Dodgers GM says Sabathia wants to be in L.A.

Updated: December 9, 2008, 12:49 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Maybe CC Sabathia does indeed want to work close to home.

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark on Monday that he ran into the free agent on Sunday night in a hotel lobby and the left-hander told him that he wants to be a Dodger.

Although the New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers have made offers to the prize of the free-agent class, speculation continued that Sabathia would want to play near the home he is building in Southern California.

Colletti didn't rule out making a run at Sabathia, who along with Mark Teixeira is one of the two highest-priced free agents on the market.

"It's a possibility," Colletti said Monday. "It's an interesting dynamic with anybody who is long term at a salary that's higher than most. When you're talking about a player who is long term, it's going to change the dynamic of your team in some way."

Colletti insisted Monday he will work hard at this week's baseball winter meetings to settle things at third base and the middle of the infield. He has already met with representatives for free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal at the Bellagio and was hopeful of re-signing third baseman Casey Blake. Sources tell Stark that the Dodgers are debating whether to guarantee a third year in the deal.

Sabathia did meet with the Yankees on Sunday and Monday, and his representatives spoke with the Brewers on Monday.

According to a baseball man with knowledge of the meeting, Sabathia wanted to meet with the Yankees on Sunday because he's "trying to gather information" about the franchise and New York.

New York also is interested in other pitchers and has told A.J. Burnett's representative it is willing to exceed what it thinks was offered to him by the Atlanta Braves, a deal guaranteeing four years at an average salary of around $15 million or $16 million. Cashman met Monday with Ben Sheets and his agent, Casey Close, and also wants to re-sign Andy Pettitte.

Sabathia and his agent, Greg Genske, met for about 2 hours on Sunday with Yankees GM Brian Cashman, manager Joe Girardi and adviser Reggie Jackson. And the main focus of the conversation, the source said, was whether Sabathia wants to be a Yankee.

Cashman met alone with Sabathia and his representatives on Monday.

"We're not being played. We're not being manipulated. We're not being used," Cashman said. "I just think that he's making a informed decision, and there is a process that that will take, and it will take as long as it takes."

The Yankees' six-year, $140 million offer to Sabathia has been on the table now for nearly four weeks. Not only has Sabathia not said yes, he has been sending messages to the three interested West Coast teams -- the Dodgers, Giants and Angels -- that he would like to play in California.

But in his meeting with the Yankees, Sabathia did not indicate that his delay in signing has anything to do with a preference to play elsewhere, the source said. He's simply attempting to assemble as full a picture as possible before making a major decision. "He just wants to know what it's like to play in New York," the source said.

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin met with Sabathia's representatives for a half hour on Monday afternoon.

Melvin said that the team was still in the running for the left-hander.

"Until we're told we're no longer involved, I take it that we have a chance," Melvin said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Teams can pull out, too. I don't know what else is out there. If they told us we weren't still in it, we'd move on."

Sources told the Chicago Tribune that the Brewers had added a sixth year to their initial proposal and that Melvin was considering adding an opt-out clause after three years.

SI.com took that one step further, saying the Brewers were considering an opt-out clause after only two years. That would make Sabathia a free agent again at age 30.

Melvin wouldn't comment on specifics of the deal.

Sabathia's agents have made no public comments since he became a free agent, and Cashman admitted the pitcher is "handling it in a very stealth mode." He brought in Jackson because he was from the Bay Area, became a star with the Yankees and could "give a perspective."

"When all the dust settles, this is the place he had the most fun," Cashman said.

When Sabathia reaches an agreement, teams that fail to land him will scramble for other free-agent starters, a group that includes A.J. Burnett, Derek Lowe and Oliver Perez.

"No one's told me they're waiting for CC to make a decision. It would make sense that that's how things are being directed, but I don't know if that's the case or not," Cashman said.

That's one of the reason's this offseason's free-agent market and trades have been slow to develop.

"It would be nice to be able to say right now that I feel that we're going to leave here with a deal but I can't honestly represent that," Cashman said. "I'm always a negative guy, anyway, too. Think the worst, hope for the best."

Sabathia was scheduled to leave the winter meetings Monday night after huddling with the Boston Red Sox, who are not considered serious suitors.

Yankees notes
Notes: C Jorge Posada, who had shoulder surgery July 30, began his throwing program Monday in Tampa, Fla. ... Cashman hasn't spoken recently with Pettitte's agents but has exchanged e-mails. "We'd like to have Andy back, and I know he's stated privately and publicly that he'd like to come back. And that usually sets up, you know, the ingredients to get something done at some point," Cashman said. ... Cashman on Robinson Cano: "We plan on having Robby as our second baseman. ... It doesn't mean he can't get traded."

Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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