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Wigginton trade talks intensify near deadline
By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Published July 26, 2007
BALTIMORE - With time until Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline for nonwaiver trades winding down, the market for INF Ty Wigginton appears to be heating up.
At least four teams, the Dodgers, Red Sox, Twins and Yankees, have expressed serious interest, and others may soon as talks get more serious as the deadline nears.
The Devil Rays are looking to improve their beleaguered bullpen, possibly with the addition of several relievers. Talks with the Yankees have included RHP Scott Proctor, though the deal may have to be expanded. The Red Sox, Dodgers and Twins all have several young pitchers that would be of interest to the Rays.
Speaking generally, Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman said the volume of calls has been high but it would take a few days of concentrated talks to get a better read on how active they may be. He also said there could be a "domino effect" if other teams quickly complete rumored deals.
"I think there's a decent chance of at least something more on the minor side happening with the potential for something bigger," Friedman said.
While the Rays are looking for relievers, they could also trade one as several teams have expressed interest in Al Reyes. Other potential trade candidates include INF Jorge Cantu, RHP Edwin Jackson, C Josh Paul and 1B Carlos Pena, but the Rays have had talks about a number of major- and minor-league players.
"Obviously we'd like to improve our bullpen, but so would at least 20 other teams and we're not going to sacrifice a lot of value to do that right now if it's not the best situation for our team in '07 and beyond," Friedman said.
SHUFFLE COMING: The Rays are looking at two roster moves by the weekend. Paul is on track to be activated from the DL on Friday and, since he also has to be re-added to the 40-man roster, seems likely to replace Raul Casanova (though Dioner Navarro, with a .180 average and .508 OPS, might be a more deserving candidate to go).
With LHP Casey Fossum (whose wife Tuesday delivered a son, Andrew Casey) expected back in the bullpen Friday, the Rays likely will cut their pitching staff to 12 (probably by sending down Jae Kuk Ryu) and add a player to their short-handed bench. Candidates include INFs Joel Guzman and Ben Zobrist (but probably not Cantu) and nonroster OFs Chris Richard and Justin Ruggiano.
Wigginton, meanwhile, said he would be open to signing a long-term deal with the Rays. With his salary expected to exceed $4-million next season through arbitration, he could be nontendered.
OF Dustan Mohr, designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and elected free agency.
PRICE CHECK: The Rays have another important deadline coming soon: the Aug. 15 cutoff to sign top draft pick LHP David Price.
Price is enrolled in classes to return to Vanderbilt if things don't work out, but agent Bo McKinnis said Price "would like" to sign and the complexity of the deal has caused talks to drag on.
"After some early communication, I believe it became clear to both parties that the negotiation was going to take some time," McKinnis wrote in an e-mail. "That was not a reflection of either sides' desire, or lack of desire, to get a deal done, but, rather, the complexity of negotiating the contract for the first pick in the draft. The Devil Rays have consistently expressed their desire to sign David and the Prices have let the club know David would like to sign."
MISCELLANY: The Rays have scored one run in their past 18 innings. ... Pinellas Park's Jesse Litsch is in line to start for Toronto on Tuesday at the Trop. ... Brendan Harris will get today off with Josh Wilson starting at shortstop. ... B.J. Upton's six-game hitting streak ended. ... Tampa native/Land O'Lakes High grad Cory Doyne pitched the eighth for Baltimore.