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Baseball: Action heats up at GM Meetings


ORLANDO, Fla. - Miguel Cabrera was the big name being bandied about Tuesday as baseball general managers waited to hear what the Florida Marlins would want for their young slugger.

On a day when GMs voted to recommend the limited use of instant replay, action started to percolate on players. Particularly third basemen.

Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams acknowledged he was listening to offers for Joe Crede. The New York Yankees, who lost Alex Rodriguez when he opted out of his contract and became a free agent, could get involved in talks for both Cabrera and Crede.

Cabrera, a four-time All-Star, made $7.4 million this year after winning in salary arbitration and is likely to make more than $10 million next year, more than the budget-conscious Marlins want to pay. Two years ago, Florida traded many of its top players and got several top prospects. Teams were waiting to find out which prospects the Marlins would want for Cabrera, their

24-year-old third baseman.

"We don`t know yet. We`ll probably know by tonight," said Hank Steinbrenner, son of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. "My sense is that it might be too much but we`ll see. It`s early."

Cabrera batted .320 with 34 homers and 119 RBIs, but he has put on weight, a cause of concern to the Marlins and teams that might want to acquire him.

Florida appears less eager to trade Dontrelle Willis, the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year. He went 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA last season, diminishing his value. He made $6.5 million.

"Good players are always in need, that`s for sure. I`m not talking specifically about Cabrera or Willis or Dan Uggla or (Hanley) Ramirez," Florida president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said, mentioning many top Marlins.

Crede had back surgery, played in only 47 games and was supplanted by rookie Josh Fields.

"We have two third basemen. There`s interest across the league in both of them," Williams said.

Right now, Yankees GM Brian Cashman`s top third baseman is Wilson Betemit, and he is seeking an upgrade.

"Our profile typically would involve power, but it might not necessarily come from the available market," he said.

While the Yankees have top young pitchers such as Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy, Cashman is reluctant to part with them.

"I think our farm system has taken the right steps forward. There`s power in numbers," he said. "We`ll soak up all the information down here and then we`ll take it back to New York and kind of assess what the real potential market is for us."

While the Marlins explore the market for Cabrera, the Minnesota Twins want to hold onto pitcher Johan Santana, who is eligible for free agency after next season.

Also Tuesday: 

* Curt Schilling stayed with the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, finalizing an $8 million, one-year contract that allows him to earn $3 million in performance bonuses and $2 million for passing weight tests. That would match his $13 million salary this year. 

* Plans were moving forward for a mid-March, two-game exhibition series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres in Beijing. Baseball officials are still awaiting a commitment from the Red Sox that they are willing to play a season-opening, two-game series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo.

Replay picking up steam

ORLANDO, Fla. - Baseball could soon have a new position: replay judge.

General managers recommended for the first time Tuesday that instant replay be used to help umpires on boundary calls - whether potential home runs are fair or foul, whether balls go over fences or hit the tops and bounce back, and whether fans interfere with possible homers.

The proposal was approved by a 25-5 vote. There was no specific time frame on when such a system might be put in place.

"We`ve taken the first step. The question will be now, what do we do?" said Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president for baseball operations in the commissioner`s office. "We have glacier-like movement in baseball, so I`m hopeful that we can at least start meaningful discussions about it."

Solomon said the next step will be to speak with commissioner Bud Selig, who opposes the use of replays but said last month he was willing to let GMs examine the issue. If Selig gives the go-ahead, Solomon and the staff in the commissioner`s office would draft a detailed replay proposal that GMs could vote on when they gather next month at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn.

Replay eventually would have to be approved by the unions for players and umpires, and possibly in a vote by owners.

Bob DuPuy, baseball`s chief operating officer, said it would be an "aggressive time frame" to have replay in place next year.


David Ortiz had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday and is expected to participate fully in spring training next February with the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox said the operation at Massachusetts General Hospital shouldn`t interfere with the designated hitter`s training program.

Report: Williams, Guillen bought drugs

Power-hitting outfielder Jose Guillen bought nearly $20,000 worth of steroids and human growth hormone from 2003-05, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. 

Former major leaguers Matt Williams and Ismael Valdez also purchased performance-enhancing drugs, in 2002, from a Florida anti-aging clinic that was raided in February as part of an investigation by the Albany, N.Y., district attorney into alleged illegal drug sales, the newspaper said.

Major League Baseball began testing for steroids in 2003. HGH was banned in January 2005.

The Chronicle received details of the players` orders in records from a source the newspaper didn`t identify. Those records contained shipping and purchase orders, payment information, Social Security numbers and customers` birthdates, the paper said.

Zimmerman breaks bone in left wrist

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman broke a bone in his left wrist while swinging a bat last weekend and is scheduled to have surgery today.

His recovery is expected to take from four to six weeks, which still would be long before spring training begins in February.

"We`re kind of lucky. It`s a perfect time for it to happen, if anything like this was ever to happen," Zimmerman said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

"My hand has hurt before. Anybody who plays professional baseball plays with bangs and bruises," he added. "I don`t know if I kind of cracked it before or during the season - or the past two seasons - and it led up to it finally totally cracking."

Yanks hope to sign Rivera, Posada soon

The Yankees hope to get Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada re-signed soon.

"We`re trying to get these wrapped up. There`s plenty of time to get it done," Hank Steinbrenner, son of owner George Steinbrenner, said.

Talks appear to have progressed more quickly with Rivera, who met last week in Tampa with team officials.

Posada has drawn interest from the New York Mets, who aren`t certain they will be able to re-sign catcher Paul Lo Duca.  

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