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Giants mull 'intriguing' offer for phenom

Giants mull 'intriguing' offer for Lincecum

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Giants remain ever-so-slightly tempted to commit the unthinkable act of trading promising right-hander Tim Lincecum, although a deal appears less likely with each passing minute.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean said Tuesday at baseball's Winter Meetings that he and his assistants were still considering the "interesting proposal" he cited Monday that would feature Lincecum. That deal is believed to be for Toronto outfielder Alex Rios, who is to the Blue Jays what Lincecum is to the Giants -- a potential cornerstone for the future.

Sabean acknowledged that the Giants talked with the Blue Jays on Monday and Tuesday, although he didn't reveal Toronto as the sole remaining possible trading partner involving Lincecum.

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Addressing the deal in general terms, Sabean said, "There's really only one scenario which I spoke to yesterday which is intriguing. But not intriguing enough to pull the trigger. ... It's just one of the things we haven't shut off yet. There are some things we've shut off and some things we've kept alive. That's one that's still alive."

Rios' talent is enough to arouse any team. At 26, he already has played nearly full four seasons in the Major Leagues and owns a .288 career average with 52 home runs and 254 RBIs. He hit .297 with 24 homers and 85 RBIs in 2007, garnishing those numbers with 114 runs, 43 doubles and 17 stolen bases in 21 attempts.

The Giants know that Rios would help fill one of the glaring vacancies in the middle of their batting order. But they also know that Lincecum could develop into a co-ace of San Francisco's starting rotation, along with Matt Cain.

Thus, Sabean said that he comes closer "with each passing day" to declaring Cain and Lincecum off-limits. Lincecum, Sabean added, has drawn more interest than Cain largely because he won't be eligible for salary arbitration -- and hefty pay increases -- for two more seasons. Cain already is signed through 2010, although his $9 million deal is conveniently economical.

The next move appears to be San Francisco's. Asked whether he's waiting for the mystery team to make a counteroffer, Sabean replied, "No, I think we really just need to decide internally the weight of it and flush out exactly where we meet with the other club."

A published report speculated that Toronto third baseman Troy Glaus could be part of the deal. But Glaus carries plenty of baggage: He underwent left foot surgery in mid-September; he was accused of receiving performance-enhancing drugs from a Florida pharmacy in 2003 and 2004; and he has only one year remaining on his contract at $12.75 million. Sabean indicated that he'd prefer to avoid obtaining players who'd be eligible for free agency so soon, expressing his preference for "longer-term" rather than "transitional" performers.

Winter Meetings

Speaking with reporters who cover the Blue Jays, Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi downplayed trade talks with the Giants.

"To be honest with you, I think there's not a lot going on," Ricciardi said. "So that's probably taken on a life of its own. We have talked to the Giants, but nothing to the point where some of the names that have been mentioned [in the media] have been mentioned [in the discussions]."

Sabean said that a couple of fresh trade options arose, resulting from "side discussions" after a meeting of Major League general managers. One of them is believed to be for Detroit third baseman Brandon Inge, who could become expendable pending the Tigers' imminent acquisition of Florida's Miguel Cabrera. Inge, 30, hit .236 with 14 homers and 71 RBIs last season.

Sabean noted that trades such as the Marlins-Tigers blockbuster often create a chain reaction that prompts subsequent deals.

"Once the bigger chips fall, it kind of reduces everybody to the second and third tier of what we're able to do," he said.

Sabean expressed no regret over not trading for Cabrera, despite the Giants' initial interest in the hard-hitting third baseman -- who almost surely would have forced them to part with Lincecum or Cain, along with two or three other talented young players. Asked if he thought the Giants ever were close to a deal for Cabrera, Sabean said, "We didn't necessarily want to get too close."

The same goes for St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen. Although various reports and lobby gossip at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center linked the Giants to Rolen, Sabean denied any interest in the 12-year veteran.

Rolen's a five-time All-Star who owns a career .283 average with 261 home runs and 1,012 RBIs. Offensively, he could represent an improvement over Pedro Feliz, the Giants' previous third baseman who's a free agent, due to his superior ability to draw walks and get on base. Defensively, Rolen remains a premier performer as a seven-time Gold Glove winner.

But Rolen, who must waive a no-trade clause before any deal could be made, would come with some risks. Although Rolen's only 23 days older than Feliz (both turn 33 next April), he has a history of shoulder and back injuries. An ailing left shoulder limited Rolen to 112 games last season, when he batted .265 with eight homers and 58 RBIs before he underwent season-ending surgery on Sept. 11. In 2005, trouble with the same shoulder allowed Rolen to play only 56 games. Since Rolen's still owed $12 million a year each of the next three seasons, whoever employs him would be gambling expensively on his health.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporter Jordan Bastian contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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