Hot Stove: Mets up to something

Hot Stove: Mets up to something

What are the Mets up to?

The Metropolitans' tentative trade of Mike Cameron for Xavier Nady has raised eyebrows, since it appears one-sided in the Padres' favor. So the general consensus holds that it's merely the precursor to other moves, that general manager Omar Minaya is up to something.

But, again, what? At least three theories are prevalent.

One: The move clears an outfield spot for Manny Ramirez (Nady can also play first base, where he could platoon with lefty-hitting Mike Jacobs). Minaya has been hounding Ramirez for a year.

The 5-and-10 slugger wants out of Boston because of lack-of-privacy issues, and New York wouldn't seem to appeal to him as a haven. But, reports the New York Daily News, "the Mets believe that all the talk from Manny's agent about not wanting to play for the Mets was an attempt to force his way to Anaheim, where he could play with fellow Dominicans Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon, as well as several other Latin players."

The Angels don't seem interested in assuming the remaining $57 million on Ramirez's contract. Once that bridge is burned, sources theorize, Manny would be willing to be Manny in Flushing. And with the Red Sox coveting high-ceiling outfield prospect Lastings Milledge, there is ground for the sides to work out a deal.

Two: The $5 million freed up by the deal could help fund the Mets' resumed quest for first baseman Carlos Delgado. A question lingers over this theory: Would Minaya be comfortable dealing for a guy who, as a free agent a year ago, simply wanted no part of him or his team?

Three: Nady, the New York Post speculates, could be used in a deal with the Devil Rays to acquire Danys Baez, a closer still near the top of Minaya's shopping list.

Elsewhere among the Hot Stove embers ...

Yankees: West Coast sources report such heightened Bombers' interest in San Diego's Brian Giles that manager Joe Torre recently reached out, personally contacting the outfielder. Giles could be a center field stopgap in the Bronx at three years, $33 million, according to various sources.

Phillies: Billy Wagner's chances of returning improved with Wednesday's face-to-face meeting with new GM Pat Gillick, which the free agent reliever called "probably the most positive talks we've had. I like Pat. He's a straight-shooter." Still, Wagner received no enhanced offer from the Phillies, leaving a believed, three-year, $29-million deal still on the table. Wagner is planning to visit the Mets next week, then sit back and take stock.

Blue Jays: The Toronto Sun reported GM J.P. Riccirardi has had initial talks with the representatives of free agent DH Erubiel Durazo, and a second conversation with the agent of free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett. No contract terms have been discussed with Burnett, however.

Red Sox: The Boston Globe reports an initial offer from the team to free agent center fielder Johnny Damon, for $27 to $30 million over three years. The newspaper, which cited a "well-placed industry source," also said there might be an option for a fourth year. Thus far, Damon has expressed a preference for at least a five-year deal.

As for the ongoing search for a general manager, the Red Sox are expected to conduct a second interview with Jim Beattie, most likely by the beginning of next week.

Nationals: They're in a long line interested in Burnett, but the Nats were one of the first to score some face time with the free agent right-hander, meeting across the dinner table Wednesday night in Miami. GM Jim Bowden led a five-man team entourage that met Burnett and agent Darek Braunecker at Forge Restaurant. A.J. must have liked what he ordered because a member of the Nationals group later said, "The meeting went real well. He liked what we brought to the table."

Manager Clint Hurdle tells the Denver Post his club has "heightened interest" in Jose Mesa, who is pushing 40 but had 70 saves in Pittsburgh the last two years -- and 181 the last five seasons, suggesting age-defying durability. Hurdle indicated the club also would be up for bringing back Shawn Estes, but not for the two guaranteed years the free agent is seeking after going 7-8 in Arizona.

Twins: They're chatting up a couple of agent Dan Lozano's clients, Mike Piazza and Tony Graffanino. "Minnesota definitely is a team Mike is willing to listen to," Lozano told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The 37-year-old Piazza would be willing to split time as a DH and catcher in the American League. Graffanino, who split the 2005 season between the Royals and the Red Sox, could possibly return as their everyday second baseman.

Brewers: Lyle Overbay continues to attract preliminary trade feelers from such teams as the Giants, Mets and Marlins. The Mets could be interested in him as a fallback if their expected pursuit of Florida's Carlos Delgado flops. If Florida parts with Delgado, Overbay could be one potential replacement. While GM Doug Melvin continues to insist that the Brewers will listen to offers on all players, he is not feeling pressure to ship out Overbay to make room for Prince Fielder.

Marlins: learned they are talking to Rey Ordonez about a comeback, for defensive insurance at shortstop. Ordonez last played in the Majors in '04, for the Cubs, who released him that July when Alex Gonzalez became healthy again. A Miami resident, Ordonez will turn only 35 in January. He won three consecutive Gold Gloves with the Mets in the late '90s.

Braves: With Trevor Hoffman's differences with the Padres apparently irreconcilable, the Braves have begun talking to his agent, Rick Thurman. It could be a great match for a team needing a closer, but not at the price Thurman has floated -- three years and $25.5 million. So the Braves retain an open mind about bringing back Kyle Farnsworth.

Rangers: In typical trickle-down Hot Stove fashion, interest in Alfonso Soriano figures to remain only lukewarm until clubs shopping for infielders get a read on their chances of obtaining free agent Rafael Furcal. Meanwhile, GM Jon Daniels tells the Fort-Worth Star Telegram the club has begun to discuss the parameters for free agent signings or other trade possibilities.

Tom Singer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.