Orioles also reacquire shortstop Gomez

Updated: December 21, 2004, 2:43 AM ET
Associated Press

Baltimore Orioles: Steve Kline and the Baltimore Orioles agreed to a $5.5 million, two-year contract on Monday, and right fielder Jay Gibbons agreed to a $2.6 million, one-year deal.

One of the most reliable left-handed relievers in baseball, Kline went 2-2 with a 1.79 ERA in 67 appearances for St. Louis last season. He will earn $2.5 million in 2005 and $3 million in 2006.

Gibbons, 27, hit .246 last season with 10 homers and 47 RBI. Gibbons, who had been eligible for salary arbitration, can earn an additional $300,000 in performance bonuses.

The Orioles also reacquired infielder Chris Gomez from Philadelphia for cash considerations. Gomez signed a minor league contract with Baltimore on Dec. 8, then was selected by the Phillies in the minor league phase of the winter meeting draft last week.

Los Angeles Dodgers: Left-hander Wilson Alvarez agreed to a $4 million, two-year contract and third baseman Jose Valentin finalized a $3.5 million, one-year deal.

Los Angeles also let infielder Alex Cora become a free agent when the Dodgers failed to offer him a contract by the 9 p.m. PT deadline.

The Dodgers agreed to one-year contracts with two players eligible for salary arbitration: infielder Olmedo Saenz ($650,000) and right-handed reliever Giovanni Carrara ($500,000). In addition, the Dodgers claimed left-hander Frank Brooks off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Los Angeles also didn't offer contracts to catcher Tom Wilson and left-hander Scott Stewart.

Texas Rangers: All-Star second baseman Alfonso Soriano was among four players tendered contracts.

The move gives the Rangers extra time to negotiate with Soriano, catcher Rod Barajas, outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. and reliever Carlos Almanzar. All are eligible for salary arbitration hearings in February if deals can't be reached.

Soriano, who came to Texas from the New York Yankees in the Alex Rodriguez deal last offseason, made $5.4 million this season when he hit .280 with 28 homers and 91 RBI before missing the last 16 games of the season with a strained left hamstring.

The Rangers didn't have any serious trade talks about Soriano at the winter meetings last weekend. General manager John Hart expects Soriano to remain in Texas, but also won't close the door to substantial offers from other teams.

Cincinnati Reds: Left-hander Kent Mercker signed a $2.6 million, two-year deal with the Reds, who have overhauled their bullpen in the last week.

Mercker, 36, went 3-1 with a 2.55 earned run average in a career-high 71 appearances for the Cubs last season. Mercker is 69-65 in his career with a 4.19 ERA in 412 relief appearances and 150 starts.

He'll be in his third stint with Cincinnati, where he pitched in 1997 and 2003. He was part of their payroll purge midway through the 2003 season, when the Reds dealt relievers Scott Williamson, Gabe White and Mercker. The left-hander went to Atlanta for right-hander Matt Belisle.

The Reds bullpen had a 5.12 ERA last season, second-worst in the majors. The Reds have been trying to retool it by stocking up on 30-year-olds, signing right-handers David Weathers and Ben Weber -- both 35 -- to one-year deals last week.

Second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez, who had been eligible for arbitration, agreed to a $2.87 million, one-year contract with the Reds, who will have to find him a new double-play partner.

Cincinnati has decided it won't bring back shortstop Barry Larkin after 19 seasons, meaning Jimenez will be playing alongside unproven Felipe Lopez or Anderson Machado. Jimenez hit .270 with 12 homers and 67 RBI in 152 games last season.

The Reds did not offer contracts to right-handers D.J. Mattox and John Riedling and left-hander Phil Norton, making them free agents on Tuesday.

Cleveland Indians: Second baseman Ronnie Belliard agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract with the Indians that avoided salary arbitration.

After signing as a free agent with Cleveland last December, Belliard batted .282 with 12 home runs and a career-high 70 RBI in 152 games. He also set career-highs in hits (169) and doubles (48) while making the All-Star team for the first time.

The 29-year-old Belliard has a .269 career average with Milwaukee, Colorado and Cleveland.

Belliard will start at second next season alongside shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who will replace Omar Vizquel. Cleveland and utility infielder Jose Hernandez agreed last week to a $1.8 million, one-year deal.

Oakland Athletics: Right-hander Chad Bradford agreed to a $1.4 million, one-year contract with the Athletics, who also reached one-year deals with right-hander Tim Harikkala, who gets $335,000 if he is in the major leagues next season and $100,000 if he is in the minors, and second baseman Mark Ellis ($400,000).

Ellis can also receive an additional $275,000 in performance bonuses, based on plate appearances. He would get $25,000 for 250 plate appearances and additional bonuses for every 50 additional plate appearances up to 600.

The A's also offered contracts to designated hitter Erubiel Durazo, outfielders Eric Byrnes and Bobby Kielty, and right-handed pitchers Octavio Dotel and Juan Cruz -- all eligible for salary arbitration. If they had not been offered contracts, they would have become free agents Tuesday.

Bradford was 5-7 with a 4.42 ERA and one save in 68 relief appearances with the As in 2004. Harikkala was claimed on waivers from Colorado on Oct. 6 after going 6-6 with a 4.74 ERA in 55 relief appearances for the Rockies in 2004.

Ellis missed all of last season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder after colliding with shortstop Bobby Crosby in a spring training game against the Cubs.

Harikkala gets $335,000 if he is in the major leagues next season and $100,000 if he is in the minors.

Pittsburgh Pirates: First baseman Daryle Ward agreed to a $950,000, one-year contract.

Ward, 29, hit 15 home runs and had 57 RBI in 79 games last season. He can earn an additional $100,000 in performance bonuses.

St. Louis Cardinals: Right-handed reliever Mike Lincoln agreed to a $360,000, one-year contract and can earn an additional $160,000 based on days on the roster.

The Cardinals declined to offer a contract to outfielder So Taguchi, making him a free agent.

Washington Nationals: Pitchers Joey Eischen and T.J. Tucker agreed to one-year contracts, and the Expos also made tenders to five other players to keep them from becoming free agents.

Eischen, a left-handed setup man, gets $1.04 million while Tucker, a right-handed middle reliever, receives $657,000.

Interim general manager Jim Bowden also offered 2005 contracts to outfielder Brad Wilkerson, catcher Brian Schneider, first baseman Nick Johnson and pitchers Tony Armas Jr. and Tomo Ohka, who all are eligible for salary arbitration in February.

Eischen made only 21 appearances last season because of elbow injuries. He went 0-1 with a 3.93 ERA in 18 1-3 innings.

Tucker joined the Expos in April after starting the season in the minors. He went 4-2 with a 3.72 ERA in 54 games.

Toronto Blue Jays: Right-handed reliever Justin Speier signed a $4.15 million, two-year deal to stay with the Blue Jays, who also signed infielder John McDonald.

Speier, 31, went 3-8 with a 3.91 ERA and seven saves in 62 appearances last season for Toronto. He'll make $1.9 million in 2005 and $2.25 million in 2006.

McDonald, 30, got a $400,000 contract for one year. He was acquired this month from Cleveland, where he hit .204 with two home runs, five doubles and seven RBI in 66 games last season.

Detroit Tigers: Outfielder Alex Sanchez and utility player Brandon Inge each agreed to $1.35 million, one-year contracts.

The team also announced that it did not offer a contract to infielder Eric Munson, who will become a free agent.

Sanchez hit .322 with 19 stolen bases in 79 games for Detroit in 2004. He led the American League with 29 bunt singles and finished third with 37 infield hits.

Inge, who played five positions including catcher, hit .287 with 13 homers and 64 RBI in a career-high 131 games for the Tigers last season.

Munson hit .212 with 19 home runs and 49 RBI last season.

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies added a left-hander to their bullpen, signing veteran Aaron Fultz to a one-year, $550,000 contract.

Financial terms were not disclosed for Fultz, who was claimed off waivers from the Minnesota Twins on October 14.

Fultz, 31, went 3-3 with one save and a 5.04 ERA in 55 relief appearances with Minnesota last season. He limited fellow lefthanded batters to a .212 average.

In 286 career games with the San Francisco Giants, Texas Rangers and Twins, Fultz has gone 14-11 with three saves and a 4.85 ERA.

In other moves, the Phillies sold the contract of righthander Aaron Myette to the Sendai Golden Eagles of the Japanese League and designated catcher Michel Hernandez for assignment.

Florida Marlins: Former major leaguer Mike Mordecai accepted an offer to manage the Marlins' New York-Penn League team in Jamestown, N.Y.

Mordecai, 37, spent parts of 11 seasons with Atlanta, Montreal and Florida, helping the Marlins win the 2003 World Series. He played in 172 games for the Marlins, batting .245 -- mostly in pinch-hitting roles.

The Marlins opted not to offer Mordecai salary arbitration this offseason. He finishes his playing career with a .245 average, 24 home runs and 132 RBI.

Also, the Marlins announced that pitcher Ismael Valdez (14-9, 5.13 ERA last season) declined the team's offer of salary arbitration and opted to become a free agent. In addition, Florida sent reliever Mike Neu to its Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque.

Mariners- Rockies: Seattle traded right-hander Aaron Taylor to Colorado, getting right-hander Sean Green in the deal.

Seattle also designated right-hander Rett Johnson for assignment, then failed to offer him a contract, making him a free agent. The Mariners also failed to offer a contract to infielder Luis Ugueto, who had been designated for assignment last week.

The moves set Seattle's 40-man roster, coming after last week's acquisitions of free agent sluggers Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson and a decision by left-hander Ron Villone to accept the team's salary arbitration offer.

Arizona Diamondbacks: The club did not tender contract offers to right-hander Brandon Medders and left-handed Shane Nance.

Medders opened last season with Triple-A Tucson. But after 11 relief appearances, he underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Nance missed most of last season with injuries, but was 1-1 with a 5.84 ERA in 19 games with the Diamondbacks. He was designated for assignment on Dec. 11.


Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press

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