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Free Agent Rumors & News - Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez & Mike Lowell

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The big news in New York is that the State of New York is after Yankees SS Derek Jeter for back taxes for 2001-2003 when the SS claimed Forida as his primary residence despite buying a $13MM apartment at Trump World Tower in NYC.  More interesting is this tidbit from the Daily News, "The bean counters in Albany first went after Jeter in February - and he quickly hit back. The lawyers said the state's allegations were too vague and demanded they provide more specifics to back up their claims."

Good for Jeter for keeping this quiet and/or amazing the ever-prying New York media did not disclose it.  What is intriguing to me is not the desire of a wealthy man to minimize his tax bill.  From Nicholas Confessore of the New York Times, the State "has asked state tax officials to produce more evidence regarding the shortstop's personal ties to New York City, including public statements about his love for the city."

Will Jeter be compelled to admit he only said he loved the city as a public relations gambit?  Can there be any other response if the State uses his words to prove he lived here?  How will this affect the squeaky clean image of the Captain?

From either New York tabloid, we learn that Alex Rodriguex used the Yankees' contacts at Goldman Sachs, a part owner of the team's regional sports network YES, to initiate to reconciliation that led to his 10-year/$275MM contract.  But more interesting is the latest, greatest euphemism Hank Steinbrenner used to avoid running afoul of rules against paying players for individual statistics when talking about the incentives ARod could earn for passing various homerun milestones.  From Tyler Kepner of the New York Times:

"These are not incentive bonuses," Steinbrenner said. "For lack of a better term, they really are historic-achievement bonuses. It's a horse of a different color."

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There was a Channel 4 report out of Boston that the Yankees offered Mike Lowell a four-year/$56-$60MM deal to play 1B.  Unfortunately, there was nothing more than that in this morning's Boston papers.  Does that mean it didn't happen?  No, but it could mean the story couldn't be substantiated enough to be run.  I am dubious of that given the standards for rumor-mongering at this time of year appear to be looser so I am going on the hope the Yankees would be so foolish to repeat the Giambi Error - sign multiple players to long-term deals who will all end up at the same position.

More Lowell rumors/news, Phillies GM Pat Gillick says the team isn't in the chase for the 2007 World Series MVP but remain focused on pitching.  Following the trade of CF Michael Bourn, one could focus on signing Aaron Rowand rather than a 3B.

Asked how they would have the money to re-sign Rowand if most of their remaining money is earmarked for pitching, Gillick said: "It depends how much we have to spend on pitching. If we have to spend more on pitching, maybe it might prevent us from doing something in another area. Again, our focus is pitching."

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Finally, Daily News reports the Mets have shifted some focus away from resigning 2B Luis Castillo (Houston has made an offer), who is getting interest from other teams, to Cardinals SS David Eckstein with the intention of shifting him to 2B.  After adding the anemic bat of Yorvit Torrealba for 3YR/$14.4MM, do the Mets really need to pay for another hitter who won't be much better than a pitcher with the bat?  Maybe this signals the team is serious about signing Livian Hernandez so he could bat 7th on the days he starts.