Sunday, November 07, 1999
Junior sweepstakes to spice up GM meetings
Groundwork for deal may be set
BY CHRIS HAFT
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Circumstances suddenly have made the major league general managers' meetings, typically an overlooked item on baseball's off-season calendar, virtually a prime-time event.
Though some GMs began gathering at a luxury hotel in Laguna Niguel, Calif., on Friday, the first full-scale meetings were set for today.
The Seattle Mariners' efforts to trade center fielder Ken Griffey Jr., widely considered the sport's premier player, has thrown a forest of logs on the so-called hot stove. Griffey, the American League's home-run leader for the last three years, requested a trade that would bring him closer to his family in Orlando, Fla.
Every conversation held by Mariners GM Pat Gillick will be magnified: To help its chances of getting fair market value for Griffey, Seattle has urged secrecy from all interested parties, including the Reds.
GM Jim Bowden, whose fervor to obtain Griffey may exceed that of any of his counterparts, won't comment on the number or caliber of players he'd have to give up to acquire the All-Century Team member. But it's widely assumed the Reds would have to part with at least three players from the following group: a top relief pitcher (Danny Graves or Scott Williamson), perhaps a starting pitcher (Brett Tomko), a leading prospect (shortstop Travis Dawkins or pitcher Rob Bell), a left-handed hitting outfielder (switch hitter Dmitri Young would qualify) and perhaps even first baseman Sean Casey.
Reds manager Jack McKeon, a former San Diego Padres GM, expects Gillick to weigh all offers carefully.
He takes his time, McKeon said. He's not in a big hurry, and in that situation I don't blame him. I think he's going to be receptive to a lot of ideas. What he's basically saying is, "I've got plenty of time; who wants to get in the sweepstakes?' I don't look for (Grif fey) to be traded at the GM meetings. You're just going to get the feelers out then.
But several other premier players could be traded this week. Fewer teams can afford these high-salaried performers, which tends to stimulate trade activity once these players approach the end of their contracts.
That's largely why the Reds were able to obtain Dante Bichette, who'll make $6.5 million in each of the next two years, from the Colorado Rockies. It mattered little that Bichette had the most hits in the majors since 1993; what meant more to the Rockies was reducing the $52 million they had committed to 11 players next year.
Players of every kind are expected to be available, including such stars as L.A.'s Raul Mondesi and Eric Karros, the Orioles' Albert Belle and pitchers Andy Ashby and Darryl Kile.
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