Teams coveting Giants' pitching talent

Pitching talent coveted at Winter Meetings

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Everybody wants pitchers. Young arms. That's the word echoing around the Winter Meetings, and Giants general manager Brian Sabean's head is throbbing from lack of sleep and the relentlessness of talks with opposing clubs and who they want.

"Short night, long day," said Sabean on Tuesday evening, with more discussions scheduled.

There are ongoing discussions with teams in the Giants' quest to reshape their ballclub, resurrect it back into contention in the National League West and beyond, yet Sabean said it's the same story -- San Francisco's young pitchers all have bull's-eyes on their jerseys.

You know the names: Matt Cain, Noah Lowry, Jonathan Sanchez, Billy Sadler, Pat Misch, Brian Wilson, Jack Taschner, et al. The Giants have those great arms, other teams don't -- at least not in quantity and quality.

To be sure, Sabean is being mighty cautious about his kids.

"All the young pitchers," said Sabean of team's wish lists. "It's been pretty resounding. Given the level of interest throughout the industry, it would have to be a helluva deal for us to move people, and it would have to be a present and future value to the organization.

"There's too much continuous talk about the same people. Almost anybody we run into. There are things we could do, but the match isn't there yet."

The GM stressed there's a priority list, a pecking order, to fill certain roles.

"Deals that are attractive and unattractive," he said. "Obviously deals we haven't pulled the trigger on are unattractive or hung up on the names."

Sabean noted young pitchers, rather than experienced ones, are the hot commodity now.

The good news is that the lengthy day proved productive in talks with agents and clubs, with Sabean saying there were "groundbreaking" discussions conducted, although he wouldn't indicate which players were involved.

San Francisco, however, is expected to officially land catcher Bengie Molina in the next few days, and it's possible Toronto batterymate Ted Lilly -- he was a 15-game winner last season -- could join him.

Lilly was instrumental in the Blue Jays' signing of Molina last year by telling GM J.P. Ricciardi about the good-hitting backstop, and the Giants are in the running for the veteran left-hander, a California native who attended Fresno City Junior College.

The 30-year-old Lilly, however, has been offered a four-year deal by the Chicago Cubs for nearly $40 million, although that is still being considered. Much depends on whether San Francisco is willing to add to that figure.

The Giants paid former ace Jason Schmidt $10 million in 2006 and apparently have more money in their winter budget than in previous years, shown in their high-priced pursuit of free-agent sluggers Gary Matthews Jr. and Carlos Lee.

The Giants' three-year, $14.5 million deal with Molina won't be finalized until the veteran passes a physical, perhaps Wednesday.

While speculation is still rampant about possible three-way deals to acquire Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez -- the Nationals shipping closer Chad Cordero to Boston is one scenario -- Sabean quipped there might be a "four-way deal" forthcoming.

Big chuckle.

The Giants have also shown interest in Seattle slugger Richie Sexson and San Diego's free-agent bopper Ryan Klesko, who reports his surgically repaired shoulder is OK.

Sabean is an old hand at the Winter Meetings, having seen his first one in 1986, and with innovations in communications, they're almost anachronistic.

Face-to-face meetings are still important, but long hours on cell phones mean no hanging out in corridors working deals. Sabean spends hours and hours talking with agents and teams from morning to, well, early morning.

Still, there's also no rush to finalize deals by early January as before.

"But seeds are planted and cultivated here," said Sabean.

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