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Rumor Mill at this hour: 11 p.m.

12.09.09 at 11:20 pm ET
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A general manager has told Jon Heyman that he believes the Blue Jays should accept the Angels’ current offer for Roy Halladay.

Brian McTaggart is tweeting that the Astros have signed Brandon Lyon. Ken Rosenthal says the deal is for three years and $15 million.

Read More: Brandon Lyon, Roy Halladay, Rumor Mill,

Rumor Mill at this hour: 10 p.m.

12.09.09 at 10:15 pm ET
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The Royals, Giants, Cubs, Tigers, and White Sox are all interested in Scott Podsednik, tweets Ken Rosenthal.

A source told Ken Rosenthal he “doesn’t see” the Mike Lowell to Texas deal happening.

Ed Price tweets that Adrian Beltre‘s asking price– reportedly between $10 million and $11 million per year– is not something the Red Sox are prepared to meet.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, mike lowell, Rumor Mill, Scott Podsednik

Boras: ‘We Value Working With [The Red Sox]’

12.09.09 at 9:34 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — It was Scott Boras Day here in Indianapolis. His annual press conference was held in front of 50 reporters here at the Marriot.  Following the presser, I caught up with Boras back at his hotel to conduct a one-on-one interview for Comcast Sports Net.

The meat of the conversation had to do with the relationship between the Red Sox and the high profiled agent.

“I have a solid working relationship with Theo,” said Boras.

I then asked about the reaction of Sox owner John Henry when the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira last year.

“I understand that owners are sometimes disappointed when it comes to losing out on a player of Tex’s caliber,” he said. “We made a proposal to Boston where they could have signed him and they made a counter that didn’t meet our proposal and Tex went in another direction.”

Boras concluded that nothing that has happened in the past will affect how he deals with the Sox in the future.

“We value working with [the Red Sox],” Boras said, “and we’ll continue to do so.”

Read More: John Henry, Scott Boras,

Rumor Mill at this hour: 9 p.m.

12.09.09 at 9:05 pm ET
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The Orioles, fresh off acquiring a starter in Kevin Millwood, are planning to meet next week with the representatives of Aroldis Chapman, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Tim Brown tweets the Rays and Braves are talking about Rafael Soriano.

With talks surrounding Mike Lowell taking place between the Red Sox and Rangers (who plan on using Lowell at both corner infield positions as well as DH, according to Alex Speier), the Boston Herald is reporting the Red Sox‘ interest in Adrian Beltre is “significant.”

Read More: Adrian Beltre, mike lowell, Rumor Mill,

Rangers Interested in Lowell

12.09.09 at 8:56 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — A major-league source confirmed that the Rangers are interested in acquiring Mike Lowell, but they would only be able to do so if the Red Sox picked up most of his salary. According to the source, Texas would consider using Lowell at first base (spelling Chris Davis), third base (sharing time with Michael Young) and as a designated hitter. WEEI.com reported earlier that the Rangers and Red Sox had talked about Texas’ acquisition of Lowell, with one source citing it as “possible, but not close”.

The Rangers were a potential trading partner last year for the Sox due to their catching surplus. However, the team is not in position to deal either Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden, feeling it needs to have both to handle catching duties. Max Ramirez, who is in the Venezuelan Winter League to get some playing time after missing a hearty chunk of the year with wrist injuries, could be another story. Ramirez is hitting .236/.355/.461/.815 in Venezuela, and is tied for the league lead in homers with 11. He is viewed as a good hitting prospect, though his defense behind the plate is considered insufficient for an everyday role.

The Rangers did clear some payroll by dealing right-hander Kevin Millwood to the Orioles, but Texas is expected to use the diminished payroll to pursue pitching, perhaps Rich Harden. Hence, with a limited budget, the need to have most of Lowell’s salary picked up.

Read More: max ramirez, mike lowell,

Rumor Mill at this hour: 8 p.m.

12.09.09 at 8:19 pm ET
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Steve Henson tweets that the Yankees still “aren’t satisfied” with their outfield situation following the Granderson trade and are “strong player[s]” for Matt Holliday.

The Angels have offered Joe Saunders, Erick Aybar, and Peter Bourjos for Roy Halladay, reports Bob Elliot of the Toronto Sun.

Cross the Giants off the list of teams going after Adrian Beltre, writes John Shea of the San Fransico Chronicle. General manager Brian Sabean told Shea the team isn’t currently interested in the third baseman and is focused on landing a first baseman.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, matt holliday, Roy Halladay, Rumor Mill

Rumor Mill at this hour: 7 p.m.

12.09.09 at 7:05 pm ET
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Carrie Muskat brought up a Lowell-for-Bradley swap to a Cub’s official. The official didn’t dismiss the idea, but Muskat herself doubts such a deal would happen.

The Yankees met with John Lackey’s agent today, but Ken Davidoff doesn’t consider them a “bona fide suitor.”

Read More: john lackey, mike lowell, Milton Bradley, Rumor Mill

Rumor Mill at this hour: 6 p.m.

12.09.09 at 6:21 pm ET
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Jayson Stark hears the Phillies are interested in Jason Marquis. It had been previously reported by Jon Paul Morosi that the Mets and Nationals were also courting Marquis.

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston told Jordan Bastian that he “expects [Halladay] to leave” but is “not sure when.”

Jayson Stark says the Giants remain interested in Kevin Kouzmanoff, who is being shopped “aggressively” by the Padres.

The Braves spoke with six teams about Rafael Soriano and don’t view any team as a front-runner for the reliever, tweets Mark Bowman.

Read More: Jason Marquis, Kevin Kouzmanoff, rafael soriano, Roy Halladay

Epstein: No Blockbusters Before Leaving Indy

12.09.09 at 6:21 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Red Sox GM Theo Epstein met with the media to discuss what has been accomplished at the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. He will be leaving tomorrow morning, shortly after the Rule 5 draft, and he doesn’t anticipate that any major moves will occur before departing. Presumably, that would include anything to do with either Jason Bay (whose agent, Joe Urbon, has not met with Epstein today) or Matt Holliday (whose agent, Scott Boras, has met with Epstein today, armed with books on the outfielder).

Indeed, Epstein said that one of the foremost accomplishments of the meetings to date has been the club’s ability to rule out and narrow down some of its options, and to eliminate potential free agents or trade targets from its shopping list. He did offer the following specifics, including:

–The club has one potential non-tender candidate for salary arbitration. Epstein declined to identify the individual, but in all likelihood, the candidate is first baseman Casey Kotchman, who made $2.25 million in 2009, and would be due a bump in salary arbitration, despite not having a starting role.

–The Sox have already achieved some improvement in its defense with the acquisition of Marco Scutaro, who is superior to the combined group that the Sox had at the position last year, but that it was certainly open to doing more. That said, he said that the team would likely have to choose between adding offense or defense at this point.

–Prospect Josh Reddick is likely to spend more time in Triple A to start the year, and that he would benefit from further development. Epstein described the 22-year-old as unlikely to ever have high walks totals, but that he makes consistent hard contact and plays good defense.

Highlights of his media session follow:

What have you accomplished today?

I think we’€™ve narrowed a few things down and had some more productive talks today. I think there was progress on a few small- to medium-sized things.

Safe to say you won’€™t have a transaction between now and leaving?

I don’€™t think we’€™ll make a blockbuster between now and then, but something small could always come up.

What have you narrowed down?

Some free-agent price tags are well beyond our evaluation of a player. So we’€™ve eliminated that possibility for now. Some trade talks, some players are not available or they’€™re looking for players that we don’€™t match up with. We’€™ve been able to narrow our focus a little bit. Our talks, instead of contemplating the whole universe of possibilities, now we’€™re down to some things that clearly are realistic.

Anything going on with Bay?

No. Nothing. Those guys [Bay’s representatives] are off doing their thing.

Talking to other teams?

I assume.

Do you pay attention when Scioscia says Bay isn’€™t part of Angels’€™ plans?

For any free agent, there can be a significant market or less of a market, but I think it’€™s hard to read it through press comments. If you try to determine exactly what teams might be on a certain player, you can often err and be overconfident, or you can panic and overreact. It’€™s better just to focus on what makes sense for you. Obviously, there’€™s a little bit of a supply and demand dynamic that comes into play. But you just try to focus on signing the player at a cost that makes sense for the organization, regardless.

Is it safe to say you didn’€™t talk to Bay’€™s representatives today?

Not yet.

Have you met with Boras?

Yeah, we met today. We got the books. ‘€¦ He busted out the books. I said, ‘€˜I wish you hadn’€™t given those to me. I just told our media that we didn’€™t read books ever, and that we aren’€™t a well-read organization.’€™ They were impressive. They were hard.

What can you say about Ramon A. Ramirez, the reliever who was acquired on waivers?

He’€™s a versatile guy who’€™s had a lot of success out of the bullpen. If you look at his performance, he’€™s done really well in shorter stints. That intrigues us. Then, the ability to start and carry some innings. He’€™s started quite a bit. He’€™s a guy who’€™s a strike thrower with a good changeup who our scouts like, and can come into camp and compete for a variety of roles. If something opens up in our rotation, he’€™ll compete for a rotation spot. If not, he’€™ll compete for the bullpen. He’€™s also got options.

Do you anticipate Rule 5 activity?

We’€™re highly unlikely to be active.

Have you changed your Rule 5 approach?

The crop is nowhere near as good as it used to be, because they changed the rule.

Teams are able to protect a greater percentage of their quality prospects. You’€™re really looking at A ball and below, or the stray Double A or Triple A guy coming off a horrible year.

Think you might lose anyone?

I think we might. I think there are a couple guys. … If we lose guys, we have an expectation that we would be able to get them back.

Did you accomplish your desired defensive upgrade with Scutaro?

I think that it certainly improved our defense at the shortstop position over the totality of our performance last year at that position so that’€™s a big help. That’€™s an important position. I think we could do more, certainly. Whether we’€™re able to or not remains to be seen. I think it will be hard to improve both on offense and with our defense but I’€™m not sure which direction it will go yet.

How do you view the outfield?

When it’€™s all said and done, I think we’€™re going to have a really good outfield. I think we kind of quietly had one of the better outfields in all of baseball last year, if you look at what Drew did, what Bay did and the progress that Jacoby made was pretty darn good. We’€™d like to have that again.

Do you have any non-tender candidates?

Yeah, we have one non-tender candidate.

Is there any trade interest in him?

Possibly.

How do you view the possibility of signing older relievers, who likely want a shorter-term deal?

I think with any older player in free agency, there are plusses and minus’€™s. you have an established track record, which is good. You have experience. You have a feel for the players’€™ makeup. Maybe there’€™s some leadership skills that go along with it. and you usually have the opportunity for a shorter contract, whether it’€™s one year or two years. Usually the older players aren’€™t looking for the long term commitments. You limit your risk a little bit even though you’€™re likely to experience some decline the term of the contract. Whether that represents value or not usually depends on whether the player continues to perform or ages during the term of the contract, even if it’€™s a one or two year deal. There’€™s risk/reward with a shorter contract for an older player just like there is on conceivably a longer contract for a younger player but you do limit your risk because the total outlay of dollars is probably less. So if you’€™re confident it’€™s a player that takes care of himself and you have reason to believe he’€™ll age well, or he’€™s starting from a high peak, you can find value there. You can also get burned there.

Read More: Casey Kotchman, jason bay, josh reddick, matt holliday

Lowell to Texas?

12.09.09 at 6:19 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — According to sources, the Red Sox are in trade talks with the Rangers in a deal that would send Mike Lowell to the Rangers. One source characterized the potential trade as “possible, but not close”. One name that could be potentially coming back from Texas is catcher Max Ramirez. Stay tuned …

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