The latest from the winter meetings

Updated: December 6, 2006, 2:05 PM ET
ESPN.com

The winter meetings are under way in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Stay tuned for the latest on trades, free-agent signings and the rumors we're hearing at Disney's Swan and Dolphin Resort:

Monday's notes

All times ET

Rumor Central
For more information on potential trades or free-agent signings, check out Rumor Central Insider, which is updated daily with news, nuggets and notes from around the country. Some of today's best includes the following:
Wells headed to Hollywood?
Gagne to close for Red Sox?
Yankees targeting Pettitte
10:45 p.m., from Steve Phillips

The Mets have agreed to a deal with the Royals that will send right-handed starter Brian Bannister Kansas City for right-handed reliever Ambiorix Burgos. The deal is expected to be announced on Wednesday.

2:55 p.m., from Jerry Crasnick

• A source at the meetings said that St. Louis and Kansas City are both going hard after free-agent righty Miguel Batista.

• Why would the Reds offer Mark Loretta two years and $6 million when they already have a talented second baseman in Brandon Phillips? The Reds think Loretta can log enough at-bats as the right-handed first base complement to Scott Hatteberg to make the deal worthwhile. Loretta's first preference is to return to San Diego to play second, but the Padres are more interested in signing Ronnie Belliard or trading for Marcus Giles.

• Something to ponder amid reports that San Diego is closing in on a two-year deal with Greg Maddux: In Maddux's last contract, which was reported as three years and $24 million with the Cubs, only two years and $15 million were guaranteed. The Cubs could have voided the third year, for $9 million, if Maddux didn't pitch a total of 400 innings in the first two seasons. Agent Scott Boras is known for playing games with semantics, and it's questionable whether the Dodgers or Padres would bite on a two-year guaranteed agreement.

2:45 p.m., from Amy Nelson

• The Orioles inquired about Tigers outfielder Craig Monroe, but they were told that he's not available. The Tigers, in search of a left-handed bat, asked for Nick Markakis but were told he's not available, according to a baseball source.

12:58 p.m., from Jayson Stark

• The Mets and Barry Zito's agent, Scott Boras, haven't talked money yet. But they clearly have a major philosophical difference about the potential length of Zito's contract, according to a source who spoke with both Boras and Mets GM Omar Minaya. Boras has told teams that Zito's deal needs to be at least six years. But the Mets don't want to go beyond four years. And it's nearly impossible to envision them extending past five years. This could be a gigantic obstacle, but an official of another team that has kicked Zito's tires said Tuesday: "I wouldn't believe any of that talk. I still think the Mets will do whatever it takes to get Zito, despite what everyone is saying now."

• Another source who has spoken with the Mets advises us to discount reports that the club is actively pursuing Miguel Batista or any other free-agent starter besides Zito. The Mets were interested in Vicente Padilla before he re-signed with Texas. But with him off the board, the Mets are "not in on Batista or any of those guys at this time," the source said. "The only guy they have high-level interest in right now is [Zito]." Which seems like more confirmation that the Mets remain Zito's most likely destination.

• No agent is more famous for overplaying his hand than Boras. So one GM joked last week that Boras had so little interest going in Zito this year that, other than the Mets, "it's all mystery teams. Usually, with Scott, you have four or five real teams and one mystery team. This year, it's one real team and all the rest are mystery teams." But that has changed since the meetings began. The Rangers, Mariners and Angels are all "definitely in" on Zito, according to one club that has been talking to Boras. However, Boras could be running into similar roadblocks with two of those teams that he has run into with the Mets. Because both Texas and Seattle are wary of being used to drive up some other team's price tag, neither wants to offer a contract longer than four years. The Angels' intentions are a little more mysterious. But one executive wondered "if they have any money left, after giving their center fielder (Gary Matthews Jr.) $50 million."

• For two days, rumors have swirled around the lobby of a three- or four-team trade that would involve the Cubs, Rockies, Pirates and possibly even the Nationals. The various scenarios centered around one faulty concept, however: Jacque Jones patrolling center field in Coors Field (with Jason Jennings being the main piece winding up back in Chicago).

• An official of one club that had talked with Colorado said there is "no way" that's going to happen. And another source said the Cubs are "not down any road on any trade with any team." An official of another club that has spoken with the Rockies about Jennings said there is just about a zero chance that Colorado will trade him before leaving the meetings. "I don't think a reasonable deal could be made on him right now," the official said. "They're certainly not in any panic to move him. They can sure afford him, so it's not like they're going to non-tender him or anything. In other words, there's no gun to their head to move him. So the price is really high."

• Another version of that Cubs-Rockies-Pirates deal involved outfielder Brad Hawpe moving to Pittsburgh for pitchers Paul Maholm and Tom Gorzelanny. But one team that approached the Pirates says it was told flatly that the Pirates aren't trading Maholm or any of their young starting pitchers.

• The most significant free-agent position player likely to sign at these meetings may be Julio Lugo. The Red Sox are chasing him as a shortstop. The Mets want him to play second base. And the Cubs are after him as some kind of super-utility guy who, for now, would probably play center field. Lugo, however, prefers to play short. Which seems to indicate that the Red Sox are the favorite to sign him. The Cubs could clear a spot at shortstop by trading Cesar Izturis. But they're focused on starting pitching first. So they're not likely to move fast enough to keep Lugo from going elsewhere.

• It's always a bizarre edition of the winter meetings when the Yankees are essentially sitting out the madness. But the Yankees are basically waiting on their top pitching priority, Andy Pettitte, to make a decision on whether he wants to play next year. One source who spoke with Pettitte's agents, Randy and Alan Hendricks, was told Pettitte expects to make that decision by Christmas.

• The Yankees are also staying involved with Ted Lilly as their Plan B. And while they've expressed interest in Shea Hillenbrand at first base, Hillenbrand is looking for a three-year contract. The Yankees are saying they won't go beyond one year. So they're likely to start exploring other options.

• One of the most intriguing position players available this week is Braves first baseman Adam LaRoche, who has been shopped to a number of teams. The Braves believe that Scott Thorman -- who had 16 extra-base hits in 128 at-bats after a late-season recall -- is ready to step in and play first right now. Which would make LaRoche expendable in the right deal.

12:52 p.m., from Buster Olney

• A high-ranking Tampa Bay executive flatly denied an Internet report that the Devil Rays have made an offer to Barry Bonds, or even explored the possibility of making an offer to Bonds. "Absolutely not true," he said.

11:45 a.m., from Jerry Crasnick

• San Diego was making progress with Greg Maddux, but there's some internal debate in the Padres' front office over the proposed one-year deal with an option that's being discussed. And rest assured that Maddux's agent, Scott Boras, will get as many teams as possible involved rather than rush to sign a deal. The Padres, at least temporarily, have jumped into the mix on Jason Schmidt.

• San Diego, in the market for a second baseman, is talking to Ronnie Belliard's agents. A trade with Atlanta for Marcus Giles remains a possibility, but the Padres have resisted giving up setup man Scott Linebrink for Giles straight up.

• The Rockies, priced out on Dave Roberts, have Darin Erstad, Kenny Lofton and Steve Finley on their radar screen as center field options. The Rockies appear to like Erstad the best, but have concerns over how he would hold up physically over a long season at Coors Field.

• While Texas and Seattle have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Barry Zito, there's rampant skepticism in Orlando that Zito would sign with either club. But it's a great way for Scott Boras to help drive up Zito's price with the Mets.

10:40 a.m., from Jerry Crasnick

• The Rangers have an interest in Kenny Lofton as a short-term solution in center field. Lofton would most likely be willing to accept a one-year deal, which would give GM Jon Daniels the freedom to pursue a long-term answer next winter -- when Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones, Mike Cameron, Mark Kotsay and Aaron Rowand all hit the open market as free agents.

• Texas remains interested in Mike Piazza as a designated hitter solution, but is not willing to offer a two-year deal. The feeling in Orlando is that Piazza is still a good bet to wind up in Oakland next year -- although it remains to be seen if the Athletics will go beyond one year.

• Seattle officials were taken aback by reports that the team is shopping third baseman Adrian Beltre and first baseman Richie Sexson, and claim that's not the case. The Mariners are scrambling to sign two starting pitchers, and they're concerned that the reports might hinder their efforts to upgrade the rotation. Jason Schmidt remains a prime target for Seattle.

2:39 a.m., from Amy Nelson

Mark Loretta has been offered a two-year, $6 million contract from the Reds.