And the winner of the Ken Griffey Jr. sweepstakes is...Seattle?
Because the Mariners are denying potential bidders the chance to
negotiate a long-term deal with their centerfielder, who has
asked to be traded and who becomes a free agent after next
season, most teams interested in acquiring him have backed away
for now. "We haven't had any proposals that make sense," says
Seattle general manager Pat Gillick, who at week's end had shown
no signs of softening his demands. "If we don't [work out a
deal], we're prepared to go into the season with Griffey."
Cincinnati has shown the most interest in trading for Griffey,
but Gillick insists on a package that includes both first
baseman Sean Casey and second baseman Pokey Reese, a deal Reds
G.M. Jim Bowden refuses to make....
Free-agent outfielder Greg Vaughn, who hit 45 homers for the
Reds last season, is caught in the Griffey fallout. Vaughn wants
to play close to his home in Sacramento but has so far found no
takers among the California teams, and his $10
million-per-season asking price may be too much of a gamble for
any club before it falls out of the running for Griffey....
If the Mets lose free-agent first baseman John Olerud to the
Mariners, look for New York G.M. Steve Phillips to make a push
for 20-year-old Dodgers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is
seeking to be declared a free agent on the grounds that L.A.
signed him illegally in 1994, when he was only 15. Some in the
Mets organization have reportedly suggested that third baseman
Robin Ventura could move to first to accommodate Beltre, but
Phillips denied that a switch has been discussed....
White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf stunned audience members during
a "town hall meeting" at the Comiskey Park Stadium Club last
month when he told several hecklers to shut up after they
suggested he sell the team and fire G.M. Ron Schueler....
Cincinnati outfielder Dante Bichette says that when his baseball
days are over, he will pursue a career in professional foosball.
COLOR PHOTO: CHUCK SOLOMON With Griffey available, teams are holding off on free agent Vaughn.