A-Rod#039;s status still unclear

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 16, 2003

NEW ORLEANS - The winter meetings wrapped up with Alex Rodriguez still on the Texas Rangers. Soon, it should be clear whether he's going to stay there.

While Carl Everett, Scott Spiezio and Jeff Suppan changed teams in a late flurry of activity, a potential trade for Rodriguez remained in flux Monday.

No move for Vladimir Guerrero, Ivan Rodriguez and Javy Lopez, either. But the Baltimore Orioles would like to have them after already signing Miguel Tejada.

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''We're not ready to step up and meet their demands, but we'll continue the conversations,'' Orioles vice president Jim Beattie said.

Texas and Boston stepped up their talks about A-Rod. Rangers owner Tom Hicks said negotiations on a trade to send the AL MVP to Boston for Manny Ramirez were ''at a sensitive time.''

''We'll know in the next few days how this is going to come out,'' he told The Dallas Morning News on Monday. ''Both teams were concerned a week ago as this thing got way too much momentum in the media for where we were all at. We agreed we'd renew conversations after the winter meetings, and we started that process today.''

Roger Clemens remained on Houston's radar screen, too. A stunt by a Houston radio station couldn't drive the Rocket back into baseball - he turned down an offer for an SUV if he'd announce by Monday that he'd pitch for the Astros.

''You guys are going to have to hang onto your Hummer because nothing's changed,'' Clemens told KKRW-FM. ''I'm retired right now.''

By early evening, the hotel lobby that teemed with baseball executives and agents for nearly four days was taken over by Memphis football fans, ready to watch their team take on North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl on Tuesday night.

Even so, it was a busy-enough session. There were 11 trades, with a few coming on the final day: Montreal sent catcher Michael Barrett to Oakland, Arizona shipped outfielder Quinton McCracken to Seattle for Greg Colbrunn and Minnesota dealt outfielder Dustan Mohr to San Francisco.

Everett joined Montreal in one of the eight free-agent signings announced at these meetings. Also Monday, Spiezio agreed with Seattle, Suppan went to St. Louis and Roberto Hernandez headed for Philadelphia.

The Cardinals were closing in on outfielder Reggie Sanders. The Seattle Mariners may be ready to trade starter Freddy Garcia, and there was speculation they could send third baseman Jeff Cirillo to the New York Mets for Roger Cedeno.

Chicago White Sox stars Frank Thomas and Magglio Ordonez could become available. The Los Angeles Dodgers are desperate to add hitters, and perhaps could wind up with Nomar Garciaparra if the Red Sox get Rodriguez from the Rangers.

Greg Maddux also is in the market for a new team, with San Diego showing the most interest in the four-time Cy Young winner cut loose by Atlanta.

Also on deck: The New York Yankees, the only team that didn't send top officials to the meetings, are expected to finalize deals with Gary Sheffield and Kenny Lofton.

The Expos gave Everett, 33, a deal that guarantees him $7.5 million.

The All-Star outfielder hit .287 last season with 28 homers and 92 RBIs for Texas and the White Sox. Montreal GM Omar Minaya tried to get him last summer before Chicago acquired him.

''We needed to replace some of the offense we lost with Vladimir,'' Minaya said.

The Mariners reached preliminary agreement with Spiezio. The three-year deal for about $9 million cannot be finalized until he passes a physical.

The 31-year-old first baseman was a prime player for Anaheim in its run to the 2002 World Series championship.

Suppan and St. Louis agreed to a $6 million, two-year contract. The right-hander, 29 next month, went 13-11 with a 4.19 ERA for Pittsburgh and Boston last season.

Suppan has pitched at least 200 innings for five straight years, and a durable starter is exactly what the Cardinals needed.

In the draft of players left off 40-man rosters, the White Sox took pitcher Jason Grilli from Florida. The son of former major league Steve Grilli, he's been beset by injuries.