Giants' young aces might be off limits
GM Sabean growing weary of Cain, Lincecum queries
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Whether the Giants inched toward completing a deal at baseball's Winter Meetings was uncertain, although they definitely moved closer to ruling out trading Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum.Trading either of the prized right-handers would fetch the Giants a hitter or two they could plug into their batting order, which has glaring vacancies in the 3-4-5 spots. Baltimore's Miguel Tejada, whom the Giants have discussed, would help fill that void. But general manager Brian Sabean said Monday as the Meetings began that the deals they're seriously considering don't involve Cain or Lincecum, the 23-year-olds regarded as potential staff aces. "I don't see traction right now with either one of those names. We haven't been blown away yet," Sabean said, adding that he's "getting close" to declaring Cain and Lincecum off the market -- which he hasn't definitively done. Sabean pointed out that the mere inclusion of Cain and Lincecum in trade rumors could be counterproductive for the Giants, whose last-place finish in 2007 has prompted them to field numerous proposals for the sake of upgrading the roster.
"In some ways, to have them in play at all just from the listening standpoint may in fact be inhibiting some of the other business we could do," Sabean said. "Because if somebody holds out hope that they can get one of those particular pitchers, that kind of detours you away from other conversations we could be having."Sabean acknowledged that one team made an "interesting" proposal for Lincecum. "But I don't know if it's something we're going to pursue," Sabean said. That proposal, Sabean said, was not linked to a potential deal for Florida third baseman Miguel Cabrera, the most imposing hitter available in trade. This indicated that the Giants are not among the leading suitors for the four-time All-Star. And the rumored blockbuster that swept the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center -- Lincecum for Cincinnati outfielder Jay Bruce, the 2007 Minor League Player of the Year -- was pure fiction, a Giants official said. Three industry sources, none associated with the Giants, fanned the flames of that rumor, with one declaring that he "heard it from the horse's mouth." The Giants did resume discussions with the Orioles about Tejada, who hit .296 with 18 home runs and 81 RBIs last season. Tejada, who built a Bay Area following while playing for the A's from 1997-2003, would move from shortstop to third base if he came to San Francisco. But a Giants official said that multiple factors make them wary of acquiring Tejada: His age (32 next May 25), his salary ($13 million each of the next two seasons) and the uncertainty surrounding the position switch.
An intriguing dynamic could potentially develop between the Giants and Cardinals. St. Louis third baseman Scott Rolen, prominently mentioned in trade talks, is represented by agents Sam and Seth Levinson -- who also count third baseman Pedro Feliz, the longtime Giant who's now a free agent, as a client. One theory has the Cardinals trading Rolen to the Giants before signing Feliz, with the Levinsons' blessing. But, as is the case with Tejada, Rolen would come with issues, including age (33 next April), injury history (shoulder, back) and salary ($12 million per year from 2008-10). He also would have to waive his no-trade clause.Trade talks involving catcher Bengie Molina (.276, 19 homers, 81 RBIs in '07) seem to have cooled, contradicting pre-Meetings scuttlebutt.
"A team has asked about Molina. That doesn't mean we're shopping him," Sabean said.Speculation increased regarding the Giants' interest in free-agent outfielders Andruw Jones, formerly of Atlanta, and Kusoke Fukodome from Japan's Chunichi Dragons. But Sabean said that the conversations he had about free agents included "nothing really of substance." Jones, who's represented by agent Scott Boras, is said to be seeking close to $20 million per year. But it's widely believed that Jones won't be signed immediately and that his price will drop as the offseason progresses. As an unrestricted free agent, Fukodome wouldn't be subject to the "posting" fee that forced the Boston Red Sox to pay $50 million just to negotiate with Daisuke Matsuzaka last offseason. Fukodome has received multiyear offers from Chunichi and the Yomiuri Giants worth between $4 million and $5 million per season, but is expected to receive twice that from a Major League club. The Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres and Texas Rangers have been mentioned along with the Giants as suitors for Fukodome.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.