The Winter Meetings–Day Three

The first two days of the winter meetings have been stunningly quiet. Let’s hope that Day Three produces at least a few moves, maybe even a blockbuster of the three-team variety…

The proposed three-way trade involving the Red Sox, Devil Rays, and the Braves looks like a win-win-win situation for all parties. The Red Sox would add some much-needed speed to their everyday lineup in Julio Lugo, the Devil Rays would find themselves a third baseman of the future in Andy Marte, and the Braves would replace Rafael Furcal with a competent shortstop in Edgar Renteria. Two years ago, nobody in his right mind would have traded Renteria for Lugo, but the rumored trade indicates how high Lugo’s stock has risen and how much Renteria’s has fallen. Right now, the two 30-year-old shortstops seem pretty evenly matched, though Lugo’s career appears headed in the better direction…

Neither Kris Benson nor Anna Benson want any part of Kansas City, but if you believe the rumors, they may not have a choice. The Mets have had serious talks with the Royals about trading Benson for relief pitching. The Mets want both All-Star right-hander Mike MacDougal and left-hander Jeremy Affeldt (which would be a steal for New York), but the Royals are understandably balking at giving up both. They’d prefer to give up Affeldt along with a lesser pitcher for the 31-year-old Benson…

The Rangers clearly want to deal Alfonso Soriano, but they have no intention of trading him on the cheap just to avoid having to pay a high salary through arbitration. The Rangers want right-hander Jonathan Broxton to highlight a package of two or three players coming from the Dodgers, and might even demand that prized right-hander Chad Billingsley or left-hander Chuck Tiffany be included. If the deal happens, the Dodgers have no intention of switching Soriano to another position; they would use Soriano at second base and slide incumbent Jeff Kent over to first, giving their infield a completely remodeled look…

With several teams bidding to trade for his services, the Marlins were able to acquire a larger package for Juan Pierre than they did for Luis Castillo. While Castillo netted them only two minor league pitchers, Pierre brought the Marlins pitcher Sergio Mitre and two minor league prospects—pitchers Ricky Nolasco and Renyel Pinto. A left-hander from Venezuela, Pinto was rated as one of the Cubs’ top 10 prospects last season… Though Pierre is better suited to bat lower in the order, he will immediately become the Cubs’ new leadoff man—and does figure to fare better than the tablesetting pretenders they trotted out in 2005. It remains to be seen who will surround Pierre in Chicago’s new-look outfield; young Matt Murton is the frontrunner for left field, while right field could be manned by anyone from Aubrey Huff to Kevin Mench, who both remain available on the trading front… Prior to being traded to the Cubs, Pierre drew heavy interest from the Rangers. Texas’ desire to add Pierre is puzzling, given that the Rangers already have two veterans capable of playing center field in Gary Matthews, Jr. and David Dellucci. The Rangers were believed to be offering another yet another center fielder, Laynce Nix, along with one or two minor leaguers for Pierre…

The Padres could be active during the next couple of days, though it’s questionable whether they’d actually be making the right moves. They’re close to signing free agent left-hander Kenny Rogers (despite his assault against a cameraman and his second-half tailspin) and have talked to the Red Sox about acquiring catcher Doug Mirabelli for second baseman Mark Loretta. That would be an outright steal for the Red Sox, who would be picking up an above-average middle infielder for a career backup catcher…

Could it be that Jeff Nelson is headed back to New York for a third stint with the Yankees? That’s apparently how desperate the Yankees are in their search for middle relief. Nelson has also talked to the Mets about a one-year contract for 2006… The Yankees have also had serious talks with veteran right-hander Rick White, who is contemplating offers from both New York and Boston…

Overshadowed by all of the trade and free agent talk in Dallas comes the news that two longtime standouts, Rickey Henderson and John Olerud, have decided to retire. Always a classy performer and person, Olerud became a key component for some very good Blue Jays, Mets, and Mariners teams over his career. Henderson, while not always classy, was always entertaining and is a certified, no-doubt-about-it Hall of Famer. He was also the most talented leadoff man the game has ever seen. Both players will be missed.

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