Cabrera's arrival leads to Eckstein's departure

Updated: December 21, 2004, 4:46 PM ET
Associated Press

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Orlando Cabrera agreed Monday to a $32 million, four-year contract with the Anaheim Angels, who made room by cutting spunky shortstop David Eckstein.

Orlando Cabrera
Anaheim Angels
161 10 62 74 16 .264

Cabrera, a 2001 Gold Glove winner, was traded from the Montreal Expos to the Boston Red Sox in late July. He replaced Nomar Garciaparra at shortstop and helped the Red Sox win their first World Series title since 1918.

The 30-year-old Cabrera hit .264 with 10 homers and 62 RBI combined for the Expos and Red Sox. He batted .288 with 11 RBI in the postseason and didn't commit an error in 14 games, then became a free agent. He was replaced in Boston by Edgar Renteria, who agreed last week to a $40 million, four-year contract with the Red Sox.

Cabrera's deal calls for a $4 million signing bonus payable over four years, $5 million next season, $6.5 million in 2006, $7.5 million in 2007 and $9 million in 2008.

He has a .268 career batting average, with 72 homers and 412 RBI in 962 games.

"I've known Orlando Cabrera since he was a minor leaguer in the Expos' organization. He's talented defensively as well as offensively. He's a guy who can hit the ball out of the park, and he can run, too," said Angels general manager Bill Stoneman, a former Expos executive.

"He should give us some more range than David gave us, and a better arm from that position."

Eckstein, Anaheim's shortstop since 2001, batted .276 last season with two homers and 35 RBIs in 142 games.

Stoneman said it was difficult to let Eckstein go.

"It's a sad day because a guy who's really been a huge part of our club for the past four seasons is not going to come back," the GM said during a conference call.

"The fans are really attached to David. From an emotional standpoint, we have a lot of fans who may not care for this move until they get a chance to see Cabrera play."

Asked how Eckstein took the news, Stoneman said: "He was David Eckstein, and just couldn't stop talking about how happy he was over the past four-plus years, since we got him."

Eckstein, 29, has a .278 career batting average. He hit .293 with eight homers and 63 RBI during the Angels' 2002 championship season. He hit safely in 13 of Anaheim's 16 postseason games that year, and scored six runs in the seven-game World Series.

Cabrera, a native of Cartagena, Colombia, was signed by Montreal in 1993.

Stoneman said the Angels weren't necessarily looking for a new shortstop.

"In looking at it, we had a real good shot at improving the club with starting pitching, but that didn't really work out," he said. "So we stepped back and looked at what our next move should be, and that would be shortstop, and to continue starting pitching with the guys we have now.

"So it was simply the availability of a guy we think of as an upgrade, talent-wise, both offensively and defensively. You're always looking to upgrade."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press