Interest shown in Garciaparra
Dodgers discuss trade for shortstop with Sox
By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff, 12/6/2003
The Los Angeles Dodgers understand any shot they have at Nomar Garciaparra will hinge on whether the Red Sox can acquire Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers for Manny Ramirez, but, nonetheless, they have had discussions with the Sox about a deal for the All-Star shortstop.
Sources close to both teams confirm that talks have centered on a package of players that would include Dodgers lefthander Odalis Perez, although one major league source said yesterday that it was his understanding the Red Sox would not keep Perez but use him in another deal.
The Sox also were awaiting word from free agent closer Keith Foulke, who must choose between returning to the Oakland A's or coming to Boston, where the Sox reportedly have offered him a three-year, $21 million deal.
The Dodgers' interest in Garciaparra, a native of Southern California, has accelerated in recent days. They had targeted Japanese shortstop Kazuhiro Matsui, but reports yesterday indicated Matsui was close to signing with the New York Mets. Also, another free agent shortstop, Miguel Tejada, the American League's MVP in 2002 for the Oakland A's, reportedly was in serious negotiations with the Seattle Mariners, another team that had been in the Matsui bidding.
The Dodgers are not alone in their pursuit of Garciaparra. The Anaheim Angels, who had made starting pitching a priority and have already signed free agent Kelvim Escobar in addition to making a reported four-year, $48 million offer to free agent Bartolo Colon, are also in the market for a big bat, and Garciaparra is on their list. It was unclear whether the Angels had gotten to the point of exchanging names, but if they succeed in signing Colon, lefthander Jarrod Washburn is among the players who might be offered in return.
Angels general manager Bill Stoneman, when asked about trade possibilities earlier this week, would not reveal specifics, but as one executive with an American League club said yesterday: "Everybody likes Nomar. Any good offensive player would fit in with the Angels, and I can't believe that if the Red Sox are trying to make a deal, they haven't talked to the Angels."
One major league source with direct knowledge of the Sox' conversations with the Dodgers said a deal was possible, but only if the Sox were able to complete the deal for Rodriguez, the American League's MVP in 2003.
"There's no way the Sox make a Nomar deal otherwise," the source said. "And there are some problems with the Rodriguez thing. Unless someone changes his mind, it's not going to work."
Reports out of Texas yesterday said the Rangers would move A-Rod to the Red Sox, but only if the Sox ate part of Ramirez's contract as well, which at the moment is something the Sox are adamant about not doing. But executives at a number of clubs that have followed the proceedings said they would not be surprised if the Sox eventually find a way to consummate the deal.
Ramirez's agent, Jeff Moorad, wasn't so sure.
"I've stayed in touch with both clubs over the last few days," said Moorad, "and neither seemed optimistic that a deal was imminent." The deal may hinge on the Sox' ability to assist the Rangers financially in their efforts to upgrade their pitching staff.
The Dodgers led the major leagues in pitching last season with a 3.16 ERA, but were last in the major leagues in every meaningful offensive category, including runs, home runs, on-base percentage, and batting average. Garciaparra obviously would give them a spectacular upgrade, one that would allow them to move defensive whiz Cesar Izturis from short to second.
Perez, 26, was paid $3.4 million last season and is eligible for arbitration. He had a 12-12 record and a 4.52 ERA, and became embroiled in some controversy when he complained about his lack of run support.
Perez went 15-10 with a 3.00 ERA in 222 1/3 innings in 2002.
The idea of Nomar in LA would make his value plummet, me thinks. The idea of either Perez or Washburn as a fifth (!!!) starter isn't too bad, either.