Baseball's holiday shopping season gets under way tonight in Dallas when team officials gather for the annual winter meetings. Here are some names likely to be in the news:
TOP FREE AGENTS
THE LATEST: Superstar shortstop, seeking $200-million over 10 years, supposedly considering five teams: Rangers, White Sox, Rockies, Braves and incumbent Mariners. Dodgers and Mets still could get in, too.
THE LATEST: Could end up back in Cleveland but met with Boston (Red Sox plan to offer a deal worth $122-million today) and is considering Baltimore and Toronto. Texas is a possibility. Supposedly prefers the AL.
THE LATEST: Top pitcher on the market is taking his time. Braves might have the best shot if they pay him $15-million, or more, per year. Cards offered $102-million for seven years; Rockies, Cubs and incumbent Mets would have to top that.
OTHER KEY FREE AGENTS: OF Juan Gonzalez (Tigers, Rangers and Indians are interested), C Charles Johnson (Dodgers, Marlins, Cardinals), SS Alex Gonzalez (Blue Jays, Mariners. Orioles), RHP Tom Gordon (Cubs, Royals, Orioles, Yankees), 1B Andres Galarraga (Cubs), RHP Darren Dreifort (Dodgers, Cubs, Angels), RHP Kevin Appier (Red Sox, Mets, Dodgers), 1B Mark Grace (D'backs), 3B Ken Caminiti (Yankees, Rangers, Brewers), C Sandy Alomar (White Sox, Blue Jays), SS Mike Bordick (Angels, Orioles, Mariners), 1B-DH David Segui (Indians, Tigers), C Todd Hundley (Dodgers, Cubs).
Johnny Damon, Royals OF
THE LATEST: Figuring (correctly) they won't be able to re-sign Damon as a free agent after the season, Royals will take offers now. Mets, Mariners and Red Sox can afford to take him. Devil Rays, if they are creative, could be in the mix, even for a one-year deal.
Sammy Sosa, Cubs OF
THE LATEST: The situation has become almost a daily soap opera: He wants to stay in Chicago; he wants to get out of Chicago. If Cubs are convinced they can't re-sign him and are serious about rebuilding, it's time to make a deal. And why not to the Mets, who would love to outshine the Yankees? Texas also would be a player.
David Wells, Blue Jays LHP
THE LATEST: Jays are hard to figure _ are they in it to win or just for show? If not committed, they might trade Wells now, when his value is high, possibly to Cleveland.
OTHER POTENTIAL TRADES: Expos RHP Dustin Hermanson (Mets and Red Sox are interested), Angels OF Tim Salmon (Rangers, Yankees, D'backs), San Diego 3B Phil Nevin (Mariners, Yankees), Twins OF Matt Lawton (Blue Jays, Tigers, Mariners), Astros OF Roger Cedeno (Brewers), A's OF Ben Grieve (Reds, Red Sox).
_ MARC TOPKIN