|11-07-2001, 04:08 PM||#1|
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Ventura To Hit The Highway?
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Wednesday, November 7
Mets still looking to trade Ventura
ESPN.com news services
NEW YORK -- The New York Mets are apparently still trying to move high-priced veteran Robin Ventura.
The Mets have been talking to the Chicago White Sox about sending the 34-year-old third baseman back to his former team, the New York Daily News reported on Wednesday. Ventura spent the first 10 years of his 13-year career with the White Sox.
The Mets also tried to unload Ventura during the season -- but could not work out a deal with any team, partly due to the third baseman's contract. Ventura is scheduled to make $8.25 million next season. The White Sox, though, are reportedly interested in bringing back Ventura because he would be a positive influence on their younger players, and because he was one of the team's most popular players in his first tour of duty with the team.
However, the White Sox want the Mets to pick up a large chunk of the $8.25 million, which may prevent the deal from coming to fruition.
Ventura is coming off one of his worst major league seasons. After a strong April, Ventura batted just .237 for the year with 21 homers and 61 RBI.
Ventura has spent the last three seasons with the Mets, and his first year in New York was by far his best, when he drove in 120 runs and batted .301. Ventura is also the author of one of the Mets' most dramatic moments, his grand slam "single" against the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the 1999 National League Championship Series.
In the past, the Mets have reportedly discussed trading Ventura to the New York Yankees, who may not bring back free agent Scott Brosius. Money, though, was apparently also the biggest obstacle in those talks. Todd Zeile, another high-priced veteran, will likely not be traded by the Mets. Zeile had elbow surgery on Tuesday, making it extremely unlikely another team would be interested in trading for him. Zeile will make $6 million next season.
The Daily News reported that Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon, who has yet to set a budget for next season, has given the front office permission to go after any free agent, though it will have to unload expensive players to do so. With Zeile still on the roster, it might be difficult for the Mets to add prize free agents Jason Giambi or Tino Martinez.
Zeile had bone spurs removed from his right elbow, but is expected to be ready for spring training.
Renowned surgeon Dr. Lewis Yocum peformed the procedure, which should keep the 36-year-old Zeile from performing any baseball-related activities for two months.
According to the Mets, Zeile was unable the straighten his arm for most of the season's second half. The team said if it was not for New York's late-season run, Zeile would have opted for surgery in September.
Despite the injury, he played in a team-high 151 games.
"Some players have spurs and they play through it," Mets general manager Steve Phillips said. "Only the player can tell if its bothering him. He's not one to complain and he didn't get a lot of treatment."
Zeile, who is slated to make $6 million in 2002 to complete a three-year deal, hit .266 with 10 homers and 62 RBI this past season.
Zeile's homer total was his lowest since 1992, when he hit seven in 439 at-bats with St. Louis. He had not driven in as few as 62 runs since 1995, when he combined for 52 in 426 at-bats with the Cardinals and Chicago Cubs.
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