Sunday, January 11, 2004

Vlad Guerrero rejects 3-year Mets deal

Baseball notebook

Enquirer news services

NEW YORK - Vladimir Guerrero rejected a three-year contract offer from the New York Mets, who were told the free agent outfielder has decided to sign with another team.

Mets general manager Jim Duquette said Saturday night he didn't know which team Guerrero has committed to. But Duquette said he was informed by Guerrero's agent, Arn Tellem, that the former Montreal Expos star would sign a multiyear deal.

The Baltimore Orioles are thought to have offered Guerrero at least $65 million over five years. It was unclear which other teams were still pursuing Guerrero.

"I can't comment about what the Mets have said," Orioles vice president Jim Beattie said. "When we have an announcement to make, we will make an announcement. Until that time, we remain in negotiations."

One baseball executive said the Los Angeles Dodgers might be involved in talks with Guerrero. A message left for Dodgers general manager Dan Evans was not immediately returned.

Baseball officials said Detroit and Florida were not in negotiations with Guerrero at this point.

Concerned about the back injury that forced him to miss nearly two months last season, the Mets made Guerrero an offer Thursday that guaranteed only three years.

Duquette said his understanding was that no team would be able to get insurance for Guerrero's back.

But Duquette said if Guerrero stayed healthy, he certainly would have reached incentives that would automatically make the proposed deal with the Mets worth $71 million over five years.

"We weren't willing to make a guaranteed five-year offer. That was based on the advice of our doctors," Duquette said. "Our offer was predicated on the health concern."

Guerrero, a four-time All-Star, is a .323 career hitter. He had at least 34 homers and 108 RBI every year from 1998-2002. He also has one of the strongest arms in baseball.

PALMEIRO TO O'S: Rafael Palmeiro, 39, agreed to terms with the Orioles, accepting a one-year contract with an option for a second year.

Palmeiro hit .260 with 38 homers and 112 RBI last year with Texas. During an outstanding career that began in 1986 with the Chicago Cubs, he has hit .291 with 2,780 hits and 528 home runs.

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