Heading to the winter meetings in Florida, where I won’t see the sunshine until I’m back in New York. This assignment is mainly staking out the hotel lobby until Friday searching out agents and general managers. There’s a lot of conversing with other writers swapping information until somebody of importance steps off an elevator and we make a mad dash to grab a few nuggets.
So far, it has been a free-spending off-season, which is to be expected in the wake of management and the union reaching a labor agreement. Believe me, if nothing had been signed you’d be hearing Bud Selig crying about spiraling salaries. In exchange for labor peace, which presumably will take the spotlight off the steroid issue _ temporarily, of course, until the Hall of Fame announcement thrusts Mark McGwire into the news _ the owners are writing checks.
While this isn’t regarded as a great free-agent class, that’s not to say there aren’t players of interest:
Barry Zito: Oakland offered arbitration, but no way he accepts with the prospect of a reported six-year, $73-million contract a possibility. Agent Scott Boras will make a compelling case for the years, citing Zito’s durability, but that’s all the more reason to be cautious. Sooner or later, he has to break down.
The early favorite is Texas, but Boras will work the Mets to prime the pump. Re-signing Tom Glavine takes away the urgency to go after Zito, but the Mets will get a chance to match any offer.
Manny Ramirez: Boston wants to unload its moody slugger, with the Dodgers a possible destination. Then again, the Red Sox have been down this road before.
Barry Bonds: Where’s he gonna go? Who wants that baggage? Oakland has been mentioned, but figure on him staying with San Francisco.