The New York Mets have discussed bringing back righthander Pedro Martinez, according to ESPN.com, citing a baseball person who it said had spoken with the team.

According to the report, the Mets have talked to Martinez' agent, Fernando Cuza, but Martinez is asking for more money than the team wishes to guarantee.

Martinez left the Mets after the 2008 season, then signed with the Phillies at midseason. He was the losing pitcher in Game 6 of the World Series, when the Phillies were eliminated by the New York Yankees.

Martinez was 5-1 in nine regular-season starts for the Phillies, and pitched well against the Mets.

Noteworthy

* The world champion New York Yankees were hit with a luxury tax of nearly $25.69 million, the penalty for once again crossing the payroll threshold in baseball's collective bargaining agreement.

New York is the only team to pay a tax for this season and has crossed the threshold in all 7 years since the tax started. It must send a check to the commissioner's office by Jan. 31.

The Yankees have been billed $174 million of the tax's $190 million total since 2003.

* Major League Baseball and its umpires are nearing agreement on a new contract, two people familiar with the negotiations said.

The deal could be reached as soon as today, the people said.

Management has been seeking to gain increased flexibility on postseason assignments as part of the agreement, which could allow umpires to work the World Series in consecutive seasons. Following a series of missed calls during the playoffs, MLB went with an all-veteran crew of six umpires in this year's World Series.

* Free-agent pitcher Jason Marquis and the Washington Nationals have agreed to a 2-year contract, pending a physical, two people familiar with the deal told the Associated Press.

One person said the agreement is worth about $15 million.

The Nationals issued a "media alert," saying they would hold a news conference at their stadium today to announce a free-agent signing.

Marquis, 31, is a righthander who went 15-13 with a 4.04 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 216 innings for Colorado in 2009. He is 94-83 with a 4.48 ERA in a major league career that began in 2000.

* Outfielder Tyler Bighames, a minor leaguer in the St. Louis Cardinals' organization, has been given a 50-game drug suspension.