Sixty-five file on first possible day

NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran got off to a fast start in the
free-agent market, too.

After hitting eight home runs for the Houston Astros to tie the
postseason record, the speedy center fielder was among 65 players
who filed for free agency Thursday on the first possible day, just
hours after Boston completed its historic sweep of St. Louis in the World Series.

Acquired during the season from Kansas City, Beltran has said he
would consider re-signing with the Astros if they keep the core of
the team together.

"I experienced being on a team where they don't do anything to
help the ballclub," Beltran said. "One of my priorities if I stay
with this ballclub will be keeping the young guys ... our young
players have potential to be real good."

Beltran, who is represented by Scott Boras, could get the
biggest deal of the offseason.

Dodgers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who led the major leagues
with 48 home runs, also filed along with Dodgers outfielder Steve Finley. Beltre, also a Boras client, had arthroscopic surgery Thursday to remove two large bone spurs from his left ankle.

"Obviously there's a lot of interest in those guys," Boras
said. "We're getting a lot of calls, so we thought we'd file."

While the Red Sox have 17 players potentially eligible for free
agency, a group that includes Pedro Martinez, Boras client Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek and Orlando Cabrera. Backup outfielder Gabe Kapler was the only player to file Thursday. Players may file through Nov. 11 and start negotiating money with any of the other 29 teams the following day.

Also filing Thursday were Toronto first baseman Carlos Delgado,
Chicago White Sox outfielder Magglio Ordonez (also a Boras client), Minnesota right-hander Brad Radke and Philadelphia right-hander Kevin Millwood.

White Sox general manager Ken Williams said he is not optimistic about being able to re-sign Ordonez.

"Hearing everything second- and third- and in some cases fourth-hand, I think I have to wait until there is direct dialogue," Williams said. "From what I've heard, it doesn't give
me any reason to have any optimism."

Ordonez, a four-time All-Star, played only 52 games this year, his fewest since he was a late-season callup in 1997. He missed 36 games after injuring his left knee in a May 19 collision with second baseman Willie Harris, then went on the disabled list for good July 22 with bone marrow edema.

The White Sox thought he was beginning his rehab in September only to learn that he had a second knee surgery. Though Boras, Ordonez's new agent, has said he'll be fully recovered by December, Williams hasn't gotten any update on Ordonez's prognosis.

"From what I understand from news accounts is we will not hear
anything or get any more information regarding his health status
until serious negotiations begin," Williams said. "I'll just wait
like the other 29 clubs to see how this thing progresses."

Meanwhile, Cardinals right-hander Chris Carpenter, sidelined since
mid-September because of nerve damage in his right biceps, filed conditionally. St. Louis must decide whether to exercise a $2 million option for 2005.

Florida right-hander Carl Pavano and Philadelphia left-hander
Eric Milton are among the other starting pitchers eligible to file.

Preliminary talks figure to start Nov. 8, when general managers
gather for a week of meetings in Key Biscayne, Fla. The Yankees ended three days of high-level meetings in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday as they prepared for the offseason.

After becoming the first team to waste a 3-0 lead in a
postseason series and lose to Boston in the AL Championship Series,
New York may restart trade talks with Arizona for Randy Johnson.

"Make no mistake about it. We are hard at work and will be back
with a strong team for our loyal New York Yankee fans," owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement.

The Chicago Cubs made a pair of moves Thursday. They declined an
$11.5 million mutual option on outfielder Moises Alou, choosing to
pay a $2.5 million buyout, and also declined a $2.5 million option
on second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, paying him a $250,000 buyout.

White Sox outfielder Carl Everett exercised his $4 million
option, and Chicago exercised a $2.5 million option on closer
Shingo Takatsu. The White Sox declined their $1 million option on
catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., paying him a $50,000 buyout instead.

"We don't have to worry about Carl Everett," Williams said. "He had begun [getting in shape] before the season ended and we expect him to return to the type of production he had just one year ago. He just was derailed from a couple of little things."

Craig Biggio's $3 million option was exercised Thursday by the
Astros, who declined Jeff Kent's $9 million option and will pay the
second baseman a $700,000 buyout.

However, general manager Gerry Hunsicker said the team "made it
clear to him that we had interest in sitting down with him and
bringing him back under another contract scenario."

The Colorado Rockies and Jeromy Burnitz both declined his $3
million mutual option, and the outfielder will get a $250,000

Cleveland right-hander Scott Elarton, who was eligible for free
agency, agreed to an $850,000, one-year contract.

There was one curious name among those who filed -- New York Mets
first baseman Mo Vaughn, out most of the last two seasons with an
arthritic left knee. Vaughn, who completed an $80 million, six-year contract, filed to get off the Mets' 40-man roster.