SAN DIEGO -- Trevor Hoffman, the Major League career saves leader, could be finished as a member of the San Diego Padres.
General manager Kevin Towers said on Monday that the Padres withdrew their contract offer to Hoffman for 2009. The contract proposal for the 41-year-old Hoffman was for $4 million with a $4 million option for 2010.
The pitcher's agent said on Monday night that his client will no longer deal with the Padres, but Sandy Alderson, the Padres' chief executive, said he is still open to meeting with Hoffman.
"I'm perfectly willing to talk to Trevor," Alderson said in phone interview late Monday night. "I've communicated that on more than one occasion. As I said, that's still a possibility."
Hoffman, after a shaky start in 2008, had a typical season for him, saving 30 games in 34 opportunities, including 16 in a row at one point. The Padres, though, lost 99 games, and Hoffman threw a career-low 45 1/3 innings despite having a healthy season because there were fewer situations available for him to pitch. Hoffman made $7.5 million last season.
If negotiations between the sides are indeed over, it would be the end to Hoffman's 16-year career with the Padres, which began with the June 24, 1993, trade that sent him to San Diego and Gary Sheffield to the Marlins. All but two of his 554 career saves have been recorded in a San Diego uniform.
Towers, who apparently informed Hoffman of the offer withdrawal on Monday, declined to go into any details regarding the situation. Hoffman is in Puerto Rico on a promotional tour and is out of cell-phone reach.
"He's a free agent," said Rick Thurman, one of Hoffman's agents. "So many teams consider him to be a San Diego Padre. Not a lot of teams took him very seriously as a free agent. We'll find out very shortly. A lot of teams need a closer. He's the cream of the closers, and we'll see what teams have interest in him."
Indians GM Mark Shapiro, a suitor three years ago when Hoffman was last a free agent, said he's interested in talking to Hoffman again if he indeed leaves the Padres. Hoffman declined an offer from the Indians that was worth about $32 million when he was a free agent during the 2005-06 offseason.
Hoffman said during the final weeks of the season that he was interested in pitching for the Padres in 2009. Towers said he was interested in having Hoffman return.
The Padres made a formal contract offer two weeks ago to Hoffman, who recently completed a three-year, $21 million contract.
When Hoffman's agent responded to the most recent offer, he informed the team that Hoffman wanted to talk with Alderson, Towers and owner John Moores, presumably to find out the direction of the team, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Padres declined to set that meeting.
"Kevin handles the contract negotiations," Alderson said. "I had no intention of meeting with Trevor and his agents, nor would John. I did offer to meet with Trevor and that may still occur. From that standpoint, Kevin handles negotiations and neither I nor John were going to become involved in that. I'm not going to get involved in the middle of the negotiations."
Hoffman's future with the Padres may also be tied to the team's payroll, which is expected to be reduced. The Padres budget for 2008 was $73.6 million. Alderson said last week that the team's payroll will be determined and adjusted at different points throughout 2009.The news regarding Hoffman surprised his teammate, fellow reliever Heath Bell. "The reality is San Diego is slowly trying to rebuild ... and I think he was either going to retire a Padre or it would come down to the Padres wouldn't want him," said Bell, who could be in line to inherit Hoffman's closer role. "I don't know if this is it for Trevor. I wish him the best. Hopefully, if he goes to another team, he will get a chance to win a championship.
"It's going to be totally different not having Trevor around," Bell said. "I think guys are going to look around and see that Mr. Padre is gone."