I covered my first general managers' meeting in 2000, skipped 2001 and have been at every gathering since 2002. When I arrived Monday and saw player agent Bob Garber, I smiled.
Garber, who runs one of the smaller shops, usually doesn't come to this set of meetings, which is generally more about laying groundwork than completing deals. This year, though? It was a slam dunk that he'd show up. He represents both C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt, two of the best free-agent starting pitchers out there.
Yesterday, Garber approached the Yankees and asked if they'd have time to talk. The Yankees' party - Brian Cashman, Jean Afterman and Billy Eppler - responded, essentially, "Can you do it right now?" Garber said yes, and he had the desired headline of a meeting with the Yankees.
Later, Garber told Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger that the Yankees extended an invitation for Wilson to meet with the team's brass - including Hal Steinbrenner! - in New York. Steinbrenner isn't really a "Meet and greet free agents" guy like his dad was. Garber reiterated that to me, after I was alerted to Carig's story.
It turns out, according to a reliable source, that Garber initiated the idea of a Wilson visit to New York, and that the Yankees - while open to it - haven't committed to it.
My hunch is that Wilson winds up signing elsewhere - I predicted the Angels, and they've certainly expressed interest - and that the Yankees' involvement with Wilson reflects a few different realities:
1) Never say never. In case Wilson's price somehow drops beneath the expected five or even six years.
2) It benefits Garber for people to think the Yankees are seriously in play on Wilson.
3) The Yankees never mind terribly when the perception looms that they're in on a big player. If that costs another club a few extra bucks and hamstrings them down the line? That's good for the Yankees.
4) The Yankees do want more pitching, and they're not confident they can get a big trade done, as I wrote in my column today. And this brings us back to number one.
It's the winter time. This is what you do if you're a team. You play the game, you dance the dance, and you see where it leads. The fun part for the rest of us is trying to anticipate where it goes.
--Here's my story on how Jose Reyes is already climbing out of the Mets' price range.
--I hope to check in later. Today's a mixed day - owners and team presidents started to arrive last night, and many more will come in today. GMs, on the other hand, will be wrapping up their business, and many will depart Milwaukee tonight.