Damon reaches deal with Yankees

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The former Red Sox outfielder has agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract.

The New York Yankees grabbed center fielder Johnny Damon away from the rival Boston Red Sox, reaching a preliminary agreement Tuesday night on a $52 million, four-year contract.

Details of the deal were still being negotiated and Damon must pass a physical, a baseball official said on condition of anonymity because negotiations were not yet final.

Damon fills a double void for the Yankees, giving them a speedy center fielder who can cover ground and a leadoff hitter to top a star-studded lineup that also includes Derek Jeter, Gary Sheffield, AL MVP Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Jason Giambi.

Bernie Williams' defense declined significantly over the past four seasons. And while Damon's arm is not much better, he does cover a lot of ground, which is important in Yankee Stadium.

Agent Scott Boras had been seeking a seven-year contract for Damon. The offer Damon accepted was essentially the same as the deal Matsui agreed to with the Yankees last month.

Cubs land Jacque Jones

Jacque Jones and the Chicago Cubs agreed to a $16 million, three-year contract on Tuesday, one day after the outfielder rejected the Minnesota Twins' offer of salary arbitration.

The 30-year-old Jones hit .249 last season with 23 homers and 73 RBIs, the second straight year his average declined following a pair of .300 seasons. He set career highs in 2002 with 27 homers and 85 RBIs.

Jones played mostly right field the past two seasons following four years in which he mostly played left. He has a .279 career average with 189 doubles, 132 homers and 476 RBIs in seven major league seasons.

Padres trade with Rangers

The Texas Rangers made another move Tuesday to bolster their pitching staff, agreeing to acquire right-hander Adam Eaton and reliever Akinori Otsuka from San Diego for pitcher Chris Young, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and outfielder Terrmel Sledge.

The deal was pending physicals, according to three baseball officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the trade had not been finalized.

Eaton won 11 games in each of the last two seasons, but this year had two stints on the disabled list because of a strained middle finger that limited him to 128 2-3 innings and 24 games (22 starts). He was 11-5 with a 4.27 ERA, but didn't pitch in the postseason for the NL West champion Padres.

Eaton was 47-41 in six seasons with the Padres. He is coming off a $5.3 million, two-year contract and is eligible for salary arbitration. He could become a free agent after next season.

The hard-throwing Otsuka was 2-8 with a 3.59 ERA for the Padres last season.

The Padres also will send a minor league prospect to Texas.

Young, at 6-foot-10 the tallest pitcher in Rangers history and a Dallas-area native, was 12-7 with a 4.26 ERA in 31 starts last season.

Dotel, Yankees strike deal

When Octavio Dotel recovers from his elbow operation, he'll be pitching for the New York Yankees.

New York and the reliever reached a preliminary agreement Tuesday on a $2 million, one-year contract.

Dotel could earn $3 million more in performance bonuses based on games. His deal contains an additional $2.5 million in bonuses based on games finished, in case he is traded to another team.

Vazquez trade finalized

The Chicago White Sox bolstered the tough rotation that won them the World Series on Tuesday, finalizing their trade for Javier Vazquez with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The White Sox got Vazquez and $4 million from the Diamondbacks for right-hander Orlando Hernandez, reliever Luis Vizcaino and minor league outfielder Chris Young. The trade was initially agreed to last Wednesday pending player physicals and the approval of commissioner Bud Selig, who had to sign off on the deal because of the cash involved.

Dodgers sign Lofton

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced the signing of veteran outfielder Kenny Lofton to a one-year, $3.85 million deal. Lofton, 38, figures to be the Dodgers' regular center fielder, a spot left open when Los Angeles traded Milton Bradley to Oakland last week.

Lofton has proven multitalented over his career. He has a .299 career batting average, his 567 steals are the most of any current major leaguer, and he's a four-time Gold Glove winner.

-- From wire reports

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