Wednesday, Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. ET

Baseball Winter Meetings

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Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 10, 2008; 1:00 PM

Live from Major League Baseball's winter meetings in Las Vegas, Post national baseball writer Dave Sheinin was online Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. ET to take your questions about the free agent signings, trade rumors and more.

The transcript follows.

Read more about the winter meetings in Baseball Insider

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Dave Sheinin: Hey. Sorry I'm late. Let's go...

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Arlington, Va.: Why are the Nats looking at the CF from Colorado (Tavares?) It seems like they are overloaded in the outfield as it is. I realize it's the corners where their overloaded but can't Dukes play CF??

Dave Sheinin: The Nationals feel like they need a defensive upgrade in center field. They definitely don't want to run Lastings Milledge out there in 2009, and they'd rather have Dukes at one of the corners. Yes, it would create a glut of corner outfielders, but that could always be resolved via trade. It won't necessarily be Taveras, but I expect the Nationals to acquire a pure center fielder by spring training.

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Richmond, VA.: Austin Kearns would seem to be the odd man out in the 2009 outfield. $8 million is a lot to spend on a 4th OF. Is it far-fetched for the Nats to try to give away Kearns to anyone who'll have his contract?

Dave Sheinin: I don't think that's far-fetched at all. He's certainly available. But the way the free agent market is going, teams might be able to get a comparable player for half of what Kearns is making.

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What took CC so long?: Do you think he still doesn't want to play in NY but that leaving $40 million on the table was just too hard to do?

Dave Sheinin: That's a little simplistic, but essentially correct, I believe. The opt-out clause, which could let Sabathia leave after three years, was also a critical element.

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Bowie, Md.: Has there been any discussion around the meetings about whether the cultural resentment about the megabucks executives not being worth their salaries will spill over to baseball players? I mean, if the CEO of Countrywide Financial was never worth $15million/year, maybe CC Sabathia isn't, either.

Dave Sheinin: That's a great point, but honestly I have not heard that sentiment expressed here.

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Arlington, Va.: I have a source who says the Nats are closing on Teixeira possibly today. Even though I heard this from someone out there - I'm still having a hard time believing it's remotely possible, particularly so quickly. Have you heard anything about this and a potential announcement today?

Dave Sheinin: I have not heard that. In fact, most people expect the Teixeira sweepstakes to stretch into next week, at the very least.

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Washington, D.C.: Wouldn't Mark Teixeira have to be insane to sign with the Washington Nationals? His other suitors will almost certainly pay him more money, and they are legitimate World Series contenders NEXT year. They don't have a "Plan," they aren't focused on 2011 or 2012, they aren't banking on people who are currently in single-A. They're ready to win NOW. What on earth makes the Nats think Teixeira would have the slightest interest in signing with them?

Dave Sheinin: Bottom line: Teixeira will almost certainly sign with the team that offers the most money. If that's the Nationals, that's where he will sign. It's difficult to gauge the Lerners' legitimacy because Ted and Mark Lerner are both very media-shy. That's why everyone is having so much trouble getting a read on the Nationals.

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Los Angeles: Which team would most benefit from signing Mark Teixeira? Surely not the Red Sox, yet everything I'm reading says that they're going to get him. As an Orioles fan, do I have any hope here? I can tell you he'd most definitely enhance their lineup.

Dave Sheinin: I think the Angels would benefit most -- because Teixeira turns them into a World Series contender. Baltimore and Washington are bad teams that would get a little better with Teixeira, but still not be contenders.

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Arlington, Va.: Why would the Nats even entertain the thoughts of Manny Ramierez?? It makes no sense to me when you think of Dukes, Milledge, Kearns, the fellow from Florida that they just picked up.... I'm all for the plan and this seems like a waste of money to me. Thoughts?

Dave Sheinin: This is very intriguing, because several weeks ago the Nationals were adamant they were not interested in Ramirez, but now suddenly they are not closing that door. What has changed? Well, the market has gone south, and Ramirez does not have an obvious deep-pocketed suitor. (However, SI.com is reporting the Yankees are going after him now.) Obviously, the Nationals are not going to get into a bidding war with the Yankees, but if Ramirez's price falls precipitously, they could pounce. They would deal with the outfield issue afterwards.

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Herndon, Va.: Dave: please dispel the Teixeira chatter. And what is the buzz at the Winter Meetings about the state of the US economy and free agent signings? Are execs/agents making the connection, or is the collective head in the sand?

Dave Sheinin: Can't dispel the Teixeira chatter. It's real. A lot of people are pinning the declining market on the economy. The consensus is that while the upper-elite talent (Sabathia, Teixeira, Burnett) will get their mega-deals, the second- and third-tier free agents will suffer. And we've already seen that coming true.

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Trenton, N.J.: Will Pedro Martinez gets a contract?

Do you think Sammy Sosa can help a team?

Dave Sheinin: Pedro = yes

Sosa = no

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Bethesda, Md.: Are the Nats content with Olson as the only addition to their pitching staff? Any word on Pedro Martinez possibly joining the Nats?

Dave Sheinin: No, the Nationals definitely want to add starting pitching, but as I wrote earlier this week they will not be doing it via major league free agents. They are searching for another trade, and they could also sign a couple of veterans to minor-league deals in hopes that one of them turns into this year's Odalis Perez.

As for Pedro, I think he will ultimately get a better deal somewhere else.

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Sec 114, Row E: If Milledge doesn't have the D for center, we cannot move him to a corner, because he doesn't really project to a power bat.

So, is he useless now?

Dave Sheinin: The Nationals think Milledge could still become a 20-homer guy (he had 14 in 138 games in his first full season in the majors). If he hits 20 homers, steals 30 bags (he had 24 this season), posts a .350 on-base (.330 this year) and plays good defense at one of the corners, that's not a bad player at all.

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Laurel, Md.: Would the National's offer to Ramirez be the highest ever by a 100-loss team to a player over 35?

Dave Sheinin: Ooh, good question. Off the top of my head, I can't think of another contender... Anyone want to tackle this one?

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Longtime Reds Fan: Is my team a huge chump or just a little bit of a chump for taking Ramon Hernandez off the O's hands?

Dave Sheinin: All I know is, the Orioles were ecstatic to be rid of him. The fact they got a usable part (Ryan Freel) in return was gravy. Hernandez was not well-liked by the manager or many of his teammates. Enjoy him!

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Washington, D.C.: SI.com's Jon Heyman believes Mark Teixeira already has two offers of at least $160 million. Is one from the Nats? Also any word on the Orlando Hudson front? I haven't heard anything.

Dave Sheinin: The Nationals are being very cautious with their discssions of numbers, because they're wary of simply being used to coax a higher payday from another team. As for Hudson, things have been eerily quiet on that front.

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Westminster, Md.: Do you think the Yanks will still go after Burnett and/or Derek Lowe? Rather than getting into a bidding war with Boston over Texiera, I'd rather see the Nats focus on one of the pitchers mentioned above.

Dave Sheinin: The Yankees are already going after both Burnett and Lowe in a big way, and there is some speculation they would be happy to walk away with all three of the big pitchers on the market (Sabathia, Lowe, Burnett). I think it's more likely they get two. The Nationals will not be involved in any of those pitchers. Period.

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Baltimore: Good job with the blog. Much appreciated. How come nobody is showing interest in Man-ny? Does he want too many years, or too much money? Or both?

Dave Sheinin: Both. They're asking for the moon right now. Boras has said he wants six years, which means he'd probably settle for four. But all anyone wants to give is two. He also wants $25 million per year. I think the price is going to come down and someone could get a real bargain.

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Rosslyn, Va.: Dave, any rumblings on if the Nationals are looking at anyone in particular in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft?

Dave Sheinin: I think the Nationals will make at least one selection in the Rule 5 draft. The top choices are a first baseman (Jordan Brown from Cleveland), a catcher (James Skelton, Detroit) and a relief pitcher (Eduardo Morlan, Tampa Bay).

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Sec 114, Row E: Is there any reason to be excited about the Nats acquiring either Taveras or Carlos Gonzalez?

Dave Sheinin: Taveras = no reason to be excited

Gonzalez = moderate reason to be excited

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Oak Hill, Va.: Maybe I overslept, but why hasn't there been more discussion around the Nats acquiring pitching during the Winter Meetings? Am I mis-remembering the Nats' pitching performance last year?

Dave Sheinin: No, they're definitely interested in acquiring pitching, but it will not be major free agents. Here's how they view the situation: Would Randy Wolf or Paul Byrd -- at, say, $5 million -- be any better than Collin Balester at $400,000?

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Glen Echo: Dave

I realize that tough ticket and Nationals Baseball have never been uttered in the same sentence but I think a Nationals Park Opening Day featuring President Obama throwing out the first ball and the World Champion (that is really hard to say) Phillies would be a really tough ticket. What do you think of that notion?

Dave Sheinin: Didn't Obama say he wanted to throw out the first pitch for the White Sox? I haven't checked the schedule, but maybe he could do both.

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Cleveland Transplant: While I would love for C.C. to come back to the Indians, I know it's not happening. Any words on free-agent or even minor league prospect pitchers headed for Cleveland?

Dave Sheinin: Kerry Wood is getting ready to sign there.

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NattyDelite!: Hey Dave! Thanks for doing this chat!

2 Q's:

1) In Barry's tradition, what is the lunch situation like? Are you sandwiching, or does the $35 continental keep you sated until dinner?

2) Have you seen/heard/suspected JimBo of laying the ground work for any of the approximately 95 outfielders we have? If so, which ones will we likely part with? Please, give me even the most unsubstantiated rumor, or start one yourself! This off season is too boring.

Dave Sheinin: Lunch: I found a noodle restaurant (called, creatively, "Noodles") in the hotel where I actually got a plate of udon noodles for $18. What a bargain!

Outfielders: They will almost certainly trade an outfielder or two this winter, but they need to see if they can land a true center fielder first.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Is Dunn really plan B for the Nats if they can't land Teixeira? Also, is either a Tex or Dunn signing enough to convince Zimmerman that the team is committed to winning so that he would be more likely to sign a long term deal? Or would he need to see movement in the pitching staff as well (shape up the bullpen and add a starter or two)?

Dave Sheinin: It's not so much that Dunn (or Ramirez) is Plan B. It's just that the Nationals see themselves as opportunists. Those were not players they had serious interest in when the offseason began, but with prices falling they are monitoring those situations. As for Zimmerman, it's something he will be asked in the coming weeks and months.

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DC: So should we just give Wieters the AL ROY award now or?

Dave Sheinin: I don't know about that. He might not be in the majors until June. That doesn't mean he still can't win it, but it makes it tough.

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The Land of AAV: Dave - With Sabathia's contract rumored to be nearly $23 million in annual average value, this makes 3 out of the 4 players with contracts over $20 million AAV in history starting pitchers (Clemens twice, Johan, and CC). All of the contracts involved were with NY teams, except A-Rod's first.

Do these facts say more about the NY market or the value of elite pitchers to desparate teams? Will Manny or Tex be able to top $20 million as non-pitchers outside of NY?

(Technically, Manny's turned down 2 yrs, $45 million from LAD, but if the option were picked up, that would be 3 years, $60m).

Dave Sheinin: It does say something about the New York market, but it says more about the huge revenues generated by a handful of teams. Remember, the Red Sox gave $20 million AAV to Manny, and the Rangers gave $25 million AAV to A-Rod. The New York teams are not the only ones willing to spend huge amounts, but lately they have used their advantages in revenues to spend whatever it takes to land the best available pitchers in the game.

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20003: Just please promise me the Nationals do not consider Juan Pierre a "pure center fielder".

Please . . . .

Dave Sheinin: Yikes. Let's hope not.

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Fairfax, Va.: How crazy are the Mets to sign K-Rod for that much? What makes a closer worth more than $12 million a year?

One closer does not make a bullpen

Dave Sheinin: Personally, I'm not a big fan of paying closers $12 million a year, especially one with questions about decreasing velocity and effectiveness, such as K-Rod. (Don't be fooled by those 62 saves -- saves are the most imprecise statistic in all of baseball. He also had an all-time record number of save opportunities.) But when you're the Mets, and your bullpen cost you the division last year, and your veteran closer (Billy Wagner) is out for the season, you do what you think it's going to take to shore up the back end of your bullpen.

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Indianapolis: Any rumors about my Phillies? Are they going to be content to stand pat for now? Any feelers out for Burrell? Moyer staying or going?

Dave Sheinin: The Phillies are being very quiet. They want to re-sign Moyer, and they want a new left fielder (Burrell is a goner). They are looking for a younger, more athletic guy to play out there. They also insist they are not interested in Manny Ramirez, for what it's worth.

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Las Vegas Lover: You have to answer at least one odds question: How much would the Nats' WS odds improve if they signed Tex? How much did the Yankees move with rumors of the CC signing?

Dave Sheinin: What are the Nationals' odds now? 200-1? Maybe they improve to 150-1 with Teixeira. But I'm just guessing.

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Music Question: DBT in Richmond on a Saturday in January at a relatively new venue. Worth the drive?

Dave Sheinin: Absolutely, without question. Tell Patterson I said hey.

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Chantilly, Va.: Dave: Now that CC is off the market, which of the big-name pitchers (or other players) are the Bosox most likely to get? I don't count Brian Schneider as a big-name player since we're talking about the Red Sox and not the Nats.

Also, will the addition of these big-name players vault the Sox and Yanks back ahead of the Rays in '09? This division is beyond belief. The Jays aren't chopped liver either.

I almost feel sorry for the Orioles. NOT!

Dave Sheinin: The Red Sox have increased their resolve for signing Teixeira, and they have been involved in Burnett and Lowe -- but there are rumblings here that the Yankees could get both of them, to go along with Sabathia. Wow.

Yeah, the division looks brutal if you're the Orioles.

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Alexandria, Va. [originally from Evanston, Ill.]: Obama has said he is interested in throwing out the first pitch, and the Sox are definitely trying to make it happen.

However, Opening Day for the 2005 World Series champs is April 6; the Nats is April 13. Don't see why he couldn't do both.

Dave Sheinin: There you have it. Thanks for digging that up.

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Nervous Nats Fan: How's Cordero doing out there? Any big news for the Chief?

Dave Sheinin: Chad has actually been floating around here, and his agent is saying they are not entertaining offers right now. They are inclined to wait until he is healthy, and then start the auction. He also has not ruled out a return to the Nationals at a lesser salary, though to me it seems unlikely.

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Augusta, Maine: With all the talk surrounding Sabbathia, Burnett and Peavy, Ben Sheets is a forgotten man. Where do you think he ends up and how long a deal can he get given his injury history?

Dave Sheinin: Sheets is very intriguing -- in fact, some executives I've spoken to actually value him higher than A.J. Burnett. I know Texas is very much interested in Sheets, and the Yankees could turn to him if they lose out on Burnett and/or Lowe.

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Dave Sheinin: Hey everyone. Gotta get back to the frenzy. Thanks for the questions. Sorry I didn't get to all of them. See you next time.

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