|Thursday, December 6
Giambi close to donning pinstripes
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- On a day on which baseball commissioner Bud Selig went before the House Judiciary Committee to plead poverty, rumors swirled that the Yankees and Jason Giambi had already agreed to make him one of the richest players in baseball.
One source told ESPN Radio's Dan Patrick that the parties had already reached agreement on the length of the deal -- seven years -- but they are still negotiating the money, which is expected to be from $17 million to $18 million per year. The lowest of those figures would place him among the top-seven paid players in the game.
Rick Cerrone, the Yankees' director of media relations, denied the story, saying "The Yankees have not agreed to a deal in principle or any other way with Jason Giambi."
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, attending an NHL game in his hometown of Tampa, Fla., said he had no comment on the negotiations for Giambi.
Yankees manager Joe Torre called Giambi in recent weeks in hopes of luring him to New York. This past season, the 2000 American League Most Valuable Player batted .342 with 38 home runs, 120 RBI and a league-leading 129 walks
He was second in the 2001 MVP balloting to Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki.
Last year, Torre made a call to right-hander Mike Mussina, who left the Baltimore Orioles for a six-year, $88.5 million deal and went 17-11 with a 3.15 ERA.
First baseman Tino Martinez, one of four Yankees starters that has been with the club since Torre took over, is a free agent. Torre also called Martinez to let him know the team is pursuing Giambi.
On Wednesday, Torre put his signature on a new three-year contract worth over $16 million.
Giambi has told Torre he wants to play first base, not designated hitter. According to an AL scout, the Yankees think of Giambi as an average first baseman. Torre told New York reporters he would try Giambi at first base, but Oakland manager Art Howe told a newspaper he thinks the Yankees may have something else planned.
"I've heard rumors that the Yankees are looking at him as a DH, not a first baseman," Howe said. "Whether they tell him that or not is another story."
The Yankees, according to the New York Post, even trotted out Hall of Famer Yogi Berra to contact Giambi with his own sales pitch for the Yankees.
"I told him to come to the Yankees," Berra told the Post. "I met him at the Bob Hope Classic last year and he is a good kid. He can help the Yankees. I told him that the right-field fence at the Stadium is a lot shorter than the one in Oakland."
Meanwhile, the Yankees are on the verge of signing reliever Steve Karsay to a four-year contract and reports continue to circulate of their attempt to bring in outfielder Moises Alou.
Where will this money come from? The Yankees payroll is $23.75 million less than it was last season, thanks to getting rid of the contracts of Martinez, O'Neill, Brosius and Chuck Knoblauch.
The second player doesn't necessarily have to be Alou. The Yankees are known to have inquired about virtually every major free agent, including everyone from Juan Gonzalez to Roger Cedeno.
As for third base, Torre seems comfortable with Drew Henson taking over sometime next season. Henson, Michigan's quarterback before he rejoined the Yankees last March, struggled at Triple-A as he recovered from a broken hand.