Tampa Bay also acquires Blum, Hendrickson

Originally Published: December 14, 2003
ESPN.com news services

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: The Devil Rays made a flurry of moves Sunday, agreeing to deals with outfielder Jose Cruz Jr. and shortstop Rey Sanchez and acquiring left-hander Mark Hendrickson and infielder Geoff Blum in separate trades.

Cruz agreed to a two-year, $6 million deal and Sanchez will be paid $1 million for 2004. Both players must pass physicals for the deals to be finalized.

Cruz, 29, started 151 games for the Giants, batting .250 with 20 homers and 68 RBIs after slumping in the second half of the season. He set a San Francisco record with 18 outfield assists -- second in the majors -- but in the Giants' division series loss to Florida, Cruz failed to catch a routine fly ball that helped the Marlins' game-winning 11th-inning rally in Game 3.

Sanchez, 36, hit .207 with no homers and 12 RBIs in 174 at-bats last season for the New York Mets, then was dealt to Seattle on July 29. He batted .294 for the Mariners with no homers and 11 RBIs in 170 at-bats.

In addition to his salary, Sanchez can make an additional $750,000 in performance bonuses.

While the Devil Rays didn't announce either agreement, they were confirmed to The Associated Press by separate baseball sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Hendrickson went from Toronto to Colorado to the Devil Rays in a three-team trade that sent lefty Joe Kennedy to the Rockies and righty Justin Speier to the Blue Jays.

Hendrickson, 29, went 9-9 with a 5.51 ERA for the Blue Jays last season while leading all AL rookies with 30 starts and finishing second in wins and third in innings.

Speier, 30, was 3-1 with a 4.05 ERA in 72 relief appearances last season and had nine saves. Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi thinks Speier, Aquilino Lopez and Kerry Ligtenberg can combine to finish games.

"We feel we have three quality arms that can hopefully bridge the seven, eight, ninth (innings)," Ricciardi said. "We probably needed bullpen help more."

Hendrickson, a former NBA player, was obtained from Toronto in a three-team trade that sent lefty Joe Kennedy to the Rockies and righty Justin Speier to the Blue Jays. Hendrickson went 5-4 with a 4.16 ERA in 17 road starts and 4-5 with a 7.67 ERA at home.

"Away from SkyDome, he pitched very well," Devil Rays general manager Chuck LaMar said. "It's a very tough place to pitch. We think he'll pitch better not only in our park but throughout 2004."

Kennedy, who was Tampa Bay's opening-day starter, went 3-12 with a 6.32 ERA. He made 22 starts before finishing the season with 10 relief appearances.

"He struggled mightily as a starting pitcher for us last year," LaMar said. "We had penciled him in to pitch in the bullpen and we needed starting pitching."

Blum was acquired from Houston for right-hander Brandon Backe. Blum, 30, hit .262 with 10 homers and a career-high 52 RBI in 2003, his second season with the Astros. He played six positions: first, second and third base, shortstop, left field and right field.

Backe, 25, was 1-1 with a 5.44 ERA last season.

Seattle Mariners: Infielder Carlos Guillen agreed to a $2.5 million, one-year contract with the Seattle Mariners, a deal that allows him to make an additional $900,000 in performance bonuses.

Guillen, a 28-year-old switch-hitter, had been eligible for salary arbitration.

He hit .276 last season with seven homers and 52 RBIs, raising his batting average for the fourth straight season. He was limited to 109 games became of inflammation of the pelvis.

Guillen played shortstop and third base last season, and in previous years also played second.

"Guillen gives us some flexibility," new Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi said.

The contract calls for a $100,000 signing bonus and $2.4 million in 2004. In addition to his salary, Guillen would earn $50,000 for 400 plate appearances, $100,000 each for 425, 450, 475, 500, 525, 550 and 575 plate appearances and $150,000 for 600.

Five Mariners remain eligible for arbitration: outfielder Ichiro Suzuki; right-handers Freddy Garcia, Gil Meche and Joel Pineiro; and catcher Ben Davis.

Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays continued to revamp their pitching staff Sunday, while the Rockies and Devil Rays just are willing to take a chance on a couple of struggling left-handers.

The teams completed a three-way trade on the third day of the winter meetings as Toronto acquired a potential closer in Justin Speier from Colorado, the Rockies received starter Joe Kennedy and Tampa Bay got Mark Hendrickson.

Already with one of the better offenses in the league, Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi has turned his attention toward his staff, acquiring starters Ted Lilly, Miguel Batista and Pat Hentgen. Speier, who saved nine games for the Rockies in 2003, could serve as Toronto's closer -- a role the team struggled to fill last season.

The 30-year-old Speier was 3-1 with a 4.05 ERA in 72 games in 2003 and has a lifetime record of 19-10 with a 4.50 ERA in parts of six seasons.

Kennedy, 24, was among the more promising young pitchers in the game just three years ago but struggled in 2002, and a brutal 2003 campaign pushed him from the Devil Rays' plans. He was 3-12 with a 6.13 ERA in 32 appearances -- 22 starts -- in 2003. Since going 7-8 in 2001, Kennedy is 11-23 with a 5.41 ERA.

Hendrickson, 29, is a former professional basketball player who showed a lot of promise at the end of the 2002 season, going 3-0 with a 2.45 ERA for Toronto. But given a chance to become a staple of the Blue Jays' rotation, he struggled in 2003, going 9-9 with a 5.51 ERA in 30 starts. He surrendered 207 hits -- including 24 homers -- in 158 1/3 innings as opponents batted .317 against him.

Kansas City Royals: The Royals signed infielder Tony Graffanino to a two-year contract.

Graffanino, 30, spent the three-plus seasons with the Chicago White Sox. He hit .260 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs last season.

Graffanino made 60 starts, including 26 at shortstop, 22 at second base and 12 at third in 2003.

The Royals have gotten a good look at Graffanino over the years. He is a career .370 hitter at Kauffman Stadium.

Graffanino also has played for Atlanta and Tampa Bay. He is a career .258 hitter in 574 at-bats.

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