Ex-Cards catcher expected to replace Pierzynski

Originally Published: December 13, 2004
ESPN.com news services

San Francisco Giants: The club and catcher Mike Matheny agreed to a $10.5 million three-year contract Monday, the latest move to upgrade the team's defense.

The latest acquisition probably means the end of A.J. Pierzynski's tenure in San Francisco. Acquired in a trade last year from Minnesota, Pierzynski is eligible for salary arbitration.

With backup Yorvit Torrealba already on the roster, the Giants are unlikely to offer Pierzynski arbitration by a Dec. 20 deadline and will likely let him leave as a non-tendered free agent.

Pierzynski batted .272 with 11 homers and 77 RBI in his only season in San Francisco but is not nearly as good a defensive player as Matheny.

Matheny, who didn't make any errors in 2003, led all NL catchers with a .999 fielding percentage this year, making just one error in 801 total chances. He was fourth in the NL throwing out 28.4 percent of potential base stealers last year and has thrown out 32 percent in his career.

Matheny has spent the past five seasons with St. Louis, where he hit .247 with five homers and 50 RBI last season and helped the Cardinals reach the World Series.

Like the other free-agent deals the Giants have signed this offseason, Matheny's contract is backloaded, giving the team short-term flexibility.

He will make $1 million in 2005, $2.25 million in 2006 and $2.25 million in 2007. The club has a $4 million option for 2008 with a $2 million buyout.

Matheny also receives a $3 million signing bonus with $500,000 payable in 2005, $1 million in 2006 and $1.5 million in 2007.

Washington Nationals: First baseman Wil Cordero reached a preliminary agreement with the Washington-bound Expos on a one-year, $600,000 contract Monday.

The soon-to-be Nationals also agreed to terms with outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds.

To make room for Cordero on the 40-man roster, the team designated outfielder Ron Calloway for assignment.

Cordero, 33, is a career .275 hitter with 122 home runs and 564 RBI over 13 seasons with Montreal, Florida, Boston, the White Sox, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Cordero hit .197 with one home run and six RBI in 27 games for the Marlins while battling knee problems last season.

Hammonds, 33, is a .272 career hitter with 110 home runs and 422 RBI with Baltimore, Cincinnati, Colorado, Milwaukee and San Francisco. Last season, he hit .211 with three homers and six RBI in 40 games for the Giants.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The D-backs signed catcher Kelly Stinnett to a minor-league contract Monday and cleared two spots on their 40-man roster by designating left-hander Shane Nance for assignment and releasing right-hander Andrew Good.

Stinnett, 34, who will be a non-roster invitee to spring training, was Arizona's fifth choice in the third round of the 1997 expansion draft and spent the 1998 through 2000 seasons with the Diamondbacks.

He broke into the majors with the New York Mets in 1994 and also played for Milwaukee before joining the Diamondbacks. From 2001-03, Stinnett was with Cincinnati and Philadelphia, and he spent last year with Kansas City, hitting .305 with three home runs in 20 games before hurting his throwing elbow in mid-June.

He has a career .238 batting average with 54 homers in 544 games.

Nance, obtained from Milwaukee in last year's big Richie Sexson trade, was 1-1 with a 5.84 ERA in 19 games after recovering from a sore left elbow that landed him on the disabled list at the start of the season.

The 25-year-old Good made 10 starts as a rookie in 2003 and was 4-2 in 16 appearances with a 5.29 ERA. But he faltered to 1-2 with a 5.31 ERA in 17 games (two starts) last year before his season ended after surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow.

With the first pick in Monday's Rule 5 draft, the Diamondbacks took right-hander Angel Garcia, who had been in the Twins' organization, and traded him to the Devil Rays.

Colorado Rockies: General manager Dan O'Dowd has suspended trade talks about right-hander Shawn Chacon and said he expects him to pitch for the Rockies next year.

"What we were willing to do with Chac was see if you can fill multiple holes and not lose our rotation," O'Dowd said Sunday during baseball's winter meetings in Anaheim, Calif. "That fit was not there. We will probably keep him."

Cleveland, Washington, Tampa Bay, Texas and Baltimore had expressed interest in Chacon, but O'Dowd was not impressed with what they offered in return.

O'Dowd said he had encouraging talks over the weekend with agents for Chacon and fellow pitchers Jason Jennings and Joe Kennedy, all of whom are eligible for arbitration.

Chacon was an All-Star as a starter in 2003 but was used as the Rockies' closer last season. This year, he will be a starter again.

The Rockies have already re-signed Jamey Wright. With Chacon, they would have six solid candidates for the rotation, but one of those is Aaron Cook, who could miss the first month after surgery to remove a rib in hopes of relieving the blood clots in his lungs.

It would be a young rotation. Wright, the oldest, will be 30 by next season; Chacon 27; Cook, Jennings and Kennedy 26; and rookie Jeff Francis 24.

O'Dowd also said Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh have ended their efforts to persuade Rockies catcher Charles Johnson to accept a trade, and San Diego suspended talks about acquiring Colorado center fielder Preston Wilson in exchange for center fielder Jay Payton and left fielder Xavier Nady.

Anaheim Angels: The Angels added depth to their bullpen Monday by agreeing on a $2.25 million, two-year contract with right-hander Esteban Yan.

Yan had a 3-6 record with seven saves and a 3.83 ERA in a career-high 69 relief appearances with the Detroit Tigers last season.

"He'll fit very nicely into the Angels' bullpen," general manager Bill Stoneman said on a conference call. "He's done pretty much everything in the bullpen. He comes in with a really strong arm. This guy throws pretty hard, he's got a splitter, he's got some experience."

Yan joins Brendan Donnelly, Scot Shields and new closer Francisco Rodriguez as key members of Anaheim's bullpen. Troy Percival, the Angels' closer since the mid-1990s, signed a free-agent contract with the Tigers last month.

Stoneman said the Angels aren't finished.

"We're going to end up adding a starting pitcher to our staff," he said. "We're heading down a few tracks. We'll see how it sorts itself out. We haven't just limited our conversations."

The Angels are believed to be one of the leading contenders to sign free-agent right-hander Matt Clement.

Stoneman wouldn't predict how manager Mike Scioscia would use Yan.

Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Braves in 1990, Yan began his big-league career with Baltimore in 1996. He has a 31-38 record with 50 saves and a 5.17 ERA in 396 career games -- 23 of them starts. He has also pitched for Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Texas.

Yan, a 6-foot-4, 255-pounder, was not offered salary arbitration by the Tigers, so the Angels won't have to give up a draft choice.

Yan gets $1 million next year and $1.25 million in 2006.

Cleveland Indians: Infielder Jose Hernandez agreed to a $1.8 million, one-year contract Monday.

The deal was contingent on Hernandez passing a physical. He batted .289 with 13 home runs and 29 RBI in a utility role for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

Hernandez could start at second base next year as part of Cleveland's revamped infield. His addition means the team probably has no interest in bringing back All-Star second baseman Ronnie Belliard, who is eligible for arbitration.

Belliard earned $1.1 million this year and could make $3 million in arbitration.

Jhonny Peralta, the MVP of the Triple-A International League last season, will take over at shortstop for nine-time Gold Glove winner Omar Vizquel, who signed with the San Francisco Giants.

Third baseman Casey Blake is headed to right field, making room for Aaron Boone at third.

Hernandez, 35, started at four positions last season and played in 95 games for the NL West champions, including 50 at second base.

A free swinger with decent power, Hernandez has struggled with strikeouts. He averaged 183 per season from 2001-03 in the NL and this year fanned 61 times in 211 at-bats.

Hernandez has spent most of his 13-year major-league career in the NL. He appeared in three games for Cleveland in 1992.

The Indians also made a trade at the winter meetings, acquiring left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes from the Pittsburgh Pirates for outfielder Matt Lawton.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.

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