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Rodriguez' Detroit visit brings contract offer

DETROIT -- Ivan Rodriguez has been offered a $40 million, four-year contract by the Detroit Tigers, a baseball source told The Associated Press on Friday.

The 10-time All-Star catcher and his agent, Scott Boras, were in
Detroit on Thursday. Rodriguez took a physical while there, as requested by Tigers owner Mike Illitch.

The Tigers first showed an interest in acquiring Rodriguez in November, at which time Illitch said he was willing to overspend to bring free agents to Detroit, according to Thursday's Detroit Free Press. Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said earlier this week the team is interested in Rodriguez, but he declined to elaborate much on his discussions with Boras.

"We continue to explore the situation," Dombrowski said
Friday, before flying to the Chicago area for his father's
birthday. "I don't expect anything imminently."

Sources close to the negotiations told the Detroit Free Press that a both sides continue to show a strong interest in completing a deal, and are extremely close to reaching an agreement.

The Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles also have expressed
interest in Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, MVP of the NL championship series, had a $10 million,
one-year deal with the Florida Marlins last season and helped them
win the World Series. He asked for a $40 million, four-year
contract from Florida, which broke off talks Dec. 7 by refusing to
offer salary arbitration.

Detroit set an AL record with 119 losses last season -- one short
of the modern major league record held by the 1962 New York Mets.
The Tigers have been active in the free-agent market, but they
have not signed an undisputed star such as Rodriguez.

Second baseman Fernando Vina and outfielder Rondell White agreed
to $6 million, two-year deals.

At a lower level, Detroit also agreed to one-year contracts with
right-hander Al Levine ($925,000) and catcher Mike DiFelice
($650,000) and to a minor league deal with third baseman Greg
Norton, who would get a $600,000, one-year contract if he is added
to the roster.

DiFelice was signed to back up Brandon Inge, a solid catcher
defensively, who hit .203 with eight home runs in 104 games.