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BASEBALL NOTES

Market is thin for Rodriguez

December 09, 2008|Staff Reports

Remember that three-year, $34-million offer closer Francisco Rodriguez rejected from the Angels in 2007? It's looking pretty good now.

Rodriguez was hoping to cash in on his major league-record 62-save season with a five-year, $75-million deal, but the free-agent right-hander left the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas on Monday with only one firm offer, from the New York Mets, for a reported two years and $24 million.

"He just broke the saves record, yeah he's disappointed," agent Paul Kinzer said when asked how Rodriguez felt about negotiations. "He's a year late."

Said Rodriguez: "We're open to any discussions with anyone who wants to talk."

The Mets also met with closer Brian Fuentes, and should they sign the left-hander, the market for Rodriguez would shrink even more. The Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers need closers, but it's doubtful any will pay $10 million a year.

Rodriguez, who made $10 million last season, turned down an arbitration offer from the Angels. Kinzer said "there is still a possibility" of Rodriguez returning to the Angels, "but they have other priorities, [first baseman] Mark Teixeira and [starter] CC Sabathia. They've been very up front about that."

Loretta signs; is Blake next?

The Dodgers' infield started to take shape as they agreed late Monday night to the terms of a one-year deal with utilityman Mark Loretta and moved closer to re-signing third baseman Casey Blake, according to sources with knowledge of the negotiations.

Loretta, 36, hit .280 with four home runs and 38 runs batted in in 101 games for the Houston Astros. He played every infield position but catcher for the Astros, including 46 games at second base. He figures to be backup for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers are also closing in on Blake, who was offered a three-year contract that would pay him close to $6 million per season. General Manager Ned Colletti confirmed that the Dodgers have made Blake a formal offer but didn't provide specifics.

Colletti said he re-opened talks with Rafael Furcal's agent, but the Dodgers remain firm in their refusal to offer the shortstop a four-year deal.

Saito's status in question

Takashi Saito might be let go by the Dodgers if he doesn't sign a new contract by Friday, which is the deadline to tender contracts to players.

"The last time we needed him to pitch, he couldn't pitch," Colletti said. "Has he become healthy since then? I don't know if I could answer that."

Saito figures to get a significant raise from the $2 million he earned this year if he goes to arbitration, something to which he would entitled if the Dodgers tender him a contract.

More on Manny

Any future negotiations between the Dodgers and Manny Ramirez will have to be started by Ramirez or his agent, Colletti said. The Dodgers offered Ramirez a two-year, $45-million deal last month and heard nothing. Then they offered him arbitration and heard nothing. "I think the next conversation has to start with them," Colletti said.

Hall passes

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre and former franchise stars Gil Hodges and Maury Wills fell short of joining the Hall of Fame in voting by a veterans' committee. The late Joe Gordon a nine-time All-Star second baseman for the New York Yankees and Indians from 1938 to 1950, was the only player elected.

Hodges was named on 28 of the 64 ballots, 20 shy of the 48 required for induction. Torre fell 29 votes short and Wills received only 15 votes.

Short hops

If San Diego can't trade staff ace Jake Peavy by the end of the meetings, the Padres plan to announce they'll keep him. Padres General Manager Kevin Towers said the Cubs are the only team he's negotiating with and that he had not spoken to Colletti about Peavy since last month. "I gave Ned an idea of the type of players we'd be focusing on," Towers said. "It may have scared him off."

One trade rumor that refuses to die is that the Yankees want to trade second baseman Robinson Cano to the Dodgers for center fielder Matt Kemp. Said Colletti: "We haven't had any talks with the Yankees."

Greg Maddux made his retirement official. A four-time Cy Young Award winner, he finished with 355 wins, eighth on the all-time list and more than anyone who has appeared in a big league game in 43 years. . . . Instead of banning maple bats, baseball will announce today specifications for bat design intended to minimize the number of bats that break.

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Times staff writers Dylan Hernandez, Mike DiGiovanna, Kevin Baxter and Bill Shaikin contributed to this report.

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