Live from Las Vegas, day one
UPDATE, 8:43: Manager Joe Maddon was impressed with Bradley during their lunch, saying he was "very honest, open and intense.'' Maddon also said he was not concerned about Bradley's controversial and volatile past and that people "grow up.''
Also of note, Maddon said he talked to closer Troy Percival after his back surgery and that he was doing well, but it was not certain that he would be ready for the start of the season. And if the Rays do sign someone to be primarily the DH, Maddon at this point would look to a platoon of Gabe Gross and Fernando Perez in rightfield.
UPDATE, 7:32: Executive VP Andrew Friedman confirms he and manager Joe Maddon had lunch today with free-agent OF/DH Milton Bradley, said the meeting went "great" and that Bradley was "very impressive,'' but also said they will meet with 2-3 other free agents and it is "very unlikely" they sign a player during this week's winter meetings. "Just a get-to-know-you session,'' Friedman said. "We have a number of them planned this week.''
Friedman also said he has trade talks on several subjects but "I'm not sure I would characterize anything as close.''
UPDATE, 4:44: The Rays have been very secretive and vague about who their first choice is to fill their opening for a rightfielder or DH who will upgrade their offense.
Maybe it's free agent Milton Bradley.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Rays officials went to lunch Monday with Bradley and his agents. Whether it was just an information gathering session - given Bradley's controversial past that would sense - or if there was an offer on the table is not known.
Bradley, a switch-hitter, hit .321 with 22 homers and 77 RBIs in 126 games for the Rangers, then declined their offer of arbitration. He also led the AL in on-base (.436) percentage and OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage, at .999.)
UPDATE, 4:33: The awards keep rolling in for the Rays - just heard that Jeff Ziegler was voted traveling secretary of the year. And, strength coach Kevin Barr was honored as the best by his colleagues.
UPDATE, 4:23: Greg Maddux officially retired, with 355 wins, the most of any living pitcher. ... Joe Gordon was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. ... Dodgers GM Ned Colletti seems to be getting impatient waiting on free-agent OF Manny Ramirez, and is also very hopeful of retaining 3B Casey Blake. ... Padres GM Kevin Towers indicated that if he can't trade RHP Jake Peavy soon he will plan on starting the season with him, thus further reducing the payroll for other players.
UPDATE, 2:10: First official press conference of the winter meetings - the Tigers acquired C Gerald Laird from Texas for two prospects.
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It's early out here and the massive Bellagio hotel is still relatively quiet, but the rumors will be flying nonetheless. And, as usual, there is a direct correlation between the lack of actual news and the proliferation of rumors, which makes for long days and little good.
Some we will report, some will dissect, some we will ignore.
There were a couple being talking about late Sunday night involving the Rays, including one that suggested they could be the third team in the long-discussed Cubs-Padres deal for Jake Peavy, and then speculating the Rays could end up with OF Brian Giles.
While the Rays do have the kind of young talent that could help the Cubs bridge the gap with San Diego, there are no indications there are have been any talks with those teams about that trade, so it would have to be considered a longshot at best at this point. Much less that the Rays could get Giles, who, for among other reasons, has a pretty stringent no-trade clause.
There have also been a number of reports suggesting the Rays could trade SS Jason Bartlett (including one suggesting they could send Bartlett and pitchers Edwin Jackson or Andy Sonnanstine to the Marlins for OF Jeremy Hermida), but there's no reason for them to do that given how much Bartlett meant to their success, and, even in his first year or arbitration eligibility, will be relatively affordable (maybe around $2-million).
More later ...