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VLAD FOR SALE
2004-01-11 09:08
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

GO WEST YOUNG MAN

Suddenly, Mets fans were encouraged this week that their team could land Vlad Guerrero, who is arguably one of the five best players in the game. After rejecting a five-year, $75 million deal from the Expos, the biggest offer Guerrero has seen this winter is five-years, $65 million from the Baltimore Orioles. When Miguel Tejada signed with the O's it was widely believed that Baltimore had an advantage in reeling in Vlad (Guerrero and Tejada, both Dominican, share the same agents).

But for whatever reason, Guerrero has balked. Word had it that he would love to play for the Marlins, but Florida has not jumped into the mix with both feet. The Dodgers are in need of a star offensive player, but with ownership in flux, they have been unable to make a competitive offer. Ah, the frustrations of rooting for the Mets and Dodgers these days.

Which leaves the Mets (and now apparently, the Tigers too). What a steal this could be. An outfield of Cliff Floyd, Mike Cameron and Guerrero is more than somewhat appealing. Heck, I sure would be envious. Guerrero is my favorite National League star; Floyd and Cameron are great guys to boot. But the Mets, concerned about Guerrero's back troubles, were uneasy about giving him five years. So they offered him three-years at $30 million with incentives that could go much higher.

However, according the The New York Times this morning, Guerrero's agents have told the Mets that they will pass on New York's offer:


Last night, Guerrero, baseball's premier free agent this off-season, was prepared to accept the team's multiyear offer, believed to be for up to five years. Two people in baseball said the team was not the Baltimore Orioles. Baltimore was the only other team known to have made an offer to Guerrero, but the Orioles' offer deferred too much money.

So who is this mystery team? Florida? L.A.? The Tigers? A few weeks ago, Will Carroll heard a rumor that the Yankees were considering signing Vlad. Gluttony, you say? Reader Jim Gerard thinks it is sensible:


If the Mets are apparently in a position to steal him away from Baltimore for $13M a year, what's to stop George from offering him $14M? The Yanks seem to have made up their mind not to sign him early in the off season, and the only possible explanations for it are that George had his sights on Sheffield and ignored his baseball people, who seem to have preferred Guerrero; and that the team is looking to bag Beltran after next season. (They may have been wary of his back, but Will Carroll says it's fine.) However, that presumes: A) Beltran will still be a free agent -- KC could resign him or trade him to a team that signs him long-term, which most teams would make a contingency of acquiring him; or B) he'll want to play for the Yankees. While I love Beltran and perhaps even favor him over Guerrero because he plays a more important position, is better defensively, and has no injury issues, it's a much riskier strategy than grabbing Guerrero now. If so, he goes to RF, Sheff moves to LF or DH, Matsui to CF (if Sheff goes to LF), Bernie's the DH, Lofton becomes (appropriately) the fourth outfielder/pinch hitter-runner.
It's odd that George would apparently let a talent like Guerrero go unimpeded to his crosstown rival and make a major splash on the back pages.

While I doubt the Yankees are the team that has made the latest offer to Vlad---don't you think we would have heard some rumors leak through the New York Press by now if that were the case?---I can't argue with Gerard's logic. However, as much as I'd love to see Vlad in the Bronx, I think it would be hilarious and fitting if he ended up with the Tigers. First of all, he'd look crisp in their classic home uniform (are they still wearing that these days?), and the transition from oblivion (Montreal) to oblivion (Detriot) is just too funny not to appreciate.

But, nooooo. According the The Los Angeles Times, the mystery team is none other than the Anahiem Angels, who have crashed the party with a five-year, $70 million deal:


Guerrero, who speaks little English, will find a Spanish-speaking owner in Anaheim and fellow Dominicans in [Bartolo] Colon, [Jose] Guillen, pitcher Ramon Ortiz and coach Alfredo Griffin. In September, even before Colon and Guillen had signed, Ortiz heartily endorsed the pursuit of Guerrero.

"If the Angels sign this guy," Ortiz said, "my God, watch out."

Like I said, tough time to be a Dodger fan. I hope Jon Weisman keeps himself away from any sharp objects. And how do you think Mariners fans must feel about this one? Yeeesh.

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