Pitchers steal the show on Day 3
Lilly, Maddux, Schmidt agree to deals at Winter Meetings
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Banners hung throughout the expansive Dolphin Hotel welcome attendees to the Trade Show. Alas, the reference to the ancillary bazaar of goods and services certainly hasn't applied to the Winter Meetings' core business.A more appropriate banner to hang above the Dolphin Hotel's GM-infested lobby would read, "Signing Show." A total of 12 free agents agreed to deals on the final full day of the annual Baseballpalooza, and they included luminaries Jason Schmidt (by the Dodgers), Greg Maddux (Padres) and Ted Lilly (Cubs). The night ended with Luis Gonzalez and the Dodgers agreeing to terms on a one-year, $7 million contract.
But by its end, Day 3 did deliver a trio of actual trades of varying magnitude, topped off by the late-evening move of Freddy Garcia from the White Sox to the Phillies.In earlier deals, the Mets and Royals exchanged pitchers, and the Orioles acquired Cubs utilityman Freddie Bynum for future considerations. Otherwise, cells vibrated, ink flowed, money flew. And a prime-aged lefty "unretired" even before he could be missed. Minutes of the Winter Meetings, Day 3 ... Swap meet: In the day's headlining transaction, Garcia went to Philadelphia for 23-year-old right-hander Gavin Floyd and a player to be named later -- or sooner. White Sox general manager Ken Williams inadvertantly leaked the name of the deferred component, pitcher Gio Gonzalez. In the kickoff swap, the Mets dealt sidetracked starter Brian Bannister to Kansas City for hard-throwing reliever Ambiorix Burgos. The trade has considerable upside for both teams. Bannister, 25, got off to a strong start last season before blowing out his right hamstring in late April. And Burgos, 22, who led the Royals with 68 appearances and 18 saves, needs only to overcome fits of wildness to become a real bullpen force. Pettitte pitches on: Did the Yankees' public pursuit of Lilly goad Andy Pettitte into accelerating his timetable? Perhaps not, making it only coincidental that Pettitte, who had contemplated retirement and originally promised a decision by Christmas, let it be known Wednesday that he indeed wants to continue his career in 2007. The connection there, of course, is that the veteran lefty's two options now are his old and new teams. Agent Randy Hendricks plans to limit contract talk to the Astros and the Yankees -- who already have a one-year, $15 million offer on the table. Lilly to Wrigley: Sometimes, these deals have a very natural progression. Within two hours of the declaration by Pettitte, perceived as a major drain on the Yankees' interest in Lilly, the ex-Blue Jay decided to take the Cubs' offer of four years for $40 million. Bronx fans won't mind waiting to see how the pursuit of Pettitte goes. Most of them would've had a tough time buying the Yankees forking over comparable money for a left-hander they had dealt away four years ago -- for Jeff Weaver. Dodging right-handers: The Dodgers' revolving door was spinning with a pair of high-profile righties. Shortly after Maddux spun out -- for a two-year, $16.5 million deal with the Padres -- Schmidt spun in, on a three-year, $47 million contract. Both agreements need physicals for validation. But they already represent an interesting exchange of NL West mound talent, with Schmidt jumping south off the Giants' Bay Bridge. Piazza gets A's: Oakland signed a tentative (code for: pending physical) one year, $8.5 million agreement with Mike Piazza. In a twist, Piazza himself declined a multiyear deal, preferring a one-year commitment to see how he takes to the role the A's have for him, as a designated hitter.
Hitting without having to squat between at-bats could be a challenge for the 38-year-old. In occasional Interleague turns at DH the last five years, Piazza has batted .240 (25-for-104), with five homers and 15 RBIs. As a pinch-hitter during the same span, he is 8-for-32.This just in? Leading off another series of previously reported free-agent signings confirmed by results of physicals, the Giants announced their three-year, $16 million deal with catcher Bengie Molina. ... The Orioles finalized their one-year, $900,000 deal with back-up catcher Paul Bako. ... The Indians sealed deals with ex-Phillies outfielder David Dellucci, for three years and $11.5 million, and former Marlins closer Joe Borowski, for $4 million in 2007 and an option for 2008. ... On the dotted line: The A's also added hard-working left-hander Alan Embree to their bullpen for a two-year contract that includes a 2009 club option. Embree made 73 appearances for the Padres last season, and 60-plus for eight consecutive years for five different teams. ... The Dodgers also provided young catcher Russell Martin with a back-up/tutor by signing veteran free-agent Mike Lieberthal (Phillies) to a $1.15 million deal that includes a $1.4 million option for 2008. ... The Blue Jays struck a one-year deal with reserve outfielder Matt Stairs, although they weren't expected to confirm the move until after Thursday morning's Rule 5 Draft. Hum-dinger: Fellow members of the Baseball Writers Association of America chose Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as 2006 winner of the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, earning the respected columnist enshrinement next summer into the writers' wing of the Hall of Fame. Hummel, 60, will be the third St. Louis media member to find permanent home in Cooperstown, joining former Post-Dispatch sports editor Bob Broeg and announcer Jack Buck. Sound bytes from the day's media roundtables with managers ... Jim Leyland, Tigers, on the unavoidable topic of recovering from the E-1 World Series: "I don't want to draw attention to everything. I don't want these guys paranoid about it. It's going to be pretty boring if the main attraction at Spring Training is watching PFP (pitchers fielding practice). That was a fluke thing." Lou Piniella, Cubs, on rejoining the fraternity after a down year to recharge batteries: "I really enjoyed what I was doing but the challenge of managing and the challenge of winning one more time and the opportunity here with the Cubbies was too hard to say no to and here I am." Fredi Gonzalez, Marlins, on the pressures of replacing the reigning NL Manager of the Year (Joe Girardi): "It is going to be tough. I haven't even thought about that ... but thank you for bringing that up." Ron Gardenhire, Twins, on the spending spree his little club sees all around itself: "They are flinging it out there and that's baseball. We try not to pay much attention to it, other than reading it and just going, oh my. So when you see the ching-ching going out there, (GM) Terry (Ryan) is squinching pretty hard." (Ed. Note: In a similar vein, Gardenhire had said at the same event a year ago, "As [the White Sox] announced they got [Jim] Thome and [the Mets] got Carlos Delgado, we announced we got new jerseys. We were pretty excited about our announcement. We got vests." Then the Twins went out and won their fourth division title in five years.) Charlie Manuel, Phillies, on setting the alarm clock early after his club again slept through April (10-14) to squander a hot (18-11) September: "We've got to be prepared and we've got to come out ready to play. Really, I've been preaching that for the last two years. A big thing about it is being ready and prepared when we come out of the gate." Bud Black, Padres, on finally taking the managerial leap after several years of unrequited courtship: "Mentally, I wasn't ready, the timing wasn't right personally. There were a number of things that just didn't fit in the big scheme of things. And I think when you do this, you want to be all in, and that's how I felt as I came into this offseason." Mike Scioscia, Angels, not shying away from the hypothetical question of Manny Ramirez dropping his baggage in his clubhouse: "A guy with Manny's talent is certainly welcome in any clubhouse in the Major Leagues because of what he can bring. I think that he's one of the rare players that can make the players around him better and play at a higher level. I think we've seen it wherever he's been." Grady Little, Dodgers, on losing hope of being reunited with Manny: "Lose hope? You know, that conversation takes place every winter, doesn't it, around these meetings? I think it is usually the topic of conversation. What makes you think this one is any different?" Ron Washington, Rangers, on why free agents such as Barry Zito should come to Texas: "Because we're going to win here. I mean, if he wants to be on a team watching in October, he can go someplace else." Bobby Cox, Braves, on approaching a season as not the defending champion for the first time in 15 years: "Getting ready for Spring Training, get down to it, you know. Our team, the way it sits right now is good. It's a good team. Find another piece for the bullpen, I would be happy as heck." Eric Wedge, Indians, on trying to keep up in the AL Central: "We feel like (we've) progressed very nicely, but the one thing we didn't anticipate is just how competitive our division would be. It's the best division in baseball now. We know we can play with all those teams. We're looking forward to it." Mike Hargrove, Mariners, on the challenges faced by his melting-pot clubhouse of diverse nationalities: "I think the one common theme is they all play baseball and they all want to win. No matter what language you speak or no matter what culture you're from, you still can lead by example." Buddy Bell, Royals, on bouncing back from September surgery for a cancerous growth on his left tonsil: "You know what, I feel great. Thank you. A lot of things go on in your head and stuff like that, but I'm over that and I've got my energy and everything looks good. Feel real good as a matter of fact, thanks." Hutch Award: Mark Loretta received the 2006 Hutch Award, presented annually since 1965 to the MLB player who best exemplifies the fighting spirit and competitive desire of late managerial great Fred Hutchinson. Mickey Mantle was the first recipient of an honor established in memory of Hutchinson, who died of cancer at 45 in November 1964, four months after managing his final game with the Reds.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.