The Buzzontheburgh has learned the Pirates have dropped out of the Gary Matthews jr sweepstakes. The Pirates did contact agent Scott Leventhal but were told Matthews jr, has little interest in Pittsburgh. ESPN Insider is reporting Matthews’ agent told the San Francisco Chronicle he had a lengthy discussion with the Giants about Matthews, who played for new manager Bruce Bochy in San Diego. Plus, he was born in San Francisco and his father, Gary Matthews Sr., played for the Giants from 1972-76. Over the weekend the Houston Chronicle reported that the Astros had contacted agent Scott Leventhal about the free-agent center fielder, who had a breakout season in 2006 for the Rangers. According to the Los Angeles Times, Leventhal said the Angels are “extremely interested” in Matthews, and that the feelings are mutual. Leventhal met with Angels GM Bill Stoneman last week at an Arizona Fall League game, where Stoneman made it known he will aggressively pursue Matthews. Leventhal told the Chicago Tribune that Matthews, 32, is also attracted to the Cubs and the White Sox. Other teams expressing interest in Matthews include the Dodgers, Orioles and Rockies.
According to the New York Daily News, at least eight teams have called Mark Mulder’s agent, Gregg Clifton, expressing interest in Mulder. The clubs were the Cardinals, Mets, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Devil Rays and Orioles. Yankee Pitcher Mike Mussina most likely will remain a Yankee. Mussina’s agent, Arn Tellem, told Newsday that he and the Yankees have made “substantial progress” in negotiations on a two-year contract. A new deal is expected to pay Mussina at least $10 million a season. Now that the Yankees have picked up Sheffield’s $13 million option, don’t count out the Detroit Tigers making a run at Sheffield. Jim Leyland coached Sheffield in Florida. The New York Daily News reported that seven teams have inquired about Sheffield — Detroit, Houston, Cleveland, Texas, San Diego, Baltimore and the Chicago Cubs. The LA Angels are expected to make a run at former Pirate third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez, 28, is coming off a season in which he hit .291 with 38 home runs, 119 RBI and a .561 slugging percentage that ranked second among all major-league third basemen. He is expected to land one of the biggest contracts in free agency.