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GM Meetings feature some deals, much discussion

PHOENIX -- After four days of formal and informal meetings, the annual General Managers Meetings closed Thursday with an hour-long session at the Arizona Biltmore.

There were a handful of roster moves, highlighted by the Mets' signing of free-agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million contract. The Tigers also kept designated hitter Victor Martinez, agreeing with him on a four-year, reported $68 million deal pending a physical, and filled a need by acquiring center fielder Anthony Gose from the Blue Jays.

There were discussions among the Playing Rules Committee on possible tweaks to expanded instant replay and experimental Rule 7.13 governing home-plate collisions that were introduced this year, as well as the pace-of-game initiatives that are being tested in the Arizona Fall League.

MLB executive vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre said Wednesday that he doesn't foresee "wholesale changes" on replay. He indicated there had been some talk about how to handle calls that "stand" after a challenge, meaning that there wasn't conclusive video evidence to overturn the call on the field. And he said there is likely to be an adjustment to the system that leads to managers killing time on the field while waiting for a signal from the dugout on whether or not to challenge.

Torre also said efforts will be made to further clarify the collision rule and hinted that while the pace-of-game testing has gone well, it's unlikely that any of the ideas being tried out in the Fall League will be implemented for next season. "You have to understand that this has got to be in conjunction with the Players Association, as it was with our collision play," Torre explained. "Trying to implement that so close to the season last year was really tough."

There were also opportunities for teams to raise any issues of concern, which created a discussion on the decline in offense in recent seasons. In 2006, Major League teams as a whole scored an average of 4.86 runs per game. That has declined steadily ever since. This year the average was 4.07. In the National League it was 3.95.

These topics can be discussed further at the quarterly Owners Meetings next week in Kansas City and the Winter Meetings in San Diego the second week of December.

The GM Meetings are normally an event devoted more to preliminary trade and free-agent negotiations than actual moves, and this year was no exception. Of course, getting all the top baseball people together in the same place inevitably creates speculation. Some of the big names being reported on included Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies and Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto.

The Mets moved quickly to sign Cuddyer and the Tigers were big winners in checking two important items off their wish list. And they weren't the only teams that were active.

In return for Gose, the Blue Jays got second baseman Devon Travis. The Yankees traded backup catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates for left-handed reliever Justin Wilson. For Pittsburgh, the move is a hedge against the possibility that it won't be able to re-sign catcher Russell Martin.

Look for the action to heat up as the offseason rolls on.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for