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Javy Lopez shows interest in Marlins


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Javy Lopez shows interest in Marlins


By Juan C. Rodriguez

Staff Writer

Posted December 10 2003



The interest is mutual.


Chuck Berry, the agent for free-agent catcher Javy Lopez, on Tuesday said his client would consider signing with the Marlins. Now that Pudge Rodriguez is no longer in the 2004 equation, the Marlins are considering whether to make a run at Lopez.


"We have talked," Berry said. "I'd say it's kind of exploratory. I think they're trying to decide what they're going to do now that they've gone from Plan A to Plan B. There could be a good fit there with Javy, but then again maybe not. It depends what some of their other plans are.


"I've spoken to Javy, and he would definitely have interest in Florida. He would view that as a good place to play. It's possible we may have further discussions down the road."


Those discussions are sure to take place in the coming days as teams prepare for the Winter Meetings this weekend in New Orleans. Considered a more affordable option than Rodriguez, Lopez already has received some contract offers and is expecting a few more within the week.


Lopez, who earned $7 million with the Braves last season, turned 33 last month and is likely seeking a three- or four-year deal for around $8 million a season. After a horrible 2002 that saw Lopez hit .233 with 11 homers and 52 RBI in 109 games, he broke the major league home run record for catchers last season with 42 while batting .328.


"Probably he will hope his next destination is his final one, not that this will necessarily be his last contract," Berry said. "One of the things he'd like to do is play a little bit of first base. If he does sign with an American League team it gives him the option of DH-ing. He's still looking forward to catching for the foreseeable future, but he would like to do a few of those other things as well to get a little bit of rest through the course of the season."


Though Lopez won't contend for the Gold Glove behind the plate, his desire to play some first would give the Marlins some intriguing options. In addition to learning the position under one of baseball's best infield coaches in Perry Hill, Lopez could spell left-handed first baseman Hee Seop Choi against tough lefties.




With the Marlins expected to cut Juan Encarnacion loose on Dec. 20 rather than offer him arbitration, several teams are lining up to bid for his services. According to industry sources, the Montreal Expos view Encarnacion as a possible replacement for free-agent outfielder Vladimir Guerrero.


The Atlanta Braves have him on a short list to replace Gary Sheffield, who is expected to sign with the New York Yankees this week. In addition, the San Diego Padres have shown interest.


Encarnacion, who drove in a career-high 94 runs last season, could earn up to $5.5 million through arbitration. ...


Former Marlins closer Vladimir Nunez would have been eligible for salary arbitration had the club not taken him off their 40-man roster last month. Nunez, who spent most of last year at Triple-A Albuquerque, rejected the assignment and became a free agent. ...


Manager Jack McKeon received another honor on Tuesday, receiving The Sporting News' Sportsman of the Year award. He shared the honor with Kansas City Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil.


Mike Berardino contributed to this report. Juan C. Rodriguez can be reached at [email protected]. Email story

Print story




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Copyright ? 2003, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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