Meetings, Dye deal provide grist for rumor mill

By Dave Fultz

With the winter meetings now underway, there are several hot rumors coming out of Las Vegas.

One of the newest and most interesting rumors for our campus audience is one that has the White Sox sending outfielder Jermaine Dye to Cincinnati for former pitching prospect Homer Bailey. Bailey has had two rough years in his time with the big league club but was one of the most highly regarded young arms in baseball a little less than a year ago. He would be a steal for Chicago GM Kenny Williams to reel in for Dye’s aging 34-year-old bat.

Conflicting reports have this deal both on and off, but it’s certainly one to keep an eye on if you’re a fan of the Southsiders.

Last week, I started running down my top 10 players available this offseason, so let’s run down the three guys I picked at the top last week – along with some of the latest news on them – and then we’ll get started with the new names on the list.

1. Mark Teixeira, 1B, free agent

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    Teixeira’s agent, Scott Boras, is rarely in a hurry to get his players signed because the wait-it-out strategy usually guarantees the biggest payday. That said, the Angels have a history of setting deadlines on key free agents and they are one of the biggest players for Teixeira’s services.

    2. CC Sabathia, SP, free agent

    Sabathia is the key piece to this year’s offseason puzzle, because it is highly unlikely any pitcher signs on the dotted line before the big lefty. Every agent knows Sabathia will set the market for pitchers, and he’ll set it high.

    3. Jake Peavy, SP, San Diego

    Padres GM Kevin Towers has stated publicly that the only team he’s still talking to is the Chicago Cubs and that if this deal isn’t close to being done at the end of the winter meetings, it won’t happen. While there are some obstacles to navigate before Peavy can be traded to the Cubs, Chicago is still his most likely destination.

    4. Manny Ramirez, OF, free agent

    Ramirez is the wild card this winter, because it is very hard to estimate his value. If he can be had in a shorter deal of two or three years, he is the best hitter on the market, but his agent said he’s seeking a much longer deal. If it weren’t for his age (36) and well-known history of “Manny being Manny,” he’d likely be at the top of this list. Ramirez will go down as one of the five best hitters of his generation, but it is hard to imagine committing $100 million to an aging corner outfielder with a reputation for loafing.

    5. A.J. Burnett, SP, free agent

    Burnett’s biggest problems over the course of his career have been inconsistency and an injury-prone history, but he has seen a resurgence of sorts over the last three seasons in Toronto. He is only 31 and would likely benefit from a move to the National League and an easier division, but some teams may hesitate to commit big bucks to an arm with a history like his.

    6. Adam Dunn, OF/1B, free agent

    I’ve sung Dunn’s praises a lot over the course of the last two years writing this column. Everyone knows how valuable I think this guy is and can likely be had for much less money than he deserves.

    7. Kerry Wood, RP, free agent

    As much as it pains me to see Wood leave Chicago, he deserves to get a big payday, as he was one of baseball’s best relievers in 2008. Wood posted a career-best 1.08 WHIP, a 3.26 ERA and had 11.4 K/9 IP this season … wow, now that I think about it, the Cubs made a big mistake in letting him go.

    8. Derek Lowe, SP, free agent

    Lowe would be higher on this list, but he is 35 and has benefited from playing in an easier league and park over the last four seasons, making his value to other teams somewhat lower.

    9. Milton Bradley, DH/OF, free agent

    Bradley had perhaps the best statistical season of anyone in the American League this season, but his poor outfield defense makes him a liability at any position other than DH. He’ll have to sign with an AL club, but the true switch-hitter will bring immense value at a much lower price than what his bat is worth.

    10. Rafael Furcal, SS, free agent

    As a legitimate on-base threat that can lead off, Furcal has good value for a hitting shortstop who can play defense. The biggest questions are whether he can stay healthy and if his outstanding 140 at-bat performance in 2008 would push his price into the stratosphere.

    Dave Fultz is a senior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected].