Torre thinks Giambi will wear pinstripes

Thursday, November 29, 2001

NEW YORK -- Joe Torre thinks Jason Giambi could be getting fitted for his Yankees pinstripes real soon.

The New York Yankees manager spoke with the free-agent first baseman earlier this week, recruiting him to join the four-time defending American League champions.

Detailed contract talks haven't started, but Torre made it sound like closing a deal could be relatively easy.

"I don't think it's going to be a while," he said before a March of Dimes luncheon Wednesday. "He asked a lot of questions, and he asked me to ask him questions. It sounds like he would like to get it over with. But you're only a free agent one time, and I'm sure he'd like to make sure it's what he wants to do."

Torre also said his new three-year contract is likely to be completed next week. Only language issues remain.

Since the seven-game World Series loss to Arizona, right fielder Paul O'Neill, third baseman Scott Brosius and backup infielder Luis Sojo have retired. New York has no interest in re-signing first baseman Tino Martinez, who became a free agent.

Last spring, Giambi turned down a $91 million, six-year extension offered by Oakland because the Athletics refused to include a no-trade clause. When the Yankees do get around to making an offer, it is expected to be for a six- or seven-year contract averaging $16 million a season or more.

Torre said his conversation with Giambi on Monday went well, and that Giambi could gradually take a leadership role with the Yankees.

"He seemed to have a lot of questions, which led me to believe he was sincerely interested in being with the Yankees," said Torre, who compared Giambi with former Yankees pitcher David Wells.

Giambi, 30, was voted the American League Most Valuable Player in 2000, then hit .342 with 38 homers and 120 RBIs this year and finished second in MVP voting behind Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki.

St. Louis is thought to be interested in Giambi as a possible replacement for Mark McGwire, who retired.

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