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Monday, November 5, 2007
General managers gather to discuss rules, swing deals

Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. -- As major league general managers arrived Monday for their annual meetings, the New York Mets' Omar Minaya said he won't hesitate to pursue players because they could be listed in George Mitchell's report as drug users.

"If there was a player that we like and we wanted to get, we've just got to go get the player," Minaya said. "It would be terrible if I was to kind of pass on the player because of -- quote, unquote -- the potential of the Mitchell Report, and then have that player not be on the list."

Mitchell's report, the culmination of an investigation the former Senate Majority Leader began in March 2006, is expected to be issued before the end of the year. A lawyer for baseball owners told teams last month they should proceed on the assumption that it will name players implicated in the use of performance-enhancing substances.

There was little action as the four-day session began. The San Diego Padres retained pitcher Greg Maddux, agreeing to a $10 million, one-year contract with the four-time Cy Young Award winner, a person familiar with the talks said. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not yet announced the deal.

Curt Schilling and the Boston Red Sox were making progress toward a contract that would allow him to remain with the World Series champions, a person familiar with those discussions said, speaking on condition of anonymity because a deal had not yet been struck. The progress in the negotiations was first reported by the Boston Herald on its Web site.

GMs were to discuss instant replay on Tuesday, and they could for the first time recommend that it be used for boundary calls -- such as whether home runs are fair or foul and whether balls go over fences or hit at the top. Baseball commissioner Bud Selig opposes the use of replays, and it's unclear how the proposal would proceed if it receives a recommendation from GMs.

Teams are starting the slow process of feeling each other out for trades. While Florida's Miguel Cabrera and Minnesota's Johan Santana top the list of players who might be shopped, it would be surprising if players of that magnitude are traded this early in the offseason.

Baseball's trade market also might move slowly because seven teams have changed general managers since the start of September: Atlanta (Frank Wren), Florida (Michael Hill), Houston (Ed Wade), the Los Angeles Angels (Tony Reagins), Minnesota (Bill Smith), Pittsburgh (Neal Huntington) and St. Louis (John Mozeliak).

Minaya said veteran GMs have a feel for how their rivals work.

"With the new guys, you don't know," Minaya said. "It's going to be learning, get to know guys."

Scott Boras, who represents Maddux as well as Alex Rodriguez, was in meetings for much of the day. The Mets have been mentioned as a possible suitor, but Minaya sounded cautious when asked about A-Rod.

"He's one of the free agents on the market and we're looking at all free agents," Minaya said. "Does he fit on your team? And then, like anything else is, at what cost is he going to fit on your team?"

The Mets already have All-Stars at third base (David Wright) and shortstop (Jose Reyes), although Reyes slumped badly as the Mets collapsed in September.

"We're very happy with Jose Reyes. We're very happy with David Wright," Minaya said. "I don't consider that a position of need."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman also arrived Monday, a few hours before the team learned pitcher Andy Pettitte declined his $16 million option for next season. Pettitte is still uncertain whether he wants to pitch again or retire. The 35-year-old left-hander had until Wednesday to decide on the option.

"If Andy decides to play, I am confident we can reach an agreement with the Yankees within 24 hours," Pettitte's agent, Randy Hendricks, said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "The only options, as Andy has stated, are the Yankees or retirement. He appreciates the Yankees' willingness to give him the time he feels he needs. I do not expect him to make a decision for quite some time."

Both the Mets and Yankees have contacted the agent for catcher Jorge Posada. The Yankees hope to re-sign him before Nov. 13, when free agents can talk money with all teams. Minaya said the Mets were hopeful of re-signing their No. 1 catcher, Paul Lo Duca.

"I think that we're optimistic," he said.

Most GMs checked in and went to their rooms without speaking substantively with reporters. Much of the lobby talk was for the birds -- Kula, an umberella cockatoo; Merlot, a green wing macaw; and Lu Lu, a blue and gold macaw -- who made noise as the various GMs walked by.

"Please do not try to touch or feed me," a sign in front of each bird said. "I may think your finger is food."

There was little doubt Maddux would return to the Padres. He went 14-11 with a 4.14 ERA this year for San Diego, which fell one win short of its third straight playoff appearance.

Maddux, a 347-game winner who turns 42 on April 14, had a player option for $8.75 million. Had he pitched 200 innings -- he finished with 198 -- the option price would have increased to $10 million. In addition, San Diego had a club option for $11 million.

The new deal contains award bonuses, a no-trade clause and a suite on road trips, a person familiar with the contract said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the Padres had not yet announced the agreement. The deal was first reported by ESPN.com.