Session was long on talk

Associated Press
Chicago Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, left, talks with Baltimore Orioles manager Dave Trembley, who is leaving on the final day of the winter meetings, where fewer trades and free agent deals were made than had been expected.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- Now the Los Angeles Dodgers have a star center fielder to go with their popular new manager.


While most teams accomplished little during the winter meetings, the Dodgers landed one of the few prime free agents in this year's market, reaching a preliminary agreement with Gold Glover Andruw Jones on a $36.2 million, two-year contract.

Teams left the four-day annual session with little to show. Johan Santana was still with the Minnesota Twins, Dan Haren with the Oakland Athletics and Erik Bedard with the Baltimore Orioles.

After the New York Yankees said Tuesday they were dropping out of talks for Santana, the Red Sox appeared to be the leading candidate for the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner.

"We're closer than when we got here, but not all that close," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said, speaking generally of trades, not specifically about Santana.

Once they get back home, teams will keep eyeing trades and free agents. They're certain to accomplish more than they did in four days under the atriums of the sprawling Opryland.

"I don't if it's bubbling or simmering or whatever it is. I'm sure teams are still talking because there are a lot of teams that probably haven't filled their needs," Twins general manager Bill Smith said. "We don't want to make a bad deal. Making no deal is probably better than making a bad deal. We've said all along that if our worst-case scenario is that Santana is our opening-day starter, it's really a pretty good scenario."

With such a poor free-agent market and few top pitchers available in trades, decisions are being made more slowly than usual in recent years.

"There's some limited choices in the relief market -- trade/free agency -- and almost no choices in the starting market," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said.

As for what did happen on the final day:

- San Francisco called the Yankees about left fielder Hideki Matsui, who has a no-trade clause and has never seemed interested in leaving the Bronx.

l Kansas City finalized its $36 million, three-year deal with outfielder Jose Guillen, who later in the day was suspended for the first 15 days of next season by Major League Baseball for violating its drug agreement several years ago.

l Washington agreed to a $1 million, one-year deal with backup infielder Aaron Boone.

l Pittsburgh released infielder Jose Castillo, its former starting second baseman.

Jones' agent, Scott Boras, reached his agreement with Los Angeles late Wednesday night. The Dodgers had 379 putouts in center field this year, the fewest in the NL, and their 129 homers ranked 15th among the 16 NL teams. Not exactly what new manager Joe Torre is looking for in his first season with the Dodgers.

Light-hitting Juan Pierre, who had been in center field, could switch to left.

Before Jones' deal, the only big move of the meetings was by Detroit, which acquired third baseman Miguel Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis from Florida on Wednesday for six prospects, including left-handed starting pitcher Andrew Miller and outfielder Cameron Maybin.



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