Cardinals sign Eckstein to fill shortstop vacancy

Friday, December 24, 2004

The popular former Angels player signed a three-year contract.

The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS -- David Eckstein agreed Thursday to a three-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals, completing a triangle of shortstop switches.

Boston started it by luring Edgar Renteria from St. Louis with a $40 million, four-year contract. Anaheim then chose to cut loose Eckstein on Monday and give a $32 million, four-year deal to Orlando Cabrera, who finished last season with the Red Sox.

Eckstein, 29, was a fan favorite in Anaheim, helping the Angels win the 2002 World Series title with his spunky play.

He hit .276 with two homers and 35 RBIs last season, and the leadoff man scored 92 runs. He was the second-hardest player to strikeout in the AL, with just 49 in 566 at-bats.

Eckstein had an 18-game hitting streak last season, a career best, and led major league shortstops with a .988 fielding percentage, committing just six errors.

"He addresses two of our needs, that of a shortstop and leadoff hitter," general manager Walt Jocketty said. "David also has a style of hard-nose play that we feel will fit in well in St. Louis."

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