run average and had 164 strikeouts in 192 2/3 innings.


Coaches Rick Down and Jim Tracy, the leading Dodger managerial candidates, are expected to interview again early this week, completing the search process.

It is unknown whether New York Yankee coaches Willie Randolph or Chris Chambliss will be interviewed again.

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