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The Brewers are not committed on finding a set closer. They will not part with a top prospect such as shortstop Alcides Escobar in a trade for the Mariners' J.J. Putz or the White Sox's Bobby Jenks, and they expect that the two top free agents, Francisco Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes, will rise out of their price range. Their ultimate target could be another free agent, Kerry Wood.

Reds welcome back Weathers — sort of

Any team that offers salary arbitration to a free agent must be prepared for the player to accept.

The Reds, however, might have preferred right-hander David Weathers, a Type B free agent, to reject their offer, enabling them to receive a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds.

Weathers, 39, instead accepted arbitration, making him a signed player for next season on a one-year, nonguaranteed contract. The Reds, who are unlikely to offer him a two-year contract, likely will end up paying him a higher salary than they would desire.

Weathers' reported salary last season was $2.75 million, but he actually earned $3.3 million, thanks to $550,000 in incentives from 2007 that rolled into his 2008 base. Thus, he could command a salary in the $4 million range in arbitration — not an ideal number for a pitcher of modest accomplishment who turns 40 next September.

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Added: December 8, 2008

St. Louis Cardinals News

News » Sources: Cardinals serious about Burnett

Sources: Cardinals serious about Burnett

Sources: Cardinals serious about Burnett
LAS VEGAS - A new team has emerged as a serious bidder for free-agent right-hander A.J. Burnett, according to major-league sources. That team is believed to be the St. Louis Cardinals, who had interest in Burnett the last time he was a free agent, in 2005.

After acquiring shortstop Khalil Greene from the Padres, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "We're going to focus on pitching." The Cardinals also are looking for a closer on a short-term deal, but Burnett fits their desire for a starter with upside — someone similar to righty Kyle Lohse, 30, whom the team recently re-signed for $41 million over four years.

Burnett, who turns 32 on Jan. 3, recently received an offer from the Braves, believed to be $60 million over four years with a vesting option for a fifth year. He is seeking a five-year, fully guaranteed deal, and the Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles are among the other teams that have shown interest in signing him.

Whether the Cardinals are willing to commit to Burnett at such a level is not clear. The team earlier this week received an encouraging report on righty Chris Carpenter, who is recovering from a nerve condition in his right shoulder. The Cardinals' other starters are Lohse, Adam Wainwright and Todd Wellemeyer. The addition of Burnett and return of Carpenter would give them one of the best rotations in the National League.

Burnett, a native of Arkansas, now lives in Monkton, Md. His preference is to play for a city that either borders on the Mississippi River or is east of it, and St. Louis would qualify. Something else that would work in the Cardinals' favor: Burnett hit it off with manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan before signing with the Blue Jays in 2005.

Wherever Burnett goes, he isn't likely to choose his next team at the winter meetings. He likely will wait on free-agent left-hander CC Sabathia, knowing that if the Yankees lose Sabathia, their urgency (desperation?) will only increase. Sabathia, too, is unlikely to make a decision at the meetings.

CC: The Milwaukee Compromise?

The Brewers remain an option for Sabathia if he fails to receive an acceptable offer from a West Coast team and is unwilling to play for the Yankees or Red Sox. But the Brewers have not decided to increase their five-year, $100 million offer to six years, sources say, and will not even consider it until they meet with Sabathia face-to-face.

Such a sitdown is expected to occur at these meetings, and Sabathia might end up asking most of the questions. He will want to know how the Brewers intend to replace righty Ben Sheets, who declined the club's offer of arbitration. He will want to know how the team plans to fill its void at closer. And he will want to know if two of his friends, center fielder Mike Cameron and first baseman Prince Fielder, will be traded.

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