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Tuesday, June 24
Updated: June 25, 7:59 PM ET
 
Lawyer: Gonzalez 'in all likelihood' to reject trade

ESPN.com news services

NEW YORK -- The Montreal Expos reached agreement Tuesday to acquire two-time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez from Texas -- but his agent said Gonzalez "in all likelihood" would reject the trade.

Juan Gonzalez is one of the best run producers in all of baseball. If he decides to OK this trade and goes to Montreal, the Expos would have a good chance of making the playoffs.

His decision will impact the balance of power in the NL East and will be critical for the NL East and wild-card races.

This move surprises me somewhat because I was under the impression that the Expos, who are owned by Major League Baseball, couldn't take on any more salary. So maybe they'll need to rid themselves of some salary if Montreal GM Omar Minaya is able to convince Gonzalez to say "yes."

Coming off a long road trip, the Expos have done a tremendous job of staying in the race. If the Expos are able to land Gonzalez and get Vladimir Guerrero back healthy off the disabled list, they'll be right there.

According to one baseball official, agent Jeff Moorad is telling people that Gonzalez is reluctant to play in the National League because he's never played there, and he's reluctant to play on the AstroTurf in Montreal, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported.

However, a baseball official with knowledge of the negotiations, said Expos GM Omar Minaya will fly to Texas on Wednesday to try to persuade Gonzalez in person to change his mind. The Expos believe that Gonzalez, who had previously been demanding an extension from the team that traded for him, wants money from the Rangers in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause.

Gonzalez has 72 hours to exercise his no-trade clause. His window of decision began at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday.

The 33-year-old outfielder was not in the Rangers' lineup Tuesday night at home against Oakland and he declined comment before the game.

"After some thought and reflection, Juan is going to stand by his no-trade clause and reject the trade to Montreal -- in all likelihood," Moorad said at The Ballpark in Arlington.

Moorad added that when Gonzalez signed a two-year contract with the Rangers before the 2002 season, he took less money "because he and his family felt comfortable in Texas."

Montreal would have sent right-handed pitcher Seung Song and infielder Josh McKinley to Texas for Gonzalez, ESPN's Peter Gammons reported.

Minaya could find ways to persuade Gonzalez to take the deal -- perhaps cash for accepting or maybe an adjusted contract.

"We have not been officially notified that he turned down the trade," Rangers spokesman John Blake said.

Gonzalez, who missed seven of 11 games before Sunday because of a tender right elbow and then a tight left groin, is hitting .286 with 18 homers and 50 RBI. He has never played for an NL team.

"We could have gone under the radar, but we wanted to be up front and give Juan the time he's earned by his contract situation," Texas manager Buck Showalter said. "We could have used him tonight, but we won't."

The surprising Expos are in thick of the NL wild-card chase. Their 6-4 victory Tuesday over Pittsburgh made them 43-34, leaving them among several clubs in the race for a postseason spot.

Minaya is credited with helping develop Gonzalez for the Rangers in the mid-1980s, when he coached the Gulf Coast Rangers for three years.

And, Minaya is no stranger to big deals.

With Montreal contending last summer, he acquired Cliff Floyd from Florida and Bartolo Colon from Cleveland. When the Expos faded, he dealt Floyd to Boston two weeks later, while Colon was traded in the offseason.

Rangers first baseman Rafael Palmeiro spoke to Gonzalez, but said his teammate and close friend didn't indicate what he would do.

"He said he wants to look at all of his options. He's not going to jump to any conclusions," Palmeiro said.

There might be extra incentive for Gonzalez because the Expos' part-time home is in Puerto Rico, the slugger's homeland.

Earlier this month, fans in San Juan chanted his nickname -- "Igor" -- when he homered for the Rangers against the Expos at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.

The Expos still have six games left in San Juan this season, and their future beyond this year is uncertain. There's been speculation Montreal might play half its home games in Puerto Rico next year.

The Rangers went into Tuesday night's game with an eight-game losing streak, the longest in the majors. They are 27-47 and 22 games behind AL West-leading Seattle, having finished last in the division the past three seasons.

"There's a certain message sent when one of your star players is traded," Palmeiro said. "But we're not losing because of a lack of effort. We're preparing the same way. We're just not getting results."

Texas traded outfielder Ruben Sierra to the New York Yankees on June 6, for a minor leaguer, and is expected to make more moves before the July 31 trading deadline.

"It's an unfortunate part of the game," said Showalter, in his first season at Texas' manager. "You are always looking to make your club better short-term and long-term, and help yourself financially. But sometimes it depends on what order those are in."

Gonzalez is in the second year of his $24 million, two-year deal. Of his $12 million salary this season, $4.5 million is deferred.

The Expos are run by Major League Baseball and not inclined to take on additional payroll -- beyond about $143,000, the minimum for the remainder of the season -- if Gonzalez approves. But it might take more for Montreal to get him to accept.

In June 2000, the Detroit Tigers reached agreement to trade Gonzalez to the Yankees -- but Gonzalez rejected that proposed deal.

He broke into the majors with Texas in 1989 and became an everyday player in '91. He was the AL MVP in 1996 and '98, but was traded to Detroit in a nine-player deal in November 1999 because he was going to be a free agent the following season. He played just one season with the Tigers and then spent a year in Cleveland before returning to the Rangers.

Last year, Gonzalez tore muscle fibers in his right thumb the first week of the season and never got over it. He sat out the final two months, playing just 70 games and finishing with eight homers and 35 RBI, both career lows.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.




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