Arizona, Dodgers each add a slugger

Friday, December 10, 2004

NEW YORK -- Arizona snapped up Troy Glaus and Los Angeles added Jeff Kent as teams made big-money deals with All-Stars on Thursday, one day before the start of the winter meetings.

Glaus, the 2002 World Series MVP as Anaheim's third baseman, agreed to a $45 million, four-year contract with the last-place Diamondbacks.

Los Angeles didn't even wait for the formal start of the meetings to hold the first news conference at the hotel baseball officials will gather at in Anaheim, Calif., traveling south to announce a $17 million, two-year contract with Kent, the second baseman who helped Houston come within a game of its first National League pennant.

In other deals Thursday, the Chicago White Sox agreed to a $10.15 million, two-year contract with outfielder Jermaine Dye; San Diego agreed to a $1 million, one-year deal with outfielder Eric Young; and 46-year-old first baseman Julio Franco stayed with the Atlanta Braves for a $1 million, one-year agreement.

Plenty of big names are likely to be bandied about on the trade market when baseball officials gather today for their annual weekend of business and gossip. At last year's meetings in New Orleans, there were 13 trades, eight deals with free agents who agreed to major league contracts and six more contracts with free agents that were agreed to but not announced.

Randy Johnson, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Kevin Brown, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Shawn Green all have been mentioned in trade talk, but there's been no indication their teams are ready finalize any deals.

Most of the biggest names among free agents have held off agreeing to contracts, among them pitchers Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Carl Pavano, Russ Ortiz, Eric Milton and Kevin Millwood; first basemen Carlos Delgado and Richie Sexson; third baseman Adrian Belte; outfielders Carlos Beltran and Magglio Ordonez; and catcher Jason Varitek.

Fifty-four of the 207 free agents have agreed to contracts thus far, five fewer than on the eve of last year's meetings.

Glaus, slowed by a shoulder injury the past two seasons, is being counted on by Arizona to fill the void left by Sexson.

"He's a cornerstone player," general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said of Glaus. "What he brings is one of the issues we felt we needed to address. Now we've done that and I'm confident in saying there will be more to come."

Glaus, 28, hit .284 with an AL-leading 47 home runs in 2000, followed by 41 homers in 2001 and 30 in the Angels' World Series championship season of 2002. In Anaheim's seven-game World Series triumph over San Francisco, he hit .385 with three home runs and eight RBIs.

The three-time All-Star played in only 91 games in 2003 because of the shoulder problems, then appeared in 29 games last season before arthroscopic surgery. Glaus returned in late August, and hit seven of his 18 home runs in the final month of the season to help the Angels to the division title.

"It's healed. It's fixed," Glaus said. "Now it's just a matter of time in the throwing program and thing's like that, and I'll be ready for spring without any doubt."

His deal includes a signing bonus of $4 million and annual salaries of $8 million, $9 million, $10.5 million and $12.5 million. The contract also provides Glaus a hotel suite on road trips and up to $250,000 reimbursement per year for personal business expenses.

Arizona went 51-111 last season, just three years after winning the World Series. The Diamondbacks tied for the 10th-most losses in major league history.

Kent, 36, hit .289 with 27 homers and 107 RBIs last season and made the NL All-Star team for the fourth time. The 2000 NL MVP has a .289 career average with 302 homers and 1,207 RBIs in 13 seasons.

"Jeff has established himself as one of the best offensive players in the game," Dodgers general manager Paul DePodesta said. "He's a proven run producer with significant postseason experience and we expect him to be a huge part of the Dodgers' offense next season."

The highlight of his 2004 season was a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 5 of the NL championship series. Houston went on to lose the next two games in St. Louis.

"Adding Jeff Kent to our lineup not only gives us another major offensive force, but it provides me with flexibility in the field," manager Jim Tracy said.

Dye will replace Ordonez as the starting right fielder with the White Sox. Dye rebounded from an injury-plagued year to hit .265 with 23 homers and 80 RBIs in 137 games with Oakland last season -- despite playing almost a month with a fractured thumb.

"I'm not going to try and fill any role," Dye said when asked about replacing Ordonez. "I'm just going to play hard and hope it's enough to get this team to the playoffs."

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