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News » Market for Perez remains hard to figure 2009-01-22

Market for Perez remains hard to figure 2009-01-22

Market for Perez remains hard to figure 2009-01-22
I'm sorry, I refuse to believe that the Mets are the only team pursuing free-agent pitcher Oliver Perez, who is 27, left-handed and highly talented, if erratic.

Unfortunately, I can't name which teams are chasing Perez; only his agent, Scott Boras, knows, and he isn't telling.

There is no shortage of clubs in need of starting pitching, merely a shortage of clubs that admit to interest in Perez.

Nationals: A low-rent version of the Yankees, the Nats have pursued several top free agents this offseason, most notably Boras' biggest prize, Mark Teixeira.

Their two best starters are left-handers Scott Olsen and John Lannan, but an established veteran such as Perez could make sense; the Nats believe they are on the verge of developing a wave of young pitchers.

Brewers: In dire need of starting pitching as they face the losses of CC Sabathia and, most likely, Ben Sheets. Righty Braden Looper, however, is their only known target.

Perez has yet to make 30 starts in back-to-back seasons -- a concern for the Brewers, who want a more reliable workhorse.

Cardinals: They lack a left-handed starter, and earlier this offseason they pondered adding a young pitcher with upside — someone like Perez or their own Kyle Lohse.

The Cardinals, however, are encouraged by the progress of Chris Carpenter, and comfortable with Lohse, Adam Wainwright, Todd Wellemeyer and Joel Pineiro as their other starters.

St. Louis still might trade an outfielder, but even then they probably would not be willing or able to make the necessary financial commitment to Perez.

Angels: Hello? Are you out there? Manny Ramirez is the player the Angels need most, but they're also talking about righty Dustin Moseley as their fifth starter.

Should be interested in Perez. No sign that they are.

Rangers: Stuck with the inflated contracts of Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla, they've rejected Boras' overtures on Perez.

Boras also represents Millwood, who is 35-36 with a 4.89 ERA in his three seasons in Texas.

"We're 100 percent not in it," one club official says.

Dodgers: They are focused on other free-agent starters -- left-hander Randy Wolf, right-hander Jon Garland and to a lesser extent, Looper.

Cubs: If they add a starter, it will be Padres right-hander Jake Peavy through a trade. Perez's name has not even surfaced internally, according to club sources.

Which leaves the Mets.

Perez remains at the top of their list. The Mets want him for three years, but would be willing to go four, according to one source. Boras supposedly wants five.

The Mets know all of Perez's warts — in particular, his high walk rate. But they also know that Perez can succeed in New York, that he has a 2.06 ERA against the Phillies the past two seasons and that their rotation would be significantly weaker without him.

Wolf ranks behind Perez for the Mets, followed by righties Ben Sheets, Jon Garland and Pedro Martinez. The team's plan is to sign one quality starter and back him up with a cheaper alternative such as righty Freddy Garcia.

Wolf would be more inexpensive than Perez, perhaps only commanding a one-year deal in the range of $6 million to $8 million with a club option.

MLB Hot Stove

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington credits the work and support of team chairman Bob Nutting for the team's increased stability. The Pirates, thanks to the introduction of new value packages, actually are on pace to meet their season-ticket goals.

"We will not need to move payroll," Huntington says.

The Pirates' new season-ticket packages go for $399, $599, $799 and $999. The $399 plan comes out to less than $5 per game, the $799 plan to less than $10 per game.

Around the horn

Here's a sinister thought: Varitek to the Yankees. The chances probably are slim, but the Yankees need to add a catcher due to their uncertainty over Jorge Posada, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. Varitek, 36, might recoil at the notion of joining the Red Sox's biggest rival, and the Yankees might prefer to spend on pitching. But because the Yankees already have signed three other Type-A free agents, Varitek would cost them only a fourth-round pick ...

The willingness of Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder to accept a two-year deal, first reported by Tom Verducci on the MLB Network, does not represent a strategic departure for Boras. Two other prominent Boras sluggers, Mark Teixeira and Matt Holliday, agreed to two-year deals covering arbitration years. Teixeira signed a two-year, $15.4 million deal covering his first two years, Holliday a two-year, $23 million deal covering his last two. Fielder, in his first year of eligibility, would end up above Teixeira . . .

New Dodger catcher Brad Ausmus and infielder Mark Loretta, who both live in the San Diego area, might end up commuting together to Dodger Stadium. Ausmus, 39, and Loretta, 37, were teammates with the Astros in 2002 and '07. Both chose the Dodgers, in part, to be closer to their families . . .

Correction to an item that appeared in my previous notes column: Both Jeremy Reed and Cory Sullivan have minor-league options remaining, meaning that the Mets can demote either or both to Class AAA without risk of losing them on waivers. Reed and Sullivan are similar players, reserve outfielders who bat from the left side. The Mets signed Sullivan after trading for Reed with the goal of adding more depth ...

And finally, a fond farewell to second baseman Jeff Kent, who should be a near-lock for the Hall of Fame. Kent's 351 home runs as a second baseman far outdistance Ryne Sandberg, who is the next player on that list with 277. Kent's eight 100-RBI seasons also are the most by a second baseman, and Dodgers GM Ned Colletti — an executive with Kent's teams in both Los Angeles and San Francisco — says, "He was as clutch a player as anybody you'll see."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: January 22, 2009

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