One major league general manager thinks Nomar Garciaparra could be the bargain of the offseason.
''I think he proved at the end of the year he can play third base," said the GM. ''I think he's more open to switching positions now than he's ever been, feeling it would add longevity to his career. Robin Yount made the move to center field. There's no reason why Nomar can't be a very good outfielder, considering his arm strength."
Garciaparra is training in California, where he also attended the wedding of a good friend this weekend, but word is he's just trying to build his body back up after a couple of trying seasons with very tough injuries to his Achilles' tendon and groin.
Garciaparra was told last week he won't be a Cub next season, and there is already interest in him from four or five teams. One is thought to be the Los Angeles Dodgers, who could use him at shortstop, third, or both. The Orioles are also looking at him, but it would have to be as a first baseman or an outfielder.
''If he can stay healthy, he'd be the bargain of free agency," said the GM. ''But that's the big if. None of us have a crystal ball.
''Sometimes players break down and their careers spiral downhill. Other have a period of injuries, then get over the hump and are healthy for the second half of their careers. Paul Molitor is a great example of that.
''Garciaparra could be one of those guys who reinvents himself at another position. He's a good enough athlete where you could think about playing him anywhere but catcher. And, if healthy, he'd still be a very good major league shortstop.
''Nobody has ever questioned this guy's desire and the fact he's a winner."
Garciaparra was dealt at the trading deadline in 2004, the year after he rejected a four-year, $60 million offer from the Sox in spring training. While it was Epstein who traded Garciaparra, the shortstop's biggest complaint was with Sox president Larry Lucchino. But time heals all wounds, and it wouldn't be outrageous to suggest that Garciaparra could return to Boston as a left fielder, center fielder, third baseman, or first baseman should the Sox deal Manny Ramírez and lose Johnny Damon.
Excerpted from Nick's baseball notes in Sunday's Boston Globe.