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ESPN.com news services

The number of teams vying for free agent Carlos Delgado was cut in half Sunday night, leaving Baltimore and Florida as the remaining bidders for the first baseman's services.

 

 

Delgado likely will make a decision on Monday.

 

 

Carlos Delgado

First Base

Toronto Blue Jays

Profile

 

 

2004 SEASON STATISTICS

GM HR RBI R SB AVG

128 32 99 74 0 .269

 

 

 

 

The Texas Rangers abruptly withdrew from negotiations Sunday afternoon. David Sloane, Delgado's agent, said the Rangers told him that if Delgado were to sign with Texas, he probably would be a designated hitter most of the time.

 

 

Sloane then told ESPN's Karl Ravech that the New York Mets were pulling out of the running for the free agent first baseman. Both the Mets and Rangers had given Delgado a Sunday night deadline for agreeing to a deal.

 

 

"From the first conversation with the Texas Rangers, we made it crystal clear that Carlos Delgado had no interest in being a full-time DH," Sloane said. "If we had 25 conversations with the Texas Rangers, we were told in 24 of those that the question of him playing first base was no issue. Earlier today, we were told that is changing and that 75 percent of his at-bats, should he choose to sign with the Texas Rangers, would come as a DH.

 

 

"After three months of negotiations, we were given less than five hours to tell them yes or no, to make a decision that affects not only the rest of Carlos Delgado's baseball career, but the rest of his life."

 

 

All four teams had proposed four-year deals to Delgado, although it wasn't known if all four years were guaranteed by all teams. Rangers owner Tom Hicks met with Delgado in Puerto Rico and offered a $48 million, four-year contract.

 

 

"Over the last few days, Tom Hicks and the organization reached out and made a very strong offer to Carlos Delgado," Rangers general manager John Hart said. "We had a great meeting with Carlos on Friday where we exceeded the limits of our initial proposal. As of this evening, however, we could not get a commitment from him, so we are withdrawing from discussions with him.

 

 

Proposed deals for Delgado*

Marlins 3 years, $35 million

Mets 4 years, $48 million**

Orioles 4 years, $48 million-plus

Rangers 4 years, $48 million**

*According to published reports

**Pulled off table Sunday night

 

 

 

 

"He is a quality individual, but we want to continue to be committed with our young players and development plan. We have a first baseman in Mark Teixeira and other young players that we do not want to disrupt with potential position changes. Tom Hicks is not, and was not, afraid to spend money to add players like Carlos to our club."

 

 

Hicks implied that the Rangers didn't want Delgado to use their offer as a springboard.

 

 

"We were clear that we were giving it our best shot Friday at the meeting. Others have now raised their offers, which is why we insisted on a deadline late this afternoon," he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "We called them this morning to clarify that our interest in Carlos was restricted to him being a DH for 60-70 percent of the time, since we already have a great, young first baseman in Mark Teixeira."

 

 

The New York Post had reported the Mets matched the Rangers' offer. Publicly, the Marlins have said they won't offer much beyond three years and $35 million.

 

 

The New York Daily News reported the Orioles made Delgado the most lucrative offer yet -- four years for more than $12 million a year. Delgado met with the Marlins in Florida on Jan. 15.

 

 

The 32-year-old Delgado would be counted on to fortify the lineup of whichever team he selects. He hit .269 last season for Toronto with 32 homers and 99 RBIs. Delgado and outfielder Magglio Ordonez, who is coming off an injury-shortened season with the Chicago White Sox, are the last elite free agents who remain unsigned.

 

 

Sloane indicated Friday that the Rangers made an impressive offer, saying then: "Tom Hicks said that he was going to come to Puerto Rico and give it his best shot. He did all that and more."

 

 

New York already has signed two major free agents, giving a $53 million, four-year contract to right-hander Pedro Martinez and a $119 million, seven-year deal to outfielder Carlos Beltran. Delgado would have provided protection for Mike Piazza in the Mets' batting order.

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