Baltimore leading race for Vlad

A five-year $65 million offer is on the table and it is believed to be the best offer Guerrero has gotten to this point.

Updated: December 30, 2003, 10:43 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
The good news for Orioles fans is that while they were enjoying an extended holiday, one of the men responsible for the well being of their team was cutting his short to continue the pursuit of a player who could help pull them out of the fourth-place niche they have inhabited for the past six seasons.

Roch Kubatko of the Baltimore Sun reports that Mike Flanagan returned to work after a one-day holiday so that he could keep at his efforts to bring Vladimir Guerrero to Baltimore. A five-year $65 million offer is on the table and it is believed to be the best offer Guerrero has gotten to this point. If others have been made, they aren't generating any publicity. The number of opportunities for Guerrero to make the kind of money a player of his stature demands are actually quite small and one of them dried up when the Yankees signed Gary Sheffield, a much older player without Vlad's long-term prospects. With many of the other big money teams already set in right or in the midst of cost-cutting, Guerrero finds himself in a less-than-ideal marketplace.

Would the addition of Guerrero -- along with Javy Lopez and Miguel Tejada -- be enough to at least move the Orioles up to third place ahead of the Blue Jays? It is very rare for a team to have an influx of talent of this caliber in one shot, so one would have to assume they would improve by eight or nine games at a minimum -- provided everything else maintains the status quo. If the Blue Jays fall off by five or six, then they the 15-game gap will be narrowed and the first change in the American League East in seven years will have come about. Without Guerrero, they are still improved, but it's not like the Blue Jays aren't trying to keep pace with the monsters at the top of the stairs themselves. The stakes are so high in this division, the Orioles may be on the verge of busting the bank to rise one place in the standings. How frustrating must that be?

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

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