But the prime-time focus is on the Bay Area, where two general managers are keeping teams in suspense. San Francisco's Brian Sabean still hasn't decisively gotten back to Toronto, whose offer of outfielder Alex Rios for young right-hander Tim Lincecum remains on the table. Oakland's Billy Beane appears to still be weighing the prospective market for right-hander Dan Haren as a precursor to a decision of whether to indeed make him available. Haren, the American League's starter in the 2007 All-Star Game (by the Bay, of course), has already elicited appropriate attention. According to published reports, at least two clubs have made very specific offers. The Indians, per FoxSports.com, are willing to build a package around a couple of young arms, right-hander Miller (5-4 with Buffalo last season) and left-hander Aaron Laffey (4-2 in nine starts with the Indians last season). The D-backs, according to the Contra Costa Times, have been the most aggressive, with a five-prospect package headlined by outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, second baseman Emilio Bonifacio and pitcher Brett Anderson. The deal-maker -- or breaker -- here could be Beane's insistence on pitcher Max Scherzer, the 11th pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. Sabean perhaps has been preoccupied trying to decide whether the Giants should join the Kosuke Fukudome scrum as a latecomer bidding for the Japanese free-agent outfielder.
The flag formally dropped on Fukudome on Tuesday, when he informed his former club, Chunichi: "I won't be playing for a Japanese club next season, I'll play in the Majors. I appreciate the fans who supported me for nine years. I hope that the fans continue to root for me when they see me playing in the United States."Elsewhere around the Hot Stove, from people to places ... Hiroki Kuroda: His flag dropped a while ago, and now several teams are trying to drop serious bills on him. No sooner had three clubs made three-year offers -- the Mariners (about $11.5 million per season), Dodgers ($10 million) and D-backs ($9 million) -- when Arizona hiked its dollars. Length of contract will not be an issue: Kuroda, 32, apparently is only looking for a three-year commitment that will allow him to return to Japan and end his career in his homeland. Orioles: Apparently, Andy MacPhail has left the Winter Meetings, but the Winter Meetings haven't left MacPhail. The club's president of baseball operations reports that lobby talk has merely turned into telephone talk, telling The Baltimore Sun, "There's no shortage of talk, but it's just that -- talk. The conversations have not ebbed since we left Nashville." Most of the lip service continues to be paid the trio of left-hander Erik Bedard and the double-play combo of Miguel Tejada and Brian Roberts. The newspaper pegs their leading pursuers as, in order: The Dodgers, Reds, Mariners; the Astros; the Cubs. Brandon Inge: Having been displaced by the acquisition of Miguel Cabrera, Inge has voiced a preference for a move, and rumors concerning the Tigers' incumbent third baseman are just beginning. First up have been the Pirates, who have engaged the Tigers in talks that neither side denies. Aaron Rowand: Torii Hunter, gone. Andruw Jones, gone. Aaron Rowand, going? As far as the Phillies are concerned, that appears to be the case, with the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting that the center fielder has listed his six-bedroom home in Garnet Valley, Pa., for sale. Hideki Matsui: The Yankees outfielder doesn't want to dwell too much on the hypothetical -- talks with the Giants about a prospective trade are still in the preliminary stage -- but he did indicate to Japanese media that he wouldn't be hard-headed about invoking his no-trade clause. Phillies: Seeking a left-handed bat to complement Jayson Werth in right field, the Phils have turned their attention to switch-hitter Bobby Kielty after their inquiry into the Astros' Luke Scott elicited a turnoff of an asking price -- either Carlos Carrasco or Josh Outman, both prime pitching prospects. Padres: San Diego GM Kevin Towers has talked to David Eckstein's camp about the Padres' second-base job, but he isn't very optimistic, telling the North County Times that the club's need for a one-year stopgap at the position doesn't mesh with Eckstein's request for a multi-year deal. Paul Lo Duca: Declining a slightly bigger offer from Toronto, the All-Star catcher has agreed on a one-year contract with the Nationals. One knee-jerk reaction: Lo Duca relishes the thought of getting 19 cracks at his former Mets, who showed little interest in re-signing him after he became a free agent. Rockies: Despite having made what is believed to be the only two-year offer, the Rockies are still waiting for a response from free-agent infielder Tadahito Iguchi. Colorado GM Dan O'Dowd isn't holding his breath, telling the Denver Post that the situation is "going to drag out for some time."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.