NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Boston Red Sox kept the cash freely flowing, this time revving their lineup with Shane Victorino, while the well-armed Washington Nationals neared a deal with Dan Haren at baseball’s winter meetings Tuesday.
No trades yet – Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets still is the prime target, with Boston in the mix for him, too.
Josh Hamilton remains the top free agent amid speculation the slugger will re-sign with Texas. Ace pitcher Zack Greinke also is available, with the Los Angeles Dodgers particularly interested.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said he’s been involved in the pursuit of one free agent. He didn’t disclose who it was but seemed to be enjoying this week’s developments.
“It’s like a smorgasbord of baseball. It’s been good,” Mattingly said.
Boston has been the busiest team this offseason, by far. A day after giving All-Star bat Mike Napoli a three-year, $39 million deal, the Red Sox lured Victorino with the same contract terms.
“Can’t wait to get to Boston!” Victorino tweeted during a day of snorkeling in Hawaii.
The Red Sox are coming off their worst season since 1965 and trying to reshape their roster. The 32-year-old Victorino is a two-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner who stole a career-high 39 bases for Philadelphia and the Dodgers last season.
Recently, the Red Sox added outfielder Jonny Gomes and catcher David Ross.
“I think we’re making the progress that we’ve hoped, at least in the early going, with adding those types of players,” new manager John Farrell said before the Victorino deal.
Victorino’s arrival could lead to a trade of center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, coming off a down, injury-interrupted season.
The Nationals and Haren are close to completing a one-year deal for $13 million, a person familiar with the talks said. The person spoke under condition of anonymity because no deal was announced.
Washington had the majors’ best record last season. The National League East champions already have a formidable rotation led by Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg and want to throw in Haren, an All-Star in 2007, ’08 and ’09.
“I’ve got some young guys that act like veterans, and they pitched like veterans last year for me, and a veteran like Dan Haren is just going to make things even better,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
Haren was 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA in 30 starts for the Los Angeles Angels. They nearly traded the 32-year-old right-hander to the Chicago Cubs for reliever Carlos Marmol after the season, but the deal fell apart. Then the Angels declined their $15.5 million option and paid a $3.5 million buyout.
For the Nationals, Red Sox and several other teams, the dollars didn’t appear to matter too much.
“It seems like this is a market flush with money,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.
The price tag on Hamilton figured to be high. The 2010 American League Most Valuable Player came to Nashville this week, presumably to talk to potential new teams, though Texas could be his landing spot.
“I expect we will get together relatively soon,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “I keep reading that we’ve got a deal done. I keep asking the guys in the room who snuck out and did it.”
The Mets and All-Star third baseman David Wright finalized an eight-year, $138 million contract, the largest deal in team history. The sides reached agreement last week, subject to a physical, and Wright planned to talk about it today at the meetings.
On Sunday, Dickey was at the Opryland Hotel to see a Mets trainer. The knuckleballer will make $5.25 million next year and would like an extension. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson briefly met this week with Dickey’s agent, Bo McKinnis.
A trade remains possible.
“Something could happen on either front that would bring this to a conclusion, presumably,” Alderson said. “I don’t expect that’s going to happen today. It may not happen tomorrow. It may not happen in Nashville.”
The World Series champion San Francisco Giants hoped to re-sign NL Championship Series MVP Marco Scutaro, and Arizona reached a one-year deal with veteran utility man Eric Hinske.