Friday, December 14, 2001

Reese deal with Seattle collapses

Failure to trade Reese stalls free agent deals

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BOSTON — The Reds didn't gain or lose any players in the Rule 5 draft Thursday, but the draft turned out to be costly, anyway. It kept them from dealing Pokey Reese.

        Seattle, which had been working on a deal with the Reds that would involve the infielder and Mariners pitcher John Halama, lost four players in the draft.

        “They pulled out of talks,” Reds general manager Jim Bowden said. “They said they were going in a different direction.”

        So the Reds went 1-for-2 at the annual winter meetings. They unloaded Dmitri Young, who made $3.5 million last season, but they left Boston with Reese, who made $3.1 million in 2001, still on the roster.

        The Reds had been hopeful about making a deal with the Mariners on Thursday morning — until the Rule 5 draft. Any unprotected player could be drafted Thursday for $50,000, but he must stay on the 25-man roster for the year or be offered back for $25,000. Only 12 players were picked.

        Seattle lost four, including three Triple-A pitchers (Jeffrey Farnsworth, Jorge Sosa and Steven Kent). That made Halama less expendable.

        The Mariners also have to address Bret Boone's situation. The former Reds second baseman has a three-year deal on the table that the Mariners have sweetened to $24 million. He could opt for arbitration and get $12 million-plus for one year and blow the Mariners' budget. They're also looking for a left fielder.

        So the Reds and Reese are way down on their list.

        Bowden said the Reds are talking with two other undisclosed teams about Reese.

        “We'll continue discussions,” he said. “But we don't have a deal that we think will help our club. We still need a pitcher.”

        Until they move Reese — who, like Young, was in line for a huge raise through arbitration — the Reds are stuck. They don't want to make offers to free agents with Reese still in limbo.

        “Pokey is the priority,” assistant general manager Doc Rodgers said. “Until we resolve that, we can't take the next step.”


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