Hot Stove: Nixon may stay in Boston

Nixon may stay in Boston

If the dominoes fall a certain way, the expected departure of outfielder Trot Nixon from the Boston Red Sox might not happen after all.

A fixture in the Red Sox's lineup (when healthy) since 1999, Nixon is a free agent and is waiting to see if the Sox offer him salary arbitration. The team has until midnight ET Friday to make a decision that also could impact others, including left fielder Manny Ramirez.

If Nixon is offered salary arbitration, which the Boston Globe said was "likely," he would have until Dec. 7 to accept. If he does, then Nixon would be considered a "signed" player for 2007, though his actual salary would be determined later. The 33-year-old made $6.5 million during an injury-marred 2006 season, when he batted .268 with eight home runs and 52 RBIs in 114 games.

As of Friday morning, the Red Sox had six outfielders on their roster, including Coco Crisp, Wily Mo Pena and Ramirez. Furthermore, the team is believed to be close to signing free-agent outfielder J.D. Drew to a reported five-year, $70 million contract, a deal that could be signed and sealed sometime next week at the annual Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.

Nixon, the organization's first-round draft choice in 1993, has said he prefers to remain in Boston.

Ramirez, on the other hand, has asked to be traded many times in his six seasons with the Red Sox, apparently including this year.

Speaking at a charity function Thursday night in Warwick, R.I., Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling confirmed that Ramirez has asked to be traded and voiced concern that if Ramirez is not dealt, he might not give his best effort this coming season.

"I think the belief is that trading Manny and bringing somebody in would be more valuable than having a Manny here that didn't play," Schilling said, according to a report in the New York Post.

The Boston Globe, meanwhile, reported on Friday that the Ramirez trade talks would continue into the Winter Meetings, adding that the San Diego Padres are the team mostly likely to land the slugger, who has 470 career home runs. The Red Sox would want right-hander Jake Peavy to be part of the trade package.

Contrary to his 11-14 record this past season, the 25-year-old Peavy is one of the top pitchers in the NL. He finished second in strikeouts with 215 in 2006 and captured the league's ERA title in '04 with a 2.27 mark.

But the Padres need more offense. They finished 12th among the 16 NL teams in runs scored and 11th in home runs last season.

Persistent rumors that the Padres could soon sign free-agent right-hander Greg Maddux also lead to speculation that Peavy might be traded and Ramirez could wind up in San Diego.

Elsewhere on the Hot Stove circuit:

Braves: A report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday said the Braves still haven't offered free-agent left-hander Tom Glavine a contract and speculated that the New York Mets would submit a two-year, $22 million proposal. Also, the Braves have decided not to offer salary arbitration to any of their five free agents. Outfielder Daryle Ward is the only one the team is attempting to re-sign.

Yankees: The New York Times reported Friday that the Yankees may be interested in Julio Zuleta, a first baseman who played for the Cubs in 2000 and '01. Zuleta has been playing in Japan and has been very successful against right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who continues to negotiate exclusively with the Red Sox.

The Yankees remain interested in first baseman Shea Hillenbrand, who may now be looking for a two-year deal instead of the three years he initially wanted, according to the New York Post. Another free-agent first baseman, Eduardo Perez, is also drawing interested from the Bronx Bombers.

Giants: With the uncertainty surrounding catcher Mike Matheny's recovery from post-concussion syndrome, the Giants are in "serious negotiations" with free-agent catcher Bengie Molina, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Molina, 32, played for Toronto in 2006 after seven seasons with the Angels.

Brewers: Team officials met on Friday to decide whether to offer infielder Tony Graffanino salary arbitration. In light of the recent signing of infielder Craig Counsell, it appeared unlikely the organization would give Graffanino the option of returning next season as a backup. The Padres are reportedly interested in signing the veteran infielder.

Also on Friday, the New York Post reported that the Mets had inquired about right-handed ace Ben Sheets and were told he's not available. The Brewers are hoping for a healthy year from Sheets, who has missed significant time with injuries in each of the past two seasons.

Indians: After the Denver Post reported on Thursday that the Indians had signed veteran right-handed reliever Roberto Hernandez, Tribe GM Mark Shapiro refuted that report in Friday's Plain Dealer. The newspaper said the Indians have had serious negotiations with the 42-year-old Hernandez, but nothing has been finalized. The Tribe and the Phillies, according to the Plain Dealer, are in talks with right-hander Joe Borowski about a one-year deal. The Phillies had been in multiyear talks with Borowski until they became concerned about a medical report on Borowski's shoulder.

Phillies: Borowski could still be a Phillie if he's willing to accept a one-year, incentive-laden deal, and even then the organization isn't sure it wants to take the risk of an injury. GM Pat Gillick said that the team hasn't made an offer to free-agent David Weathers, as had been widely speculated.

Rockies: Rockies farm director Marc Gustafson told MLB.com the club has signed former Royals right-hander Bobby Keppel and former Dodgers catching prospect Edwin Bellorin to Minor League contracts. The Denver Post also reported that they've signed former Orioles catcher Geronimo Gil.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.